Drug War Chronicle

comprehensive coverage of the War on Drugs since 1997

Feature: SSDP, Drug War Rant Blog Score Media Hit with Attack on DEA Drug-Terror Exhibit

For more than four years -- since the day of the first anniversary of the 9-11 attacks -- the US Drug Enforcement Administration and its museum have hosted an exhibit that attempts to link drugs and terrorism. Known as Target America: Opening Eyes to the Damage Drugs Cause, the traveling exhibition has aroused much grumbling and sneering from people who argue that it is not drugs but drug prohibition that generates the illicit profits sometimes used by violent political groups.

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DEA Targets America flyer
There was some sniping against the exhibit when it played Dallas, Omaha, Detroit, and New York, when two years ago, Patricia Perry, mother of NYC police officer John Perry, who lost his life on 9-11, criticized the exhibit in this newsletter. But it was only when it hit Chicago last week that drug reformers succeeded in hitting back with a carefully planned and well-executed counterattack that managed to generate critical media attention toward the exhibit.

It all started with some home-town concern on the part of Illinois State University theater arts professor and Drug War Rant blog author Peter Guither. After publicizing the exhibit's impending arrival on his blog and creating a new web site, DEA Targets America, the response from readers galvanized Guither, and allies began to arrive. By the time the exhibit hit Chicago last week, activists were on hand to hand out flyers in front of the museum and Guither and Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) had issued press releases in an effort to draw media attention.

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DEA's offensive exhibit
"Back when they first showed this exhibit, I remember thinking is the DEA propagandizing at a science museum?" said Guither. "I grew up with the Chicago Museum of Science and Technology, and I remember thinking my museum would never do that. Then, a couple of years later, I look at the upcoming exhibits and I see the DEA exhibit. This is so clearly propaganda that I had to do something," he told Drug War Chronicle. "I mentioned it on my blog, and one of my readers volunteered to pass out flyers, then I produced the press release and the web site, and then SSDP got involved -- they're a great group! SSDP's Tom Angell helped with the flyer and with getting the press interested, and then it was up to the press to do its job."

"I e-mailed our members in the Chicago area, and we were able to get some people to hand out flyers," said Angell. "We have some good people in the area."

The gambit paid off handsomely with a Washington Post story last Saturday titled "Drug-Terror Connection Disputed." That story, which was also picked up by newspapers in Knoxville, Indianapolis, and Tampa, quoted both Guither and SSDP's Angell, as well as Chicago teacher Jeanne Barr, who is also a member of SSDP. Congressional Quarterly also ran a story about the exhibit mentioning the contention that it is drug prohibition -- not drugs themselves -- that feeds terrorism, and even UPI ran a short piece mentioning the controversy on its international wire, a story that was picked up by the Washington Times.

The stories put the DEA on the defensive, with spokesmen Steve Robertson telling the Post: "We're a law enforcement agency -- we enforce the laws as they are written. Congress makes the laws. People say if we didn't have drug laws there wouldn't be a problem, but there was a problem before and that's why laws were established."

"I think we got the DEA flatfooted," said Guither. "You have that agent saying they just enforce the law, but they're out there lobbying for those laws. I don't think the DEA was ready for this."

"We did a little bit of judo on the DEA," said SSDP's Angell. "We took their message and spun it right back around on them. Reporters were intrigued by what we were saying. On the one hand, we were agreeing with the DEA's main point -- that profits from the black market drug trade can finance terrorism -- but we highlighted the fact that they are leaving out a large part of the story," he told the Chronicle.

"I was disappointed in the Chicago Tribune and Sun-Times, though," Angell continued. "They just toed the DEA line. They didn't mention us by name or give us any quotes; they just had a line or two about 'critics say this.'"

Guither said he didn't really expect anything better from the local press. "Since both the Sun-Times and the McCormick Tribune Corporation were sponsors of the exhibit, I didn't expect either paper to do much criticizing. The mere fact that they mentioned critics saying the exhibit is propaganda is a victory in my view."

Activists were careful to target their ire at the DEA, not the Museum of Science and Technology. "We didn't want to protest the museum but the DEA," said Guither. "And we didn't feel like we could get into picking their implied falsehoods apart, so our focus was on the inappropriateness of the DEA connecting drugs to terrorism since it is prohibition that makes drug trafficking and its profits possible. Also, since this is Chicago, we have the whole Al Capone legacy. Mayor Daley invited this exhibit, yet he seems to have missed the whole connection between drug prohibition and alcohol prohibition and how the latter made Al Capone. What we have with this exhibit is a federal agency with a failing scorecard blowing its own horn and linking itself to the war on terror, when it is really the problem."

While the DEA lists no more cities on its traveling exhibit schedule, SSDP will be ready to go if and when the DEA show hits another city. "Since we already have the materials and the press releases, we'll just follow it wherever it goes," said Angell. "If we have people on the ground, we will organize them to pass out materials. They should know we're coming after them. If we annoy them enough, maybe they'll go away one of these days."

"I'm very pleased," said Guither. "This was fun. If we hadn't done what we did, it would have been the standard announcement: Here's a new educational exhibit. Bring your kids to learn about the dangers of drugs and how the DEA is saving you. But because of the work we did here, we've managed to turn this around on the DEA. That feels good."

Feature: Colorado Marijuana Possession Legalization Initiative Makes the Ballot

The Colorado secretary of state announced Wednesday that an initiative that would legalize the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana for people aged 21 and older has submitted sufficient signatures to make the November ballot. Organized by SAFER Colorado, the group that won a surprise legalization initiative victory last year in Denver, the Colorado Alcohol-Marijuana Equalization Initiative would push the state to the forefront of marijuana law reform by simply changing one sentence in the state statutes.

The announcement came less than two weeks after SAFER Colorado handed in more than 130,000 signatures, well more than the 80,000 needed to qualify for the ballot. The secretary of state's office certified the measure for the ballot based on a statistical sampling of the signatures.

"We are thrilled," said SAFER Colorado's Steve Fox. "We had well more signatures than we needed, and that allowed us to get this quick qualification instead of having the secretary of state going though our petitions line by line," he told Drug War Chronicle.

The initiative, which will be known as Amendment 44 on the ballot, asks voters to vote yes or no on the following question: "Shall there be an amendment to section 18-18-406 (1) of the Colorado revised statutes making legal the possession of one ounce or less of marihuana for any person twenty-one years of age or older?"

Under current Colorado law, possession of up to an ounce of marijuana is a Class 2 misdemeanor punishable by a fine up of to $100. According to legislative staffers who prepared an analysis of the initiative, some 3,700 adults were convicted of simple marijuana possession last year.

Colorado now joins Nevada as states where voters this November will decide whether to radically reform the marijuana laws. In Nevada, the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) and its local affiliate, the Committee to Regulate and Control Marijuana are pushing an initiative that would not only legalize possession of up to an ounce, but would also allow for the regulated sales of like amounts.

MPP is not involved in the Colorado effort, but hopes it succeeds, said communications director Bruce Mirken. "This was a little bit of a surprise," he told Drug War Chronicle. "We wish them well. Nobody should underestimate these folks -- they surprised the whole world with their success in Denver last year."

In an odd way, that victory spurred the statewide effort. After the citizens of Denver voted for the ordinance, local law enforcement officials refused to abide by it, instead choosing to prosecute people under the state law. SAFER Colorado wants to take away that option. If the measure passes in November, communities in Colorado that want tougher marijuana laws would have to pass local ordinances and charge offenders under them.

The campaign will continue to emphasize its tried and tested theme that marijuana is safer than alcohol and, at the least, should not be treated more severely. That theme resonated strongly with students at the University of Colorado and Colorado State University, both of which passed non-binding resolutions calling for equalization of penalties, as well as with voters in Denver last fall.

SAFER Colorado campaign director Mason Tvert was right on point Wednesday. "The campaign will highlight the hypocrisy of laws that prohibit the use of marijuana while allowing and even encouraging the use of alcohol, an infinitely more harmful drug," he said in a statement greeting the secretary of state's announcement.

Now it is time to win the election, said Fox. "We are doing some fundraising so we can distribute our materials and get our message out," he said. "We have a lot of fun items -- t-shirts, buttons, stickers -- that are aimed at people who support us but who don't necessarily get around to voting all the time. It is their duty to get out and vote, and we will do what we can to encourage them."

It will be an uphill battle to win in November. In the only polling done so far on the measure, the Denver Post found it losing 51% to 37%. But Fox looked at those figures and found the glass half full.

"We think that's pretty good as we head into this campaign," he said. "If only 51% support marijuana prohibition before we've even really begun to get our message out, we think we have a pretty good chance of winning. Listen, SAFER is the Barry Goldwater of marijuana. Even if we don't win this time, we are saying what should be done with the confidence that people will come around to our position. It is an undeniable truth that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol," he said. "Our campaign is here in Colorado, but this is about ending marijuana prohibition across the country, not just in one state. We are in this to win over the long haul."

One bright spot for the campaign is the lack so far of any organized opposition. "We have a crazy drug warrior lady who is making noise, but she is not a sophisticated opponent," said Fox. "We have seen one outside drug warrior set up an issue committee here in Colorado, and there are rumors that the attorney general is planning to put together an opposition group possibly made up of law enforcement officials, but that hasn't happened yet," he explained. "We hope that the law enforcement community will understand that they are law enforcers, not law makers, and they should let the people decide what the laws will be."

Colorado's official nickname is the Centennial State, but one of its unofficial sobriquets is the Highest State, based on its towering mountains and its average elevation. If Colorado voters approve Amendment 44 in November, undoubtedly many will consider it to be even more deserving of that nickname.

Feature: "Beyond Zero Tolerance" Conference Aims to Provide New Paradigm for Educators

For the past two decades, zero tolerance policies have been the law of the land in high schools across the country. An outgrowth of the federal government's twin concerns over drugs and guns in the schools, such policies are designed to inflexibly punish infractions large or small with suspensions, expulsions and/or referral to law enforcement authorities. But critics of zero tolerance deride it as creating a "school to prison pipeline" and being ineffective to boot. Now educators with a pragmatic approach to student drug use are gearing up for an October conference in San Francisco to present workable, humane, and effective alternatives to the draconian approach popularized in the Reagan administration and still widely embraced in schools across the country.

