Drug War Chronicle #547 - August 15, 2008

1. Editorial: The Coca Wars are Futile, Whereas Drug Legalization is a Win-Win

A recent article in Time made important points about the difference between the coca plant and its legal uses, vs. the international cocaine trade and efforts to fight it in Bolivia. Unfortunately, the article stopped there and didn't ask the next logical -- and desperately needed -- question.

2. Feature: Prosecutors Want Five Years for North Dakota Man Who Bought $32 Worth of Salvia Divinorum on eBay

Kenneth Rau is the first person in the US to face prison time for possessing salvia divinorum. Prosecutors have offered him five years in prison if he cops a plea. Otherwise, he faces up to 20.

3. Update and Appeal: StoptheDrugWar.org Media Coverage This Year

Thanks in part to growing web site traffic, StoptheDrugWar.org's media coverage is increasing in both frequency and importance. Financial support from our readers makes up a critical part of our budget -- please read this update and then make a generous donation to ensure that this work can continue.

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 tough week for jail and prison guards, and some Virginia deputies could find themselves in trouble.

6. Marijuana: Mendocino County Coalition Moves to Further Restrict Cultivation -- But Late-Breaking Judge's Ruling May Undo Their Earlier Victory

The people who managed to overturn Mendocino County's groundbreaking Measure G, which barred prosecution of anyone growing fewer than 25 plants, are feeling emboldened. Now, they have hatched a new scheme to further tighten the screws.

7. Presidential Politics: Ralph Nader Says Free the Dopers, Jail the Corporate Crooks

Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader unveils a strong drug policy platform and suggests the government should target corporate criminals instead of drug offenders.

8. Presidential Politics: Bob Barr Criticizes High-Profile Drug Raid on Maryland Mayor's Home

Libertarian Party presidential candidate Bob Barr uses the raid on the home of the mayor of Berwyn Heights, Maryland, to issue a broader critique of drug law enforcement.

9. Offer: Unique and Important New Book on Medical Marijuana

"Dying to Get High," by sociologists Wendy Chapkis and Richard Webb, is a groundbreaking work that provides an in-depth portrait of one of the country's most well-known medical marijuana collectives.

10. Europe: Former British Anti-Drug Official Now Calls For Legalization

Britain's prohibition establishment suffered a high-ranking defection when a former Tony Blair drug policy coordinator went over to the other side in an online comment that has excited considerable British media attention.

11. Europe: French Police Start Saliva-Testing Drivers for Drugs

French police are cracking down on drugged drivers, and they unveiled a new tool in their kits this week: saliva testing.

12. Press Release: First Global Conference on Methamphetamine to Feature 80 Speakers from 16 Countries

For all the mouthing off by government officials about methamphetamine abuse, it took an NGO to take the obvious step of getting everybody who's working on the problem together to talk about it.

13. Weekly: This Week in History

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

14. Weekly: Blogging @ the Speakeasy

"The War on Drugs in 100 Seconds," "Another Top Drug War Official Calls for Legalization," "Stephen Colbert's Latest Outrageous Attack on Medical Marijuana," "Bob Barr Condemns Violent, Dog-Murdering Drug Raid," "Mexican Cartels Have Begun Kidnapping Americans," "Mayor Calvo Says Botched Drug Raids Are Commonplace," "TV Networks Refuse to Allow Discussion of Marijuana Laws," "The Real Reason SWAT Teams Kill Dogs and People," "Cartoon: Dogs as SWAT Team Target Practice."

15. Job Opportunities: Marijuana Policy Project, Washington, DC

The Marijuana Policy Project is hiring a Membership Coordinator and a Membership Assistant to work out of the organization's Washington, DC office.

16. 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Editorial: The Coca Wars are Futile, Whereas Drug Legalization is a Win-Win

David Borden, Executive Director

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David Borden
An August 5 article in Time Magazine, "Bolivia's Surprising Anti-Drug Success," observed that legal coca cultivation and the illicit cocaine trade are not the same thing. Despite increased tolerance for coca growing by the Bolivian government under President Evo Morales -- who came up through the ranks of the coca grower community himself to become Bolivia's first indigenous chief executive -- reporter Jean Friedman-Rudovsky notes that interceptions of illicitly grown coca destined for cocaine labs are up by 30% from 2007, and 11 tons of coca paste have been intercepted this first part of the year alone, more than in all of 2005 (the year before Morales took office), according to the country's Anti-Narcotics Special Forces (FELCN).

The point is an important one. Coca is a crop grown for generations in Bolivia and other Andean nations, and it is one that is economically needed. Cocalero leaders from Bolivia and Peru spoke eloquently to their situation, their needs -- and their rights -- at our Latin America conference convened in Mexico in 2003. Coca-based tea and candies and even soap given out by conference attendees made the point directly -- coca is not cocaine, cocaine's origin in the coca leaf notwithstanding.

Unfortunately, the article stopped there, and didn't ask the logical next question: Will Bolivia's increased drug control achievements actually reduce the global supply of cocaine?

