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Drug War Chronicle #600 - September 11, 2009

Issue #600 of Drug War Chronicle is dedicated to John W. Perry
NYC police officer, attorney and scholar, civil libertarian and drug reformer
June 24, 1963 - September 11, 2001

1. Feature: Will Foster Back in Prison in Oklahoma, Supporters Mount Campaign to Free Him

Medical marijuana patient Will Foster's nightmarish odyssey in the American gulag continues. Now the one-time poster boy for sentencing reform is back behind bars in Oklahoma, where parole officials are using some funny numbers to try to extend his sentence.

2. Feature: Tainted Cocaine Sickening, Killing People, But Feds Slow to Act

An Associated Press story at the end of August raised the alarm about levasimole-tainted cocaine, but the problem has been emerging for years. Now, while waiting for the feds to act, harm reductionists and public health workers grapple with how to respond.

3. New Book Offer: "Marijuana is Safer -- So Why Are We Driving People to Drink?"

To kick off our autumn fundraising drive, is pleased to offer the exciting new book, "Marijuana is Safer -- So Why Are We Driving People to Drink?," as our latest membership premium -- donate $36 or more and we'll send you a copy for free! Things are happening, and the importance of your support at this time could not be greater.

4. Medical Marijuana: More Than a Dozen Dispensaries Hit, 31 Arrested in Coordinated San Diego Police Raids

Anti-medical marijuana zealot San Diego DA Bonnie Dumanis has struck again. A series of raids yesterday resulted in 31 arrests and 14 dispensaries shuttered. The DEA was there, too.

5. Latin America: Mexico Drug War Update

This year's Mexican drug wars body count is closing in on 5,000, with more than 200 added to the death toll last week.

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

Man, the Chronicle takes a week off and look what happens: We've got more corrupt cops, sheriffs, ICE agents, and prison guards than you can shake a stick at. And a state prison mental health counselor, too.

7. Marijuana: Arizona Supreme Court Rejects Religious Freedom Claim

It was strike two Monday for the Church of Cognizance and its argument that its members have a religious right to use marijuana. The Arizona Supreme Court rejected that claim from a church member. Last year, a federal court rejected a similar claim from church founders Dan and Mary Quaintance, who are currently in federal prison.

8. Law Enforcement: Georgia Narcs Gun Down Young Pastor

A young Georgia pastor who gave a ride to a woman drug suspect being tailed by undercover narcs is dead. There are many questions.

9. Law Enforcement: Minneapolis Pays For Drug Raid Cop's Attack on Bystander

If you're a cop and you slug an innocent bystander in the face for no reason during a drug raid, it's going to cost your employer big time. At least that's what happened a couple of weeks ago in Minneapolis.

10. Latin America: Colombian Supreme Court Rules Drug Possession Not a Crime

More than a decade ago, Colombia's Constitutional Court ruled that drug possession was not a prosecutable offense. Now, President Uribe is moving to undo that, but the country's Supreme Court has put a roadblock in his path by upholding that ruling.

11. Europe: Dutch Government Wants "Members Only" Cannabis Coffee Shops

Holland's conservative coalition government can't find the political will to kill the famous cannabis coffee houses, but it is set to try to turn them into "members only" establishments in a bid to thwart "drug tourism."

12. Announcement: The 2009 International Drug Policy Reform Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico, November 12-14

Every two years drug policy reformers from across the United States and around the world come to the International Drug Policy Reform Conference to listen, learn, network and strategize together for change. This year the conference is in Albuquerque, in November, and is a partner.

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

"Prominent Drug Warrior Admits Anti-Drug Propaganda is Exaggerated," "How Much More Proof Do You Need That Lying About Marijuana Doesn't Work?," "Insane Hospital Worker Punishes Medical Marijuana Patient," "Bison Will Eat Marijuana Grown on Contaminated Chemical Weapons Site," "Confused Drug Warrior Predicts 'The End of Medical Marijuana,'" "Confused Drug Warrior Thinks Drugs Are Legal in Mexico," "What Would You Do If You Found a Giant Bag of Weed at the Beach?," "Will Foster is Back in Prison in Oklahoma and Needs Your Help," "Resignation of Mexico's Attorney General Won't Change Much," "Pain Activist Facing Fines in Free Speech Case," "10 Rules for Dealing with Police."

15. Students: Intern at (DRCNet) and Help Stop the Drug War!

Apply for an internship at DRCNet and you could spend a semester fighting the good fight!

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. Job Opportunity: Director of Development, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, Medford, Massachusetts

LEAP is seeking a Director of Development who will manage and grow all aspects of its philanthropic support and outreach, and guide the advancement team and the organization through its next stage of development.

Feature: Will Foster Back in Prison in Oklahoma, Supporters Mount Campaign to Free Him

Will Foster became a poster boy for drug law reform more than a decade ago, when he was sentenced by an Oklahoma court to a nightmarish 93 years in prison for growing marijuana plants to treat his rheumatoid arthritis. National publicity -- indirectly gained for Foster by, publisher of this newsletter -- helped get his sentence reduced to 20 years, and in 2001, he was paroled to California. Now he is back in prison in Oklahoma, charged with violating the terms of his parole, and is likely to remain there until either 2011 or 2015 -- depending on whose interpretation of the state's arcane sentencing laws is followed.

Will Foster
Foster did well in California, sponsored in his parole by "Guru of Ganja" Ed Rosenthal. After three years on parole there, California parole officials deemed him rehabilitated and ended his parole. That didn't sit well with Oklahoma parole officials, who argued that under the interstate compact governing parole to other states, it was the state which had sentenced the parolee that should determine when he had discharged his sentence.

"Based on his discharge date, we requested that Foster be put back under supervision," said Milt Gilliam, administrator of Parole and Interstate Services for the Oklahoma Department of Corrections. "California indicated they were finished, but we indicated to him that no, we dete\rmine the length of the sentence, as required by our state law."

Oklahoma issued a parole violation warrant for Foster, and, after an encounter with police in California -- he was cited for driving with an Oklahoma license -- he was jailed pending extradition back to Oklahoma. But Foster filed a writ of habeas corpus seeking his freedom in California and won.

"That warrant was thrown out," Gilliam recalled. "We didn't agree with the judge's decision, and our best option was still to get him under supervision, but we were not successful."

Oklahoma parole officials then notified Foster that they had changed his discharge date from 2011 to 2015 and demanded that he sign paperwork to that effect. He refused, and Oklahoma issued another parole violation warrant.

