Drug War Chronicle

comprehensive coverage of the War on Drugs since 1997

Anúncio: Novo Formato para o Calendário do Reformador

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A partir desta edição, O Calendário do Reformador não aparecerá mais como parte do boletim Crônica da Guerra Contra as Drogas, mas será mantido como seção de nossa nova página:

O Calendário do Reformador publica eventos grandes e pequenos de interesse para os reformadores das políticas de drogas ao redor do mundo. Seja uma grande conferência internacional, uma manifestação que reúna pessoas de toda a região ou um fórum na universidade local, queremos saber para que possamos informar os demais também.

Porém, precisamos da sua ajuda para mantermos o calendário atualizado, então, por favor, entre em contato conosco e não suponha que já estamos informados sobre o evento ou que vamos saber dele por outra pessoa, porque isso nem sempre acontece.

Ansiamos por informá-lo de mais matérias novas de nossa nova página assim que estejam disponíveis.

Anuncio: Nuevo Formato para el Calendario del Reformador

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A partir de esta edición, El Calendario del Reformador ya no aparecerá como parte del boletín Crónica de la Guerra Contra las Drogas, pero será mantenido como sección de nuestra nueva página web:

El Calendario del Reformador publica eventos grandes y pequeños de interés para los reformadores de las políticas de drogas alrededor del mundo. Ya sea una gran conferencia internacional, una manifestación que reúna a personas de toda la región o un foro en la universidad local, queremos saber para que podamos informar a los demás también.

Pero necesitamos su ayuda para mantener el calendario actualizado, entonces por favor contáctenos y no suponga que ya estamos informados sobre el evento o que vamos a saber de ello por otra persona, porque eso ni siempre sucede.

Ansiamos por informarlo a usted de más reportajes nuevos de nuestra nueva página web así que estén disponibles.

Chamado: Por Favor, Envie Publicações, Notícias e Eventos à Nova Página da DRCNet!

Entre as características disponíveis na nova página da DRCNet estão as possibilidades interativas para que você seja parte da equipe eletrônica. Para começar, há os Blogs dos Leitores, uma seção do novo projeto blogosférico “O Bar Clandestino da Stop the Drug War”. Visite http://stopthedrugwar.org/speakeasy/reader para conferi-lo e começar a publicar! (Se você já tentou isso e teve problemas, por favor, tente novamente – consertamos alguns dos problemas técnicos iniciais, apesar de não termos corrigido todos ainda.) Vamos dedicar cada vez mais atenção com o tempo que passa aos Blogs do Leitor – isto é só o começo!

Você pode nos informar sobre notícias importantes ou interessantes ao enviá-las diretamente à nossa nova seção de Últimas Notícias – visite http://stopthedrugwar.org/node/add/content-recent_news para enviar as sus sugestões de links de notícias aos nossos moderadores.

A DRCNet continua publicando listagens de eventos grandes ou pequenos que estiverem relacionados com a causa, mas agora os publicamos em uma listagem que aparece na maioria das página no nosso sítio e que tem um link para o calendário completo. Se você estiver envolvido ou conhece algum evento relevante, pode publicá-lo diretamente – não só uma descrição curta como as que fizemos anteriormente, mas o anúncio completo – na nossa página de eventos em http://stopthedrugwar.org/node/add/event.

Agora, os artigos da Crônica da Guerra Contra as Drogas têm seções de comentários debaixo deles, outra maneira de entrar na discussão.

A seguir: publicações agenciadas que você pode publicar na sua página, uma base de dados considerável com links de políticas de drogas e conteúdo geograficamente objetivado para a sua consulta personalizada do sítio. Para conseguir esse conteúdo geograficamente objetivado, você terá que se conectar às nossas novas contas (o mesmo endereço eletrônico que você nos deu antes, se for assinante) e dar-nos a sua localização, se já não fez isso. Visite http://stopthedrugwar.org/user para se conectar, se registrar ou atualizar a sua informação. (Por favor, conte-nos se lhe aparecer qualquer mensagem de erro ou se você tiver quaisquer problemas com as contas – consertamos alguns dos problemas, mas queremos chegar o mais perto possível da perfeição.)

Llamado: ¡Por Favor, Envíe Publicaciones, Noticias y Eventos a la Nueva Página Web de DRCNet!

Entre las características disponibles en la nueva página web de DRCNet están las posibilidades interactivas para que usted sea parte del equipo electrónico. Para empezar hay los Blogs de los Lectores, una sección del nuevo proyecto blogosférico “El Bar Clandestino de Stop the Drug War”. ¡Visite http://stopthedrugwar.org/speakeasy/reader para chequearlo y empezar a publicar! (Si usted ya lo ha intentado y ha tenido problemas, por favor, inténtelo nuevamente – hemos arreglado algunos de los problemas técnicos iniciales, pese a que todavía faltan algunos.) Vamos a dedicar cada vez más atención con el tiempo que pasa a los Blogs del Lector -- ¡esto es apenas el comienzo!

Usted puede informarnos sobre noticias importantes o interesantes al enviarlas directamente a nuestra nueva sección de Últimas Noticias – visite http://stopthedrugwar.org/node/add/content-recent_news para enviar sus sugerencias de enlaces de noticias a nuestros moderadores.

La DRCNet sigue publicando listados de eventos grandes o pequeños que estén relacionados con la causa, pero ahora los publicamos en un listado que aparece en la mayoría de las páginas en nuestra página web y que tiene enlace para el calendario completo. Si usted está involucrado o sabe de algún evento relevante, puede publicarlo directamente – no apenas una descripción corta como las que hemos hecho anteriormente, sino el anuncio completo – en nuestra página de eventos en http://stopthedrugwar.org/node/add/event.

Ahora, los artículos de la Crónica de la Guerra Contra las Drogas tienen secciones de comentarios debajo de ellos, otra manera de entrar en la discusión.

A continuación: publicaciones agenciadas que usted puede publicar en su página web, una base de datos considerable con enlaces de políticas de drogas y contenido geográficamente objetivado para su consulta personalizada a la página web. Para conseguir ese contenido geográficamente objetivado, usted tendrá que conectarse a nuestras nuevas cuentas (la misma dirección electrónica que usted nos dio antes, si es suscriptor) y darnos su ubicación, si ya no ha hecho eso. Visite http://stopthedrugwar.org/user para conectarse, registrarse o actualizar su información. (Por favor, díganos si le aparece cualquier mensaje de error o si tiene cualquier problema con las cuentas – hemos arreglado algunos de los problemas, pero queremos llegar lo más cerca posible de la perfección.)

Reportaje: Activistas Californianos Buscan Hacer Tres Puntos con Iniciativas Municipales de “Menor Prioridad” en Santa Bárbara, Santa Cruz y Santa Mónica

Inspirados por las iniciativas municipales que volvieron la marihuana la “menor prioridad legal” en Seattle y Oakland, los activistas en tres ciudades californianas – Santa Bárbara, Santa Cruz y Santa Mónica – están ocupados trabajando para garantizar que medidas similares sean aprobadas allí en Noviembre. Los organizadores en todas las tres ciudades dicen que sus perspectivas de victoria son buenas.

Las tres iniciativas municipales de California contienen un texto casi idéntico y se autodescriben similarmente. Como observa la página web de la Santa Monicans for Sensible Marijuana Policy, el grupo que administra la campaña allá, la iniciativa “vuelve los delitos de marihuana, en que el cannabis sea pretendido para uso personal adulto, la menor prioridad legal” y “libera recursos policíacos para concentrarse en la criminalidad violenta y seria, en vez de arrestar y prender a usuarios no-violentos de cannabis”.

La iniciativa de Santa Cruz da más un paso al establecer una posición municipal oficial en favor de la legalización de la marihuana. Allá, la iniciativa “establecería una política municipal en apoyo a los cambios en las leyes estaduales y federales que piden la tasación y reglamentación del uso adulto de marihuana”.

El lote de iniciativas de este año es resultado directo de la campaña de Oakland de 2004, la Medida Z, en la cual los activistas organizados como la Oakland Civil Liberties Alliance (OCLA) lograron aprobar una iniciativa que vuelve los delitos adultos de marihuana la menor prioridad e instruir la ciudad a defender la tasación y reglamentación de la marihuana. Aunque la OCLA no esté involucrada formalmente en las iniciativas de este año, algunos de sus miembros, como Richard Lee de Oaksterdam News y el Café Bulldog, han ayudado a financiar el esfuerzo. Otros, como la activista de largo tiempo, Mikki Norris de la Cannabis Consumers Campaign, y el director de la NORML California, Dale Gleringer, han sido instrumentales como consejeros.

“Tras nuestra experiencia exitosa con la Medida Z en Oakland, nosotros de la OCLA queríamos difundir esto alrededor de California para mostrar un amplio apoyo, entonces, el año pasado, nosotros y la NORML California auspiciamos una conferencia estadual de los activistas en la cual divulgamos nuestra estrategia de Oakland y buscamos cuáles otras áreas en el estado podrían ser susceptibles a hacer algo similar”, le dijo Norris a la Crónica de la Guerra Contra las Drogas. “La consultora política que habíamos usado, Susan Stevenson de la Next Generation, redactó una solicitud de donación al Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) diciendo que estábamos interesados en iniciativas o ordenanzas en cinco ciudades y conseguimos un contrato con el MPP que nos proporcionaba financiación básica. Aún tenemos que recaudar más fondos, pero esa donación posibilitó esto”, dijo ella.

Después de eso, dijo Norris, los activistas estrecharon sus enfoques. “Encontramos gente en lo que parecían buenas áreas y empezamos a recaudar fondos para conducir encuestas para ver si eran viables, examinamos la demografía y concordamos en estas tres ciudades”.

En verdad, West Hollywood y San Francisco también fueron objetivadas, pero en la primera, un regidor municipal presentó una ordenanza aceptable para los organizadores y ellos desistieron de su campaña por la iniciativa. Esta semana en San Francisco, los supervisores municipales pasaron a adoptar una ordenanza de menor prioridad.