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coca leaves drying by highway, Chapare region of Bolivia (photo by Chronicle editor Phil Smith, 2007)
If history and economics are guides, the answer is "no." From 1995 to 2000, for example, Bolivian coca cultivation declined from 51,000 hectares to only 8,000, according to State Dept. estimates. Growing went from 117,000 to 41,000 in neighboring Peru at the same time. But Colombian coca growing rose from 54,000 to 139,000 hectares -- not completely erasing the Bolivian and Peruvian reductions, but mostly erasing them. Meanwhile, US retail cocaine prices, adjusted for purity and inflation, are just a fifth of what they were in 1981, the year the DEA's price-tracking program started.

For the shift in coca growing from country to country to be so much greater than the overall change can only mean that demand is the dominant factor at work, not enforcement. For cocaine prices to drop so incredibly too, shows that eradication, interdiction and domestic policing all combined aren't even making a dent -- suppliers simply anticipate the losses by sending more, and they can afford it.

Bolivian farmers deserve better than harassment over a traditional crop they economically need, making the Morales administration's tolerance of coca growing just. But supply-side anti-drug efforts are futile in term of the ultimate goal, and people around the world affected by cocaine and the illegal trade deserve better too. Only global legalization can stop the violence and corruption that characterize the illegal drug trade. Addicted users will also feel freer to seek help when they are not considered criminals, and will be less likely to do harm to themselves or others in the meanwhile. Ending drug prohibition is a win-win proposition.

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2. Feature: Prosecutors Want Five Years for North Dakota Man Who Bought $32 Worth of Salvia Divinorum on eBay

Kenneth Rau, the Bismarck, North Dakota, man who suffers the dubious distinction of being the first person in the United States prosecuted under laws criminalizing the possession of salvia divinorum, has been offered a plea deal under which he would serve five years in state prison, he told the Chronicle this week.

(Update: Charges have been downgraded to possession -- Rau still faces up to five years, but as a charge he can fight, not a plea bargain -- DB via Phil, 8/19.)

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Kenneth Rau
Salvia is not illegal under federal law. The DEA considers salvia a drug of interest, but despite several years of observation has yet to move to place it under the Controlled Substances Act. A DEA spokesman told the Chronicle recently that the plant is being reviewed to see if it meets the criteria for inclusion on the list of controlled substances.

But driven by little more than the now infamous YouTube videos of young people under the influence acting strangely and the story of one Delaware youth whose parents blamed his suicide on salvia, state legislators have not waited for the DEA's measured considerations to act. Since Delaware became the first state to ban salvia, at least eight others, including North Dakota, followed suit. Moves are currently afoot in a number of other states to join the club, with Florida and Virginia being the latest states to pass laws criminalizing the plant.

Salvia became illegal in North Dakota on last August 1, after a bill sponsored by three Republican lawmakers, state Sens. Dave Oelke and Randel Christmann and state Rep. Brenda Heller, sailed through the legislature earlier that year. None of the three legislators responded to Chronicle requests for comment this week.

Rau has said he did not know the drug was now illegal when he bid on an eight-ounce bunch of salvia leaves and was pleasantly surprised when his $32 bid came in highest. The local TV station's web site has inadvertently supported Rau's contention. When the Chronicle first wrote about Rau's case in April, that site's online version of the news report about Rau's arrest was still pulling up salvia ads by Google. (From the east coast at least it is still doing so as of this writing.) Rau emailed the link to Drug War Chronicle, proving that the salvia ads are showing up on computers in North Dakota.

Burleigh County States Attorney Cynthia Feland did not respond to Chronicle calls seeking confirmation or denial of the plea deal. Rau said the deal was offered through his attorney, Benjamin Pulkrabek, from just across the Missouri River in Mandan.

"My lawyer told me she offered me five years if I pleaded guilty," said Rau. "He said he didn't think I would take it, but he had to ask. He was right -- I am not going to accept that. I just don't think depriving someone of his freedom for some dried plant leaves is right."

Rau, a bottling plant worker with an interest in herbalism, altered states, and religion and spirituality, was arrested by Bismarck police on April 9 when they searched his home looking for his adult son, who was on probation for drug charges. Police found a marijuana pipe, eight ounces of salvia leaf, a quantity of amanita muscaria mushrooms, and a number of other herbal products.

Although Rau bought the salvia leaf on eBay for $32, he faces a possible 20-year sentence after being charged with possession of the now controlled substance with the intent to distribute, based on prosecutors' assertions that the leaf contained hundreds of possible doses. He also faces a marijuana possession charge for the pipe. Although prosecutors originally charged him with possession of psilocybin because of his amanita muscaria mushrooms, they have since figured out that amanita does not contain psilocybin and have dropped that charge.

Salvia divinorum, a member of the Mexican mint family, has been used by Mazatec shamans for hundreds of years. Smoking or chewing the leaves, or more commonly, concentrated extracts, can produce intense, albeit short-lived hallucinogenic experiences. While the plant has become notorious through YouTube videos of young people smoking it and behaving strangely, it is also of interest to "psychonauts," or people attempting to explore consciousness through herbal means.

Researchers say that while salvia's effects on consciousness may be disquieting, the plant has not been shown to be toxic to humans, its effects are so potent it is unlikely to be used repeatedly, and its active property, salvinorin A, could assist in the development of medicines for mood disorders.

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salvia leaves (courtesy erowid.org)
Daniel Siebert is a salvia researcher and host of the salvia information web site Sage Wisdom. In Siebert's view, while salvia should be subject to some sort of regulation, sending someone like Rau to prison for years for possessing it is almost obscene.