The Beyond Zero Tolerance conference is set for October 25 and is aimed at teachers, administrators, and school board members, said Marsha Rosenbaum of the Drug Policy Alliance, one of the groups sponsoring the event. Other sponsors include the city and county of San Francisco, the San Francisco Department of Public Health, the San Francisco Medical Society, the Marin County Department of Health and Human Services, and the International Institute for Restorative Practices.

Rosenbaum is not merely another drug reformer; she is an educator, researcher, and leading advocate of more sensible policies for dealing with student drug use. Her Safety First project is a key resource for teachers and administrators seeking more effective means of addressing the issue. Safety First played a key role in laying the groundwork for the October conference.

"This conference is an outgrowth of work we have been doing for some years now," Rosenbaum told Drug War Chronicle. "Three years ago, we convened a statewide task force here in California to come up with a statement about what effective drug education would look like, and we produced a booklet called Beyond Zero Tolerance that combines three elements that hadn't been combined before: drug education that is honest and science-based, approaching the kids in an interactive and participatory manner, and employing restorative practices instead of punishment. We were advocating a process by which students are brought in closer and accepted by the school community after they make amends instead of being suspended, expelled, or otherwise subjected to punishment."

By last fall, it was becoming apparent that the approach was garnering broad interest among educators. "Safety First was getting lots of requests from educators asking us what our approach to drug education at the secondary level would be," said Rosenbaum. "What would it look like? And can you train us on this? We had no idea our approach would resonate so much with educators. This conference is a response to the demand, and it is really aimed at teachers, administrators and school board members. We aim to combine education policy with restorative practices and show educators how they can implement the beyond zero tolerance approach."

"Restorative practices deal with restoring community in an increasingly disconnected world," explained Ted Wachtel, director of the Pennsylvania-based International Institute on Restorative Practices. "People are happier, more productive, more cooperative, and more likely to make positive changes when authority is doing things with them rather than to them or for them. Restorative practices are about recognizing this."

Readers may be more familiar with restorative justice, a movement that began in the 1970s that seeks to put offenders and victims face to face to redress the harm caused rather than merely emphasizing punishment. "Restorative justice is a subset of restorative practices," said Wachtel. "Restorative justice by its nature is reactive, but restorative practices are proactive. These are things you can do in the schools and in the family, you can build social capital and a sense of belonging and connectedness on a proactive basis. That isn't something the justice system can do," he explained.

"Throwing young people out of school for drug offenses and a wide range of other misbehavior is simply not productive," said Wachtel. "It doesn’t work. We treat drug and alcohol offenses as criminal matters when they are really a public health issue. If we are talking about students using drugs or alcohol, we are talking about people who need support and assistance in dealing more effectively with their lives. Throwing them out of school or turning them in to the police does not help change their behavior in a positive way."

The Oakland school district provides an idea of how such programs actually work. For the last nine years, that district has operated a program called Up Front, a harm reduction-based drug education and prevention program in its high schools. Program director Charles Ries will address the conference and explain what the Oakland schools are doing.

"We're a relationship-based, process-oriented group of people who believe that the best treatment and prevention messages must be based on science and accurately reported," Ries said. "We think the only way to help anyone decide what is in his own best interest is to engage him in an exploration of the issues," he told Drug War Chronicle.

Zero tolerance approaches simply don’t cut it, said Ries. "People who actually do this work understand how ridiculous it is to try to indoctrinate young people with propaganda against the dangers of drug abuse. Try that with students these days and you'll get laughed out of town," he said. "There are many educators already adopting an approach similar to ours, but it's under the radar. The problem is not with the practitioners, but with administrators and policymakers who feel pressured by the federal government to comply with its programmatic philosophy that there is no such thing as responsible drug use and the only response is to just say no. Students are not having that, and when they realize we are not coming from that direction, they fall in love with us."

The program appears to be working well, said Ries. "We evaluate it both through the students, who say it is effective and report that it is often the first time they've been able to have honest conversations with adults about drug use, and through outside evaluators. We had one evaluation by the state and another by the school district, and both of them defined the program as exemplary. It's not rocket science. Having honest, respectful relationships with young people helps them listen to what you're saying. You are collaborating with them on what is in their best interest. That's how you change people's lives."

While the conference is set in San Francisco and weighted heavily toward California concerns, its scope is broader, said Rosenbaum. "We're not just aiming at California; this is a national and international event. We recognize there is interest from across the land and we are trying to have some scholarships available. If you are an educator who would like to attend but there is no money, you should inquire with us. What you will take away from this conference is plenty of materials and a solid argument for implementing such an approach in your school or district." For the past two decades, zero tolerance policies have been the law of the land in high schools across the country. An outgrowth of the federal government's twin concerns over drugs and guns in the schools, such policies are designed to inflexibly punish infractions large or small with suspensions, expulsions and/or referral to law enforcement authorities. But critics of zero tolerance deride it as creating a "school to prison pipeline" and being ineffective to boot. Now educators with a pragmatic approach to student drug use are gearing up for an October conference in San Francisco to present workable, humane, and effective alternatives to the draconian approach popularized in the Reagan administration and still widely embraced in schools across the country.

The Beyond Zero Tolerance conference is set for October 25 and is aimed at teachers, administrators, and school board members, said Marsha Rosenbaum of the Drug Policy Alliance, one of the groups sponsoring the event. Other sponsors include the city and county of San Francisco, the San Francisco Department of Public Health, the San Francisco Medical Society, the Marin County Department of Health and Human Services, and the International Institute for Restorative Practices.

Rosenbaum is not merely another drug reformer; she is an educator, researcher, and leading advocate of more sensible policies for dealing with student drug use. Her Safety First project is a key resource for teachers and administrators seeking more effective means of addressing the issue. Safety First played a key role in laying the groundwork for the October conference.

"This conference is an outgrowth of work we have been doing for some years now," Rosenbaum told Drug War Chronicle. "Three years ago, we convened a statewide task force here in California to come up with a statement about what effective drug education would look like, and we produced a booklet called Beyond Zero Tolerance that combines three elements that hadn't been combined before: drug education that is honest and science-based, approaching the kids in an interactive and participatory manner, and employing restorative practices instead of punishment. We were advocating a process by which students are brought in closer and accepted by the school community after they make amends instead of being suspended, expelled, or otherwise subjected to punishment."

By last fall, it was becoming apparent that the approach was garnering broad interest among educators. "Safety First was getting lots of requests from educators asking us what our approach to drug education at the secondary level would be," said Rosenbaum. "What would it look like? And can you train us on this? We had no idea our approach would resonate so much with educators. This conference is a response to the demand, and it is really aimed at teachers, administrators and school board members. We aim to combine education policy with restorative practices and show educators how they can implement the beyond zero tolerance approach."

"Restorative practices deal with restoring community in an increasingly disconnected world," explained Ted Wachtel, director of the Pennsylvania-based International Institute on Restorative Practices. "People are happier, more productive, more cooperative, and more likely to make positive changes when authority is doing things with them rather than to them or for them. Restorative practices are about recognizing this."

Readers may be more familiar with restorative justice, a movement that began in the 1970s that seeks to put offenders and victims face to face to redress the harm caused rather than merely emphasizing punishment. "Restorative justice is a subset of restorative practices," said Wachtel. "Restorative justice by its nature is reactive, but restorative practices are proactive. These are things you can do in the schools and in the family, you can build social capital and a sense of belonging and connectedness on a proactive basis. That isn't something the justice system can do," he explained.

"Throwing young people out of school for drug offenses and a wide range of other misbehavior is simply not productive," said Wachtel. "It doesn’t work. We treat drug and alcohol offenses as criminal matters when they are really a public health issue. If we are talking about students using drugs or alcohol, we are talking about people who need support and assistance in dealing more effectively with their lives. Throwing them out of school or turning them in to the police does not help change their behavior in a positive way."

The Oakland school district provides an idea of how such programs actually work. For the last nine years, that district has operated a program called Up Front, a harm reduction-based drug education and prevention program in its high schools. Program director Charles Ries will address the conference and explain what the Oakland schools are doing.

"We're a relationship-based, process-oriented group of people who believe that the best treatment and prevention messages must be based on science and accurately reported," Ries said. "We think the only way to help anyone decide what is in his own best interest is to engage him in an exploration of the issues," he told Drug War Chronicle.

Zero tolerance approaches simply don’t cut it, said Ries. "People who actually do this work understand how ridiculous it is to try to indoctrinate young people with propaganda against the dangers of drug abuse. Try that with students these days and you'll get laughed out of town," he said. "There are many educators already adopting an approach similar to ours, but it's under the radar. The problem is not with the practitioners, but with administrators and policymakers who feel pressured by the federal government to comply with its programmatic philosophy that there is no such thing as responsible drug use and the only response is to just say no. Students are not having that, and when they realize we are not coming from that direction, they fall in love with us."

The program appears to be working well, said Ries. "We evaluate it both through the students, who say it is effective and report that it is often the first time they've been able to have honest conversations with adults about drug use, and through outside evaluators. We had one evaluation by the state and another by the school district, and both of them defined the program as exemplary. It's not rocket science. Having honest, respectful relationships with young people helps them listen to what you're saying. You are collaborating with them on what is in their best interest. That's how you change people's lives."

While the conference is set in San Francisco and weighted heavily toward California concerns, its scope is broader, said Rosenbaum. "We're not just aiming at California; this is a national and international event. We recognize there is interest from across the land and we are trying to have some scholarships available. If you are an educator who would like to attend but there is no money, you should inquire with us. What you will take away from this conference is plenty of materials and a solid argument for implementing such an approach in your school or district."

Harm Reduction: Global Harm Reductionists Issue Urgent Declaration Calling for Action on Drug Use and HIV

Representatives of 19 international and regional harm reduction organizations meeting in Toronto this week have issued a declaration calling for immediate action to address the spread of HIV through injection drug use. Known as the Declaration of Unity, the statement demands that governments and international anti-drug organizations stop impeding the adoption of harm reduction measures proven to reduce the spread of disease, such as needle exchanges and safe injection sites.

The groups urged governments to:

  • provide adequate coverage and low threshold access, including in correctional settings, to sterile injection equipment, condoms, methadone and buprenorphine as essential components of comprehensive HIV prevention and care;
  • ensure that drug users and all marginalized populations have equitable access to quality HIV prevention, medical care, and highly active antiretroviral treatment, that concrete country-level and global targets be established, and that progress be monitored;
  • provide meaningful involvement of drug users at all levels of planning and policy, and financial support for their organizations; and
  • put an end to disenfranchisement and human rights violations of drug users including mass imprisonment, punitive and degrading drug treatment programs, and the widespread use of withdrawal as a form of coercion.