Los organizadores en las tres Santas están trabajando duro ahora para asegurar la victoria en Noviembre, les dijeron ellos a la Crónica en términos impresionantemente similares. “Las cosas parecen bien aquí”, dijo la vocera de Sensible Santa Barbara, Lara Cassell. “Hemos sido muy exitosos hasta el momento y no hay oposición organizada”, le dijo ella a la Crónica. “En realidad, nadie se importó en enviar un argumento de oposición para la votación, lo que es fabuloso. Santa Bárbara es muy amigable respecto de nuestra cuestión”.

La Sensible Santa Barbara estaba beneficiándose de la ayuda proporcionada por los activistas de todo el estado, dijo Cassell, “pero tenemos la suerte de tener muchas personas en la comunidad que nos apoyan. Nos sentimos muy bien con esto. Estamos fiados de que ello será aprobado”.

“Las cosas andan muy bien aquí”, dijo Kate Horner, directora de campaña de Sensible Santa Cruz, el grupo que lidera el esfuerzo allí. “No hay ninguna oposición organizada, pese a que algunos líderes comunitarios se hayan pronunciado en contra de la iniciativa por los costos posibles. Pero, esos costos serán mínimos”, le dijo ella a la Crónica. “En Seattle y Oakland, ellos dicen que los costos son básicamente una cuestión de fotocopiar las acusaciones y nada más”.

Diferentemente de las iniciativas de Santa Bárbara y Santa Mónica, la iniciativa de Santa Cruz va más allá del texto de menor prioridad. “Esa disposición requeriría que el escribiente municipal enviara anualmente cartas a los funcionarios de los gobiernos estadual y federal declarando la preferencia de la ciudad a favor de un modelo de tasación y reglamentación”, explicó Horner. “Ésa sería la política de nuestra ciudad”.

El apoyo a la no-penalización de los usuarios de marihuana está en alza en Santa Cruz. En una encuesta hecha en Noviembre, más de 80% de las personas allí eran opuestas a la penalización de los fumadores de marihuana.

“Los datos de esa encuesta nos dieron nuestra orden”, dijo Horner. “Realmente mostraban fuerte apoyo. Desde entonces, simplemente ha sido una cuestión de construir coaliciones por toda la comunidad. Estoy confiada que la comunidad quiere redirigir los recursos de los infractores no-violentos de la legislación antimarihuana a los criminales violentos”.

“Las cosas parecen bien aquí”, dijo Nicki LaRosa, vocera del esfuerzo de Santa Mónica. “Nuestra estrategia es involucrar lo máximo de personas posible. Hay mucha gente aquí que ha expresado apoyo y estamos trabajando para garantizar que expongamos el mensaje y llevemos nuestros votantes a las encuestas”, le dijo ella a la Crónica.

“Sí tenemos la oposición de la policía – ellos redactan el argumento electoral contra la iniciativa --, pero también tenemos mucho apoyo de la comunidad. La policía dice que la marihuana ya es una baja prioridad, pero las estadísticas que hemos visto muestran que las personas aún siguen siendo arrestadas. Queremos enviar el mensaje a Sacramento y Washington de que Santa Mónica está lista para la próxima fase de terminar la guerra a las drogas al despriorizar los delitos de marihuana”.

Santa Mónica parece ser el lugar más difícil, dijo Norris. “Nos sentimos seguros en Santa Cruz y Santa Bárbara; Santa Mónica es el lugar que más nos preocupa”, dijo Norris. “Estamos esperando la oposición de la asociación de los oficiales de la policía. Santa Mónica es un gran desafío. Es una ciudad progresista, pero también ha pasado por una transformación en los últimos años con los hoteles de lujo y el aumento de los precios de las propiedades. Y diferentemente de Oakland, aun los progresistas parecen alinearse con la policía en Santa Mónica. La ciudad es muy específica políticamente y tiene un fuerte componente NIMBY [Not In My Back Yard; según la Wikipedia, la expresión en castellano es SPAN, o Sí, Pero Aquí No]”, dijo ella con preocupación.

Pero, Norris también observó que las cuestiones políticas actuales pueden causar un impacto positivo en todas las tres ciudades. “Estas iniciativas son especialmente oportunas ya que California se depara actualmente con una crisis enorme de superpoblación carcelaria”, ella señaló. “Ya es hora de repensar quiénes estamos colocando en estas prisiones superpobladas y establecer prioridades. Podemos seguir construyendo prisiones a un costo de centenas de millones de dólares o podemos examinar las políticas alternativas que paran de enviar a tantos infractores no-violentos a la prisión. Las ciudades y el estado seguramente ahorrarán dinero al no prender, procesar y encarcelar a ciudadanos obedientes a la ley por la marihuana”, debatió.

Y el estado no solamente puede ahorrar dinero, también puede ganar dinero al pasar a tasar y reglamentar, discutió Norris. “Últimamente, ha sido noticia en todas partes que el aparato judiciario-legal está encontrando y desenraizando miles y miles de cultivos de marihuana en tierras públicas con el valor en la calle estimado en la casa de los millones”, dijo ella, aludiendo al frenesí de erradicación otoñal anual del estado. “No parece estar causando mucho impacto en la oferta. El mercado en este estado es enorme. Concebiblemente, podíamos recaudar billones de dólares en réditos y ayudar a financiar los servicios si controláramos, tasáramos y reglamentáramos el cannabis”.

Ése es el plan que no es de tan largo plazo, confesó Norris. “Queremos establecer esto para que en el día de las elecciones podamos decir que la gente por toda California quiere parar de arrestar a los infractores de la legislación antimarihuana y hacer que la policía se concentre en los crímenes violentos”, dijo ella. “Esperamos recibir una respuesta suficientemente grande en estas elecciones sea para inspirar otra ronda de iniciativas, sea para pasar a todo el estado”, dijo Norris. “Por fin, nuestra meta es llevar la reforma fundamental de la legislación sobre la marihuana a todo el estado”.

Eche un Vistazo: Muchos Nuevos Comentarios y Noticias Diarias y Más en DRCNet

Caro lector de la Crónica de la Guerra Contra las Drogas:

En la mayoría de las semanas yo escribo un editorial para este boletín. Hoy día, pensé que sería mejor llamar su atención al nuevo y extenso contenido que está entrando en nuestra página web diariamente desde el relanzamiento de nuestra página web.

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El enfoque de nuestros nuevos esfuerzos expandidos (pese a que no la totalidad de ellos) es el proyecto blogosférico del “Bar Clandestino de Stop the Drug War”, usted puede leer las noticias diarias, comentarios, comunicados de prensa y anuncios de nuestros muchos grupos aliados en el movimiento, enlaces a artículos interesantes en otros blogs, el punto de vista de DRCNet sobre lo que es nuevo e importante en la cuestión sin tener que esperar hasta el viernes.

Algunas de las publicaciones más recientes incluyen las siguientes:

También, hay un fomento de enlaces Últimas Noticias para reportajes sobre las políticas de drogas en los medios, una sección actualizada Los Policías Contra la Guerra a las Drogas y mucho más pronto.

¡Gracias por juntarse a nosotros! Por favor, si puede, haga una donación para apoyar a éste y otros trabajos.

Sinceramente,

David Borden
Director Ejecutivo

Reportaje: La Nueva Propuesta de Declaración de Políticas Sobre Prescripción de Remedios para el Dolor de la DEA - ¿Qué Significa?

Cuando la Administración de Represión a las Drogas (DEA) lanzó una nueva declaración de políticas sobre la prescripción de sustancias controladas para los pacientes que sufren de dolores crónicos la semana pasada, buscaba desagraviar el coro creciente de preocupaciones y quejas de los trabajadores de la salud y pacientes de que su posición severa contra los médicos que prescribían analgésicos estaba resultando en una crisis en el tratamiento de los pacientes de dolores crónicos. Pero, si los activistas y expertos con quienes la Crónica de la Guerra Contra las Drogas conversó esta semana sirven de indicio, el trabajo de la DEA en tranquilizar la comunidad de la terapia del dolor está lejos de terminarse.

La acción ocurre tras años de un aumento en los procesos criminales de médicos como el Dr. William Hurwitz, un importante terapeuta del dolor en Virginia, que fue condenado por ser un traficante de drogas por sus prácticas de prescripción. (Esa condenación fue recientemente anulada bajo apelación.) También ocurre dos años después que la DEA chocó y consternó la comunidad de la terapia del dolor, incluso a muchos académicos expertos en dolor que habían trabajado con la agencia, primero publicando y entonces apagando una serie de “preguntas y respuestas” que tenían el designio de ayudar a los médicos a permanecer dentro de las buenas gracias de la ley. Ahora, hay una sospecha común en la comunidad académica del dolor de que la DEA hizo una sección falsa de “preguntas y respuestas” a pedido del Departamento de Justicia porque ello habría ayudado a la defensa de Hurwitz en su juicio en Noviembre de 2004, pero el Departamento de Justicia no ha confirmado eso.

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Siobhan Reynolds, Frank Fisher, Ron Libby y Maia Szalavitz en una Audiencia Congresal de 17 de Septiembre de 2004 reunida por la Asociación de Médicos y Cirujanos Estadounidenses (foto cortesía Pain Relief Network)
En un comunicado de prensa del 06 de Septiembre anunciando que la agencia relajaría las normas para prescribir drogas de Clase II, la administradora de la DEA, Karen Tandy, también reveló la nueva declaración de políticas sobre la prescripción. “Nosotros escuchamos los comentarios de más de 600 médicos, farmacéuticos, enfermeras, pacientes y defensores del tratamiento del dolor y estudiamos sus preocupaciones cuidadosamente. La declaración de políticas del día de hoy es el resultado de esa colaboración. La declaración de políticas reitera el compromiso de la DEA con el logro del equilibrio adecuado para garantizar que la gente que necesita alivio del dolor lo reciba y aquellos que abusan no”, dijo Tandy.