I think salvia should be regulated in the same way we regulate alcohol," he said. "Its effects are quite different, but there are some parallels in terms of the possible dangers from its use. Like alcohol, people can exhibit dangerous behavior if they take excessively high doses. That's why we prohibit driving while intoxicated or allowing minors to drink. But it's obvious that many, many people can enjoy alcohol without getting into trouble with it, and they should not be subjected to harsh penalties. Neither should adults who want to use salvia."

Not that the drug will ever be a popular recreational drug, he said. "Salvia can be very strange and interesting, but it's not something most people consider fun, it's not a recreational kind of experience," he said. "Most people find it bewildering; it's not something most people are motivated to repeat. It won't ever become a popular drug. The main reason people seem interested in it is because the media keeps putting out these sensational stories comparing it to LSD or marijuana. That creates a misleading impression, and people who try salvia expecting something like that are usually disappointed."

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salvia (and criminal defense) ads on web version of ND news station report on Rau's bust
"Siebert was sympathetic to Rau's predicament. "I'm shocked and appalled that they can put people in prison for using salvia for personal use," he said. "The drug had just been made illegal there, and he says he didn't know it was illegal. I think that's believable -- most people wouldn't know about an obscure law being passed."

Kenneth Rau now faces a lonely struggle. North Dakota is not noted for its abundance of attorneys skilled in defending cases involving arcane plants, and national organizations have yet to respond to his entreaties for help, Rau said.

Still, Rau is trying to get a defense together. "I'm hoping to take depositions from people like Dr. Andrew Weil or Daniel Siebert or other experts," he said. "I'm looking for attorneys in their vicinities who might be willing to take a deposition."

And he hinted that he may also attempt a jury nullification strategy. "My defense will be to fall back on the fact that the jury is the ultimate judge of the law," he said. "They don't have to listen to the judge; they have the power. Let the jury decide what kind of state they want to live in," he said.

No trial date has been set yet. In the meantime, Rau continues working full-time for a soft drink bottler and subjecting himself to court-ordered humiliations. "I'm trying to live my life," he said. "I've got a full-time time job and another one on the weekends. I also have to take pee tests twice a week and pay them $26 a week for that privilege, on top of trying to pay for lawyers."

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3. Update and Appeal: StoptheDrugWar.org Media Coverage This Year



Dear Chronicle reader:

Without the benefit of dedicated media outreach staff, StoptheDrugWar.org (DRCNet) has nevertheless garnered an increasing amount of media coverage this year:

  • In July, more than two paragraphs from one of my editorials were excerpted by the Christian Science Monitor as a rebuttal to the stance taken by a former State Dept. anti-drug official in the New York Times Magazine on the Afghanistan opium issue. It is one of only a very small handful of comments in the mainstream media questioning the official's premises.
  • In June I had a vigorous 25-minute TV debate with the head of a British foundation on the subject of drug legalization, on a cable network that airs across Europe and the Middle East to a largely Arab audience.
  • In May the Los Angeles Times quoted a blog post by Scott Morgan as an example of the outrage that the denial of a transplant to Seattle-area musician Timothy Garon because of his doctor-recommended medical marijuana use had provoked: "The website Stop the Drug War called it evil to deny transplants to medical marijuana patients."
  • Also in May, the San Diego Union-Tribune quoted me twice, first in relation to the Michigan extradition case of Susan LeFevre, who had fled a lengthy mandatory minimum sentence in the '70s after being convicted for involvement in a heroin ring at age 19; then commenting on the dramatic decline in cocaine prices (a sign of the profound failure of the drug war), which the reporter had noted following a major drug in the area.
  • Following the publication of the LeFevre story, I was interviewed for the Canadian show "Mike on Crime," which airs on the Corus radio network -- "the strongest collection of radio assets in the country, 53 stations clustered in major markets, reaching more people than any other radio group" according to their web site.
  • In March David Guard appeared on the Emmy-award winning Sinclair Network program American Crossroads.

The probable reason for the increase is our growing web site traffic, which has increased by more than 2.5 times over the past two years.

book:

notepad folder:

Please make a generous donation today to support this work. Donate $36 or more and you can receive a complimentary copy of the book Dying to Get High -- a groundbreaking work following one of the nation's most well-known medical marijuana collectives -- or our TRUTH 08 Campaign notepad folder with clasp, as our thanks. Donate $60 or more to receive both. Or use our regular donation page to browse the many other books and gift items that we continue to make available to our members.

Your help is needed right now to capitalize on the tremendous progress we've already made getting the TRUTH out: the past 12 months nearly 150,000 people per month visited StoptheDrugWar.org. Several months the number of visitors topped 180,000 and the trend is continuing upward.

Thank you very much for your interest in changing this country's drug policies and for giving your support to the TRUTH 08 CAMPAIGN. Your contribution has never been more important.

David Borden
Executive Director, StoptheDrugWar.org (DRCNet)
News & Activism Promoting Sensible Reform

P.S. It's time to stop the senseless tragedy of the drug war and to bring an end to the countless injustices occurring every day. Your donation to the TRUTH 08 CAMPAIGN today will help spread the word to more people than ever and build the momentum we need for change. Thank you!