"We sent an explanation to Mr. Foster about the difference in discharge dates," said Gilliam, explaining that the later date was based on the fact that he had earned credits at a different rate than originally stated. But a moment later, Gilliam argued that 2015 had always been his discharge date. "My contention is that the 2011 date and the 2015 date were given to him from the beginning," he said.

"That is complete crap," retorted Foster's partner and primary supporter, Susie Mueller. "All of the original documents we have only mention 2011. This 2015 stuff only came up after they lost that habeas case. They said they made a mistake and they were taking away his good time credit, then they added the additional time. But every document we have says his discharge date is 2011. They went back in and added two fake charges, gave him 18 years, and set his discharge date for 2015, but that isn't in the original documents."

Foster's Oklahoma Department of Corrections offender page suggests that something funny is going on. It shows the four charges Foster was convicted of in 1997 with the latest discharge date of 2011. But a recent addition to the page lists two new counts of cultivation of a controlled substance with a discharge date of 2015. Oddly, though, unlike the four original counts, which show a conviction date of February 27, 1997, the two new counts show no conviction date.

"Before the Department of Corrections can treat a conviction as valid, they have to have a certified copy of the judgment of sentence," said Foster's Oklahoma attorney, Mike Arnett. Arnett declined to comment on the specifics of Foster's case until he could talk to Foster and get his approval.

Oklahoma got another crack at Foster last year, when he and Mueller were arrested by California police after an informant with a grudge against the pair told police Foster was engaged in illegal marijuana cultivation. But Foster was a registered medical marijuana patient, and his grow was within state and local guidelines. After letting Foster sit in the Sonoma County Jail for more than a year, local prosecutors dropped all charges against him and Mueller.

But Foster remained behind bars under the new Oklahoma parole violation warrant. A new writ of habeas corpus was unsuccessful, and late last month, Oklahoma officials arrived at the jail, shackled Foster in a van, and drove him back to Oklahoma. After sitting in the Tulsa County Jail for a week, Foster faced an preliminary hearing to revoke his parole on Tuesday and is now housed in the Oklahoma state prison system.

He will get an administrative hearing sometime in the next one to three months. If administrators revoke his parole, his case then goes to the governor's office. Under Oklahoma law, the governor ultimately decides whether or not to revoke parole.

Foster's supporters are working up a campaign to ask the governor and the parole board to either pardon Foster or commute his sentence. For more information on the campaign, go here.

Lynda Forrester, the parole officer handling Foster's case, declined to speak to the Chronicle. Instead, she referred reporters to the department's public information office, whose Kathy King did attempt to explain what was going on.

"The basis of Foster's parole revocation is that he violated city, state, or federal law, the use or possession of illicit substances, failure to report, and failure to follow the parole officer's directives," she said, reading from documents. "Police in California confiscated 184 marijuana plants, MDMA, and methamphetamine."

Although Foster and Mueller were never charged with possession of MDMA or meth and although the marijuana cultivation charges were dropped because Foster was operating within California's medical marijuana law, parole officials can still use that against him, King said. "That will be presented in revocation hearings," she said.

"The MDMA and meth stuff is a flat-out lie," said Mueller, suggesting strongly that any drugs found in the home -- if any really were -- were "throw-down" drugs placed there by the raiding officers. "We have never seen any MDMA or meth," she said. "We volunteered to take immediate drug tests, but they just laughed at us. There were arrest reports written by three different officers, and each report had the supposed drugs recovered from a different location. They do this to try to discredit the medical marijuana movement, to try to portray us as drug dealers."

When confronted by the discrepancy in release dates, King was unable to explain it. "The official record shows 2015," she said. "I can't answer questions about the stuff on the web site. I don't know where that information comes from."

Unlike Tuesday's preliminary parole revocation hearing, Foster and his attorney will have the opportunity to challenge the evidence and cross examine witnesses at his next hearing. They intend to make the most of it.

In the meantime, Foster remains behind bars, yet another victim of a justice system seemingly operating on petty vengeance and mindless reflex.

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Feature: Tainted Cocaine Sickening, Killing People, But Feds Slow to Act

On the last day of August, media outlets around the country ran an Associated Press story reporting that nearly one-third of the cocaine in the country is tainted with a veterinary medicine, a de-worming agent called levamisole. According to the AP, the tainted cocaine is responsible for at least three deaths in the US and Canada, as well as sickening more than a hundred other people.

According to health authorities, the cocaine tainted with levamisole is linked to an unusual incidence of agranulocytosis, a condition of a suppressed immune system, whose symptoms include persistent sore throat, persistent or recurrent fever, swollen glands, painful sores, skin infections with painful swelling, thrush, and other unusual infections.

The DEA suspects that levamisole is being added as a cutting agent by Colombian drug traffickers. Researchers speculate that it may boost the cocaine high by acting as a dopamine reuptake inhibitor, but there is of yet little research to support that.

While the cumulative death toll and illness count was news, the fact that cocaine is being laced with levamisole shouldn't have been. Delaware public health officials issued a health advisory on levamisole-tainted cocaine in 2005, and British researchers reported in 2006 on 14 deaths in a one-year period from the tainted cocaine.

Last fall, the DEA quietly reported in its obscure Microgram Journal that levamisole-contaminated cocaine had been encountered beginning in April 2005 and that the percentage of contaminated cocaine had generally increased since then to reach 30% of all samples by October 2008 (page 83). But it didn't publicize those findings.

Soon after, local public health alerts about levasimole-tainted cocaine deaths or illnesses began trickling in, including Alberta, Canada, in November 2008, Los Angeles County in December 2008, New Mexico in January, Erie County, Pennsylvania, in March, and King County, Washington, in June.

Also early this year, researchers reported on cases of agranulocytosis after consumption of levamisole-laced cocaine in January in the Annals of Internal Medicine, and Criminal Justice Policy Foundation head Eric Sterling blogged about it in March.

Given the large number of cocaine users in the US, tainted product poses a significant public health risk. According to the most recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health released yesterday, there are 1.9 million "current cocaine users."

"If it really 30% of the cocaine, that would be a huge public health problem," said Dr. Sharon Stancliff, medical director for the Harm Reduction Network. "Medical people need to be aware of this."

They aren't, said Dr. Eric Lavonas, assistant director of the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center in Denver, where nearly half of the cocaine is thought to be cut with levasimole. "I would think it would be fair to say the vast majority of doctors in the United States have no idea this is going on," he said. "You can't diagnose a disease you've never heard of."