La declaración de políticas delinea el punto de vista de la DEA de cómo los médicos pueden prescribir analgésicos poderosos, como Oxycontin o fentanil, sin terminar siendo arrestados ni llamados de “traficantes de drogas” por los fiscales federales que pretenden echarlos a la cárcel durante años. Dichas drogas solamente deben ser prescritas para un “fin medicinal legítimo”, dijo la DEA.

“Creemos que la declaración y la norma propuesta ayudarán a los profesionales de la medicina a garantizar que apenas los pacientes que necesitan de remedios para el dolor los reciban. La declaración refleja la ciencia de las carencias de los pacientes así como la importancia de impedir cualquier desvío ilegal de drogas prescriptibles”, prosiguió Tandy. “La declaración de políticas del día de hoy reafirma que la DEA quiere que los médicos traten el dolor de la manera adecuada según los estándares aceptados por la comunidad médica. Los médicos que actúen de acuerdo con la práctica médica aceptada deberían estar fiados de que no serán acusados criminalmente por prescribir todos los analgésicos apropiados”, concluyó Tandy.

Con todo, ni todos estaban creyendo en lo que Tandy estaba diciendo. “Esta nueva declaración de políticas es un mero disfraz”, dijo el Dr. Frank Fisher, un médico californiano que pasó por una desventura legal de años tras ser acusado de asesinar a sus pacientes mediante sobreprescripción. Por ende, él fue absuelto en todas las acusaciones criminales, pero fue arruinado financiera y profesionalmente. “El problema es que los médicos son intimidados y, como resultado, tenemos un desastre de salud pública con el subtratamiento del dolor crónico. Esto no trata del problema. Tenemos que conseguir tratamiento para aquellos que están muriendo porque no están siendo tratados. Tenemos que encontrar una manera racional de reglamentar estas sustancias y creo que hay un modelo muy bueno con el alcohol y el tabaco, ambos los cuales son infinitamente más peligrosos que los opiáceos”, debatió.

Aunque Fisher haya sido un crítico severo de la DEA, sí reconoció que la propuesta de declaración de políticas sugestionaba que la agencia estaba preocupada con un revés. “Está diciendo que”, dijo, “ahora la DEA parece estar preocupada con su imagen. En ese sentido, es una señal de progreso, pero la DEA no es el verdadero problema – la Ley de Sustancias Controladas [Controlled Substance Act] es el problema. Esto es tocar la flauta mientras Roma arde”, dijo.

“La DEA ha sido intransigente en sus posiciones y ésta es la primera oportunidad que hemos visto”, dijo Kathryn Serkes, vocera de la Asociación Estadounidense de Médicos y Cirujanos (AAPS), una asociación de medicina de membresía superior a 5.000 y tendencia libertariana que ha estado activa hace mucho en la guerra del dolor. “Yo creo que con el caso del Dr. Billy Hurwitz y lo demás que ha estado sucediendo en los últimos años, estamos alcanzando al punto de inflexión”, le dijo ella a la Crónica. “A través de la exposición de nuestro lado en los medios y en las páginas web, a través de la narrativa de nuestras versiones y a través del trabajo de activistas como Siobhan Reynolds [de la Pain Relief Network], el público lo comprende ahora. Los medios lo comprenden ahora. Hemos visto un cambio en los reportajes. No se trata más apenas de los médicos horribles que matan a los pacientes; los reporteros están escribiendo sobre el problema del dolor”.

Ese nuevo entendimiento aun está empezando a infiltrarse dentro de la clase política, dijo Serkes. “Los políticos están empezando a darse cuenta. La única gente que no lo ha entendido son la ley y los tribunales. Yo creo que el lanzamiento de esta declaración de políticas fue una acción estratégica de la DEA en vista del recurso exitoso de Hurwitz de su condenación. Si yo fuera la DEA, seguramente iría buscar algo para mostrar que estamos siendo responsivos. Siento parecer cínica, pero esto parece un intento obvio de manipulación de la situación de parte de la agencia. Pero”, concluyó, “aceptaremos lo que podamos lograr. Estamos trabajando la teoría del buen perro con la DEA – elogiar al perro cuando hace algo bueno aun si tiene algunos problemas de conducta. Buen perro, DEA, pero aún estás en la casita del perro”.

A pesar de algunos problemas generales con la DEA, el Dr. Howard Heit, un terapeuta del dolor y experto en la medicina de la adicción de Fairfax, Virginia, que trabajó con la agencia en la nueva declaración de políticas, estaba muy satisfecho con las normas más relajadas de prescripción. “Éste es un tremendo paso adelante en la meta común de lograr el equilibrio entre la DEA y los profesionales de la salud”, le dijo él a la Crónica. “Ello va a asegurar que los pacientes que necesitan drogas de Clase II las reciban y ayudará a disminuir el desvío de drogas prescriptibles”.

Heit dividió a sus pacientes en dos tipos: estables y problemáticos. “Con los pacientes estables, aquellos sin comportamiento aberrante que siguen todos los acuerdos, ahora puedo darles recetas secuenciales a pacientes que solía tener que ver todos los meses”, explicó. “Ahora, puedo ver a otros pacientes porque los pacientes estables no tienen que regresar innecesariamente. Por el otro lado, con mis pacientes con comportamiento problemático, quiero verlos a cada dos semanas y controlar más estrictamente las medicaciones. Eso impide la salida de una cantidad más grande de medicamentos que pueda ser mal usada o desviada”, dijo.

“La DEA dijo que cometieron un error al no permitirnos hacer prescripciones secuenciales”, dijo Heit. “Ahora, nos permiten hacer esto. La DEA está respondiendo a la comunidad de la salud y esto abre un diálogo que ha estado cerrado en los dos últimos años. Éste es un paso en la dirección correcta. Las reglas del juego están siendo trazadas. La DEA también ha declarado que no quiere practicar medicina, pero está encargada de imponer las reglas existentes. Aunque yo sienta que es la responsabilidad del prescriptor saber y seguir las normas federales de prescripción de las sustancias controladas, también es la responsabilidad de la DEA garantizar que todos los agentes de la DEA que imponen estas normas las conozcan”.

A pesar de los problemas con la DEA en el pasado, particularmente en torno de la sección abortiva de preguntas y respuestas sobre el dolor en 2004, Heit dijo que no restaba ninguna opción, excepto trabajar con la agencia. “La DEA no va a marcharse, los pacientes no van a marcharse, yo no voy a marcharme. Necesitamos comunicarnos los unos con los otros”.

El Dr. David Joranson del Grupo de Estudios Sobre Dolor y Políticas en el Centro Comprehensivo del Cáncer de la Universidad de Wisconsin, que ha trabajado de cerca con la DEA en la sección apagada de preguntas y respuestas, pero no en su más reciente declaración de políticas, resistía a dar un veredicto sobre ello. “Aún estamos analizando la propuesta e intentando ayudar a la gente a pensarla hasta los últimos detalles”, le dijo él a la Crónica.

Una cuestión que Joranson planteó era la de que gran parte del reportaje sobre las limitaciones sobre los opiáceos prescriptibles está equivocada y no son apenas los reporteros que lo están entendiendo mal. “Actualmente, no hay exigencia de renovación de 30 días”, dijo. “La DEA ha clarificado que no hay dicha solicitación. No hay ninguna palabra en la ley ni en las normas sobre eso y si todos están diciendo que hay, todos están equivocados”. Aun los médicos se equivocan frecuentemente respecto de la ley, dijo. “El material muestra que los profesionales de la medicina tienen a menudo una comprensión inadecuada de la ley y las reglas que tratan de las prácticas prescriptivas”.

Aun a pesar de que el propio comunicado de prensa de la DEA que anunciaba la declaración de políticas propuesta dijo que ella “permitirá que los médicos prescriban una oferta de hasta 90 días de sustancias controladas de Clase II durante una única visita al consultorio, cuando medicinalmente adecuado”, ese comunicado de prensa es equívoco, dijo Joranson. “La declaración implica que hay un límite en la oferta ahora, pero en verdad un médico puede prescribir cualquier cantidad de una sustancia controlada en una única receta”.

Pero, el Profesor Ronald Libby, el científico político del Norte de Florida que está escribiendo un libro sobre el conflicto entre los imperativos de la medicina y aquellos de la represión legal, no estaba tan seguro que los pacientes se beneficiarían con las normas relajadas de prescripción. “En primer lugar, los médicos ya se mueren de miedo de escribir prescripciones a causa de la DEA”, le dijo él a la Crónica. “Si tienen miedo de prescribir una receta, ¿por qué deberíamos esperar que se sientan más seguros prescribiendo tres?”, preguntó.

“Yo no veo ningún cambio real en las políticas”, dijo Libby. “Además de la prescripción de 90 días, simplemente no veo nada. Básicamente, la DEA está cumpliendo su promesa de reemplazar la sección de preguntas y respuestas, y aquí está. Esto es simbólico porque la DEA está siendo presionada”, dijo.

Discusiones seguidas entre la DEA y la comunidad de la salud no van a resolver las contradicciones, dijo Libby. “Yo no creo que se puede llegar a las cuestiones subyacentes a menos y hasta que haya audiencias congresales sobre la DEA”, debatió. “Son más secretos que una agencia de inteligencia. Es casi imposible conseguir información de ellos, aun para congresistas”.

[Nota del Editor: Hace años, oí a un analista decir en una conferencia que a los investigadores del Gabinete de Cuentas del Gobierno les gustaba decir que DEA significa "don't expect anything, don't even ask", o sea, “no esperes nada, ni siquiera pidas” – DB]

Pero, Libby no cree que las audiencias congresales ocurrirán pronto. “Encaremos los hechos. Los guerreros antidrogas están desabrochando. El clima del país no es favorable. Ellos han logrado ecuacionar el tráfico de drogas ilícitas con el terrorismo y con tanto que ése sea el caso y ellos incluyan a los médicos y los pacientes en esa guerra, la única manera de seguir adelante es extirpar esta cosa sobre el desvío de la guerra contra las drogas. Pero, aun a pesar de que las fundaciones y la gente del dolor como la Pain Relief Network hayan estado intentando lograr audiencias durante años, no podemos conseguirlas. Si los demócratas ganan la Cámara, eso podría cambiar, pero los miembros tienen que pensar en el desentendimiento. Si se toma una posición severa contra la DEA, usted mismo se vuelve un blanco”.

