Drug War Chronicle

comprehensive coverage of the War on Drugs since 1997

Anúncio: Novo Formato para o Calendário do Reformador

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/appointmentbook.jpg
A partir desta edição, O Calendário do Reformador não aparecerá mais como parte do boletim Crônica da Guerra Contra as Drogas, mas será mantido como seção de nossa nova página:

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

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

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

Anuncio: Nuevo Formato para el Calendario del Reformador

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/appointmentbook.jpg
A partir de esta edición, El Calendario del Reformador ya no aparecerá como parte del boletín Crónica de la Guerra Contra las Drogas, pero será mantenido como sección de nuestra nueva página web:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Editorial: Chame Como Quiser

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/borden12.jpg
David Borden
Um grupo de cidadãos da Luisiana que tem sido esquecido desde muito antes do furacão é um grupo de prisioneiros, a maioria deles pequenos infratores, condenados por venderem heroína ou por porte com intenção de vendê-la. Os “Heroin Lifers”, como são conhecidos entre o pequeno número de pessoas que sabe que foram condenados de acordo com uma lei duríssima aprovada em 1973 que ordena uma sentença de prisão perpétua sem condicional para qualquer infração assim. Não se permite nem que a quantidade de heroína envolvida nem que quaisquer detalhes das circunstâncias reais sejam considerados segundo este estatuto mínimo obrigatório particularmente severo.

O nosso editor tropeçou nos condenados à prisão perpétua na semana passada enquanto conversava com os especialistas sobre o escândalo carcerário da Nova Orleans pós-Katrina e atualmente está pesquisando sobre a questão. Ainda não sabemos quantos deles há, apesar de que o autor Sasha Abramsky escreveu no Legal Times há dois anos e meio que a assembléia estava pensando em conceder o direito à condicional aos Heroin Lifers que haviam cumprido pelo menos 40 anos de suas sentenças e havia cerca de 250 pessoas nessa condição. Se as fontes puderem ser contatadas nesta semana, teremos uma matéria completa na Crônica da próxima edição.

É bom – um pouco – que as autoridades da Luisiana estejam dispostas a ajudar aquelas 250 pessoas. Mesmo se a motivação fosse o dinheiro, eles podem economizar ao não terem que proporcionar cuidados geriátricos na prisão sem motivo nenhum (estou especulando, talvez existam outros motivos também), é melhor – ligeiramente melhor – que nada.

Mas, e os presos de apenas 30 anos? Ou os de 20 anos? Cinco?

A idéia de passar uma vida atrás das grades, sem possibilidade de redenção, tem um ar de falta de realidade – a maioria de nós não pode nem conceber o que seria uma vida assim ou como seria estar ciente de que essa seria a própria vida. Tais penas, as quais para qualquer um, senão para os piores dos piores de todos os criminosos, devem ser a obra de pessoas que perderam a perspectiva sobre o que o encarceramento significa de verdade. Imagine só que você vá passar um ano na cadeia. Não lhe parece muito tempo? Só um ano de encarceramento é, intrinsecamente, uma pena muito severa, se a medida da severidade for o efeito real que um castigo tem sobre o indivíduo punido. Mesmo se não se defende a franca legalização das drogas (eu defendo a legalização, por muitas razões), a lei da Luisiana, e muitas outras similares aprovadas por outros estados e pelo Congresso, ainda desafia a razão.

Então, como deveríamos chamar tal ato de impor uma sentença de prisão mínima obrigatória duradoura a um pequeno infrator da legislação antidrogas, isso sem falar de uma sentença de prisão perpétua sem condicional? Deveríamos chamá-la injustiça? Crueldade? Tirania? Infratora dos direitos humanos? Má? Escolha esses ou outros descritores – pelo menos, vamos concordar que não faz sentido e que deve parar o mais rápido possível.

Cada dia que passa é outro dia que os Heroin Lifers definham atrás das grades e lhes é negado o direito mais essencial e natural ao qual eles estão autorizados: o direito à liberdade.