Noting that UNAIDS cannot effectively slow the spread of HIV when forces within the UN system are creating obstacles to effective harm reduction measures, the groups demanded that:

  • the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, as the UN agency tasked with leadership on HIV prevention among drug users, ensure that effective community protection against HIV is not ignored in the name of drug control and law enforcement;
  • the International Narcotics Control Board, as the body charged with responsibility for monitoring implementation of the drug treaties, publicly and unambiguously endorse and promote harm reduction as an approach consistent with those treaties and monitor global delivery of substitution treatment and HIV prevention measures for drug users;
  • the international community and all major UN bodies involved in drugs and HIV approach drug use as a health and social matter which also requires some law enforcement interventions rather than being primarily a matter of criminal justice.

The harm reductionists from around the globe were in Toronto for the International AIDS 2006 conference. "HIV is being spread increasingly -- in some parts of the world, chiefly-through the sharing of injecting equipment, said Dr. Diane Riley, who signed the declaration on behalf of the Canadian Foundation for Drug Policy and the Youth Network for Harm Reduction International. "Considerable evidence exists that harm reduction strategies such as needle exchange programs can effectively, safely and cheaply reduce the spread of HIV; yet very few such programs are in place. Governments are in effect spreading infection through their own drug control and enforcement policies which encourage use of non-sterile equipment, and marginalization and incarceration of users," Riley added in a press release announcing the declaration.

"The United States, the world's most important donor of international aid, restricts implementation of harm reduction strategies," Riley charged. "Political and social commitment, including commitment of the necessary resources, and an end to the US administration's embargo on harm reduction are needed now," Riley said. "If we fail to do this, further catastrophe is inevitable and the global economy will simply not be able to cope with the resultant burden."

Semanal: O Calendário do Reformador

Por favor, clique aqui para enviar listas para eventos que digam respeito às políticas de drogas e aos tópicos relacionados

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22 de Agosto, 09:30-11:30, Chicago, IL, "Vozes Cruzadas: Os Impactos das Políticas de Drogas do Illinois", fórum do Illinois Consortium on Drug Policy. No Institute for Metropolitan Affairs, Universidade Roosevelt, Salão do Congresso, 2o Andar, 430 Avenida Michigan S., ligue para o (312) 341-2457 até o dia 18 de Agosto para confirmar presença. Para maiores informações, ligue para Kathleen Kane-Willis pelo (312) 341-4336 ou [email protected].

De 01 a 04 de Setembro, Manderson, SD, Quinto Festival Anual de Cânhamo de Lakota. No Parque Kiza, a 5km ao norte da cidade, visite http://www.hemphoedown.com para maiores informações.

07 de Setembro, Londres, Reino Unido, "Avançando a Redução de Danos: Lições Internacionais para Práticas Locais - Destaques da 17a Conferência Internacional Sobre a Redução do Dano Relacionado às Drogas em Vancouver, Maio de 2006". Registro £47 (incluindo VAT) com refrescos e almoço, para maiores informações, contate Michelle Vatin pelo 0207 272 6902 ou [email protected].

23 de Setembro, 13:00-16:20, São Clemente, CA, Marcha Contra a Guerra Fracassada Contra as Drogas, patrocinada por The November Coalition e pela NORML Comarca de Orange. No Cais de São Clemente, Avenida do Mar, ligue para o (714) 210-6446, e-mail [email protected] ou [email protected] ou visite http://www.ocnorml.org para maiores informações.

De 07 a 08 de Outubro, Madison, WI, 36o Festival Anual da Colheita de Cânhamo do Grande Meio-Oeste, patrocinado pela NORML Madison. No Library Mall, centro, visite http://www.madisonnorml.org para maiores informações.

De 28 a 29 de Outubro, 11:00-19:00, São Francisco, CA, “Segundo Festival Anual das Maravilhas do Cannabis”, festa beneficente para a Cannabis Action Network e a Green Aid, recebida por Ed Rosenthal. No Salão das Flores, parque Golden Gate, entrada individual $20, para maiores de 18 anos, contate Danielle pelo (510) 486-8083 ou [email protected] para maiores informações.

De 09 a 12 de Novembro, Oakland, CA, “A Saúde do Usuário de Drogas: A Política e o Pessoal”, 6ª Conferência Nacional de Redução de Danos. Patrocinada pela Harm Reduction Coalition, para maiores informações visite http://www.harmreduction.org/6national/ ou contate Paula Santiago pelo [email protected].

De 17 a 19 de Novembro, Washington, DC, Conferência Internacional e Oficina de Treinamento do Students for Sensible Drug Policy. Na Faculdade de Direito da Universidade Georgetown, incluindo oradores, sessões de treinamento, um dia de pressão e mais. Maiores informações serão publicadas logo em http://www.ssdp.org.

01 de Dezembro, 18:30, Nova Iorque, NY, Primeiro Jantar/Festa Beneficente Anual para In Arms Reach: Parent Venid Bars: Children in Crisis, com o ex-beque do New York Giants, Carl Banks. No Saguão da Universidade Municipal, ligue para o (212) 650-5894 para maiores informações.

De 01 a 03 de Fevereiro de 2007, Salt Lake City, UT, “Ciência e Resposta: 2007, A Segunda Conferência Nacional Sobre a Metanfetamina, o HIV e a Hepatite”, patrocinada pelo Harm Reduction Project. No Hilton City Center, visite http://www.methconference.org para maiores informações.

Semanal: Esta Semana na História

11 de Agosto de 1991: Depois de dez meses de pesquisa, o Pittsburgh Press começa uma série de seis dias sobre o abuso de seqüestro de bens, fazendo a crônica do que chama de "um acontecimento assustador na guerra contra as drogas". O Press revela que a apreensão e seqüestro haviam causado enormes danos colaterais a inocentes.

12 de Agosto de 1997: O Departamento de Justiça dos EUA anuncia que não haveria nenhum indiciamento no assassinato de Esequiel Hernádez, Jr., um cidadão estadunidense de 18 anos morto pelos Fuzileiros Navais dos EUA numa patrulha antidrogas enquanto reunia as cabras dele perto da cidade fronteiriça de Redford, Texas. O Tenente-Coronel Carlton W. Fulford, que realizou uma revisão militar interna do incidente, disse que o assassinato poderia não ter acontecido se as agências civis da lei houvessem estado patrulhando a fronteira.

14 de Agosto de 2002: 1.200 pacientes de maconha medicinal, muitos padecendo de doenças que comportam risco de vida, perdem a oferta de medicamento deles quando a polícia de Ontário sitia o Toronto Compassion Centre.

15 de Agosto de 1988: Em seu discurso de admissão à Convenção Nacional Republicana, George Herbert Walker Bush declara, "Eu quero Estados Unidos livres das drogas. Nesta noite, eu desafio os jovens do nosso país a acabarem com os negócios dos traficantes de drogas ao redor do mundo... O meu Governo vai dizer aos traficantes, 'O que tenhamos que fazer, faremos, mas os seus dias estão contados. Vocês já eram'".

16 de Agosto de 1996: Enquanto visitava São Francisco, o secretário antidrogas dos EUA, Barry McCaffrey, afirma aos meios de comunicação, "Não há nenhum rastro de prova científica que mostre que a maconha fumada seja útil ou necessária. Isto não é ciência. Isto não é medicina. É uma farsa cruel e parece mais algo saído de uma apresentação de Cheech e Chong". Depois, os defensores observam que há provas científicas que apóiam a maconha medicinal.

17 de Agosto de 1999: A CNN informa que as autoridades federais dizem que estão investigando os últimos membros indiciados de uma grande rede do tráfico de drogas que transportava toneladas de cocaína e maconha, principalmente colombianas, por todos os Estados Unidos. Quase 100 suspeitos foram indiciados na "Operação Expresso Sudoeste" [Operation Southwest Express] e 77 foram presos nos reides em 14 cidades.

Busca na Rede: Novo Vídeo do Criador de "Emperor Of Hemp", Jim Hightower Sobre a Guerra à Maconha, Spitzer Fende a Maconha Medicinal

Get Off the Pot, George!”, o novo vídeo do criador de Emperor of Hemp, Jeff Meyers - classificado atualmente em segundo lugar no Huffington Post Contagious Festival

Jim Hightower ataca "The Government's Sick War on Marijuana" [A Guerra Doentia do Governo Contra a Maconha]

Geoffrey Gray sobre "Eliot Spitzer Chokes on Pot Deal” [Eliot Spitzer Vacila em Trato Acerca da Maconha]

Oriente Médio: Agora, Israelenses Pedem Boicote do Haxixe do Hezbolá

Durante longo tempo, os consumidores israelenses de drogas estiveram contentes em fumar o haxixe libanês, mas agora, enquanto a guerra entre os dois países segue com grande violência, alguns estão pedindo um boicote porque o tráfico entre as fronteiras ajuda a financiar o Hezbolá, informou o Jewish Daily Forward na quinta-feira. O haxixe é a forma mais popular da maconha em Israel e o Líbano é o fornecedor número um, de acordo com o aparato legal israelense.

O pedido de boicote veio do ativista e morador de Jerusalém, Dan Sieradski, que publicou a idéia no seu blog Orthodox Anarchist. "Uma organização terrorista respaldada pelos persas é a principal fornecedora de haxixe ao mercado israelense atualmente”, escreveu Sieradski. “E por isso, com um grande peso no meu coração, estou boicotando oficialmente o haxixe a partir deste momento”.

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persa fumando haxixe (da DrugLibrary.org)
O cultivo de haxixe no Vale Bekaa no Líbano tem sido contrabandeado tradicionalmente para Israel por nômades árabes, beduínos e drusos israelenses, mas o Forward informa que desde que Israel se retirou do Líbano em 2000, o Hezbolá assumiu o controle do tráfico - e dos lucros associados. "O Hezbolá está supervisionando diretamente a operação inteira", disse o Capitão da Polícia, Avi ElGrise, ao Jerusalem Post. "Eles dizem onde, quando e quantas drogas são trazidas".