“Ver esto como algo insignificante es perderlo de vista”, dijo Siobhan Reynolds del grupo de defensa, la Pain Relief Network. “Los pacientes del dolor han estado sufriendo una contraoperación increíble, un reino de terror que ha costado las vidas de las personas”, le dijo ella a la Crónica.

Esto es muy personal para Reynolds. Uno de aquellos pacientes del dolor que se murieron era su esposo, Sean Greenwood, que falleció a principios de este mes de Síndrome de Ehlers-Danlos mientras Reynolds y él cruzaban desesperadamente el país en busca de niveles adecuados de analgésicos para él. Porque las precauciones antiterror los impidieron de tomar remedios en los aviones, la familia fue forzada a manejar por todo el país en busca de un médico que quisiera prescribir las dosis enormes que Greenwood necesitaba. Murió en el cuarto de un hostal en un estado que Reynolds no quiere identificar por miedo de llevar la DEA al médico que ellos estaban buscando.

“La gente no comprende la enormidad de lo que los pacientes enfrentan”, dijo. “Porque los médicos tienen tanto miedo de la ley, han proyectado su temor a estos pacientes y estas drogas, entonces esa gente enferma que toma analgésicos asusta a los hospitales y médicos. Sean necesitaba muchos cuidados hospitalarios, pero ellos no se concentraron en sus problemas de salud porque todos están programados para cazar a las brujas respecto de los opiáceos. Todo lo que los hospitales decían era darle Narcan, como si los opiáceos fueran responsables por sus problemas de salud”, dijo ella.

“Mi hijo vio la muerte de su padre sin ningún buen motivo”, prosiguió Reynolds. “Él no podía entrar en un hospital a causa de una operación del gobierno que nadie está dispuesto a admitir que está sucediendo. Nadie logra recibir las dosis grandes de remedios para el dolor que esta gente enferma necesita de verdad y ésa es una verdadera catástrofe de derechos humanos, y que la DEA haga una declaración de políticas nuevecita que dice básicamente lo mismo que antes no va a cambiar nada”.

Lo que es necesario, dijo Reynolds, es una agresión legal total contra el armazón de control de las drogas prescriptibles de la DEA. “Necesitamos un litigio de varios niveles con múltiples demandantes persiguiendo a elementos distintos de este problema”. Pero, eso exigirá un compromiso más fuerte de los reformadores que el que hasta ahora ha sido demostrado. “Estamos en un embotellamiento de pesar y nadie parece importarse”.

Take a Look: Extensive New Daily News, Commentary and More on DRCNet

Dear Drug War Chronicle reader:

Most weeks I pen an editorial for this newsletter. Today I thought I would instead draw your attention to the extensive new content that is now going onto our web site on a daily basis since the re-launch of our web site.

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The focus of our new expanded efforts (though not the totality of them) is the "Stop the Drug War Speakeasy" blogosphere project. In the Speakeasy, you can read daily news, commentary, press releases and announcements from our many allied groups in the movement, links to interesting articles in other blogs, DRCNet's take on what's new and important in the issue without having to wait until Friday.

Some of the latest posts include the following:

There is also a Latest News feed of links to drug policy stories in the media, an updated Cops Against the Drug War section, and much more coming soon.

Thanks for joining us! Please if you're able to make a donation to support this and other work.

Sincerely,

David Borden
Executive Director

Sentencing: US 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals Throws out Crack Cocaine Sentence

In a ruling Monday, the US 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia threw out a 24-year prison sentence for a man possessing less than three ounces of crack cocaine. The court held that the US District Court judge who sentenced the man erred in believing he had to sentence the man based on the 100:1 quantity disparity between crack and powder cocaine. Such sentences are no longer mandatory, said the appeals court, only advisory.

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Under a 1986 law passed in the midst of a wave of anti-drug hysteria, the US Congress enacted a two-tier sentencing scheme for cocaine defendants with crack defendants facing sentences decades longer than powder cocaine defendants for possessing the same amount of the drug. But the appeals court held that since the US Supreme Court last year ruled that federal sentencing guidelines were only advisory and not mandatory, sentencing judges need not be bound by the guidelines.

The three-judge panel held that defendant Johnny Gunter was entitled to a new sentencing hearing. "The limited holding here is that district courts may consider the crack/powder cocaine differential in the guidelines as a factor, but not a mandate, in the... sentencing process," wrote Judge Thomas Ambro for the court.

Assistant US Attorney Robert Zauzmer told the Philadelphia Inquirer the ruling was likely to be cited by every defendant in a crack case. "This is a significant opinion which we are studying closely," he said, adding prosecutors were considering whether to ask the appeals court to reconsider the decision or appeal to the US Supreme Court.

Assistant Federal Defender David McColgin, meanwhile, told the Inquirer the ruling would help reduce the racial disparities existing in cocaine sentencing. "This has a great impact in helping to reduce the racial disparity that stems from that ratio," McColgin said.

Latin America: Colombia's FARC Guerrillas Say End Drug Prohibition

In a communiqué sent this week to the New Colombia News Agency (ANNCOL), Colombia's leftist rebels the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) called for the worldwide legalization of the drug trade to put an end to black market drug trafficking and its associated profits. The unusual communiqué also carried a FARC denial that it owned coca fields in the southern Colombia's Macarena Mountains.

"FARC neither sows, nor owns, nor processes, nor transports nor commercializes any kind of narcotic substance or psychotropic product," said the communiqué from the guerrillas' highest decision-making body, the Secretariat.

The Colombian and US governments have accused the FARC of profiting from the coca and cocaine trade, but it is unclear what this means in practice. Some reports have said that the FARC's involvement is limited to taxing the crops and the trade.

Colombian media had recently alleged that the FARC owned some 7,000 acres of coca fields in the Macarena National Park, thus apparently sparking the FARC's denial. According to the long-lived guerrilla group, the coca fields are owned and worked by thousands of peasants who have no other way of making a living.

While the FARC has called for sustainable coca eradication programs in the past, it seemed to be singing a different tune this week. "We are convinced that the battle against the cancer of narco-trafficking con only be won definitively by elaborating a global strategy that includes the legalization of these products, because this will put an end to fabulous profits that they generate," the statement said.

Feature: California Activists Look for Triple Play in November

Inspired by local initiatives making marijuana the "lowest law enforcement priority" in Seattle and Oakland, activists in three California cities -- Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, and Santa Monica -- are busy working to ensure that similar measures pass there in November. Organizers in all three cities say their prospects for victory are good.

The three California local initiatives contain almost identical language and describe themselves similarly. As the web site for Santa Monicans for Sensible Marijuana Policy, the group running the campaign there, notes, the initiative "makes marijuana offenses, where cannabis is intended for adult personal use, the lowest police priority" and "it frees up police resources to focus on violent and serious crime, instead of arresting and jailing nonviolent cannabis users."

The Santa Cruz initiative goes one step further by establishing an official city position in favor of marijuana legalization. The initiative there would "establish a city policy supporting changes in state and federal laws that call for taxation and regulation for adult use of marijuana."

This year's batch of initiatives are a direct outgrowth of the 2004 Oakland Measure Z campaign, where activists organized as the Oakland Civil Liberties Alliance (OCLA) managed to pass an initiative making adult marijuana offenses the lowest priority and instructing the city to advocate for the taxation and regulation of marijuana. While OCLA is not formally involved in this year's initiatives, some of its members, like Richard Lee of the Oaksterdam News and the Bulldog Coffeeshop, have helped bankroll the effort. Others, such as long-time activist Mikki Norris of the Cannabis Consumers Campaign and California NORML head Dale Gieringer have been instrumental as advisors.

"After our successful experience with Measure Z in Oakland, those of us from OCLA wanted to spread this around California to show broad support, so last year, we and California NORML sponsored a statewide activists' conference where we shared our Oakland strategy and looked for which other areas in the state might be amendable to doing something similar," Norris told Drug War Chronicle. "The political consultant we had used, Susan Stevenson from Next Generation, wrote a grant application to the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) saying we were interested in initiatives or ordinances in five cities, and we got an MPP contract that provided basic funding. We still have to do more fundraising, but that grant made this possible," she said.

Following that, said Norris, the activists narrowed their focus. "We found people in what looked like good areas, and we raised some money to do polling to see if they were viable, we looked at the demographics, and we settled on these three cities."

Actually West Hollywood and San Francisco were also targeted, but in the former, a city councilman came forward with an ordinance that organizers could live with, and they dropped their initiative campaign. In San Francisco, city supervisors this week were moving toward adopting a lowest priority ordinance.

Organizers in the three Santas are hard at work now to ensure victory in November, they told the Chronicle in remarkably similar on-message terms. "It's looking very good here," said Sensible Santa Barbara spokesperson Lara Cassell. "We've been very successful so far, and there is no organized opposition," she told the Chronicle. "In fact, no one even bothered to submit an opposing argument for the ballot, which is fabulous. Santa Barbara is very friendly to our issue."

Sensible Santa Barbara was benefiting from the help provided by statewide activists, said Cassell, "but we are lucky to have a lot of people in the community here who support us. We feel very good about this. We are confident it will pass."

"Things are going really well here," said Kate Horner, campaign director for Sensible Santa Cruz, the group leading the effort there. "There is no organized opposition, although a few community leaders have spoken out against the initiative over possible costs. But those costs will be minimal," she told the Chronicle. "In Seattle and Oakland, they say the costs are basically a matter of photocopying charges, no more."

Unlike the Santa Barbara and Santa Monica initiatives, the Santa Cruz initiative goes beyond lowest priority language. "That provision would require the city clerk to annually send letters to state and federal government officials stating the city's preference for a tax and regulate model," Horner explained. "That would be our city policy."

Support for not criminalizing marijuana users runs high in Santa Cruz. In a poll done in November, more than 80% of people there opposed criminalizing pot smokers.