But despite the mounting pile of reports and alerts and the potential public health risks, federal officials have remained silent. That may be about to change.

"The Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) is going to put out a 'dear colleague' alert," said Stancliff. "It should happen relatively soon."

The Centers for Disease Control is also expected to issue an alert, sources told the Chronicle, though a media specialist at CDC denied that. "We don't do drugs," she said -- unaware of the CDC's involvement in a national alert about fentanyl-tainted heroin in 2006 and 2007 and pointing the Chronicle toward CSAT. CSAT had not responded to Chronicle inquiries by press time.

The 2006-2007 wave of fentanyl-tainted heroin overdoses -- hundreds of people died from them -- provides a model for how CSAT and the CDC might respond to the ongoing levasimole-tainted cocaine problem. As the Chronicle reported at the time, people began overdosing on the tainted heroin in the fall of 2006.

While the initial response by federal agencies was slow, by the summer of 2007, CSAT had issued a nationwide alert to outreach workers, treatment providers, and hospitals warning of the deadly problem. The CDC also got involved, although to a lesser degree. That summer, a team of CDC epidemiologists went to Detroit in response to a request from the Michigan Department of Community Health. The team assisted state and local officials with autopsy reports and analysis to help understand the overdose wave and formulate prevention guidelines for clinicians and educators.

The current wave of deaths and illnesses related to levasimole-tainted cocaine is not as severe as the fentanyl overdoses -- so far at least -- but as indicated above CSAT is set to act soon. Whether the CDC will actually get involved this time around remains to be seen.

While waiting for the feds to act, harm reductionists and public health workers are struggling with how to best act on the tainted cocaine. "Medical people need to be aware of this," said Stancliff, "but can we make warnings about smoking versus shooting versus snorting? I have no idea. There may be differences in terms of biomedical availability, but we don't know that yet," she said.

Nor was Stancliff certain about whether it was time to alert needle exchange clients about the problem. "When New York state sent out an advisory, we made sure the Injection Drug Users Health Alliance was aware of it, but I'm never sure when we should be alerting the people going to the needle exchanges. We want to save our alerts for times when people are thinking about changing their behavior."

For Doctor of Public Health David Duncan, a Kentucky-based expert on substance abuse and epidemiology, contaminated drugs are an expected consequence of prohibitionist regimes. "This is one of the things you inevitably have with black market drugs," he said. "You don’t know what you’re dealing with and the makers don’t necessarily know what they’re making. It seems to be an iron law of prohibition--outlaw something and whatever it is, it gets stronger and more dangerous."

"The appropriate public health response is to tell people there is a contaminant, and we’re not sure how dangerous it is," said Duncan. "But all black market cocaine contains contaminants. As long as it is illegal, there is risk of contamination. The only way to make it safe is to make it legal."

Stancliff added that testing for levasimole in cocaine is relatively simple. That leads to the obvious question of whether a drug testing program like those that evolved around Ecstasy and the rave scene may be appropriate. At least one specialist thinks so.

"I thought to myself, why isn't there a test kit? It is easy to test for," said Dr. Michael Clark, assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science at the University of Washington's Harborview Medical Center. "It would be like testing your hot tub for its chemistry. Take a sample, mix some chemicals together, add a reagant, and see what turns what color."

Clark is working on developing just such a test kit. "It could be used at street level, and it could be used by a lot of public health and harm reduction groups. You want to identify levasimole before people ingest, very much like the Ecstasy testing. You could do the same thing with cocaine and levasimole," he said.

But that's addressing the problem on the back end. The solution is an untainted cocaine supply. "Someone needs to talk to those folks in Colombia," Stancliff said. And, as Duncan suggested, someone needs to talk to those folks in Washington--the ones who continue to assist on a prohibitionist regime despite all its negative collateral consequences, of which a tainted drug supply is only one.

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New Book Offer: "Marijuana is Safer -- So Why Are We Driving People to Drink?"

Dear friend of drug law reform,

To kick off our autumn fundraising drive, we are pleased to offer an exciting new book written by three of our colleagues, "Marijuana is Safer -- So Why Are We Driving People to Drink?," as our latest membership premium. Donate $36 or more and we will send you a complimentary copy of "Marijuana is Safer" as our thanks.

"Marijuana is Safer" offers an engaging mix of history, science, medicine, media critique, and just plain straight talk about the history of alcohol and marijuana use in America, the differing attitudes toward the two drugs, the rise of marijuana prohibition, and the effects the two drugs have on users and society as a whole. "Marijuana is Safer" is a book you can hand to your mother or your teacher or your preacher, to help them see the inescapable conclusion that marijuana should be legalized.

Your support will come at an historic and critical moment. A moment when Congress is moving on a wide range of important reforms to drug policy. When the prohibition debate is reaching new heights. But when despite it all the new drug czar continues to talk nonsense like the old drug czar. I encourage you to join us today as we fight this important fight at this important time.

Our ability to bring drug war injustices to the attention of major media, to promote policy change in Congress, to reach millions of people online each year -- all of these are possible because of, and depend on, you.

We continue to offer our exciting new t-shirts that make the point about prohibition and the drug war. For a contribution of $36, you can choose either of our new T-shirts pictured to the right — "Prohibition Doesn't Work" or "STOP" (click on images for an enlarged view). For a gift of $60 or more, you can receive both t-shirts. For a contribution of $90 or more, you can receive both shirts and "Marijuana is Safer" as our thanks, or substitute any item from the inventory.

What you and I and our friends are doing together is working. We can't back off now. By taking advantage of the opportunity we have during this pro-reform climate, we can change minds, change laws and, most importantly, change good people's lives.

Thank you very much,

David Borden
Executive Director, (DRCNet)

P.S. It's time to stop wasting time, money and good people's lives. Please join us in "Changing Minds, Laws & Lives" by adding your support to while we have this unique opportunity. Thank you!

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Medical Marijuana: More Than a Dozen Dispensaries Hit, 31 Arrested in Coordinated San Diego Police Raids

San Diego medical marijuana demo
One day after the San Diego City Council voted 6-1 to create a medical marijuana task force to help draft local laws governing dispensaries, local law enforcement agencies backed by the DEA Wednesday raided more than a dozen dispensaries in the city and its surroundings. For a complete list of the dispensaries raided, go here.

The raids were the result of an investigation led by San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, a long-time ardent foe of medical marijuana. At a Thursday news conference, Dumanis announced that 31 people had been arrested, $70,000 in cash seized, and 14 dispensaries shuttered.