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

A tough week for jail and prison guards, and a pair of Virginia deputies could find themselves in trouble. Let's get to it:

In Wytheville, Virginia, the Smyth County sheriff has launched an internal probe after sworn affidavits for search warrants in a federal drug case linked two deputies to the subject of those warrants. Sheriff David Bradley would not confirm reports that one deputy had been fired and another suspended, nor were the deputies named. According to the affidavits, based in part on what the suspect unwittingly told confidential informants, one deputy, "Deputy A," "uses methamphetamine, cocaine, and prescription pills but his drug of choice is methamphetamine." The affidavit alleged that Deputy A scored from Anthony Richardson, former chief of the Damascus Police Department, who is currently facing multiple meth conspiracy and distribution charges in state court. "Deputy B," identified as a Smyth County Sheriff's narcotics investigator, "used to steal drugs and give them to [the suspect] to sell," according to the DEA's affidavit. No word on when or if a grand jury indictment is coming down.

In Clovis, New Mexico, a Curry County jail guard was arrested and fired August 7 for trying to smuggle drugs into the county jail. Former jail guard Julian Patrick Garcia, 36, is charged with possession with intent to distribute cocaine, possession with intent to distribute marijuana, bringing contraband into a jail, conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, attempt to commit a felony by furnishing drugs to a prisoner and a misdemeanor count of possession of drug paraphernalia. Garcia went down as a result of an internal investigation at the jail after officials heard allegations an inmate was arranging for drugs to be smuggled in. At last word, Garcia was trying to make a $56,000 bond.

In Lincoln, Nebraska, a state prison guard was arrested August 8 for allegedly smuggling drugs and tobacco into the Nebraska State Penitentiary. Andrew Myers, 23, faces a charge of providing contraband to an inmate. Myers had been under suspicion for two months. Prison officials said they believed he had taped the contraband to his body and delivered it to an inmate in return for $100.

In McAlester, Oklahoma, a former lieutenant at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary was sentenced August 8 to a series of suspended sentences after pleading guilty to felony drug charges. Marion Bess, 44, had faced up to life in prison. He had pleaded guilty to possession of a controlled substance, methamphetamine; conspiracy to deliver/manufacture/possess a controlled dangerous substance -- which carries a sentence of from seven years to life -- and unlawful use of a communication facility, meaning a telephone. He also pleaded guilty to one more count of meth possession. He has to do five years on probation and go to drug treatment.

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6. Marijuana: Mendocino County Coalition Moves to Further Restrict Cultivation -- But Late-Breaking Judge's Ruling May Undo Their Earlier Victory

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outdoor marijuana grow in California, harvested early (from NDIC via usdoj.gov)
In June, foes of Mendocino County, California's relaxed marijuana cultivation ordinance, managed to narrowly repeal the eight-year-old Measure G, which made marijuana the lowest law enforcement priority and barred prosecution of anyone growing fewer than 25 plants. Now the Yes On B Coalition is seeking to tighten the screws even further on marijuana cultivation.

Measure B, which won with nearly 52% of the vote, undid the lowest law enforcement priority and no prosecution policy by repealing Measure G. Under the new law, only medical marijuana patients and providers are exempt from prosecution, and only if they do not exceed county limits of six mature or 12 immature plants and eight ounces of dried marijuana, the same as the minimum provided for by state law.

In a press release last Friday, Yes On B announced it planned to ask county supervisors this week to further restrict grows in the county. According to the release, the group plans to ask the supervisors to:

  • Amend the existing county nuisance ordinance to name off-site marijuana odors as a nuisance.
  • Amend the nuisance ordinance to name off-site visibility of marijuana plants as a nuisance.
  • Amend the nuisance ordinance to make violation of the ordinance a criminal offense, rather than merely a civil offense.
  • Adopt a new ordinance to prevent dispensing of diesel fuel into unsafe tanks.
  • Adopt a new ordinance establishing a Medical Marijuana Impact Fee to be paid by all medical marijuana growers, with proceeds going into a Medical Marijuana Impact Fund to be used

"The work we began with Measure B is still incomplete, and will be incomplete until reasonable protections are available to all residents from the impacts of nearby marijuana growing," stated a portion of the release.

Expect a battle over this in Mendocino, which takes in somewhere between $500 million and $1.5 billion a year from marijuana crops. Opponents of restrictions came late to the battle over Measure B, but are now organized and mobilized.

Update:A judge's ruling Friday appears to have overturned Measure B's plant limits.

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7. Presidential Politics: Ralph Nader Says Free the Dopers, Jail the Corporate Crooks

At a press conference last Friday, independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader called for emptying prisons of nonviolent drug offenders and filling them with corporate criminals. Nader's call came as he unveiled a 12-point program aimed at reining in the power of corporations.

"Nonviolent drug offenses are being over prosecuted and corporate crime is being under prosecuted. The Justice Department must begin to reverse course, crank up the crackdown on corporate crime, and end the cruel and inhumane war on nonviolent drug possession," the perennial candidate said.

"The criminal justice system is broken -- so badly that one hardly knows where to begin describing the breakdown," Nader said. "Let's start with the war on drugs, since commentators across the political spectrum recognize its lunacy. We pour almost endless resources -- roughly $50 billion every year -- into catching, trying, and incarcerating people who primarily harm themselves. This insane war on drugs damages communities and drains crucial resources from the police, courts, and prisons. These resources could be better used to combat serious street and corporate crime that directly violates the public's liberty, health, safety, trust, and financial well-being. As with alcoholics and nicotine addicts, the approach to drug addicts should be rehabilitation, not incarceration," he argued.