"That polling data gave us our mandate," said Horner. "It really showed strong support. Since then, it has just been a matter of building coalitions across the community. I'm confident the community wants to redirect resources from nonviolent marijuana offenders to serious and violent criminals."

"Things are looking good here," said Nicki LaRosa, spokesperson for the Santa Monica effort. "Our strategy is to get as many people involved as possible. There are lots of people here who have expressed support, and we are working on making sure we get the message out and get our voters to the polls," she told the Chronicle.

"We do have police opposition -- they wrote the ballot argument against the initiative -- but we also have a lot of community support. The police say marijuana is already a low priority, but the statistics we've seen show people still getting arrested. We want to send a message to Sacramento and Washington that Santa Monica is ready for the next phase of ending the drug war by deprioritizing marijuana offenses."

Santa Monica looks like the toughest nut to crack, said Norris. "We feel confident in Santa Cruz and Santa Barbara; Santa Monica is where we are most concerned," said Norris. "We are expecting opposition from the police officers association. Santa Monica is a bit of a challenge. It is a progressive city, but it has also been undergoing a transformation in recent years with luxury hotels and property values going up. And unlike Oakland, even progressives seem to align themselves with the police in Santa Monica. The city is also very finicky politically and has a strong NIMBY component," she worried.

But Norris also noted that current political issues could have positive impact in all three cities. "These initiatives are especially timely as California is currently confronted with a severe prison overcrowding crisis," she pointed out. "It's time to reconsider who we are placing in these overcrowded prisons and to set priorities. We can keep building new prisons at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars, or we can look at alternative policies that stop sending so many nonviolent offenders to prison. Cities and the state will certainly save money by not arresting, prosecuting, and incarcerating otherwise law-abiding citizens to prison for marijuana," she argued.

And not only could the state save money, it could also make money by moving to taxation and regulation, Norris argued. "It's been all over the news lately that law enforcement is finding and uprooting thousands and thousands of marijuana plants grows on public lands with the street value in the millions," she said, alluding to the state's annual fall eradication frenzy. "It doesn't seem to be making much of a dent on the supply. The market in this state is huge. We could conceivably raise billions of dollars in revenues and help fund services if we controlled, taxed and regulated cannabis."

That's the not so long-term plan, Norris confided. "We want to set this up so on election day we can say that people across California want to stop arresting marijuana offenders and get the police to concentrate on violent and serious crime," she said. "We're hoping to get a big enough bounce off this election to either inspire another round of initiatives or go statewide," said Norris. "Our goal is ultimately to bring fundamental marijuana law reform across the state."

Feature: The DEA's New Proposed Policy Statement on Pain Prescribing -- What Does It Mean?

When the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) issued a new policy statement on prescribing controlled substances for patients suffering from chronic pain last week, it sought to redress the rising chorus of concern and complaints from health care workers and patients alike that its tough stance toward physicians prescribing opioid pain medications was resulting in a crisis in care for chronic pain patients. But if the activists and experts Drug War Chronicle talked to this week are any indication, the DEA's job in reassuring the pain care community is far from done.

The move comes after years of increasing prosecutions of physicians like Dr. William Hurwitz, a leading pain care practitioner in Virginia, who was convicted of being a drug dealer over his prescribing practices. (That conviction was recently overturned on appeal.) It also comes two years after the DEA shocked and dismayed the pain care community, including many academic pain specialists who had worked with the agency, by first posting and then quickly removing a series of "frequently asked questions" designed to assist physicians in staying within the good graces of the law. It is now commonly suspected in the academic pain community that the DEA pulled the pain FAQ at the request of the Justice Department because it would have aided Hurwitz's defense in his November 2004 trial, but the Justice Department hasn't confirmed that.

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Siobhan Reynolds, Frank Fisher, Ron Libby and Maia Szalavitz, at a September 17, 2004 Congressional Briefing convened by the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (photo courtesy Pain Relief Network)
In a September 6 press release announcing the agency would loosen regulations on prescribing Schedule II drugs, DEA administrator Karen Tandy also unveiled the new policy statement on prescribing. "We listened to the comments of more than 600 physicians, pharmacists, nurses, patients, and advocates for pain treatment, and studied their concerns carefully. Today's policy statement is the result of that collaboration. The policy statement reiterates the DEA's commitment to striking the proper balance to ensure that people who need pain relief get it, and those who abuse it, don't," said Tandy.

The policy statement outlines DEA's vision of how doctors can prescribe powerful pain medications, such as Oxycontin or fentanyl, without ending up being arrested and called a "drug dealer" by federal prosecutors intent on throwing them in prison for years. Such drugs must only be prescribed for a "legitimate medical purpose," the DEA said.

"We believe that the statement and proposed rule will help the medical professional ensure that only patients who need medication for pain relief get it. The statement reflects an awareness of patients' needs as well as the importance of preventing any illegal diversion of prescription drugs," Tandy continued. "Today's policy statement reaffirms that DEA wants doctors to treat pain as is appropriate under accepted medical community standards. Physicians acting in accordance with accepted medical practice should be confident that they will not be criminally charged for prescribing all appropriate pain medications," Tandy concluded.

Not everyone was buying what Tandy was selling, though. "This new policy statement is mere window dressing," said Dr. Frank Fisher, a California physician who underwent a years-long legal ordeal after being accused of murdering his patients through overprescribing. He was ultimately acquitted on all criminal charges, but he was ruined financially and professionally. "The problem is that physicians are intimidated and as a result we have a public health disaster with the under-treatment of chronic pain. This doesn't address the problem. We have to get treatment for those who are dying because they're not being treated. We have to find a rational way to regulate these substances, and I think there is a very good model with alcohol and tobacco, both of which are infinitely more dangerous than the opiates," he argued.

While Fisher was harshly critical of the DEA, he did concede that the proposed policy statement suggested the agency was concerned about a backlash. "It is telling," he said, "that the DEA now seems to be concerned about its image. In that sense, it's a sign of progress, but the DEA isn't really the problem -- the Controlled Substance Act is the problem. This is fiddling while Rome burns," he said.

"The DEA has been intransigent in its positions, and this is the first crack we've seen," said Kathryn Serkes, spokeswoman for the American Association of Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS), a 5,000-member, libertarian-leaning medical association that has long been active in the pain wars. "I think with the Dr. Billy Hurwitz case and everything else that has been going on in recent years, we are reaching the tipping point," she told the Chronicle. "Through getting our side out in the media and on web sites, through telling our stories, and through the work of activists like [the Pain Relief Network's] Siobhan Reynolds, the public gets it now. The media gets it now. We have seen a change in the stories. It's not just about horrible doctors killing patients anymore; the reporters are writing about the problem of pain."

That new understanding is even starting to percolate within the political class, Serkes said. "The politicians are starting to get it. The only folks who haven't gotten it are law enforcement and the courts. I think the release of this policy statement was a strategic move by the DEA in the face of Hurwitz's successful appeal of his conviction. If I were the DEA, I would certainly be looking for something to show we were being responsive. I'm sorry to sound cynical, but this looks like an obvious attempt by the agency to manipulate the situation. Still," she concluded, "we'll take what we can get. We're working on the good dog theory with the DEA -- praise the dog when it does something good even if it has some behavioral problems. Good dog, DEA, but you're still in the dog house."

Despite some broader issues with the DEA, Dr. Howard Heit, a Fairfax, Virginia, pain management and addiction medicine specialist who worked with the agency on the new policy statement was very pleased with the looser prescribing rules. "This is a tremendous step forward in the common goal of achieving balance between the DEA and health care professionals," he told the Chronicle. "It will ensure that patients who need Schedule II drugs get them and will help decrease the diversion of prescription drugs."

Heit divided his patients into two types: stable and problematic. "With stable patients, those with no aberrant behavior who follow all the agreements, I can now write sequential prescriptions for patients that I used to have to see every month," he explained. "Now I can see other patients because the stable patients don't have to come back unnecessarily. On the other hand, with my patients with problematic behavior, I want to see them every two weeks and more tightly control the medications. That prevents a greater quantity of medicine getting out that can be misused or diverted," he said.

"The DEA said they made a mistake in not allowing us to do sequential prescriptions," said Heit. "Now they are allowing us to do this. The DEA is responding to the health care community, and this opens up dialog that has been rather closed in the past two years. This is a step in the right direction. The rules of the game are being set up. The DEA has also stated they do not want to practice medicine, but it is their charge to enforce existing regulations. While I feel it is the prescriber's responsibility to know and follow federal regulations for prescribing controlled substances, it is also the DEA's responsibility to ensure that all DEA agents enforcing these regulations are knowledgeable about them."

Despite problems with the DEA in the past, particularly around the abortive pain FAQ in 2004, Heit said there was no option but to work with the agency. "The DEA isn't going away, the patients aren't going away, I'm not going away. We need to communicate with each other."

Dr. David Joranson of the Pain and Policy Studies Group at the University of Wisconsin Comprehensive Cancer Center, which had worked closely with the DEA on the abortive FAQ but not on this latest policy statement, was reluctant to render a verdict on it. "We're still analyzing the proposal and are trying to help people think through it," he told the Chronicle.

One point Joranson made was that much of the reporting about limitations on prescribing opiates is mistaken, and it isn't just the reporters getting it wrong. "There is currently no 30-day refill requirement," he said. "The DEA has clarified that there is no such requirement. There is not a word in the law or the regulations about that, and if everyone is saying there is, everyone is wrong." Even physicians are often mistaken about the law, he said. "The literature shows that medical professionals often have an inadequate understanding of the law and regulations regarding prescription practices."

Even though the DEA's own press release announcing the proposed policy statement said it "will allow a physician to prescribe up to a 90-day supply of Schedule II controlled substances during a single office visit, where medically appropriate," that press release is misleading, said Joranson. "The statement implies there is a supply limit now, but in fact a physician can prescribe any quantity of a controlled substance on a single prescription."

But Professor Ronald Libby, a University of North Florida political scientist who is writing a book on the clash between the imperatives of medicine and those of law enforcement, was not so sure patients would benefit from the relaxed prescribing rules. "General practitioners are already scared to death to write prescriptions in the first place because of the DEA," he told the Chronicle. "If they're afraid to write one prescription, why should we expect them to feel more secure writing three?" he asked.