O pedido de Sieradski tem tido resultados confusos. Para alguns consumidores israelenses de haxixe, o boicote é uma maneira de expressar a sua consternação com a guerra e os ataques implacáveis com mísseis do Hezbolá contra Israel. "É o seguinte, se se compra drogas do Líbano, pode-se financiar o terrorismo através do Hezbolá contra Israel", comentou um usuário. "Quem entre nós iria querer isso na sua consciência? Eu não!" Outro jovem boicoteador comentou: "Já é ruim o bastante que estejam tentando explodir o nosso país. Não vou pagar-lhes para que façam isso".

Nem todos concordam. O Forward citou um traficante da área de Jerusalém que disse, "Tudo bem do Hezbolá", mas ele não dava a mínima. O comentário dele sobre o boicote? "Enrole-a, acenda-a, fume-a".

O pedido de boicote também incitou alguns a debaterem que chegou a hora de legalizar o tráfico de haxixe a fim de enfraquecer o Hezbolá. Contanto que existam lucros ilícitos a ganhar, há dinheiro no banco para a organização da resistência xiita, observaram.

O pedido de boicote também pode ser uma expressão da realidade dentro de Israel. Com a fronteira Líbano-Israel sendo a cena de duros combates, é questionável a quantidade de haxixe libanês que está passando agora.

Metanfetamina: Juiz do Tennessee Descarta Casos de Precursores de Preparo

No ano passado, o Tennessee adotou uma lei que restringe a compra de anticongestionantes e antialérgicos vendidos sem prescrição médica como parte de um esforço para refrear o preparo caseiro da metanfetamina, o popular estimulante. A lei limitava as compras a não mais que nove gramas de pseudo-efedrina em um período de 30 dias.

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laboratório de metanfetamina
A polícia na Comarca de Marion do Leste do Tennessee coletou os registros farmacêuticos de compras de pseudo-efedrina e os comparou às listas de pessoas presas anteriormente por prepararem metanfetamina, daí usou esses registros para deter mais de 80 pessoas em Abril sob acusações de promoção do preparo de metanfetamina. Pelo menos 30 delas foram acusadas de fazerem várias compras de pseudo-efedrina que as punham acima do limite de nove gramas. Mas, agora, um juiz decidiu que os promotores municipais estavam interpretando a nova lei equivocadamente.

Numa decisão de 03 de Agosto, o Juiz da Corte de Circuito, Thomas Graham, descartou casos contra 30 réus, dizendo que ele interpretou que os promotores não podem usar várias compras para debater que alguém excedeu a regra dos nove gramas. "Está claro que, já que nenhuma das compras nestes casos excedeu nove gramas, o estado simplesmente não pode debater um caso em relação a qualquer um destes réus", escreveu. A lei deve aplicar-se apenas a uma única compra se deseja resistir a um desafio constitucional por falta de clareza, escreveu.

Aparentemente, Graham ouviu o Defensor Público Phil Condra, que debateu numa audiência de Junho que a lei põe consumidores inocentes em risco porque a sua falta de clareza permite à polícia discrição demais ao fazer as detenções. Condra sugeriu que as pessoas podem acabar sendo presas por comprar fósforos ou filtros de café ou outros artigos comuns que possam ser usados no preparo de metanfetamina.

Num documento anterior, o subprocurador-geral do Tennessee, Preston Shipp, tirou sarro da idéia. Não havia "possibilidade nenhuma de condenação de uma pessoa inocente que comprar, como sugere o réu, dois pacotes de filtros para café, sem nenhum conhecimento de que isso será usado para produzir metanfetamina nem a desconsideração irresponsável de seu uso pretendido", escreveu. Mas isso não era suficiente para convencer o Juiz Thomas.

A Associated Press informou na terça-feira que a procuradoria-geral do Tennessee desafiará a decisão. De acordo com David McGovern, o subprocurador-geral do 12o Distrito Judicial, os promotores debaterão que a lei se aplica à "quantidade agregada. Nós achamos que é um pouquinho mais geral".

Redução de Danos: Boston a Ponto de Proporcionar Antídoto Contra Overdose de Heroína a Dependentes

As autoridades da saúde pública de Boston provavelmente aprovarão um programa-piloto que proporciona naloxona (marca Narcan) aos consumidores de heroína na semana que vem, informou o Boston Globe na quarta-feira. Se a Comissão de Saúde Pública de Boston aprovar o programa de verdade, se juntará a cidades como Baltimore, Chicago e Nova Iorque, onde as autoridades já aprovaram a sua distribuição a usuários de drogas.

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Em muitas localidades, apenas os paramédicos ou os prontos-socorros subministram a droga, que pode impedir uma overdose de heroína de virar uma morte por overdose. Mas com Boston enfrentando um alto número de mortes por overdose de heroína - as overdoses fatais aumentaram 50% entre 1999 e 2003 - os funcionários municipais da saúde querem pôr a droga onde ela puder ajudar mais o mais rápido possível: nas mãos dos consumidores de drogas.

"A esperança número um com isto é salvar vidas", disse o diretor executivo da Comissão da Saúde Pública, Joel Auerbach, ao Globe. "Os nossos paramédicos disseram que é uma droga milagrosa. Eles viram pessoas comatosas que reviveram e estão perfeitamente bem".

Espera-se que o teste matricule 100 usuários de heroína, os quais teriam que passar por treinamento e avaliação, assim como sessões de incentivo à desistência. Mas se não estiverem preparados para parar de usá-la, seriam instruídos sobre como aplicar Narcan. Então, eles receberiam uma prescrição para duas doses.

A ação proposta acontece justo uma semana depois que o Gabinete de Política Nacional de Controle das Drogas - a secretaria antidrogas - recusou a idéia como se de alguma maneira encorajasse o consumo de drogas. "Não queremos divulgar que há uma forma segura de consumir heroína", disse a porta-voz do ONDCP, Jennifer DeVallance, à AP.

Maconha Medicinal: AFSCME Respalda a Maconha Medicinal

A Federação Estadunidense de Empregados Estaduais, Comarcais e Municipais (AFSCME), o maior sindicato de servidores públicos do país, aprovou uma resolução que apóia a maconha medicinal na sua convenção nacional na terça-feira em Chicago. Assim, a AFSCME vira a maior organização cívica a defender o acesso à cannabis terapêutica.

Aprovada por uma votação esmagadora em voz alta pelos delegados da convenção, a resolução observa que a maconha mostrou tratar com eficiência doenças como o câncer, a esclerose múltipla, HIV/AIDS, glaucoma, mal de Crohn, dores crônicas e os efeitos colaterais dos tratamentos medicinais para estas enfermidades. E o mais importante: "Portanto, que seja resolvido que a AFSCME respalda e apóia a legalização da maconha medicinal para afecções adequadas e indicadas medicinalmente, inclusive, mas não limitada a, AIDS, HIV, câncer, artrite, etc.".

A AFSCME representa 1.4 milhão de trabalhadores estadunidenses tanto no setor público quanto no privado, incluindo motoristas de ônibus, trabalhadores da saúde, guardas, bibliotecários e outros empregados estaduais, municipais e federais do governo. De relevância particular para as questões das políticas de drogas, a AFSCME também representa enfermeiras e funcionários correcionais. Uns 6.000 delegados estão se encontrando toda a semana em Chicago para a 37ª convenção anual do sindicato".

"Nossos esforços para protegermos os pacientes de maconha medicinal da detenção estão ganhando novo ímpeto todos os dias", disse Aaron Houston, diretor de relações governamentais do Marijuana Policy Project em Washington, DC. "Só neste ano, temos visto novos defensores como a Igreja Presbiteriana (EUA), a Citizens Against Government Waste e agora a AFSCME. Com um respaldo tão amplo e crescente e tão rápido, não há nenhuma surpresa em ver respaldo na Câmara dos Deputados dos EUA neste ano e esperamos continuar construindo esta coalizão grande e poderosa".

Maconha: Organizadores de Michigan Entregam Assinaturas para Duas Iniciativas Eleitorais Municipais

Tim Beck da NORML Michigan informou via e-mail na quarta-feira que duas iniciativas municipais relacionadas à maconha haviam cumprido seus prazos para a entrega de assinaturas. Uma iniciativa tornaria a maconha a menor prioridade legal, enquanto que a outra é uma iniciativa pró-maconha medicinal.

Em Niles, o presidente da NORML Sudoeste do Michigan, Don Barnes, e o coordenador de campanha, Greg Francisco, apresentaram 596 assinaturas ao escrivão municipal de Niles na terça-feira para colocar uma iniciativa de menor prioridade nas urnas. De acordo com a iniciativa, o porte ou consumo de até 30 gramas de maconha por adultos em propriedade privada seria a menor prioridade legal da Polícia de Niles. Eles precisam de 440 assinaturas válidas para entrar na votação. Agora, a cidade de Niles tem uma semana para anunciar se assinaturas válidas suficientes foram entregues.

Também na terça-feira, a Flint Coalition for Compassionate Care entregou mais de 2.000 assinaturas buscando colocar uma iniciativa pró-maconha medicinal perante os eleitores em Novembro. A iniciativa criaria um decreto-lei municipal que concederia aos consumidores de maconha medicinal uma isenção das leis sobre a maconha. A coalizão precisa de 1.150 assinaturas válidas e espera receber sim ou não até o fim da semana que vem.

Maconha: Defensores da Legalização no Colorado Entregam 110.000 Assinaturas em Esforço Eleitoral

Os organizadores de uma iniciativa que legalizaria o porte de até trinta gramas de maconha no Colorado entregaram mais de 110.000 assinaturas à secretaria do estado na segunda à tarde. A iniciativa precisa de 67.829 assinaturas válidas para entrar na votação de Novembro.

Se a medida entrar na votação, o Colorado se juntará a Nevada como estados em que os eleitores terão a chance de tomar uma decisão sobre a suspensão de todas as sanções penais para o porte de quantidades pessoais de maconha por adultos. Atualmente, o Alasca é o único estado que permite que os adultos portem maconha legalmente - até trinta gramas na privacidade de seus lares.

Organizada pela SAFER Colorado, a iniciativa é uma tentativa de replicar o êxito que o grupo teve em Denver no ano passado, em que os habitantes votaram a favor da legalização do porte de até trinta gramas de acordo com um decreto-lei municipal. Contudo, os policiais e promotores ignoraram essa votação e continuam multando e prendendo as pessoas de acordo com a lei estadual.