"The current drug policy has consumed tens of billions of dollars and wrecked countless lives," Nader continued. "The costs of this policy include the increasing breakdown of families and neighborhoods, endangerment of children, widespread violation of civil liberties, escalating rates of incarceration, political corruption, and the imposition of United States policy abroad. In practice, the drug war disproportionately targets people
of color and people who are poverty-stricken. Coercive measures have not reduced drug use, but they have clogged our criminal justice system with nonviolent offenders. It is time to explore alternative approaches and to end this costly war."

Nader also calls for an immediate end to the criminal prosecution of patients for medical marijuana. "The current cruel, unjust policy perpetuated and enforced by the Bush Administration prevents Americans who suffer from debilitating illnesses from experiencing the relief of medicinal cannabis," Nader said. "While substantial scientific and anecdotal evidence exists to validate marijuana's usefulness in treating disease, a deluge of rhetoric from Washington claims that marijuana has no medicinal value."

And he supports industrial hemp. "In need of alternative crops and aware of the growing market for industrial hemp -- particularly for bio-composite products such as automobile parts, farmers in the United States are forced to watch from the sidelines while Canadian, French and Chinese farmers grow the crop and American manufacturers import it from them," Nader said.

The money saved from ending the drug war could be used to prosecute a war on corporate crime, Nader said. "Corporate crime enforcement is widely ignored by politicians, yet acutely felt by all Americans," he said, noting that the losses from burglary and robbery ($3.8 billion a year) are dwarfed by a mere handful of corporate frauds, such as those that brought down Tyco, Adelphia, Worldcom, and Enron.

Nader ran for president under the Green Party banner in 2000, garnering 2.7% of the popular vote and earning the undying enmity of Democratic Party loyalists who blamed him for handing the election to Republican George Bush. In 2004, Nader ran as an independent, garnering 0.2% of the vote. This year, he is competing with Libertarian Party nominee Bob Barr and Green Party nominee Cynthia McKinney in the third-party sweepstakes.

(This article was published by StoptheDrugWar.org's lobbying arm, the Drug Reform Coordination Network, which also shares the cost of maintaining this web site. DRCNet Foundation takes no positions on candidates for public office, in compliance with section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and does not pay for reporting that could be interpreted or misinterpreted as doing so.)

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8. Presidential Politics: Bob Barr Criticizes High-Profile Drug Raid on Maryland Mayor's Home

Former Republican Congressman and current Libertarian Party Candidate for president Bob Barr Monday issued a statement criticizing the widely publicized police raid on the home of Berwyn Heights, Maryland, Mayor Cheye Calvo. Barr used the occasion to condemn the generalized use of no-knock search warrants in drug cases and to call for greater accountability for law enforcement misbehavior.

In the July 29 raid, Prince George's county police posing as package deliverymen delivered a package they knew contained 32 pounds of marijuana to the mayor's home. The package waited on the front porch until Calvo returned home after work, when he picked it up and took it inside. Police then broke down Calvo's door, shot his two dogs (one as it was running away), handcuffed Calvo in his underwear for several hours, and cuffed his mother-in-law as well. Police announced last week that Calvo and his family were the innocent victims of a drug smuggling scheme, but have yet to apologize for anything. Local and federal investigations into the incident are underway.

In his Monday statement, Barr, a former US attorney, wrote: "We typically make fun of bungled police operations by saying they were conducted by the gang that couldn't shoot straight. In this case they could shoot straight -- as a result, they killed a family's two dogs in the midst of a misguided drug raid."

The raid was wrong on several levels, Barr wrote, and indicative of a deeper problem with American drug law enforcement. "Rather than carefully checking the facts, including talking to the local police department, the county authorities acted rashly, illustrating how the drug war threatens the liberties of all Americans. The police broke down the door rather than knocking and charged in with guns drawn," he noted.

"Absent exigent circumstances, not present here, so-called no-knock raids are an affront to the Constitution," Barr continued. "So is a shoot first, ask questions later philosophy by the police. Yet the Prince George's police have done this before -- last fall they invaded a house at the wrong address and shot the family dog. All Americans are at risk when the police behave this way. Just ask yourself what might happen if a suspicious package is delivered to your home and the cops bust in," he wrote.

"But there is an even larger point. Law enforcement agencies have become more arrogant and less accountable in cases other than those involving drugs. Most people are aware of well-publicized examples like Waco and Ruby Ridge, but similar abuses are common across the country, though they usually receive little or no public notice," noted Barr. "We all want police to do their jobs well, but part of doing their job well is respecting the people's constitutional liberties."

Barr ended by promising to ensure that federal law enforcement agencies set a good example for the rest of the country. "In a Barr administration, government officials will never forget that it is a free people they are protecting."

Neither Democratic nominee-to-be Sen. Barack Obama nor his Republican counterpart Sen. John McCain have commented on the Berwyn Heights case. Neither has independent candidate Ralph Nader, although given the broadside he launched this week at bipartisan complicity in maintaining the drug war, he can be excused for not commenting on this one, particularly egregious example.