"I don't see any real change in policy," said Libby. "Other than the 90-day prescription thing, I just don't see anything. The DEA is basically fulfilling its promise to replace the FAQ, and here it is. This is largely tokenism because the DEA is feeling the heat," he said.

Continuing discussions between the DEA and the health care community are not going to resolve the contradictions, said Libby. "I don't think you can get at the underlying issues unless and until there are congressional hearings on the DEA," he argued. "They're more secretive than an intelligence agency. It's almost impossible to get information from them, even for members of Congress."

[Editor's Note: Years ago I heard an analyst tell attendees at a forum that researchers at the federal Government Accountability Office liked to say DEA stands for "don't expect anything, don't even ask." -- DB]

But Libby doesn't see congressional hearings happening any time soon. "Let's face it. The drug warriors are in full bloom. The climate of the country is not conducive. They've managed to equate illicit drug trafficking with terrorism, and as long as that's the case and they include practitioners and patients in that war, the only way to move forward is to excise this diversion stuff from the war on drugs. But even though the pain foundations and people like the Pain Relief Network have been trying to get hearings for years, we can't get them. If the Democrats win the House, that might change, but members have to consider the fallout. If you take a hard-line position against the DEA, you become a target yourself."

"To view this as significant is to miss the point," said Siobhan Reynolds of the advocacy group the Pain Relief Network. "Pain patients have been suffering from an unbelievable crackdown, a reign of terror that has cost people their lives," she told the Chronicle.

It's very personal for Reynolds. One of those pain patients who died was her husband, Sean Greenwood, who succumbed earlier this month to Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome as he and Reynolds desperately traversed the country seeking adequate levels of prescribed pain medications for him. Because anti-terror precautions precluded them from taking medicines on airplanes, the family was forced to drive cross-country in search of a physician who would prescribe the massive doses Greenwood needed. He died in a motel room in a state Reynolds does not want to identify for fear of leading the DEA to the doctor they were seeking.

"People do not understand the enormity of what patients face," she said. "Because doctors are so afraid of law enforcement, they have projected their fear onto these patients and these drugs, so that sick people taking pain meds frighten hospitals and doctors. Sean needed a lot of hospital care, but they didn't focus on his medical problems because everyone is in the witch hunt mode about opiates. All the hospitals would talk about was giving him Narcan, as if the opiates were responsible for his medical problems," she said.

"My son watched his father die for no good reason," Reynolds continued. "He couldn't get into a hospital because of a government crackdown nobody is willing to admit is going on. No one can get the serious doses of pain medications that these really sick people need, and that's a real human rights catastrophe, and the DEA making a shiny new policy statement that basically says the same thing as before is not going to change anything."

What is needed, said Reynolds, is an all-out legal assault on the DEA's prescription drug control edifice. "We need multi-layered litigation with multiple plaintiffs going after different elements of this problem." But that will require a larger commitment from reformers than has so far been forthcoming. "We are in a gridlock of grief here, and nobody seems to care."

Callout: Please Submit Blog Posts, News and Events on New DRCNet Web Site!

Among the features available on DRCNet's new web site are interactive possibilities for you to be a part of the web team. First and foremost are Reader Blogs, a section of the new "Stop the Drug War Speakeasy" blogosphere project. Visit http://stopthedrugwar.org/speakeasy/reader to check it out and start posting! (If you tried already and had trouble, please try again -- we have worked out some of the initial technical issues, though probably not yet all.) We will be devoting an increasing amount of attention over time to the Reader Blogs -- this is just the beginning!

You can now let us know about important or interesting news items of relevance by submitting them directly to our new Latest News section -- visit http://stopthedrugwar.org/node/add/content-recent_news to send your suggested news links to our moderators.

DRCNet continues to publish listings of events large and small that relate to the cause, but now we feature them in a listing that appears on most of the pages on our site and which links to a full calendar. If you are involved with or know of a relevant event, you can post it directly -- not just a short description as we have done previously, but the full announcement -- at our add event page at http://stopthedrugwar.org/node/add/event online.

Drug War Chronicle articles now have comments sections at the bottom of them, another way you can join in the discussion.

Coming soon: syndication feeds you can post on your web site, a substantial drug policy links database, and geographically-targeted content for your personalized web site view. To get that geographically-targeted content, though, you'll need to be logged to our new user accounts (same e-mail address you gave us previously, if you're a subscriber) and provide us with your location if you haven't already. Visit http://stopthedrugwar.org/user to log in or register or update your information. (Please let us know if you experience any error messages or problems with the user accounts -- we have gotten some of the issues fixed but we want to get it as close to perfect as we can.)

Announcement: New Format for the Reformer's Calendar

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With the launch of our new web site, The Reformer's Calendar no longer appears as part of the Drug War Chronicle newsletter but is instead maintained as a section of our new 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.

We look forward to apprising you of more new features of our new web site as they become available.

ONDCP: Senate Panel Recommends Cutting Salaries at Drug Czar's Office

The Congress is getting increasingly testy with the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), and in a sharp signal of its unhappiness with the performance of ONDCP head John Walters, the drug czar, a Senate panel is recommending that salaries and expenses at ONDCP be slashed by well over half, from $26.6 million this year to $11.5 million next year.

Although Walters has been able to tout such successes as marginal declines in drug use rates among selected groups -- especially teenagers -- he has come under tough attack from congressional drug warriors, especially over ONDCP's halting response to the spread of methamphetamine. Walters and ONDCP are also taking flak for supporting the Bush administration's calls to slash funding for grants to help local law enforcement form drug task forces and the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas.

ONDCP has 111 full-time employees. As its director, Walters earns $183,000 a year.

He isn't worth it, the Senate Appropriations Committee signaled. In its July vote on an appropriations bill, the committee recommended the deep cuts, saying the reductions would "more closely reflect actual performance."

In that legislation, the committee called for independent evaluations of ONDCP and demanded documentation of travel records, salaries, and contracts. The committee also complained that Walters and ONDCP have been unresponsive to congressional requests for information and have prevented program directors from meeting with the committee.

"This kind of unresponsiveness... results in an unnecessary waste of time and energy," the bill states. "Numerous follow-up communications are required in almost every instance."

Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO) chairs the subcommittee with oversight over ONDCP. His spokesman, Rob Ostrander, told the Associated Press Walters had a bad habit of not paying attention to committee requests. "Unfortunately, this has been a long-term problem," Ostrander said. "The agency has a record of being unresponsive to committee staff. We hope that changes, because at the end of the day we need to ensure taxpayers' money is being spent wisely."

Sen. Joe Biden took to the Senate floor last week to complain about Walters. "Under him, the office operates like an ivory tower rather than the command center for our national drug control policy," Biden said.

The budgets cuts are likely to end up being restored, but even threatening to cut the once sacrosanct drug czar's budget is an indication that times are changing.

Latin America: In Break With Campaign Promises, Peru's New Government Will Accelerate Coca Eradication

When new Peruvian President Alain Garcia was in a tight race against pro-coca populist upstart Ollanta Humala earlier this year, he promised his government would oppose coca eradication because Peruvians consider the leaf sacred and a part of their tradition. But Reuters reported Wednesday that the Garcia government is now seeking US support for a new push against coca production in what is now the world's second largest coca producer.

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According to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime's annual report on coca production, Peru produces 30% of the Andean coca crop. Colombia accounted for 54%, while third place Bolivia accounted for 16%. While the UN reported a slight decrease in Peruvian coca cultivation last year, the US government estimated production had actually increased by 38%.

While some coca is cultivated legally and sold to the Peruvian national coca monopoly to be made into various products, some doubtless is diverted to the black market and made into cocaine. Peruvian police report busting some 500 cocaine labs last year.

More than $330 million in US aid since 2000 has failed to rein in Peru's coca-growing peasantry. Now, the Peruvian government wants more. "We want a greater state presence in coca-growing areas, more effective coca eradication, coca crop substitution and security for export cargo to limit smuggling," Peru's anti-narcotics chief Romulo Pizarro told Reuters. "We can't let these traffickers continue to poison people's lives."

That was music to the ears of Susan Keogh, narcotics affairs director at the US embassy in Lima. She said eradication must be part of the new campaign because alternative development alone would not be enough to end the drug trade. "There are so many illegal drug laboratories that they're like the McDonald's on every corner (in Peru's coca regions)," Keogh told Reuters. "You can't just flood those areas with development, you need eradication too."

While not as politically potent as their Bolivian counterparts, Peruvian coca growers are increasingly organized, if fractious, and they and their representatives in the parliament, like coca grower union leaders Nancy Obregon and Elsa Malpartida, are bound to make life miserable for the Garcia government over this issue. It won't help matters that Garcia is breaking his vows to them.

Marijuana: Texas Gubernatorial Candidate Kinky Friedman Says Legalize It

Independent Texas gubernatorial candidate Kinky Friedman said Wednesday he favors legalizing marijuana. In an interview with the Associated Press, the musician turned author turned would-be Lone Star state governor said legalizing the weed would keep nonviolent users out of prison, adding that he would seek the release of those currently behind bars for marijuana offenses.

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Kinky Friedman
"I think that's long overdue," Friedman said. "I think everybody knows what John McCain said is right: We've pretty well lost the war on drugs doing it the way we're doing it. Drugs are more available and cheaper than ever before. What we're doing is not working."

Friedman is running against incumbent Gov. Rick Perry (R), Democratic candidate Chris Bell, and Republican-turned-independent Carole Keeton Strayhorn, none of whom have called for marijuana legalization. According to the latest Rasmussen poll, Friedman may need a massive stoner voter turnout -- he came in last with 16%, compared with 18% for Bell, 22% for Strayhorn, and Perry with 33%. There is no run-off election in Texas.

The humorist and raconteur's campaign had originally been viewed as a joke by most observers, but at 16% of the vote, Friedman can have a real impact on the race. And as the campaign heads for its climax, he has been articulating serious positions on issues like immigration (send 10,000 Texas National Guard to the border), crime (send $100 million to Houston to help police a city awash with Katrina refugees), and taxes (less of 'em).