"No mês de Novembro passado, o povo da cidade de Denver votou a favor de tornar legal o porte de até trinta gramas de maconha para adultos de acordo com decretos-lei municipais", disse o diretor de campanha da SAFER, Mason Tvert. "Mas, covardemente, os funcionários da nossa cidade ignoraram flagrantemente a vontade do povo e continuaram prendendo e processando os habitantes de Denver de acordo com a lei estadual por fazer a escolha mais segura de consumir maconha em vez de álcool. Achamos que isso está errado e parece que mais de 110.000 pessoas no grande estado do Colorado concordam conosco".

Imposição da Lei: As Estórias de Policiais Corruptos Desta Semana

Outra semana, outro grupo de policiais corruptos. Mais problemas em Memphis, um ex-policial em St. Paul é indiciado numa grande apreensão de cocaína e metanfetamina e mais outro agente penitenciário é pego contrabandeando drogas atrás das grades.

Em Memphis, três oficiais da polícia foram indiciados sob acusações de roubarem traficantes de drogas e fazerem os preparativos para vender eles mesmos as drogas. Os Oficiais da Polícia de Memphis, Antoine Owens e Alexander Johnson, se juntaram ao ex-oficial Arthur Sease na preparação das transações em drogas, daí entrando em cena com oficiais uniformizados, detendo os traficantes de drogas e roubando as drogas e jóias deles. De acordo com a WREG-TV em Mephis, a polícia está chamando Sease de líder. Ele enfrenta um indiciamento de 50 infrações com acusações que incluem conspiração, extorsão, porte de substância controlada e numerosas infrações dos direitos civis. Os Oficiais Owens e Johnson são acusados de duas infrações de conspiração.

Em St. Paul, Minnesota, um oficial aposentado da polícia foi indiciado sob acusações federais de drogas na terça-feira, informou a KSTP-TV. O ex-oficial Clemmie Howard Tucker, 51, foi identificado como o homem que tentou recolher um pacote suspeito no depósito da rodoviária de Mineápolis. Esse pacote continha quase 10 quilos de cocaína e mais de 3,5kg de metanfetamina. O veterano de 25 anos enfrenta uma acusação cada de tentativa de porte com intenção de distribuir cocaína e metanfetamina.

Em Richmond, Virgínia, um xerife-adjunto da Comarca de Henrico foi acusado na sexta-feira passada de contrabandear drogas, cigarros, charutos e outras coisas para dentro da Cadeia da Comarca de Henrico. Ronald Washington, 23, ganhou supostamente mais de $1.000 pelo esforço dele. Washington é acusado de entrega criminosa de substância controlada a um preso e entrega contraventora de artigos a prisioneiros, informou o Richmond Times-Dispatch. Ele está detido sem direito a fiança na Cadeia Regional de Pamunkey na Comarca de Hanover.

Matéria: Coleta de Assinaturas de Portland para Iniciativa de “Menor Prioridade” para a Maconha É Insuficiente

Neste mês de Novembro, os eleitores em Portland, Oregon, não votarão numa iniciativa que teria tornado a maconha a menor prioridade legal para a polícia e os promotores da cidade. Apesar de gastar quase $100.000 em um esforço de coleta de assinaturas suficientes para se classificar nas urnas, faltaram assinaturas para os organizadores da iniciativa.

Patrocina pela Citizens for a Safer Portland com o respaldo financeiro do Marijuana Policy Project de Washington, DC, a iniciativa teria criado um decreto-lei municipal que definiria a lei de repressão à maconha como a menor prioridade da polícia e teria impedido a cidade de aceitar fundos estaduais ou federais para impor as leis antimaconha. Também teria criado um comitê de supervisão civil para monitorar a obediência à imposição da lei e requerido que os policiais e promotores de Portland fizessem relatórios sobre as detenções e processos relacionados à maconha.

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apreensão de maconha perto do subúrbio Wilsonville de Portland
Portland deveria ter sido a maior de uma série de cidades do Litoral Oeste a desafiar as leis contra a maconha. Porém, esforços similares continuam vivos e vão muito bem em quatro cidades californianas, a franca legalização está em votação em Nevada e parece que os eleitores no Colorado também terão a oportunidade de votar a favor da reforma da legislação sobre a maconha.

"Não é uma decepção", disse o diretor de comunicação do MPP, Bruce Mirken. "Não vi nenhum tipo de autópsia que diga claramente o que deu errado, mas não dá para ficar contente com o investimento em um projeto e seu fracasso. O lado positivo é que uma série destas iniciativas teve sucesso em chegar às urnas em outros lugares", disse ele à Crônica da Guerra Contra as Drogas.

Os organizadores da iniciativa de Portland precisavam entregar 26.291 assinaturas válidas para se classificar para a votação. O grupo conseguiu reunir apenas mais de 40.000 assinaturas, mas quando se limpou a lista das assinaturas duplicadas e inválidas, eles tinham 31.523. Mas, então, a cidade descartou várias centenas de folhas que contêm cerca de 4.500 porque os coletores de assinaturas tinham colocado suas iniciais nas folhas em vez de assiná-las com seus nomes completos. Nesse momento, a contagem de assinaturas caíra para 27.174, então quando uma amostra aleatória do gabinete eleitoral municipal das assinaturas restantes mostrou que cerca de um-terço das assinaturas era inválido, os organizadores reconheceram a derrota.

"Isso estava de acordo com as nossas conferências internas de validade", disse Chris Iverson da Citizens for a Safer Portland. "Isso significava que não havia jeito de conseguir, tínhamos apenas dois-terços válidos", disse ele à Crônica da Guerra Contra as Drogas.

Iverson disse que o fracasso em conseguir as assinaturas solicitadas era uma combinação do erro do organizador e uma maquinaria municipal eleitoral hostil. "Cometemos alguns erros ao longo do caminho", reconheceu. "Quando começamos, não calculamos as assinaturas duplicadas e de fora de Portland porque não sabíamos que seriam tantas. Se já houvéssemos feito isto antes, estaríamos cientes disto", disse Iverson.

"Tivemos 4.500 assinaturas descartadas pelo que eles chamaram de erro do coletor", reclamou Iverson. "Aqui no Oregon, temos regras muito estritas. Se eles não conseguirem ler a assinatura do coletor na página, eles vão a uma base de dados de registro de eleitores. Se não conseguirem combinar as assinaturas, eles descartam a página inteira. Tínhamos duas pessoas que fizeram centenas de folhas cada uma e suas folhas foram jogadas fora porque elas usaram versões abreviadas dos nomes delas", explicou. "Pensávamos que porque tínhamos documentos oficiais, estaríamos bem, especialmente porque eles tinham permitido isso no passado com outras campanhas. Mas, eles disseram que não as contariam porque não se combinavam exatamente".

Tal inflexibilidade oficial frustra o impulso democrático, disse Iverson. "Estes tipos de decisões são injustos e antidemocráticos", disse. "Muitas campanhas aqui estão tendo problemas com esta norma".

Iverson e a Citizens for a Safer Portland podem estar derrotados, mas não se curvam. "Esta iniciativa ajudou a reunir pessoas que nunca teriam entrado na mesma sala antes e estamos prontos para os preparativos do próximo projeto. Tenho sido ativista durante 15 anos e me considero um profissional das campanhas. Os realizadores profissionais de campanhas não cometem os mesmos erros duas vezes".

Iverson quer ajudar outros a evitar o cometimento dos mesmos erros também - ele está reunindo um pacote de perguntas que os aspirantes a organizadores da iniciativa deveriam ler antes de seguirem adiante com uma campanha.

Matéria: Reforma Federal da Condenação Vai a NASCAR

Com o sistema federal de prisões cheinho e ainda crescendo, a pressão pela reforma da condenação está se acumulando. Um projeto que visa a ajudar ex-infratores, o Ato da Segunda Chance [Second Chance Act], está tramitando no Congresso e pode ser aprovado neste outono. Bem atrás disso está o H.R. 3072, um projeto que re-introduziria a liberdade condicional no sistema federal. E num esforço novo para ampliar o apoio ao projeto pró-condicional, alguns dos seus defensores estão levando a questão ao enorme público automobilístico de NASCAR.

Na primeira da série de eventos de NASCAR, no dia 23 de Agosto a equipe Carter 2 Motorsports competirá na corrida em Bristol, Tennessee, usando essa oportunidade para dar publicidade ao projeto da condicional, assim como as organizações que respaldam o esforço, Federal CURE e FreeFeds. Espera-se que mais de 160.000 compareçam, com um público telespectador estimado em 3 milhões. O esforço também será o enfoque de um documentário da PBS com um público estimado em entre 10 e 14 milhões de telespectadores quando for transmitido.

"Eu mesmo fui um preso federal", disse o homem forte da Carter 2 Motorsports, Roger Carter II, que cumpriu quase três anos por uma infração profissional. "Encontrei muita gente maravilhosa na prisão, infratores não-violentos da legislação antidrogas. Eu pude ir para casa após um par de anos, mas estes homens estavam cumprindo 10, 20, 30 anos ou mais", disse à Crônica da Guerra Contra as Drogas. "Não me entenda mal. Eu acho que as pessoas que infringem a lei devem ser punidas, mas isto se trata de punição proporcional e justa. O que dá seis meses nos tribunais estaduais pode dar seis anos no sistema federal e isso não está certo".

Embora o esforço de Carter seja relativamente recente, ele é incentivado pela reação que está recebendo. "O apoio tem sido esmagador", disse. "As pessoas são realmente suscetíveis a isto e a imprensa está aceitando. A idéia é colocar isto ante o público porque as pessoas precisam ver aonde estão indo os seus dólares dos impostos. Qualquer um que der uma olhada no H.R. 3072 tem a satisfação de ver o que é uma abordagem de bom senso ao encarceramento ao invés de simplesmente tirar as pessoas da cadeia sem motivo nenhum", disse, acrescentando que ele tem mensagens sobre o H.R. 3072 pintadas no seu caminhão e stock-car do NASCAR, assim como nos seus sites e correios eletrônicos

Desde que o Congresso aboliu a liberdade condicional na "reforma da condenação" de 1986, o sistema federal de prisões tem crescido progressivamente mais, cada vez mais cheio de infratores não-violentos da legislação antidrogas cumprindo sentenças longas sem nenhuma chance de soltura por bom comportamento, exceto em casos altamente limitados. Nesta semana, a Agência Federal de Prisões situou o seu cômputo de prisioneiros em mais de 191.000, com 54% cumprindo sentenças por delitos de drogas.