(This article was published by StoptheDrugWar.org's lobbying arm, the Drug Reform Coordination Network, which also shares the cost of maintaining this web site. DRCNet Foundation takes no positions on candidates for public office, in compliance with section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and does not pay for reporting that could be interpreted or misinterpreted as doing so.)

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9. Offer: Unique and Important New Book on Medical Marijuana

Dear friend and reformer,


In our current TRUTH 08 Campaign, we have featured the important and unique new book Dying to Get High: Marijuana as Medicine, by sociologists Wendy Chapkis and Richard Webb. More than 1,300 people have read our review of the book by Drug Chronicle editor Phil Smith -- check it out here!

Please donate to the TRUTH 08 Campaign to support StoptheDrugWar.org's work providing this and other critical writing reaching hundreds of thousands of people every month. Donate $36 or more and you can receive a complimentary copy of Dying to Get High as our thanks.

book:

notepad folder:

Donate $60 or more, and we'll send you both Dying to Get High AND the new TRUTH 08 Campaign padded notepad folder with clasp. Or just select the notepad folder as your gift selection with a donation of $36 or over. (Use our regular donation page to browse the many other books and gift items that we continue to make available.)

Following are a few things that Chronicle editor Phil Smith had to say about the book Dying to Get High: Marijuana as Medicine, in his recent widely-read review:

In "Dying to Get High," sociologists Wendy Chapkis and Richard Webb... trace the use of marijuana as medicine in the US... its removal from the pharmacopeia in 1941... the continuing blockage of research into its medical benefits by ideologically-driven federal authorities.

Chapkis and Webb deliver a resounding, well-reasoned indictment of the political and (pseudo) scientific opposition to medical marijuana.

"Dying to Get High" is also an in-depth portrait of one of the country's most well-known medical marijuana collectives... describing in loving detail the inner workings... of a group with charismatic leadership... more than 200 seriously ill patients, and the specter of the DEA always looming.

Your help is needed right now to capitalize on the tremendous progress we've already made getting the TRUTH out: the past 12 months nearly 150,000 people per month visited StoptheDrugWar.org. Several months the number of visitors topped 180,000 and the trend is continuing upward.

I am very excited about the new momentum we're generating together, and I'd like to thank you very much for your interest in changing this country's drug policies and for giving your support to the TRUTH 08 CAMPAIGN. Your contribution has never been more important.

David Borden
Executive Director, StoptheDrugWar.org (DRCNet)
News & Activism Promoting Sensible Reform

P.S. It's time to stop the senseless tragedy of the drug war and to bring an end to the countless injustices occurring every day. Your donation to the TRUTH 08 CAMPAIGN today will help spread the word to more people than ever and build the momentum we need for change. Thank you!

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10. Europe: Former British Anti-Drug Official Now Calls For Legalization

The man who was once responsible for coordinating the British government's drug policy now says drug legalization would be preferable to the current prohibitionist-style approach embraced by successive British governments. Julian Critchley, former director of the UK Anti-Drugs Coordination Unit in the Cabinet Office, said that his views were shared by "the overwhelming majority" of professionals in the field, but that the New Labor government played to a tabloid audience in setting drug policy, instead looking at the evidence for what worked and what didn't.

As director of the coordination unit, Critchley reported to then drug czar Keith Hellawell. The defection of such a high level player is yet another blow to Britain's prohibitionist drug policies, most recently scored as failing in a report from the UK Drug Policy Commission. It was in response to an online discussion of that report that Critchley took his stand.

Critchley first announced his change of heart during a BBC web site discussion on drug policy (see comment #73), then, after the Transform Drug Policy Foundation's Steve Rolles dug up and rug-co.html" target=_blank_>blogged about Critchley's comments Wednesday, exciting a British media frenzy, Critchley elaborated on them in The Independent on Thursday.

During his time with the anti-drug unit, "it became apparent to me that the available evidence pointed very clearly to the fact that enforcement and supply-side interventions were largely pointless. They have no significant, lasting impact on the availability, affordability or use of drugs," Critchley wrote on the BBC blog on July 30.

"It seems apparent to me that wishing drug use away is folly," he continued. "The only sensible cause of action is to minimize the damage caused to society by individuals' drugs choices. What harms society is the illegality of drugs and all the costs associated with that. There is no doubt at all that the benefits to society of the fall in crime as a result of legalization would be dramatic," he argued. "The argument always put forward against this is that there would be a commensurate increase in drug use as a result of legalization. This, it seems to me, is a bogus point : tobacco is a legal drug, whose use is declining, and precisely because it is legal, its users are far more amenable to Government control, education programs and taxation than they would be, were it illegal. Studies suggest that the market is already almost saturated, and anyone who wishes to purchase the drug of their choice, anywhere in the UK, can already do so. The idea that many people are holding back solely because of a law which they know is already unenforceable is simply ridiculous."

Hear, hear! But is anyone in the Gordon Brown government listening? Or are they busy trying to figure out what will sell with Daily Mail readers?

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11. Europe: French Police Start Saliva-Testing Drivers for Drugs

French Interior Minister Michèle Alliot-Marie went to the French Riviera town of Antibes on Monday to give a public kick-off to a new French campaign to crack down on drugged drivers. In the new campaign, some 50,000 drug screening kits will be handed out across France.

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With the saliva tests, drivers are asked to spit on a stick, which is then dipped in a chemical substance to test for the presence of marijuana, ecstasy, cocaine, heroin, or amphetamines. If no drugs are present, a red line appears on the stick after a few moments. If drugs are detected, the stick stays white.