Taking a page from the DEA's playbook, Dumanis attempted to portray the dispensaries as drug dealing operations, not medical providers. The raids have "nothing to do with legitimate medical marijuana patients or their caregivers," she said. Instead they were aimed at "so-called medical marijuana businesses that appear to be run by drug dealers."

Under California medical marijuana law, dispensaries are legal if they are organized as collectives and operate as nonprofit entities. San Diego has licensed nine dispensaries, but had an estimated 60 dispensaries -- at least until Wednesday's raids.

San Diego patient activist Donna Lambert
It's not the first time Dumanis has gone after dispensaries. A series of raids in 2007 shut down a dozen dispensaries and led to prosecutions that are still underway.

Medical marijuana supporters were livid at both Dumanis and the Obama administration. "Not only does the federal government have no place helping to enforce state and local medical marijuana laws," said Americans for Safe Access California director Donald Duncan. "Local officials must regulate medical marijuana and enforce those laws with civil actions, not with the barrel of a gun. It is incumbent on District Attorney Dumanis to help pass local regulations in San Diego not to aggressively undermine safe access to medical marijuana," he said.

"We're extremely disappointed that the feds participated in this attack on patients. The priority of the White House should be protecting patients, not helping local officials enforce oppressive restrictions," said Margaret Dooley-Sammuli, deputy state director for the Drug Policy Alliance. "Any concerns that the District Attorney may have will not be resolved through SWAT-style tactics like pulling people from their wheelchairs, as we saw yesterday. The federal government has no business enforcing state and local medical marijuana laws. It's our local governments' job to regulate medical marijuana and enforce those rules -- not with armed raids, but with civil actions," said Dooley-Sammuli. "The Obama administration has allowed Ms. Dumanis to use federal resources to further obstruct implementation of Prop 215 as she prepares to run for reelection in 2010. The people of San Diego deserve better."

Look for a feature article on San Diego's continuing recalcitrance regarding medical marijuana next week.

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Latin America: Mexico Drug War Update

by Bernd Debusmann, Jr.

shrine to San Malverde, Mexico's ''narco-saint,'' Culiacan, Sinaloa
Mexican drug trafficking organizations make billions each year trafficking illegal drugs into the United States, profiting enormously from the prohibitionist drug policies of the US government. Since Mexican president Felipe Calderon took office in December 2006 and called the armed forces into the fight against the so-called cartels, prohibition-related violence has killed over 12,000 people, with a death toll of over 4,000 so far in 2009. The increasing militarization of the drug war and the arrest of several high-profile drug traffickers have failed to stem the flow of drugs -- or the violence -- whatsoever. The Merida initiative, which provides $1.4 billion over three years for the US to assist the Mexican government with training, equipment and intelligence, has so far failed to make a difference. Here are a few of the latest developments in Mexico's drug war:

Friday , September 4

- Troops arrested three suspected cartel assassins in Ciudad Juarez. The three are thought to be part of La Linea, the enforcement arm of the Juarez cartel. Between them, they are accused of having participated in 70 killings.

- A high ranking police official was gunned down in Los Mochis, Sinaloa. The commander, Ubaldo Dominguez Grijalva, was shot by at least two gunmen outside his house at 6:30 AM. Fifteen days ago, he was involved in an operation in which three suspected cartel hitmen were arrested after a firefight in Los Mochis.

Saturday , September 5

- Mexican troops captured a suspect in the September 2 killing of 17 patients in Ciudad Juarez drug rehabilitation center. The suspect, Jose Rodolfo Escajeda, is a high-ranking member of the Juarez cartel. He is also on the DEA's list of most wanted fugitives on suspicion of being involved in marijuana and cocaine trafficking to the United States.

- A former high ranking official of US Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to smuggle cocaine into the US. The man, Richard P. Kramer, had previously been stationed in Mexico. He was apparently convinced by drug cartel members to retire and begin working for them directly. Kramer is accused of searching for information from law enforcement databases concerning possible informants, and with being involved in a 660 pound cocaine shipment which traveled from Panama to the United States, before being finally seized in Spain in 2007.

Sunday , September 6

- Gunmen killed a state legislative candidate, his wife, and their two children at their home in Tabasco. Authorities originally suspected that the murders were carried out by drug traffickers angered by recent arrests. Jose Francisco Fuentes Esperon, 43, a former university professor, had begun his campaign just one day prior to his murder. Mr.Esperon and his wife were both shot, while the children, ages 8 and 10, were asphyxiated.

Monday, September 7

- An arrest was made in the killing of Juan Francisco Fuentes Esperon, the state legislative candidate murdered over the weekend (see above). Police arrested several young men in what apparently was a burglary gone wrong. Interestingly, however, the Zetas drug trafficking organization took the unusual step of publicly distancing itself from the murders. The Zetas hung a banner in Villahermosa, the state capital, saying they were not involved.

- Seven people were gunned down in several separate incidents in Ciudad Juarez. Four of the victims were killed at a motel, and included an ex-US soldier who lived in El Paso and worked for the Postal Service. The men were drinking when they were attacked by heavily armed gunmen. In another incident, a man was killed and five people wounded when gunmen entered a private party and began shooting.

Tuesday, September 8

- Mexico replaced its attorney general, Eduardo Medina Mora, who had held the position for nine years. President Calderon gave no reason for the move. He is slated to be replaced by Arturo Chavez Chavez, who had previously worked for the state attorney general's office of Chihuahua, of which Ciudad Juarez is capital. He is likely to face a tough nomination battle in Mexico's congress, as the decision has been criticized because of his work in Chihuahua. During his tenure there from 1992-1996, the Juarez cartel became much stronger and the murders of hundreds of women went unsolved.

- In Veracruz, police found a headless body along with a message from drug traffickers attached to it. The body was left in the same location where two bodies (and another message from drug traffickers) were found on August 26. The note left with the body threatened extortionists and kidnappers, and may be the work of vigilante groups supported by drug traffickers or elements of the police.

- In Ciudad Juarez, a body with both arms severed was found dumped on a street. A spokesman for the regional prosecutor's office said that the victim was found with his severed arms crossed and placed on top of a cardboard sign that was left with the body. Additionally, the victim had plastic bags shoved into his mouth and his eyes were taped shut.

On another subject, two journalists from the state of Tabasco were arrested on suspicion of working for the Zetas drug trafficking organization. Newspaper correspondents Roberto Juarez and Lazaro Abreu Tejero Sanchez are accused of taking thousands of dollars from drug traffickers to withhold stories and share information from police sources. Police learned of the payments, which totaled some $4,500 a month, from a captured Zeta lieutenant.