But all seriousness aside, it is Friedman's comic sensibilities that have always made him stand out. After graduating from the University of Texas at Austin, he formed the outrageously named Kinky Friedman & His Texas Jewboys, featuring tunes like the "Okie from Muskogee" parody "Asshole from El Paso," the self-explanatory "Get Your Biscuits in the Oven and Your Buns in Bed," and the anti-semitism-confronting "They Ain't Making Jews Like Jesus Anymore."

And he's still got it on the campaign trail. "I just want Texas to be number one in something other than executions, toll roads and property taxes," he said. As for the possibility of losing: "If I lose this race I will retire in a petulant snit," he said. "I'm not going to go out gracefully, I promise you."

Latin America: In Southern Colombia, It's Aid Out, Soldiers In

The US Agency for International Development (AID) has given up on an alternative development campaign designed to help farmers in southern Colombia switch to legal crops, the Houston Chronicle reported. The newspaper cited a Colombian government memorandum, and the report was implicitly confirmed by an unnamed US Embassy source in Bogota.

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According to the Colombian government document, US AID suspended the development program in southern Caqueta state, long a stronghold of the leftist rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), because the area was too dangerous for its workers and it lacked economic potential. With development assistance making up less than 10% of the $800 million the US is spending to wage the drug war in Colombia this year, US AID will channel funding to more secure areas.

"You can't be everywhere simultaneously, and you have to make choices," the unnamed embassy official told the Chronicle. "Resources have to be focused where they can be used most effectively."

With the US and Colombian governments having given up on developing the region, the departure of the US AID project clears the way as the Colombian military begins its largest ever campaign in the south. The US has spent more than $4 billion since 2000 to help the Colombian government obtain and maintain control in such areas, but now the economic advisers are leaving and the soldiers are coming.

US analysts and Colombian politicians contacted by the Houston Chronicle called the move a bad idea. "This is not a good way to win hearts and minds," said Sanho Tree, a Colombia expert at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington. "We're driving people away from the government and into the hands of our declared enemies: the guerrillas and the drug traffickers," he told the Chronicle.

"This decision runs contrary to the whole concept of Plan Colombia," said Luis Fernando Almario, a congressman from Caqueta.

Adam Isacson, a Colombia expert at the Center for International Policy in Washington, told the Chronicle that writing off the war-torn south would be a grave error. Drawing parallels to the war in Iraq, he likened the current approach to saying: "Forget about the Sunni Triangle."

Europe: Portugal Approves Safe Injection Sites, Moves to Start Prison Needle Exchange Programs

In an embrace of harm reduction principles, the Portuguese government has approved the establishment of safe injection sites for drug users and is working to have needle exchange programs in prisons by 2008, Medical News Today reported on August 30. The moves come as part of a package of measures designed to "reduce the consumption of drugs and diminish their harmful social and health effects," the Portuguese government said.

Portugal now follows the lead of Australia, Canada, Germany, and Switzerland, where working safe injection sites are in place. The sites have been shown to help slow the spread of diseases like hepatitis C and HIV/AIDS, reduce overdoses, reduce criminality, help drug users achieve more stable lives, and help some of them connect with treatment and/or counseling services.

While, according to the European Monitoring Center on Drugs and Drug Abuse, Portugal's drug use rates are low by European standards, the country does have an injection drug-using population, mostly around heroin. About one-third of a sample of treatment patients in Portugal reported drug injection as their preferred route of administration.

Portugal decriminalized drug possession in 2000, although drug sales remain illegal. But even if Portugal is not ready to take the giant step of ending drug prohibition, the actions of its government since then show that it continues to move in a progressive direction on drug policy issues.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

There is something rotten in the state of Tennessee, with the stench of police corruption stretching from the banks of the Mississippi to the hazy ridges of the Great Smoky Mountains, and this stuff is pretty rotten. Meanwhile, there's an apparent case of, er, overly aggressive policing in Florida and the mandatory prison or jail guard in trouble. Let's get to it:

In Cocke County, Tennessee, former Cocke County Sheriff's Department Chief Deputy Patrick Allen Taylor's guilty plea to conspiring to sell thousands of dollars of stolen NASCAR goods is only the tip of the iceberg of corrupt, criminal activities in the Cocke County Sheriff's Department, federal prosecutors alleged in a motion seeking a prison sentence far higher than federal sentencing guidelines call for, the Knoxville News-Sentinel reported Monday. According to prosecutors, Taylor was involved in robbery schemes, extortion, protection rackets, cockfighting, ripping off drug dealers, and tolerating drug use among department insiders. Taylor is the nephew of former Sheriff DC Ramsey, who resigned under pressure in the same federal corruption probe that has now brought down his nephew. Known as "Rose Thorn," the federal operation has led to the arrests of eight Cocke County lawmen and 170 other people, and has led to the closure of brothels, cockfighting pits, and a video amusement company. For more on the whole sordid affair, check out the News-Sentinel's special report, "Cocke County Confidential."

In Memphis, former Reserve Memphis Police Officer Andrew Hunt pleaded guilty last Friday to robbing drug dealers of cash, cocaine, and personal belongings. He could face up to life in prison, but that's unlikely since he has agreed to cooperate with prosecutors, the Memphis Commercial Appeal reported. Three other Memphis police officers have already been indicted in the case, and more indictments could be coming, prosecutors warned. Hunt was part of "a gang of corrupt uniformed officers" who ripped off at least 20 drug dealers, prosecutors said. And these guys were really sleazy: In one case, Hunt stole drugs, cash, and a $15,000 watch from one dealer, then told him he could buy his drugs back. When the dealer came up with $9500 in cash, Hunt took the money and kept the drugs.

In Surfside, Florida, police are investigating charges two Surfside police officers conspired to plant drugs in the vehicle of a local civic activist, Miami TV station Local 10 News reported September 7. Two officers, Sgt. John Davis and Officer Woody Brooks, have been suspended after allegedly plotting to plant cocaine in the car of Jay Senter, who had previously tangled with Sgt. Davis over the case of a French couple cited for numerous code violations and fined hundreds of thousands of dollars for renting homes in Surfside to vacationers. According to the allegations, Davis and Brooks were overheard plotting to plant the drugs in retaliation for Senter's reporting another officer to the FBI in the code violations case. Interestingly, Surfside Vice Mayor Howard Weinberg told Local 10 the same officers had conspired to arrest him for drunk driving near a local bar and release the dashboard camera video in a bid to embarrass him, but the plot was foiled because he only drinks iced tea when he goes out. Another, anonymous local official told Local 10 Davis was behaving "like a Nazi" toward political opponents.

In Westchester, New York, a Westchester County prison guard was sentenced to probation last week for interfering in a drug investigation, the North Country Gazette reported. Timothy Connolly, 39, pleaded guilty to one count of second degree hindering prosecution and one count of drug possession. He will be under supervision for the next five years. Connolly was arrested during a combined investigation by the Westchester District Attorney Narcotics Initiative (W-DANI), Yonkers Police, New York State Police and Westchester County Department of Correction Special Investigations Unit, and was told to keep his mouth shut about the bust. But he later warned one of the main targets of the investigation he was being watched, told him to "shut down" his cocaine sales operation, and advised him not to use his phone because it was being monitored. Connolly was fired from the Westchester County Department of Correction on September 7, the same day he pleaded guilty.

Job Opportunities: Three Positions at Drug Policy Alliance

The Washington, DC office of Drug Policy Alliance is hiring for three positions:

Deputy Director of National Affairs:

The Deputy Director of National Affairs works with the Director of National Affairs to promote drug policy reform in the nation's capitol, influence federal legislation and regulations, and change the national drug policy debate. Job responsibilities include tracking and analyzing federal legislation and executive branch polices; working with the Internet communications and membership departments to mobilize supporters to take action; developing fact sheets, position papers and other lobbying materials; managing the work of office interns; planning Congressional briefings and other events; and communicating the Alliance's positions to Congressional staffers and representatives of other organizations.

Qualifications include: At least 3 years experience in advocacy or public policy; Experience coordinating legislative campaigns (lobbying, media, grassroots mobilization, etc.); Working knowledge of the federal legislative process (hill experience, especially health, judiciary, or appropriations, a plus); Good research, writing and public speaking skills; Strong attention to detail.

Responsibilities include:

Legislative Tracking: Uses CQ, Thomas, and other services to track the status of drug-related federal legislation; Reads, summarizes, and analyzes legislation and executive policies and maintains legislative database; Monitors committee hearings and marks-ups; Maintains Congressional files; Evaluates and recommends various legislative services, such as bill tracking systems, activist tools, and fax broadcasting.

Research and Writing: Writes, develops and disseminates fact sheets, backgrounders, sign-on letters, policy reports, and other lobbying materials; Researches and writes on key policy issues; Speaks on drug policy reform issues at conferences.

Supervision of Interns: Manages internship program, including advertising the program, reading applications, interviewing applicants and hiring and managing interns.

Lobbying and Outreach: Educates Congressional staffers and others on legislation and executive policies; Represents Alliance at conferences, coalition meetings, and networking events, and builds relationships with other organizations; Plans Congressional briefings and other events; Organizes Alliance's coalition meetings, including maintaining invite lists and recruiting new members.

Grassroots: Works with Internet communications department and membership department to mobilize supporters to call/write/fax their representatives; Writes action alerts, web content, and fax texts for Action component of our website; Works with other groups to get them to send out action alerts and put up banner ads on their web sites regarding DPA campaigns.

DPA offers an excellent benefits package, including health, dental, vision, long-term disability and life insurance; a generous 403(b) plan; and four weeks paid vacation.

Position open until filled. Send cover letter describing interest, résumé, and writing sample (unedited by others) to: Bill Piper, Drug Policy Alliance, 925 15th Street NW, 2nd Floor, Washington, DC 20005, fax: (202) 216-0803, e-mail: [email protected]. E-mail submissions are encouraged (please use "Deputy Director" in the subject field) -- no phone calls, please.