Any positive result must be followed up with a blood test to ensure that other medications are not creating a false positive. The consequences for a drugged driving conviction are steep: a maximum fine of about $6,700 and up to two years in jail.

The tests are not supposed to detect cannabis use for more than a few hours after smoking, but three of the first 10 tests tried at Antibes came back positive for marijuana. At least one of the drivers protested in vain that the last time he had smoked was three days earlier.

The saliva tests, similar to those used in South Australia, should save hundreds of lives a year, French officials said. A 2005 French study suggested that smoking marijuana doubled the risk of a fatal accident. When smoking was mixed with drinking, the risk increased 15-fold. The study claimed marijuana caused 230 highway deaths a year in France.

Not everyone agrees with the French position on marijuana and driving, including some of the leading experts in the field. Last October, 11 of them urged polities to reject zero tolerance impaired driving laws with respect to marijuana. Such laws are not evidence-based and could snare marijuana users who are not impaired, they said. Of course, if all else fails, police could just test for actual impairment, whatever the cause.

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12. Press Release: First Global Conference on Methamphetamine to Feature 80 Speakers from 16 Countries

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, August 13, 2008

Contact: Luciano Colonna, Chair, Executive Program Committee

First Global Conference on Methamphetamine to Feature 80 Speakers from 16 Countries
Full Program Agenda Available for Conference September 15-16, 2008, Prague, Czech Republic

PRAGUE, Czech Republic, August 11 -- The Global Conference On Methamphetamine today announced the program for the 2008 Global Conference on Methamphetamine. The conference will take place September 15-16, 2008, in Prague, Czech Republic. The full conference program is available online here.

The program committee has created an exciting program full of new and cutting-edge topics that is relevant and engaging for the international community. The two-day conference will feature a keynote presentation by Dr. Louisa Degenhardt, of the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia. The conference includes two days of presentations, panels and discussions. There will also be methamphetamine laboratory displays and demonstrations.

This following is just a small sample of the presentations that will be given at GCM 2008. Ivan Langer, Minster of the Interior of the Czech Republic, will speak on the Intersection of Policy and Research; Jeremy Douglas and Matthew Nice of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) will present UNODC's 2008 Global Amphetamine Type Stimulant Situation Assessment; Ethan Nadelmann of the Drug Policy Alliance will present The Questions That Never -- Or Almost Never -- Get Asked About Methamphetamine; with Mike Sabin of New Zealand's MethCon Group countering with his presentation Don't Throw The Baby Out With the Bath Water. Also featured will be Network Environmental Systems' Methamphetamine Laboratory Display & Presentation. For the full program, visit the Global Conference on Methamphetamine web site at http://www.globalmethconference.com online.

Highlights of the Conference:

New Methamphetamine Epidemic in Thailand
Apinun Aramrattana, Research Institute of Health Sciences at Chiang Mai University

Methamphetamine Abuse in China
Lin Lu, Director, National Institute on Drug Dependence at Peking University

The Methamphetamine Epidemic in the US: Speed, Crank, Crystal, Ice and Tina and the Public Health Consequences
Richard Rawson, UCLA Integrated Substance Abuse Programs

Methamphetamine: Clandestine Laboratory Update
Robert Pennal, Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement, California Department of Justice

Dramatic Increase in Methamphetamine Related Drug Treatment Admissions in Cape Town
Andreas Plüddemann, South African Medical Research Council

A Global Overview of Youth Methamphetamine Use: Where Are We Now and Where Are We Headed?
Caitlin Padgett, Youth R.I.S.E.

Social Aspects of Methamphetamine Injection in Russia
Olga Borodkina, St. Petersburg State University

Safety First: Prevention Education For Methamphetamine and Other Drugs
Marsha Rosenbaum, Drug Policy Alliance

Amphetamine Type Stimulant Injection in the Republic of Georgia
David Otiashvili, Addiction Research Center, Union Alternative Georgia

Methamphetamine in the Czech Republic: EU Pervitin Deviance or Laboratory of EU Drug Future?
Tomáš Zábranský, Center for Addictology, Charles University in Prague,

Speaking to Be Heard: Outreach to Gay Men in San Francisco Who Do Meth
Michael Siever, The Stonewall Project, SF AIDS Foundation

Quite a Lot of Smoke But Very Limited Fire -- The Use of Methamphetamine in the European Union
Danica Klempova1 & Chloe Carpentier, European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction

According to estimates by the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the World Health Organization (WHO): More individuals worldwide now use stimulants than opiates and cocaine combined. Methamphetamine is the most widely used illicit drug in the world except for cannabis. Over 26 million individuals used amphetamine-type stimulants in 2007.

Established trends show methamphetamine use to be widespread in North American, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand; while India, Pakistan, Eastern Europe, the Russian Federation, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Western Europe represent emerging markets or areas of perceived risk. Yet the development of appropriate and effective responses to stimulants lags. In most cases, treatment and prevention are inappropriately modeled on opiate and alcohol treatment, ignoring both the physical properties of the drug itself, and the fact that methamphetamine use patterns vary widely, and effective responses must be tailored to the unique needs of regions, cultures, and individual users. A lack of infrastructure, of funding, and of experts trained specifically in methamphetamine response compounds the problem.