Editorial: Llámela Como Quiera

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/borden12.jpg
David Borden
Un grupo de ciudadanos de Luisiana, que ya habían sido bien olvidado desde mucho antes del huracán, es un grupo de prisioneros, la mayoría de ellos pequeños infractores, condenados por vender heroína o por tenencia con intención de venderla. Los “Heroin Lifers”, como son conocidos entre el pequeño número de personas que sabe que fueron condenados de acuerdo con una ley durísima aprobada en 1973 que ordena una sentencia de prisión perpetua sin condicional para cualquier infracción de ese tipo. No se permite ni que la cantidad de heroína involucrada ni que cualquier detalle de las circunstancias reales sean considerados según este estatuto mínimo obligatorio particularmente severo.

Nuestro editor se topó con los condenados a prisión perpetua la semana pasada mientras conversaba con los expertos sobre el escándalo carcelario de la Nueva Orleáns post-Katrina y actualmente está pesquisando sobre la cuestión. Aún no sabemos cuántos de ellos hay, pese a que el autor Sasha Abramsky escribió en el Legal Times hace dos años y medio que la legislatura estaba pensando en conceder el derecho a condicional a los Heroin Lifers que habían cumplido por lo menos 40 años de sus sentencias y había cerca de 250 personas en esa condición. Si las fuentes pueden ser contactadas esta semana, tendremos un reportaje completo en la Crónica en la próxima edición.

Es bueno – un poco – que las autoridades de Luisiana estén dispuestas a ayudar a aquellas 250 personas. Aunque la motivación fuera el dinero, ellos pueden ahorrar al no tener que proporcionar cuidados geriátricos en la prisión sin ningún motivo (estoy especulando, quizá existan otros motivos también), es mejor – ligeramente mejor – que nada.

Pero, ¿y los presos de apenas 30 años? ¿O los de 20 años? ¿Cinco?

La idea de pasar una vida tras rejas, sin posibilidad de redención, tiene un aire de irrealidad – la mayoría de nosotros no puede concebir lo que sería una vida así o cómo sería tener ciencia de que esa sería la propia vida. Dichas penas, las cuales para cualquiera, sino para los peores de los peores de todos los criminales, deben ser la obra de personas que han perdido la perspectiva sobre lo que el encarcelamiento significa de verdad. Imagine que usted vaya a pasar un año en la cárcel. ¿No le parece mucho tiempo? Apenas un año de encarcelamiento es, intrínsecamente, una pena muy severa, si la medida de la severidad es el efecto real que un castigo tiene sobre el individuo punido. Aun si no se defiende a la franca legalización de las drogas (yo defiendo la legalización, por muchas razones), la ley de Luisiana, y muchas otras similares aprobadas por otros estados y por el Congreso, aún desafía la razón.

Entonces, ¿cómo deberíamos llamar a la acción que impone una sentencia de prisión mínima obligatoria duradera a un pequeño infractor de la legislación antidroga, ni hablar de una sentencia de prisión perpetua sin condicional? ¿Deberíamos llamarla injusticia? ¿Crueldad? ¿Tiranía? ¿Infractora de los derechos humanos? ¿Mala? Escoja esos u otros descriptores – por lo menos, vamos a concordar que no tiene sentido y que debe parar lo más pronto posible.

Cada día que pasa es otro día que los Heroin Lifers languidecen tras rejas y se les niega el derecho más esencial y natural al cual ellos están autorizados: el derecho a la libertad.

Weekly: This Week in History

September 10, 2004: NewScientist.com news service releases an article entitled “Cannabis Truly Helps Multiple Sclerosis Sufferers,” reporting on new research confirming marijuana’s efficacy in treating pain and muscle spasms associated with sufferers of the disease.

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

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

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

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

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

Editorial: Call It What You Want

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/borden12.jpg
David Borden
One group of Louisianans who had mostly been forgotten since long before the hurricane hit are a group of prisoners, mostly low-level offenders, convicted of selling heroin or of possession with intent to sell. The "Heroin Lifers," as they are known to the small number of people paying attention, were sentenced under a draconian law passed in 1973 that mandates a life-without-parole sentence for any such offense. Neither the quantity of heroin involved nor any details of the actual circumstances are allowed to be considered under this particularly harsh mandatory minimum statute.