Total reported body count for the week: 239

Total reported body count for the year: 4,955

Read last week's Mexico drug war update here.

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Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Man, the Chronicle takes a week off and look what happens: We've got more corrupt cops, sheriffs, ICE agents, and prison guards than you can shake a stick at. And a state prison mental health counselor, too. Let's get to it:

In Nogales, Arizona, a former Immigration and Customs Enforcement supervisor was arrested last Friday for helping Mexican drug cartels move large quantities of cocaine across the border. Richard Cramer, the former agent once in charge of the Nogales ICE office, faces charges of cocaine trafficking and public corruption. DEA investigators said Cramer used his position to run database checks under the guise of drug investigations when he was really checking to ensure that drug traffickers he worked with were not snitches for law enforcement. He is being extradited to Florida, where federal prosecutors say a majority of his illegal acts occurred.

In Memphis, a Memphis police officer was arrested August 27 by FBI and DEA agents as part of the ongoing Operation Tarnished Blue, which targets corruption within the Memphis Police Department. Officer Lowell Duke, 33, faces federal charges of conspiracy to distribute cocaine and conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine. He is at least the 34th department officer or civilian employee to be arrested under Tarnished Blue and other investigations since 2003. Charges in those cases have included ticket fixing, robbery, prostitution, extortion and drug conspiracy.

In Tavares, Florida, a Lake County Correctional Institution mental health counselor was arrested September 3 on charges she brought drugs into the prison. Now former prison employee Julia Bedenbaugh, 39, is charged with possession of crack cocaine with intent to distribute. She went down when an inmate in trouble after being caught with a contraband cell phone snitched her out. Authorities found her name and P.O. Box address on the phone, seized two envelopes from the box and got a positive hit on them from a drug dog. Police then returned the packages to the P.O. Box and arrested Bedenbaugh after she picked up the packages. One contained a cell phone and charger and the other contained two cigar tubes packed with crack and wrapped in electrical tape. She is out on a $20,000 bond.

In Monongahela, Pennsylvania, a Monongahela police officer was arrested last Friday on drug and corruption charges. Officer George Langan is accused of subverting the work of a Washington County drug task force by tipping off dealers and peddling dope himself. He is the fifth Monongahela police officer arrested on corruption charges in the past year-and-a-half in what a local prosecutor called a "culture of corruption." Langan was hit with 11 counts of violating the state drug law and 23 counts of public corruption, including official oppression, evidence tampering and criminal conspiracy. Authorities said Langan had been under investigation by various bodies for the past 10 years. He has been jailed under a $500,000 bond.

In Baltimore, a Baltimore police officer was arrested September 3 for trying to shake down an undercover internal affairs investigator posing as a drug dealer. Officer Michael Sylvester, 29, was arrested after stealing $70 from the investigator. Police later recovered three small bags of cocaine from Sylvester's locker. He had recently been transferred from the Central District's Pennsylvania Avenue task force, working one of the East Coast's largest drug markets, after complaints about him extorting drug dealers surfaced. He will face theft and drug possession charges.

In Pine Bluff, Arkansas, an Arkansas state prison guard was arrested August 29 after marijuana was found in her bra as she reported for duty. Maximum Security Union guard Michelle Anderson, 26, is charged with possession of drugs with intent to deliver and possession of a weapon on prison property. She was arrested after another guard searched her and found more than an ounce of pot in her bra. Officers then searched her vehicle in the parking lot and found a handgun.

In St. Joseph, Michigan, the former head of the Benton Harbor police narcotics unit pleaded guilty Wednesday in a corruption investigation of the Benton Harbor police. Former officer Bernard Hall, 33, conspired with another, already convicted and imprisoned, officer, Andrew Collins, to falsify search warrants, obtain warrants without probable cause, embezzle funds, file false police reports, steal money and personal property, and divert seized drugs. Hall pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the civil rights of Benton Harbor residents. He faces up to 10 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine. He has been in custody since his July 17 arrest. No word yet on a sentencing date.

In Bridgeton, New Jersey, a former state prison guard pleaded guilty August 31 to smuggling drugs and a syringe to an inmate at the Southern State Correctional Facility in Cumberland County. Under a plea agreement, prosecutors will recommend he do five years. The eight-year veteran will be permanently barred from public employment in the state.

In McAllen, Texas, a former Texas sheriff was sentenced September 3 to more than five years in federal prison for helping Mexican drug traffickers smuggle drugs through his county in return for cash payments. Former Starr County Sheriff Reymundo Guerra. Guerra was one of more than a dozen people indicted by a federal grand jury in Operation Carlito's Weigh, which targeted the Gulf Cartel. He pleaded guilty in May to conspiracy to distribute narcotics.

More fun for the Philly narcs, a New Jersey ICE employee goes down, and a Brooklyn drug squad supervisor gets off easy. Let's get to it:

In Brooklyn, New York, the former supervisor of an NYPD narcotics team was sentenced last Friday to 160 hours community service for stealing $40 from a drug dealer and giving it to an informant who turned out to be an undercover cop. Michael Arenella was arrested in 2007 and charged with conspiring with corrupt cop Jerry Bowers, who agreed to testify against him. But Bowers flipped-out, allegedly killed his girlfriend, and wounded another woman. Bowers is doing time for the corruption case and faces trial for the attacks. Arenalla was acquitted by his trial judge of drug possession and sales charges, and has continued to deny significant involvement in a corruption scandal that put hundreds of cases against drug dealers at risk.

In Newark, New Jersey, a federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) employee was arrested last Friday after allegedly trying to steal what he thought was a 110-pound shipment of cocaine. Valentino Johnson, 25, who worked for ICE's Detention and Removal Operations, was instead busted by federal agents and a New Jersey State Police SWAT team in a sting operation. He and two codefendants are charged with conspiring to possess and distribute cocaine. They face between 10 years and life in prison. Johnston and his pals went down after one of the pals bragged to an ICE informant that the trio had been robbing drug dealers. The informant set up a meet and told Johnson a cocaine shipment would be arriving. Johnson and pals went for the bait. Now, they're in jail.