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George Martorano (cortesia We Believe Group)
Esse número inclui George Martorano, o homem que leva a distinção infeliz de ser o infrator não-violento que cumpre a pena mais longa em prisão federal até o dia de hoje, um destino que ele adquiriu através de uma infração primária por maconha. Agora, Martorano cumpre 23 anos de uma sentença de prisão perpétua sem chance de condicional. Foi a condição de Martorano que inspirou o habitante da Flórida, John Flahive, a juntar-se à luta pela reforma das penas.

"Eu estava cortejando uma senhorita e uma noite quando estava na casa dele, o telefone tocou com uma mensagem. Era a ligação de um preso federal", explicou Flahive. "Era George e a senhorita era a irmã dele. Ela me disse que ele estava cumprindo prisão perpétua sem condicional e eu lhe perguntei quantas pessoas matou", disse à Crônica. "Ele não matou ninguém. Estava envolvido numa transação - cerca de 1ton90kg de maconha. Depois de algum tempo, fui visitá-lo e descobri que era um homem muito bom - ele escreve livros e ensina outros presos e tem uma ficha penal perfeita. Imaginamos que tínhamos que ajudá-lo de alguma maneira, então criamos o We Believe Group para tentar criar consciência da sua condição".

Tem sido instrutivo, disse Flahive. "Comecei a trabalhar nisto há cinco anos atrás. Antes disso, não estava envolvido, nem sequer votava", explicou. "Achei que o caso de George era um erro, mas enquanto mais me envolvia, percebi que havia milhares de Georges apodrecendo ali dentro". Como resultado disso, Flahive ampliou o ativismo dele e agora trabalha para aprovar a legislação de reforma das penas no Congresso. Ele também se dirigirá às pistas de NASCAR junto com Carter num esforço para levar a mensagem às massas de fãs do automobilismo.

"Estou trabalhando com a Federal CURE nisto", disse. "Eles têm dois reboques que vestiremos com o H.R. 3072 e teremos muito material para distribuir. As pessoas ouvem quando lhes dizem que se pagam impostos federais são afetadas pelo custo do sistema federal de prisões. A liberdade condicional economizaria $4 bilhões ao ano", afirmou Flahive.

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o Dep. Danny Davis
A liberdade condicional federal esteve por aí durante algum tempo e foi originalmente defendida pela Depª. Patsy Mink (D-HI), mas desde a sua morte inesperada em 2002, o Dep. Danny Davis (D-IL) aceitou o desafio e agora é o principal defensor. Davis estava viajando e não pôde comentar nesta semana, mas o diretor de comunicação dele, Ira Cohen, disse à Crônica que o projeto faz uso de toda a ajuda que puder receber. "O Dep. Davis sente orgulho de tudo o que conseguiu com o Ato da Segunda Chance e o projeto da condicional e continua buscando apoio", disse Cohen.

Uma fonte próxima a Davis disse à Crônica que Davis está se concentrando neste outono no Ato da Segunda Chance como forma de abrir a porta a uma discussão séria da reforma das penas no Congresso. "A estratégia sempre tem sido a de fazer pressão pela aprovação de outro projeto primeiro e agora o Ato da Segunda Chance está muito perto", disse a fonte. "Se for aprovado, o congressista pretende usar essa oportunidade para ter esta discussão geral sobre o projeto da condicional porque abrirá toda a questão da reforma geral da justiça criminal federal".

Mas Flahive, Carter e 100.000 presos federais da guerra às drogas não estão esperando que o Congresso aja - estão pressionando-o para que aja. Além da corrida de Bristol no dia 23, Carter e o reboque H.R. 3072 dele competirão nos circuitos de NASCAR em Novo Hampshire, Martinsville e Homestead e levarão a mensagem às massas. "Como qualquer outra coisa, assim que isto conseguir algum ímpeto, assim que os políticos virem que podem se beneficiar votando a favor disto, tudo estará terminado. Estamos aqui para ajudar as pessoas a levar os políticos a esse ponto".

Matéria: Paciente de Maconha Medicinal de Dakota do Sul Processa Procurador-Geral por Texto Errado em Súmula Eleitoral

O Procurador-Geral de Dakota do Sul, Larry Long (R), está ocupado nesta semana enquanto meio-milhão de motociclistas entrava na pequena cidade de Sturgis para o 66° Encontro Anual de Motociclismo de Black Hills. A área normalmente plácida já teve duas mortes de motociclistas em acidentes, um assassinato e um tiroteio entre membros das gangues de motociclistas Hell’s Angels e Outlaws que deixou cinco pessoas feridas. E isso apenas com as coisas entrando em andamento.

Mas, o Procurador-Geral Long está com outro problema nesta semana e ele não pode jogar a culpa desta nos motociclistas. A paciente de maconha medicinal, Valerie Hanna, a porta-voz-chefe da South Dakotans for Medical Marijuana, abriu uma ação contra ele na quarta-feira na capital estadual, Pierre. A ação judicial acusa que a sua descrição da iniciativa de maconha medicinal do grupo é tão injusta e imprecisa que infringe a lei estadual.

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A medida estritamente escrita, baseada principalmente na iniciativa bem-sucedida de 2004 do estado vizinho de Montana, permite que os pacientes seriamente doentes portem até trinta gramas de maconha usável e seis plantas se tiverem a recomendação de um médico e se estiverem registrados junto ao estado e tiverem obtido uma carteira de identificação. Os pacientes que obedecem a essas regras estariam protegidos de detenção e processo criminal de parte das autoridades estaduais. A medida também permite que os pacientes designem um fornecedor para que cultive maconha para eles. Cria proteções para os médicos que derem conselhos aos seus pacientes de que os benefícios de consumir maconha superam os riscos e impõe restrições sobre o consumo em público e a condução intoxicada.

Segundo a lei de Dakota do Sul, o procurador-geral do estado está encarregado de escrever descrições de todas as medidas que aparecerem nas urnas. De acordo com a lei, a descrição eleitoral deve ser um "sumário objetivo, claro e simples" da medida. O sumário do procurador-geral é a única descrição da iniciativa que os eleitores verão quando depositarem as suas cédulas em Novembro.

Long começou com o pé esquerdo. Mesmo antes de chegar à própria súmula eleitoral, ele decidiu mudar o próprio nome da medida. Conhecida desde o princípio e apresentada junto ao estado como "Uma lei para proporcionar acesso seguro à maconha medicinal a certas pessoas qualificadas", Long decidiu que ela estaria mais bem intitulada como "Uma iniciativa para autorizar o consumo de maconha para adultos e crianças com doenças específicas". O texto completo de sua explanação eleitoral é o seguinte:

Atualmente, o porte, consumo, distribuição ou cultivo de maconha é crime segundo as leis estadual e federal. A lei proposta legalizaria o consumo ou porte de maconha para qualquer adulto ou criança que tiver uma das diversas doenças listadas e que esteja registrado no Departamento de Saúde. A lei proposta também daria uma defesa à pessoas que cultivarem, transportarem ou distribuírem maconha somente para pessoas registradas. Mesmo se esta iniciativa for aprovada, o porte, consumo ou distribuição de maconha ainda é crime federal. As pessoas contempladas pela lei proposta ainda estariam sujeitas a processo federal por infração das leis federais de controle das drogas. Os médicos que proporcionarem certificações escritas podem estar sujeitos à perda de suas licenças federais de dispensa de drogas prescritíveis.

"Isto está errado", disse Hannah. "O procurador-geral está fazendo parecer que os médicos podem ser processados e que as crianças teriam acesso à maconha. Entramos com esta ação para forçá-lo a agir dentro da lei e tratar esta medida eleitoral com justiça", disse ela à Crônica da Guerra Contra as Drogas.

"A alegação legal apresentada hoje deixa bem claro quão profundamente bagunçado está esse texto eleitoral", disse Bruce Mirken, diretor de comunicação do Marijuana Policy Project de Washington, DC, que financiou a coleta de assinaturas para a iniciativa e pretende proteger o seu investimento. "O que o procurador-geral fez na súmula dele é absolutamente ilegal. A lei estadual é bem clara no tocante ao seu dever de preparar uma súmula breve, precisa e factual de uma iniciativa, não dar uma porção de especulações e conjecturas", disse à Crônica. "No fundo, isto é um editorial contra a iniciativa. Que uma súmula imprecisa e equívoca seja a última coisa que os eleitores verão é simplesmente ultrajante".

A procuradoria-geral de Dakota do Sul não atendeu as chamadas da Crônica da Guerra Contra as Drogas em busca de uma explicação do texto eleitoral nem teceu comentários sobre a ação judicial.

Uma explicação precisa da medida será crítica em Dakota do Sul, um estado socialmente conservador dominado por políticos conservadores que nunca encontraram uma guerra às drogas da qual não gostassem - ou uma afirmação da maconha medicinal de que gostassem. Os projetos de maconha medicinal têm tido uma morte solitária e ignominiosa na assembléia estadual e os tribunais do estado passaram a oportunidade de permitir que os usuários de maconha medicinal colocassem uma defesa de necessidade medicinal. Dakota do Sul é um estado em que as pessoas são sentenciadas de verdade a tempo de prisão por porte de pequenas quantidades de maconha e tem leis de "porte interno" as quais permitem que os promotores acumulem mais outra acusação contra qualquer um que eles pegarem.

"Para os usuários de maconha medicinal aqui, o medo é real", disse Harper, uma enfermeira e veterana de 10 anos das forças armadas que esteve exposta a gás tóxico enquanto servia na Guerra do Golfo e esteve usando maconha para aliviar os sintomas dela durante os últimos seis anos. "Eu fumo três vezes ao dia e o meu corpo pode ser usado para me condenar. Já aconteceu comigo uma vez. Fui parada por excesso de velocidade a caminho do hospital de veteranos e tinha maconha suficiente para uma oferta de dois dias", relatou. "Eles me acusaram tanto de porte quanto de porte interno e tive que pagar $500. Assim é a vida dos pacientes por aqui. Tira-se o dinheiro dos pacientes doentes ou desperdiça-se o dinheiro detendo os pacientes doentes na cadeia".