Legislative Assistant

The Legislative Assistant is responsible for tracking and analyzing federal legislation and executive branch policies pertaining to the war on drugs, developing lobbying materials, researching issues, planning events, assisting other staff and coordinating special projects.

Qualifications include: Some legislative or advocacy experience; Excellent research and writing skills; Strong attention to detail.

DPA offers an excellent benefits package, including health, dental, vision, long-term disability and life insurance; a generous 403(b) plan; and four weeks paid vacation.

Position open until filled. Send cover letter describing interest, résumé, and writing sample (unedited by others) to: Bill Piper, Drug Policy Alliance, 925 15th Street NW, 2nd Floor, Washington, DC 20005, fax: (202) 216-0803, e-mail: [email protected]. E-mail submissions are encouraged (please use "Legislative Assistant" in the subject field) -- no phone calls, please.

Part-Time Office Manager/Receptionist

The office manager oversees the daily operations of the Alliance's Washington, DC office. Duties include, but are not limited to, answering the telephone, meeting and greeting visitors, tracking and ordering office supplies, processing mail, handling office maintenance issues, and assisting staff. Applicants should be organized, friendly, thoughtful, and have excellent phone skills. Commitment to drug policy reform preferred, but not essential.

The Office Manager position is part-time (25 hours a week) and pays $12 per hour with no benefits.

Position open until filled. Send cover letter describing interest, résumé, and writing sample (unedited by others) to: Bill Piper, Drug Policy Alliance, 925 15th Street NW, 2nd Floor, Washington, DC 20005, fax: (202) 216-0803, e-mail: [email protected]. E-mail submissions are encouraged (please use "Office Manager" in the subject field) -- no phone calls, please.

The core mission of the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), the nation’s leading drug policy reform organization, is to advance those policies and attitudes that best reduce the harms of both drug abuse and the war on drugs, and to protect the sovereignty of individuals over their minds and bodies. Among other things, the DPA works to end marijuana prohibition; repeal mandatory minimum sentencing; enact alternatives to incarceration for non-violent drug offenders; reduce drug addiction, drug overdoses and the spread of HIV/AIDS and hepatitis; and cut wasteful drug war spending. (For more information on the Drug Policy Alliance, visit http://www.drugpolicy.org.)

DPA is headquartered in New York City and maintains seven other offices in four states and the District of Columbia. DPA retains 46 staff, and is supported by 26,000 dues-paying members and 107,000 online members.

Drug Policy Alliance is an Equal Opportunity Employer. Women, people of color, and people with disabilities are encouraged to apply.

Weekly: This Week in History

Posted in:

September 21, 1969: In an attempt to reduce marijuana smuggling from Mexico, the Customs Department, under Commissioner Myles Ambrose, acting on the orders of President Richard Nixon, launches Operation Intercept, subjecting every vehicle crossing the Mexican border to a three-minute inspection and to many observers marking the beginning of the modern was on drugs. The operation lasts two weeks and wreaks economic havoc on both sides of the border, but fails to seriously impact the flow of marijuana into the US.

September 19, 1986: Federal Judge H. Lee Sarokin says, "Drug testing is a form of surveillance, albeit a technological one. Nonetheless, it reports on a person's off-duty activities just as surely as if someone had been present and watching. It is George Orwell's Big Brother society come to life."

September 17, 1998: 93 members of Congress vote yes in the first vote on medical marijuana to take place on the floor of the House.

September 20, 1999: The public is finally informed of the results of Washington, DC's Initiative 59, the Legalization of Marijuana for Medical Treatment Initiative of 1998, after Judge Richard Roberts orders the release of the tally previously suppressed by Congress. Voters had supported medical marijuana by 69-31%.

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

September 19, 2002: The Guardian (UK) reports that Mo Mowlam, the former cabinet minister responsible for drugs policy, is calling for the international legalization of the drug trade as part of a more effective drive to combat terrorism.

September 16, 2003: Seattle voters approve Initiative 75 by 57.8% to 42.2%. I-75 instructs local police and prosecutors to make adult marijuana possession their lowest priority.

September 21, 2004: In a speech, U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) says, "The illegal drug trade is the financial engine that fuels many terrorist organizations around the world, including Osama bin Laden."

Reducción de Daños: Trueque de Jeringas de Pittsburgh Logra Aprobación de Consejo de Salud para Seguir Funcionando

El Prevention Point Pittsburgh, el único proveedor de trueque de jeringas en el área de Pittsburgh, está más cerca de poder seguir en funcionamiento después que el Consejo de la Salud de la Comarca de Allegheny aprobó el miércoles las reglas que formalizan su funcionamiento. El programa de trueque estuvo bajo ataque en Abril, cuando los regidores municipales cuestionaron su legalidad en lo que fue en grande parte una riña burocrática entre el consejo municipal y el consejo de la salud.

“Estamos increíblemente satisfechos”, le dijo Renee Cox, directora ejecutiva de Prevention Point Pittsburgh a la Pittsburgh Post-Gazette el jueves. “Con todo, todo salió bien. Ello sí nos concede un poco más de permanencia ahora que tenemos normas formales”.

Fue difícil, a pesar de todo. Después que los regidores municipales hicieron su denuncia en Abril, el consejo de la salud redactó reglas en Mayo que habrían requerido que la gente que trueque jeringas diera sus nombres y otra información para identificación y habrían prohibido los “trueques secundarios”, en que las personas recogen jeringas y de ahí las distribuyen a otros que no están en el programa. El consejo oyó esas denuncias.

“Ellos restauraron el anonimato de los usuarios, lo que es absolutamente fundamental para el funcionamiento del trueque de jeringas”, dijo Cox. “Ellos también permitieron el trueque secundario, que expandirá el alcance de este pequeño programa”.

Las nuevas normas aún deben ser aprobadas por el consejo municipal

Redução de Danos: Troca de Seringas de Pittsburgh Consegue Aprovação do Conselho de Saúde para Continuar Funcionando

O Prevention Point Pittsburgh, o único fornecedor de troca de seringas na área de Pittsburgh, está mais próximo de poder continuar em funcionamento depois que o Conselho da Saúde da Comarca de Allegheny aprovou na quarta-feira as regras que formalizam o funcionamento dele. O programa de troca esteve sob ataque em Abril, quando os vereadores municipais questionaram a legalidade dele no que foi em grande parte uma rixa burocrática entre a câmara dos vereadores e o conselho da saúde.

“Estamos incrivelmente satisfeitos”, disse Renee Cox, diretora executiva do Prevention Point Pittsburgh à Pittsburgh Post-Gazette na quinta-feira. “Contudo, tudo deu certo. Isso sim nos concede um pouco mais de permanência agora que temos normas formais”.

Foi difícil, apesar de tudo. Depois que os vereadores municipais fizeram a audiência deles em Abril, o conselho da saúde redigiu regras em Maio que teriam requerido que as pessoas que trocam seringas dessem os nomes delas e outra informação para identificação e teriam proibido as “trocas secundárias”, em que as pessoas recolhem seringas e daí as distribuem a outros que não estão no programa. O conselho ouviu essas denúncias.

“Eles restauraram o anonimato dos usuários, o que é absolutamente fundamental para o funcionamento da troca de seringas”, disse Cox. “Eles também permitiram a troca secundária, que expandirá o alcance deste pequeno programa”.

As novas normas ainda devem ser aprovadas pela câmara dos vereadores.

Imposição da Lei: As Estórias de Policiais Corruptos Desta Semana

As tentações da fronteira maculam outro distintivo de um homem da lei do Texas, um policial de Tulsa é condenado por ser útil demais a um traficante de drogas e um par do melhor de Newark se confessa culpado em um esquema de venda de comprimidos. Vamos ao que interessa:

Em McAllen, Texas, a Procuradoria Federal do Distrito do Sul do Texas lançou uma nota à imprensa anunciando no dia 29 de Agosto o indiciamento do ex-oficial da polícia do Sul do Texas por supostamente aceitar suborno para proteger o que ele achava que era uma carga de cocaína. O ex-Oficial da Polícia da Cidade de Elsa, Herman Carr, 45, é acusado de aceitar um pagamento de $5.000 de um agente disfarçado do FBI para usar o cargo dele como oficial da lei para proteger um veículo que lhe disseram que continha cinco quilos de cocaína. Ele é acusado de corrupção passiva e pode pegar até 20 anos em prisão federal.

Em Tulsa, Oklahoma, um júri federal declarou um ex-oficial da polícia de Tulsa culpado de formação de quadrilha, obstrução da justiça e notificação ilegal de um mandado de busca na sexta-feira passada. O ex-Oficial Rico Yarbrough foi condenado por informar a um narcotraficante suspeito que um mandado de busca estava prestes a ser entregue na residência dele, informou o Tulsa World. Em Fevereiro, Yarbrough ligou para um homem de Tulsa e lhe pediu que informasse ao traficante suspeito do reide iminente. Infelizmente para Yarbrough, a conversação estava sendo gravada. Os investigadores federais que escutaram o telefone do narcotraficante suspeito ouviram referências a Yarbrough, daí lhe deram informação para ver se contaria. Ele fez isso. Yarbrough não foi declarado culpado em duas acusações relacionadas, mas ainda enfrenta uma sentença considerável de prisão quando for sentenciado no dia 29 de Novembro.

Em Newark, dois oficiais da polícia de Newark se confessaram culpados em tribunal federal na terça-feira de acusações de terem comprado milhares de comprimidos de Oxycontin de um médico e de tê-los vendido, informou a Associated Press. Os Patrulheiros John Hernández e Ronald Pomponio podem pegar até 20 anos de prisão e $1 milhão em multas quando forem sentenciados em Dezembro por conspiração para distribuir oxicodona, o ingrediente ativo no Oxycontin. O par admitiu na corte que Hernández comprou comprimidos de Oxycontin estimados em centenas de milhares de dólares, enquanto que Pomponio levou as receitas para os comprimidos às farmácias de todo o estado. O médico de quem eles supostamente compraram as drogas se declarou inocente.

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