In Philadelphia, another victim of a Philadelphia police drug squad run amok has filed a federal lawsuit against the city. Jose Duran, owner of Super One Market is suing over a September 2007 raid in which members of the Narcotics Field Unit entered the store, arrested Duran for selling small plastic baggies sometimes used by drug dealers, then proceeded to take what they wanted and trash the place. Part of the raid was captured on store video cameras -- before one of the officers was seen climbing toward a camera and grabbing the wires before the screen went black. The lawsuit contends police destroyed video equipment to "cover up illegal search and seizures" and that the narcs "intentionally and maliciously destroyed property, consumed food and beverages, stole money and merchandise, and deliberately caused food and other items to spoil by their illegal search practices." Duran said $15,000 worth of video equipment was destroyed and that the narcs stole or ruined another $10,000 in cash and merchandise. The Duran case is only one of many being investigated by a joint police Internal Affairs-FBI task force after one drug officer's former snitch publicly alleged that some officers made up information to get judge's to approve search warrants. Four veteran drug officers -- Jeffrey Cujdik and his brother Richard, Robert McDonnell, and Thomas Tolstoy -- have been put on desk duty pending the outcome of the inquiry. Both Cujdiks, Tolstoy, and three other police drug officers are named as defendants in the Duran suit. Jeffrey Cujdik, McDonnell, and two others are named in a separate lawsuit.

Read last issue's corrupt cops stories here.

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Marijuana: Arizona Supreme Court Rejects Religious Freedom Claim

Arizona's law protecting religious freedom does not apply to a man convicted of smoking marijuana while driving, the state Supreme Court ruled Monday. The ruling came in Arizona v. Hardesty.

In that case, Daniel Hardesty was arrested while driving in Yavapai County and charged with marijuana possession. At trial, he testified that he was a member of the Church of Cognizance, an Arizona-based religion that says it embraces neo-Zoroastrian tenets and uses marijuana for spiritual enlightenment. He argued that Arizona's 1999 law limiting the state's ability to "burden the exercise of religion" meant he could not be prosecuted because he was exercising his religious beliefs.

The trial judge disagreed, and Hardesty was convicted. He appealed to the state Supreme Court, and has now lost there, too. In a unanimous opinion, the justices held that while the state religious freedom law mandates restrictions on religious practices only if it shows a compelling interest and that the restrictions must be the "least restrictive means of furthering that interest," the state does have a compelling interest in regulating marijuana use and Hardesty's claim that the Church of Cognizance allows him to use marijuana anywhere or any time, including driving, made it clear that the "least restrictive means" was an outright ban on marijuana.

Chief Justice Rebecca White Berch, who authored the opinion, made a distinction between federal laws that allow Native American Church members to use peyote without fear of prosecution under state law and the religious freedom claim made by Hardesty. There was an "obvious difference" between the two situations, Berch said. "Members of the Native American Church assert only the religious right to use peyote in limited sacramental rights. Hardesty asserts the right to use marijuana whenever he pleases, including while driving," she wrote.

Monday's ruling was the second defeat in as many years for the church. Church founders Dan and Mary Quaintance were convicted of marijuana possession and conspiracy to distribute marijuana after being stopped with 172 pounds of pot in New Mexico. A federal judge in New Mexico rejected their religious freedom arguments. Dan Quaintance is currently serving a five year prison sentence, and Mary Quaintance is doing two to three years.

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Law Enforcement: Georgia Narcs Gun Down Young Pastor

America's war on drugs claimed another victim last week: Jonathan Ayers, 29, a Georgia pastor shot and killed by undercover narcotics agents in his car at a gas station in Toccoa, Georgia, on the afternoon of September 1. After being shot, Ayers drove off, but crashed less than a block away. He died while being treated at a local hospital. No drugs were found.

According to police, undercover officers from a three-county northeast Georgia drug and prostitution task force saw Ayers with a woman wanted for cocaine sales and followed him to the gas station after he dropped her off. While Pastor Ayers went inside to use the ATM, the officers waited by the pumps in an unmarked black Cadillac Escalade. Once Ayers got back into his car, the officers emerged and identified themselves as police. They ordered Ayers to open his car door, but he instead backed up, striking one officer, and then tried to drive away. Police fired twice, fatally wounding Ayers.

"The target was seen meeting with the deceased and at one point getting out of the car of the deceased. They went down from a local establishment down to the Shell Station," Stephens County Sheriff Randy Shirley told WNEG TV the next day. The undercover officers "identified themselves as police and Mr. Ayers backed up into one of the agents, and then pulled his vehicle forward in a fast motion toward the other agent... at which time the agent fired two shots into the automobile," he said.

Shirley conceded that Ayers had not intentionally struck the officer, who had ran behind the vehicle just as it reversed, but was driving toward the other officers "in a threatening manner." But video of the incident shows Ayers driving away from the officers as they opened fire.

Shirley also conceded that Ayers was not a target of the investigation, contradicting what police had told WNEG a day earlier. It wasn't the only clarification police had to make. Ayers' relatives told that police first told them he had died in a traffic accident, then that he had been shot, and then that he had been shot by a police officer.

The woman suspect police were following was later arrested and charged with cocaine sales. Her name has not been released.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is investigating the shooting. The officers involved remain on administrative duty.

Ayers' family, friends, and parishioners said the pastor, whose wife is four months pregnant with their first child, was more likely behaving as a Good Samaritan for a sinner in need than involved in anything nefarious. They suggested he may have had his car windows up and not heard the undercover officers identify themselves and was attempting to flee from armed men confronting him.

Ayers was buried last Friday after a funeral service at his church drew more than 400 people. Parishioner Roger Shirley (no relation to the sheriff) said he was certain Ayers had already forgiven his killers. "I know I will eventually. But I can't right now," he said.

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Law Enforcement: Minneapolis Pays For Drug Raid Cop's Attack on Bystander

The Minneapolis City Council voted unanimously two weeks ago today to pay $495,000 to a man who was punched in the head by a Minneapolis police officer during a drug raid last year. The payment settled a pending federal lawsuit filed by the victim, 53-year-old Eldridge Chatman.

Chatman stepped out of his public housing apartment just before noon on April 11, 2008, only to encounter a Minneapolis police SWAT team preparing to execute a drug raid in the apartment hallway. The lead officer, Craig Taylor, carrying a submachine gun, attempted to signal Chatman to move out from in front of an apartment door the team sought to enter, then punched him in the head when he failed to move.

Chatman required two brain surgeries to stanch bleeding in his head caused by a subdural hematoma resulting from the punch. He also lost a tooth.

Chatman was represented by attorney Bob Bennett, who has made a pastime of suing the Minneapolis police for brutality and civil rights violations. Bennett said last Friday there was no reason to use force on Chatman because he did nothing wrong and posed no threat to officers.