Harper não é a única paciente de maconha medicinal que tem medo, mas, dado o clima repressivo em Dakota do Sul, não é surpreendente que ela seja a única de poucos disposta a se pronunciar. Um habitante de Huron e paciente de câncer que está consumindo maconha para aliviar a náusea relacionada à quimioterapia disse à Crônica que gostaria de falar, porém teme chamar atenção sobre si. "Já fui preso por isto", disse. "Não quero ser sitiado novamente".

Se esse paciente vai conseguir a proteção que seria dada pela iniciativa de maconha medicinal de Dakota do Sul, o mínimo que ele merece são condições iguais quando se trata do texto eleitoral. O Procurador-Geral de Dakota do Sul ainda tem que demonstrar que está disposto a ou é capaz de fazer isso. Agora, os organizadores da iniciativa e os pacientes de maconha medicinal estão voltando-se para os tribunais para forçá-lo a fazer o trabalho dele.

Weekly: The Reformer's Calendar

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Please click here to submit listings for events concerning drug policy and related topics

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August 19-20, Seattle, WA, Seattle Hempfest, visit http://www.hempfest.org for further information.

August 22, 9:30-11:30am, Chicago, IL, "Intersecting Voices: Impacts of Illinois' Drug Policies," forum by the Illinois Consortium on Drug Policy. At the Institute for Metropolitan Affairs, Roosevelt University, Congress Lounge, 2nd Floor, 430 S. Michigan Avenue, call (312) 341-2457 by August 18 to RSVP. For further information, contact Kathleen Kane-Willis at (312) 341-4336 or [email protected].

August 26, 1:00-4:20pm, Huntington Beach, CA, Rally Against the Failing War on Drugs, sponsored by The November Coalition and Orange County NORML. At Huntington Beach Pier, 315 Pacific Coast Highway, call (714) 210-6446, e-mail [email protected] or [email protected] or visit http://www.ocnorml.org for further info.

September 1-4, Manderson, SD, Fifth Annual Lakota Hemp Days. At Kiza Park, three miles north of town, visit http://www.hemphoedown.com for further information.

September 7, London, United Kingdom, "Advancing Harm Reduction: International Lessons for Local Practice -- Highlights from 17th International Conference on the Reduction of Drug Related Harm in Vancouver, May 2006." Registration £47 (including VAT) including refreshments and lunch, for further information contact Michelle Vatin at 0207 272 6902 or [email protected].

September 16, noon-6:00pm, Boston, MA, 17th Annual Boston Freedom Rally. On Boston Common, sponsored by MASS CANN/NORML, featuring bands, speakers and vendors. Visit http://www.MassCann.org for further information.

September 21, 8:30pm, Los Angeles, CA, "Extravaganja: A Medical Marijuana Comedy Show." Benefit at the Comedy Store, 8433 Sunset Blvd., visit http://www.greentherapy.com or e-mail [email protected] for further information.

September 23, 1:00-4:20pm, San Clemente, CA, Rally Against the Failing War on Drugs, sponsored by The November Coalition and Orange County NORML. At San Clemente Pier, Avenida Del Mar, call (714) 210-6446, e-mail [email protected] or [email protected] or visit http://www.ocnorml.org for further info.

October 7-8, Madison, WI, 36th Annual Great Midwest Marijuana Harvest Festival, sponsored by Madison NORML. At the Library Mall, downtown, visit http://www.madisonnorml.org for further information.

October 28-29, 11:00am-7:00pm, San Francisco, CA, "Second Annual Wonders of Cannabis Festival," benefit for the Cannabis Action Network and Green Aid, hosted by Ed Rosenthal. At the Hall of Flowers, Golden Gate park, individual admission $20, 18 and over, contact Danielle at (510) 486-8083 or [email protected] for further information.

November 9-12, Oakland, CA, "Drug User Health: The Politics and the Personal," 6th National Harm Reduction Conference. Sponsored by the Harm Reduction Coalition, for further information visit http://www.harmreduction.org/6national/ or contact Paula Santiago at [email protected].

November 17-19, Washington, DC, Students for Sensible Drug Policy International Conference and Training Workshop. At the Georgetown University School of Law, including speakers, training sessions, a lobby day and more. Further information will be posted soon at http://www.ssdp.org online.

December 1, 6:30pm, New York, NY, First Annual Charity Dinner/Fundraiser for In Arms Reach: Parent Behind Bars: Children in Crisis, with former New York Giants linebacker Carl Banks. At the Great Hall of City College, call (212) 650-5894 for further information.

February 1-3, 2007, Salt Lake City, UT, "Science & Response: 2007, The Second National Conference on Methamphetamine, HIV, and Hepatitis," sponsored by the Harm Reduction Project. At the Hilton City Center, visit http://www.methconference.org for info.

Europe: British Public Supports More Rational Drug Policies, Survey Says

A survey of British attitudes toward drug policy has found that a majority of people are ready to decriminalize marijuana or make it an offense equivalent to a parking fine. But the poll also found that a solid majority draws a distinction between "soft" drugs like marijuana and "hard" drugs like cocaine and heroin. Most people do not want to see any lessening of restrictions on the use or sale of hard drugs.

The survey's release this week comes with Britain in the midst of a battle over redefining its largely drug war-style drug policies. Just two weeks ago, a parliamentary committee studying drug policy released a report calling Britain's drug classification scheme unscientific. Marijuana policy continues to bedevil the British, as does rising cocaine use and high levels of use of other drugs. The government is also discussing drug policy now because in two years it must evaluate its current 10-year strategy.

Marijuana is currently a Class C drug -- the least serious drug category -- and possession offenders are typical ticketed, while marijuana sales remains a serious crime punishable by up to seven years in prison. Only 38% wanted both possession and sales to remain criminal offenses, while 30% wanted lesser criminal penalties for possession only, 13% wanted simple possession totally decriminalized, and another 15% wanted to see both sales and possession treated as not a crime. In other words, 58% of respondents favored marijuana policies more lenient than current policies.

Attitudes were much tougher toward "hard" drugs, with 73% of respondents favoring the status quo. Only 17% favored lesser criminal penalties for simple possession and only 6% favored entirely decriminalizing possession. The poll didn’t even ask whether anyone would favor legalizing the hard drug trade.

Respondents also broadly agreed that a new drug classification scheme, perhaps containing a Class D for drugs like alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana, would be a good thing by a margin of 56% to 30%. When it comes to comparing the harms of various drugs -- licit and illicit -- respondents ranked heroin as worst, followed closely by cocaine, solvents, ecstasy, and tobacco in descending order. Marijuana was rated as less harmful than any drugs except prescribed tranquilizers and coffee.

The British citizenry also displayed an awareness of the notion of harm reduction, with a whopping 89% agreeing that: "Whether we like it or not, there will always be people who use drugs and the aims should be to reduce the harm they cause themselves and others."

If this survey is any indicator, it looks like the British public is ready for some more rational drug policies. The question is: Is the British political class ready?

Southwest Asia: Afghan Opium Cultivation Jumps to Record Level

Unnamed "Western officials" in Afghanistan are saying that the country's opium crop has increased by a whopping 40% over last year despite hundreds of millions of dollars in counter-narcotics funding and thousands of NATO and American troops in the zones of cultivation, the Associated Press reported Wednesday. Given what they were telling the AP, it is understandable why no one wanted to be named.

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Afghan opium
According to one "Western anti-narcotics official" citing preliminary crop projections, Afghanistan will top the previous record of 324,000 acres under cultivation in 2004 with more than 370,000 acres planted this year. That is up from 257,000 acres planted last year, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime's annual report on Afghan opium production. This year's UN report is expected in September.

Afghanistan already accounts for almost 90% of total global opium production. Profits from the crop and the trade are widely viewed as helping fund Taliban and Al Qaeda insurgents, who, along with drug lords threatened by eradication, are fighting Afghan, US, and NATO forces in an increasingly bloody campaign centered in the opium-growing southern provinces of Helmand and Kandahar. Eradication efforts are also emerging as a double-edged sword: Wiping out the crop advances the aims of the drug war, but pushes peasants into the willing arms of the rebels. According to the UN, opium accounted for 52% of Afghanistan's gross domestic product last year.

"We know that if we start eradicating the whole surface of poppy cultivation in Helmand, we will increase the activity of the insurgency and increase the number of insurgents," said Tom Koenigs, the top UN official in Afghanistan, and about the only person willing to go on the record. He said the international community needs to provide alternative livelihoods for farmers, but warned against expecting quick results. "The problem has increased, and the remedy has to adjust," he said.

"It is a significant increase from last year... unfortunately, it is a record year," "a senior US government official based in Kabul" told the AP. "Now what they have is a narco-economy. If they do not get corruption sorted they can slip into being a narco-state," he warned. "We expected a large number (crop) this year but Helmand unfortunately exceeded even our predictions."

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

It's not your typical week of corrupt cops this week. We've got the usual prison guard in trouble, but not in the usual way; we've got an LAPD officer arrested for making bad arrests; we've got an Alabama narc busted for stealing; and we've got an Alabama judge with an apparent bad habit. In regard to the judge, we don't typically run stories of cops facing simple drug possession charges, but when it's a judge who regularly sentences drug offenders, we think it's worth notice. Also this week, a pair of links to longer investigative pieces down by local newspapers about festering local corruption scandals. Let's get to it:

In Lowndes County, Mississippi, an Alabama judge has been arrested on methamphetamine possession charges, the Tuscaloosa News reported. Pickens County District Judge Ira Colvin was arrested Monday by Lowndes County sheriff's deputies at the same time they arrested a 36-year-old woman (not his wife) on the same charges, but in a separate vehicle. According to the Associated Press, Colvin was arrested as deputies investigated people driving from store to store to buy meth precursor materials. Precursors, a gram of powder meth, and two syringes filled with liquid meth were allegedly found in his car. Colvin's wife, Christy Colvin, was arrested on meth possession charges four months ago in Columbus, Mississippi, as she drove around town purchasing ingredients that could be used to make meth. Judge Colvin, who was appointed to the bench in December 2002 to replace a judge who resigned after being accused of improper contact with females involved in cases before his court, was indicted on federal bankruptcy fraud charges in May 2004 for allegedly hiding assets for a client in 2001, but those charges were dropped after Colvin apologized. He was awaiting a bail hearing Wednesday.