As nations struggle to develop appropriate responses to methamphetamine, it is crucial that the most current scientific research, information, and best practices be available to those seeking to implement solutions. The primary goal of the First Global Conference on Methamphetamine is to provide a context for this important work to take place.

FOR MEDIA: The major sessions of the conference are open to reporters. Site visits, photo opportunities and interviews can be arranged. For journalists not traveling to Prague, interviews and briefings with key spokespeople and presenters can be arranged on request.

Sponsors and Partners include: The Czech Republic, Charles University, City of Prague, Network Environmental Systems, Marathon Oil Company, Podane Ruce, Cranstoun Drug Services, Sananim, Institute Scan, and The Thorne Group.

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13. Weekly: This Week in History

August 15, 1988: In his acceptance speech to the Republican National Convention, George Herbert Walker Bush states, "I want a drug-free America. Tonight, I challenge the young people of our country to shut down the drug dealers around the world... My Administration will be telling the dealers, 'Whatever we have to do, we'll do, but your day is over. You're history.'"

August 18, 1989: Luis Carlos Galan, a Colombian presidential candidate who spoke in favor of extradition, is assassinated at a campaign rally near Bogota. That evening, President Virgilio Barco Vargas issues an emergency decree reestablishing the policy of extradition. In response, the "Extraditables" declare all-out war against the Colombian government and begin a bombing/murder campaign that lasts until January 1991.

August 20, 1990: The US House of Representatives Committee on Government Operations releases a report on the results of Operation Snowcap, the Reagan-Bush administration program aimed at stopping the flow of drugs into the United States at their source. Snowcap's goal had been to eliminate coca crops, cocaine processing laboratories, clandestine landing strips, and other trafficking operations in the coca producing countries of South America. The report found that less than one percent of the region's cocaine had been destroyed by this campaign and that authorities in Bolivia, Peru, and Colombia were deeply involved in narcotics trafficking.

August 20, 1994: The Guardian reports that Raymond Kendall, secretary general of Interpol, said, "The prosecution of thousands of otherwise law-abiding citizens every year is both hypocritical and an affront to individual, civil, and human rights... Drug use should no longer be a criminal offense."

August 16, 1996: While visiting San Francisco, US drug czar Barry McCaffrey claims to media, "There is not a shred of scientific evidence that shows that smoked marijuana is useful or needed. This is not science. This is not medicine. This is a cruel hoax and sounds more like something out of a Cheech and Chong show." Advocates later point out that there is in fact scientific evidence supporting medical marijuana.

August 18, 1996: In San Francisco, a city church distributes marijuana to patients who possess a doctor's recommendation in wake of the temporary injunction closing the San Francisco Cannabis Buyers' Club. "I believe the moral stance [in this instance] is to break the law to make this marijuana available," said Rev. Jim Mitulski of the Metropolitan Community Church of San Francisco. "Our church's spiritual vitality has always come from a willingness to act where people have been reluctant to act. This is not a bystander church."

August 17, 1999: CNN reports that federal authorities say they are sweeping up the last few indicted members of a major drug trafficking network that shipped tons of mostly Colombian cocaine and marijuana throughout the United States. Nearly 100 suspects have been indicted in "Operation Southwest Express" and 77 have been arrested in raids in 14 cities.

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14. 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 http://stopthedrugwar.org/speakeasy.

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/dc-beer-raid-small.jpg
prohibition-era beer raid, Washington, DC (Library of Congress)

Since last issue:

Scott Morgan writes: "The War on Drugs in 100 Seconds," "Another Top Drug War Official Calls for Legalization," "Stephen Colbert's Latest Outrageous Attack on Medical Marijuana," "Bob Barr Condemns Violent, Dog-Murdering Drug Raid," "Mexican Cartels Have Begun Kidnapping Americans," "Mayor Calvo Says Botched Drug Raids Are Commonplace," "TV Networks Refuse to Allow Discussion of Marijuana Laws."

David Borden swats SWAT with: "The Real Reason SWAT Teams Kill Dogs and People" and "Cartoon: Dogs as SWAT Team Target Practice."

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, http://stopthedrugwar.org/speakeasy 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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15. Job Opportunities: Marijuana Policy Project, Washington, DC

The Marijuana Policy Project has two new job openings in its headquarters in Washington, DC:

1. Membership Coordinator

The Membership Coordinator is in charge of maintaining and updating MPP's membership database on a daily basis. The overarching goals of the Membership Coordinator are to ensure that (1) the membership database is as accurate as possible, and (2) all donations and other transactions with members are processed in a timely manner. Applicants should be meticulous and have an exacting attention to detail. Additionally, applicants should be very comfortable working with numbers, have excellent writing skills, and be highly organized and able to perform exceptionally in a fast-paced environment. Proficiency with Excel is required.

2. Membership Assistant

The Membership Assistant is responsible for researching prospective donors and keeping MPP members' and other supporters' information up- to-date in MPP's database. This is a full-time, paid internship. Most MPP interns are recent or semi-recent grads, although that's not required. The position is a chance for a meticulous, detail-oriented person to play a crucial and responsible entry-level role in a successful nonprofit organization.

For all positions, please visit http://www.mpp.org/jobs for full job descriptions, salary information, and instructions on how to apply.

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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.

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