Bennett also drew a parallel between Chatman's case and the recent scandal over the release of a Minneapolis police squad car video showing six officers kicking and punching another black man, Derryl Jenkins, after a traffic stop in February. Both cases involved "African-American males who showed the slightest inclination to not obey" a command. "There's a subset of people the police think they can use force on and get away with," Bennett said.

The six-figure pay out has parallels, too. Last December, the city awarded $612,000 to a family after police mistakenly raided their house in 2007. One family member, fearing intruders, fired a shotgun blast, and police shot back. No one was injured. In December 2007, the city paid out $4.5 million to police officer Duy Ngo after he was shot six times by a fellow officer during an undercover operation in 2003.

Until the city fathers can get their police under control, the good burghers of Minneapolis can expect to pay out more of their hard-won tax dollars to the victims of those who are supposed to serve and protect. Also in the meanwhile, the perpetrator (Officer Taylor) remains on the force.

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Latin America: Colombian Supreme Court Rules Drug Possession Not a Crime

Upholding a 1994 ruling from the country's Constitutional Court, Colombia's Supreme Court has ruled that possession of illegal drugs for personal use is not a crime. The ruling came in the case of Ancizar Jaramillo Quintero, who had been arrested, convicted, and imprisoned for the possession of 1.3 grams of cocaine. The court threw out his conviction in July and ordered his immediate release.

In its opinion in the case (available here in Spanish), the court held that drug addiction is a disease, not a vice, and should be treated accordingly. Drug use "generates in a person problems of addiction and slavery that turn one into a sick, compulsive individual deserving of therapeutic medical treatment instead of a punishment," the judges said.

The court also invoked a principal that could be likened to "no harm, no foul." "In the exercise of his personal and private rights, the accused did not harm others," so his conduct "cannot be the object of any punishment," the opinion stated.

Although the Colombian Constitutional Court ruled that possession of small amounts of drugs for personal use was not a prosecutable offense, the government of President Alvaro Uribe is trying to undo that decision with a constitutional amendment. It has already been approved by the lower house and is now before the Colombian Senate.

If the Senate approves the measure, it will mean that the Colombian government is out of step not only with its own judiciary, but increasingly, with the rest of Latin America. Mexico decriminalized drug possession last month, and a few days later, the Argentine Supreme Court issued a decision decriminalizing marijuana possession on the spot and calling into question the criminalization of possession of any drug for personal use. Brazil, Ecuador, and Uruguay are headed down similar paths.

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Europe: Dutch Government Wants "Members Only" Cannabis Coffee Shops

In a letter leaked to Dutch media, three key Dutch ministers wrote that the government wants to maintain the country's famous cannabis coffee shop system, but that it should be "members only" so the coffee shops will no longer attract foreign "drug tourists." The ministers of justice, home affairs, and health wrote that reducing drug tourism and reducing the number of coffee shops would help reduce crime and public nuisances associated with them.

Bulldog coffee shop, Amsterdam (courtesy
Border town coffee shops in particular have been inundated with pot smokers from neighboring countries with more repressive policies, hordes of which have led to complaints of everything from traffic congestion to public urination to other drug dealing. The other criminality associated with the coffee shops comes from Holland's inconsistent policy of tolerating retail cannabis sales and possession while continuing to prohibit the licit growing of cannabis to supply those shops.

While the government was expected to issue a position paper on changing the coffee shop policy later this fall, Tuesday's leaked letter provides a clear indication of where the government is heading: toward "members only" coffee shops. While discriminating by nationality within the European Union would violate EU law, it appears the Dutch government will try to bar foreigners by requiring a Dutch bank card to purchase cannabis.

According to the letter, the ministers are also open to experimenting with allowing coffee shops to stock larger quantities of the herb. Currently, shops can keep only 500 grams on hand, resulting in a network of drug runners scurrying about Dutch cities and towns with fresh cannabis supplies.

The three party coalitions that make up the conservative national government have basic disagreements about coffee shop policy, with the Christian Democrats and allied parties wanting to dismantle the shops, but with the Labor Party in favor of keeping them. A more restrictive coffee shop policy in the near future, but leaving the shops open, is the most likely result.

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Announcement: The 2009 International Drug Policy Reform Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico, November 12-14 (DRCNet) is pleased to be a partner in the upcoming 2009 International Drug Policy Reform Conference, this November 12-14 at the Hyatt Regency in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The Reform Conference, sponsored by our friends at the Drug Policy Alliance, is the major biennial gathering of drug policy reformers of all kinds. The last one, held in New Orleans in 2007, brought together over 1,000 attendees representing 25 different countries. This year attendees will have the opportunity to spend three days interacting with people committed to finding alternatives to the war on drugs while participating in sessions given by leading experts from around the world. Click here to register -- early bird rates are available through October 9, and discounts are available for students and New Mexico residents.

Some testimonials from the 2007 conference:

"The conference was a tremendous educational experience. I established tons of contacts and look forward to a future dedicated to fighting the drug war."

"Lots of great energy! This was my very first conference and I would most definitely recommend it to any health care professional desiring information on this subject. The speakers were very educated on their subjects and readily available to answer questions."

"This conference has been an incredible experience. The level of knowledge and experience from the presenters has been fantastic."

"I thought the conference was a wonderful collaboration of minds and knowledge on the multiple aspects of drug policy. I enjoyed having applicable speakers on both sides of the debate of policy and drug reform."

"This conference exceeded my expectations in every way possible. As a first year attendee I had no idea what I would learn."

"Once again, thank you for the most exciting and informative conference in the world."

Hope to see you there.

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Weekly: This Week in History

September 13, 1994: President Clinton signs The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 (P.L. 103-322), which includes provisions to enhance penalties for selected drug-related crimes and to fund new drug-related programs.

September 15, 1994: The Boston Globe prints the results of a reader call-in survey that asks, "Do you favor legalizing marijuana for medical use?" Ninety-seven percent of the callers say "yes."

September 14, 1995: The conservative, Reagan appointed judge described by American Lawyer magazine as "the most brilliant judge in the country," Richard Posner, Chief Judge of the US Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago, is quoted in USA Today: "I am skeptical that a society that is so tolerant of alcohol and cigarettes should come down so hard on marijuana use and send people to prison for life without parole... We should not repeal all the drug laws overnight, but we should begin with marijuana and see whether the sky falls."

September 17, 1998: Ninety-three members of Congress vote yes in the first vote on medical marijuana to take place on the floor of the House.