In Dothan, Alabama, a former Houston County narcotics officer pleaded guilty Tuesday to charges he stole property. Former Houston County Sheriff's Deputy Ricky Ducker was accused of stealing up to $30,000 worth of hunting equipment and accessories from Southern Outdoor Sports, where he once worked. Ducker pleaded guilty to first degree theft of property and faces from two to 20 years in prison when sentenced in October. According to WTVY-News 4, Ducker, a 25-year veteran of the sheriff's office, "hid behind his attorneys" as he entered the court house and "ran out of the courtroom after entering his guilty plea."

In Los Angeles, a veteran Ramparts Division LAPD officer was charged last Friday with making false arrests, the Los Angeles Times reported. Officer Edward Beltran Zamora was busted after he was caught in a sting by the LAPD Ethics Enforcement Section. The department says it has videotape of Zamora arresting two undercover officers posing as suspects on suspicion of drug possession when they did not possess drugs. Zamora, 44, has previously been accused of making false arrests, and the city of Los Angeles has already paid out $520,000 to settle two civil lawsuits filed against him. In one case, Zamora was accused of planting a rifle on a suspect, in the other, he was accused of planting drugs and a rifle. Zamora faces up to three years in prison on a felony count of filing a false police report. He also faces two misdemeanor counts of false arrest and false imprisonment. The 16-year LAPD veteran is free on bail.

In Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana, a Texas jail guard was arrested Monday morning with 30 pounds of cocaine. According to KGBT-4 TV in Brownsville, Texas, Hidalgo County detention officer Pedro Longoria was arrested by Louisiana State Troopers and now faces charges of transporting cocaine. Longoria has now been fired from his job and is jailed pending a bond hearing.

For those interested in a more in-depth look at drug war-related police corruption at the local level, two recent newspaper articles are worth a read. In North Carolina, the Fayetteville Observer has a lengthy piece on "Operation Tarnished Badge," a federal investigation that has roiled Robeson County for the past few years, resulting in convictions of several officers and the dismissal or reversal of hundreds of drug cases. Meanwhile, in Mississippi, the Laurel Leader-Call has published an update on the ongoing investigation of the Southeast Mississippi Drug Task Force, which was shut down in April amid concern over "irregularities," with its story "Task Force Probe Nearly Complete".

Weekly: This Week in History

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August 27, 2002: Canadian Press, Canada’s national newswire, reports that Health Minister Anne McLellan said the federal government is not backing away from its plan to supply patients with medical marijuana. Bristling at earlier reports that the project had been shelved, McLellan said, “In fact, far from shelving it, what we're doing is implementing the second stage.”

August 28, 1964: The Beatles are introduced to marijuana.

August 28, 1995: The World Health Organization (WHO) publishes "WHO Project on Health Implications of Cannabis Use: A Comparative Appraisal of the Health and Psychological Consequences of Alcohol, Cannabis, Nicotine and Opiate Use." The original version -- not the official one -- states, "...there are good reasons for saying that [the risks from cannabis] would be unlikely to seriously [compare to] the public health risks of alcohol and tobacco even if as many people used cannabis as now drink alcohol or smoke tobacco."

August 29, 2001: The Dallas Morning News reports that Ernesto Samper, former president of Colombia, said, “The problem is the law of the marketplace is overtaking the law of the state… We have to ask, is legalization the way out of this? We cannot continue to fight this war alone. If the consuming nations do nothing to curb demand, to control money-laundering, to halt the flow of chemicals that supply the drug-production labs, then in a few short years the world is going to see legalization as the answer.”

August 30, 1996: The Washington Post reports that presidential hopeful Bob Dole hammered President Clinton for his drug policy and made the war on drugs one of his top campaign issues. Declaring that President Clinton had “surrendered” in the war against drugs, Dole called for an expanded role for the National Guard, and for military and intelligence services to fight drugs.

Methamphetamine: One Month in One Texas County Courthouse Opens a Window on the Drug War Version 2.006

If you want a snapshot of the current state of the drug war in the American heartland, Grayson County, Texas, is as good a place as any. Grayson County lies about an hour north of Dallas on US Highway 75 just south of the Oklahoma border. According to the US Census of 2000, the county has a population of 110,000, with some 35,000 people in Sherman, the county seat and largest town. The local economy is dependent on agriculture, manufacturing, and increasingly, the county's role as a drug distribution hub for the Texoma border region of which it is a part. And if last month's 336th District Court case dispositions are any indication, it either has a big methamphetamine problem or a law enforcement apparatus obsessed with finding one.

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quiet street but busy courthouse, thanks to the drug war
According to a list of case dispositions for the month of July compiled by Grayson County Attorney Joe Brown and published in the Sherman Herald-Democrat, 15 of the 31 defendants whose cases were resolved during that period faced methamphetamine charges. One case was a marijuana case, while three others involved cocaine possession or distribution. Of the methamphetamine cases, 11 were for simple possession, three for possession or transport of chemicals used in the manufacture of meth, and one for meth manufacture itself. Of all 19 drug cases, none was for drug sales and only one was for possession with intent to distribute.

336th District Court judges generally came down hard on meth offenders. Of the 11 simple meth possession cases, four got probated prison sentences, three got state jail time (up to two years), and four got sent to prison for sentences ranging from thee to six years and averaging 4 ½ years. The courts were especially tough on people seeking to buy chemicals to home-cook meth, handing out sentences of four, seven, and 10 years. The sole meth manufacturer got only 10 years probation, but he also got a two-year prison sentence for child endangerment.

The judges were also fairly tough on other drug offenders. The one gentlemen charged with marijuana possession in a drug free zone got two years in state jail, while one person convicted of cocaine possession got six years and the other got probation. The sole case of cocaine possession with intent to distribute garnered 10 years for the defendant.

The non-drug cases were a motley crew: One aggravated sexual assault of a child (15 years), one burglary of a habitation (nine years), one boating while intoxicated (three years), one credit card abuse (16 months), one endangering a child (two years), three evading arrest with a motor vehicle (two got two years each, one got probation), one failure to appear (three years), one forgery (two years), one retaliation (probation), and one theft over $1500 (15 months).

Without all those meth cases, the Grayson County Courthouse would be a lot quieter. In 13 of the 15 meth-related cases, there were no other non-drug-related charges, just people choosing an unpopular drug to ingest or try to make at home. Likewise with the other drug cases. Like good burghers everyone in America, the citizens of Grayson County are paying a lot of money to arrest, jail, convict, and imprison a lot of people who weren't doing anything to anybody.

Methamphetamine: Third Murder Trial For Woman in California Meth Poisoning Infant Death Case

A California woman whose infant son died with methamphetamine in his system will face a third murder trial, a Riverside County Judge ruled Monday. Amy Leanne Prien was convicted of second-degree murder in her son's death in 2003, but that conviction was overturned by an appeals court citing flawed jury instructions. A retrial ended in a mistrial in June after jurors deadlocked 6-6.

After the mistrial, Prien's lawyers moved to dismiss the charge, but Judge Patrick Magers declined. "It is abundantly clear to the court that the cause of death of the victim was methamphetamine intoxication," he said from the bench as he rejected the motion.

What is not so clear is where the meth in the child's system came from. Prosecutors have argued that Prien, an admitted long-time meth user, caused her child's death by feeding him her breast milk when she was using the popular stimulant. They argued that Prien continued smoking meth while breast-feeding, a charge she has consistently denied. She has suggested that a male guest in her home may have provided the drug to the baby.

A major problem for the prosecution is that the bottle of milk found beside the dead baby was misplaced by law enforcement and never tested for the presence of methamphetamine. And while Prien was tested and came back positive for meth, police never tested her breast milk. Los Angeles attorney Joe Reichmann, who is representing Prien, argued futilely that the charge should be dropped because it was based on "make-believe science" since prosecutors had no way of knowing the meth levels in her breast milk.

California prosecutors have repeatedly proven unable to make meth mother murder cases stick, and it is unclear why they are pursuing Prien with such a vengeance. It's not like she got off scot-free. In addition to losing her child, she is currently serving a 10-year prison sentence for felony child endangerment in the same case.

Weekly: This Week in History

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

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

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

August 20, 1994: The Guardian (UK) reports that Raymond Kendall, secretary general of Interpol, said, "The prosecution of thousands of otherwise law-abiding citizens every year is both hypocritical and an affront to individual, civil, and human rights… Drug use should no longer be a criminal offense. I am totally against legalization, but in favor of decriminalization for the user."

August 22, 2001: Associated Press and EFE reports that Colombian Senator Viviane Morales introduced a bill in congress to legalize and regulate drugs under a state-controlled monopoly, calling prohibition "the great ally of the narco-traffickers" and that her objective is to "create political deeds to open a debate about legalization because the prohibitionist alternative is not the solution for Colombia."

August 22, 2003: David Borden, Executive Director of the Drug Reform Coordination Network, writes an open letter to the Chief Judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, Rufus G. King III, stating his refusal to serve jury duty. "… I have determined that unjust drug laws, and the corrosion wrought by the drug war on the criminal justice system as a whole, compel me to conscientiously refuse jury service," said Borden. Read the full letter at http://stopthedrugwar.org/openletter/judge-king-letter.shtml. August 18, 1989: Luis Carlos Galan, a Colombian presidential candidate who spoke in favor of extradition, is assassinated at a campaign rally near Bogota. That evening, President Virgilio Barco Vargas issues an emergency decree reestablishing the policy of extradition. In response, the "Extraditables" declare all-out war against the Colombian government and begin a bombing/murder campaign that lasts until January 1991.

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

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

August 20, 1994: The Guardian (UK) reports that Raymond Kendall, secretary general of Interpol, said, "The prosecution of thousands of otherwise law-abiding citizens every year is both hypocritical and an affront to individual, civil, and human rights… Drug use should no longer be a criminal offense. I am totally against legalization, but in favor of decriminalization for the user."

August 22, 2001: Associated Press and EFE reports that Colombian Senator Viviane Morales introduced a bill in congress to legalize and regulate drugs under a state-controlled monopoly, calling prohibition "the great ally of the narco-traffickers" and that her objective is to "create political deeds to open a debate about legalization because the prohibitionist alternative is not the solution for Colombia."

August 22, 2003: David Borden, Executive Director of the Drug Reform Coordination Network, writes an open letter to the Chief Judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, Rufus G. King III, stating his refusal to serve jury duty. "… I have determined that unjust drug laws, and the corrosion wrought by the drug war on the criminal justice system as a whole, compel me to conscientiously refuse jury service," said Borden. Read the full letter at http://stopthedrugwar.org/openletter/judge-king-letter.shtml.

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