September 13, 1999: The US 9th Circuit Court rules that seriously ill patients should be allowed marijuana if the need is there.

September 13, 2000: Eleven-year-old Alberto Sepulveda of Modesto, California, is shot dead during a SWAT raid targeting his father, when an officer on the scene accidentally squeezes off a shot, killing the boy instantly. A year and a half later the family settles a federal lawsuit over the death.

September 12, 2002: In Petaluma, CA, the Genesis 1:29 medical marijuana dispensary is raided by the DEA, and Robert Schmidt, the owner, is arrested. Agents also raid a garden in Sebastopol, which supplied the Genesis dispensary.

September 17, 2002: Santa Cruz, California officials allow a medical marijuana giveaway at City Hall to protest federal raids.

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Weekly: Blogging @ the Speakeasy

Along with our weekly in-depth Chronicle reporting, DRCNet also provides 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 writes: "Prominent Drug Warrior Admits Anti-Drug Propaganda is Exaggerated," "How Much More Proof Do You Need That Lying About Marijuana Doesn't Work?," "Insane Hospital Worker Punishes Medical Marijuana Patient," "Bison Will Eat Marijuana Grown on Contaminated Chemical Weapons Site," "Confused Drug Warrior Predicts 'The End of Medical Marijuana,'" "Confused Drug Warrior Thinks Drugs Are Legal in Mexico," and "What Would You Do If You Found a Giant Bag of Weed at the Beach?"

Phil Smith rabble rouses: "Will Foster is Back in Prison in Oklahoma and Needs Your Help," and posts several Drug War Chronicle articles early.

David Borden notes: "Resignation of Mexico's Attorney General Won't Change Much," "Pain Activist Facing Fines in Free Speech Case" and "10 Rules for Dealing with Police."

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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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 summer or fall semester and you could come join the team and help us fight the fight!

StoptheDrugWar 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 rein in the use of SWAT teams, to expand our work to repeal the drug provision of the Higher Education Act 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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Feedback: Do You Read Drug War Chronicle?

Do you read Drug War Chronicle? If so, we'd like to hear from you. DRCNet needs two things:

  1. We are in between newsletter grants, and that makes our need for donations more pressing. Drug War Chronicle is free to read but not to produce! Click here to make a donation by credit card or PayPal, or to print out a form to send in by mail.

  2. Please send quotes and reports on how you put our flow of information to work, for use in upcoming grant proposals and letters to funders or potential funders. Do you use DRCNet as a source for public speaking? For letters to the editor? Helping you talk to friends or associates about the issue? Research? For your own edification? Have you changed your mind about any aspects of drug policy since subscribing, or inspired you to get involved in the cause? Do you reprint or repost portions of our bulletins on other lists or in other newsletters? Do you have any criticisms or complaints, or suggestions? We want to hear those too. Please send your response -- one or two sentences would be fine; more is great, too -- email [email protected] or reply to a Chronicle email or use our online comment form. Please let us know if we may reprint your comments, and if so, if we may include your name or if you wish to remain anonymous. IMPORTANT: Even if you have given us this kind of feedback before, we could use your updated feedback now too -- we need to hear from you!

Again, please help us keep Drug War Chronicle alive at this important time! Click here to make a donation online, or send your check or money order to: DRCNet, P.O. Box 18402, Washington, DC 20036. Make your check payable to DRCNet Foundation to make a tax-deductible donation for Drug War Chronicle -- remember if you select one of our member premium gifts that will reduce the portion of your donation that is tax-deductible -- or make a non-deductible donation for our lobbying work -- online or check payable to Drug Reform Coordination Network, same address. We can also accept contributions of stock -- email [email protected] for the necessary info.

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Job Opportunity: Director of Development, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, Medford, Massachusetts

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) was founded seven years ago to provide a channel for current and former members of law enforcement who believe US drug policies have failed. Prohibition has perpetuated the problems of violent crime, drug abuse, addiction, juvenile drug use, and the illegal drug trade. LEAP is building a broad public movement to bring about the legalization and regulation of all drugs and seeks an experienced Development Director. LEAP differs from and complements other organizations in the drug-reform movement in that we are better able to reach out to a large segment of the population who may see drug-policy reform as a front for politically active drug users. However inaccurate this perception, the credibility of our speakers serves as a jumping off point from which we are able to reach people who would be otherwise unwilling to listen.

Modeled on Vietnam Veterans Against the War, LEAP has an unparalleled credibility when its current and former drug-warriors speak out about the horrors of the war on drugs. LEAP's message is well received by the public, demands the attention of the media and rings true with many other drug warriors who have grown skeptical of current U.S. drug policies. We see anyone interested in establishing a rational, ethical and effective drug policy as an ally on this issue. The positive public reaction to former drug warriors speaking out against the war confirms and strengthens this perspective.

LEAP is seeking a Director of Development who will manage and grow all aspects of its philanthropic support and outreach, and guide the advancement team and the organization through its next stage of development. This includes annual appeals, individual giving, special events, corporate sponsorship, and foundation grants. The Director of Development will develop and execute a fundraising strategy to maximize the potential of current funding sources and uncover additional avenues of revenue. One key area of focus will be to build a major gifts program. Reporting to the Chief of Staff, s/he will also collaborate with the Executive Director, senior staff, and volunteers on donor cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship activity.

Responsibilities include the planning, structuring, implementing and monitoring of an effective development program to increase the current and permanent assets of LEAP, to include semi-annual fund appeals and other appeals as needed; working with the Chief of Staff and Executive Director to position all development activities within LEAP's mission and Strategic Plan; developing new sources of funding, especially major donors, as well as secure multi-year funding sources to ensure LEAP's long-term sustainability; working to move existing donors to the next level of involvement; identifying and cultivating new major donor prospects including individuals, corporations, and foundations throughout the country and internationally, through phone calls, correspondence, and special events in order to strengthen and nurture LEAP's donor base; developing and writing proposals continually for submission to new corporate and foundation donors; providing stewardship to major gift donors; coordinating with the Program team the management of the database for internal tracking systems and for the development and maintenance of prospect records for mailings, solicitations, etc.; and providing regular reports and updates to the Chief of Staff and Executive Director as requested.

This is a full-time position with a salary of $45,000 per year. Medford, MA is the preferred location, but exceptional applicants who desire to live/work elsewhere will be considered. The deadline to apply is October 31, 2009.

Interested persons should send a letter of intent and resume to Kristin Daley, Program Manager, at [email protected]. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis.

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