Our editor stumbled across the Lifers last week while talking to experts about the post-Katrina New Orleans jail scandal, and is currently researching the issue. We don't yet know how many of them there are, though author Sasha Abramsky wrote in Legal Times 2 ½ years ago that the legislature was considering granting parole to Heroin Lifers who had served at least 40 years of their sentences and there were about 250 such people. If sources can be reached this week we'll have a full story in the Chronicle next issue.

It's good -- a little -- that Louisiana's powers-that-be were willing to help out those 250 people. Even if the motivation was the money they could save by not having to provide prison-based geriatric care for no reason (I speculate, perhaps there were other reasons too), it's better -- slightly -- than nothing.

But what about the merely 30-year prisoners? Or the 20-years? Five?

The idea of a lifetime behind bars, with no possibility of redemption, has an air of unreality to it -- most of us cannot really conceive of what such a life would be like, or what it would be like to have the knowledge that that was to be one's life. Sentencing like that for any but the worst of the worst of all criminals must be the work of people who have lost perspective on what incarceration truly means. Imagine that you are to spend a single year in jail. Doesn't it seem like a long time? Just one year of incarceration is intrinsically a pretty harsh punishment, if the measure of harshness is the actual effect a punishment has on the individual punished. Even if one stop short of advocating outright legalization of drugs (I advocate legalization, for many reasons), the Louisiana law, and many similar ones passed by other states and by Congress, still defy reason.

So what should we call such the act of dealing a lengthy, mandatory minimum prison term to a minor drug offender, let alone a life-without-parole term? Should we call it injustice? Cruelty? Tyranny? Violative of human rights? Evil? Take your pick of those or other descriptors -- at a minimum let us all agree it is senseless and must cease as soon as possible.

Each day that passes is another day the Heroin Lifers languish behind bars, denied the most essential, natural right to which they are entitled: the right to freedom.

Marijuana: In Annual Harvest Roundup, 98% of All Marijuana Seizures Are Ditchweed

The fact may get lost in the hype about multi-million dollar outdoor marijuana garden seizures at this time of year, but the vast majority of all marijuana plants seized by law enforcement are ditchweed. For those who didn't grow up in the Midwest, ditchweed is feral marijuana descended from the hemp plants farmers produced as part of the war effort in World War II.

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/dodgecounty.jpg
National Guard marijuana (or more likely ditchweed) eradication team, Dodge County, Minnesota
Like the hemp plants whence it came, ditchweed has negligible levels of THC, the psychoactive component of marijuana. An old saying in the Midwest is that you could smoke a joint of it the size of a telephone pole and all you would get is a headache.

According to official DEA figures, police seized an estimated 223 million marijuana plants last year. But 219 million of them, or 98%, were ditchweed. That figure is in line with previous years. And a whopping 212 million plants came from Indiana alone. Missouri came in second with 4.5 million plants, Kansas third with 1.1 million, and Wisconsin fourth with 272,000. Most states reported no ditchweed seizures.

The DEA pays for the ditchweed eradication boondoggle, something for which National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws executive director criticized it in a statement noting the annual seizure figures. "The irony, of course, is that industrial hemp is grown legally throughout most of the Western world as a commercial crop for its fiber content," he said. "Yet the US government is spending taxpayers' money to target and eradicate this same agricultural commodity."

Your tax dollars at work.

Harm Reduction: Pittsburgh Needle Exchange Wins Health Board Approval for Continued Operation

Prevention Point Pittsburgh, the sole needle exchange provider in the Pittsburgh area, is one step closer to being allowed to continue to operate after the Allegheny County Board of Health Wednesday approved regulations formalizing its operation. The exchange program had come under attack in April, when county council members questioned its legality in what was in large part a bureaucratic spat between the council and the health board.

"We're incredibly pleased," Renee Cox, executive director of Prevention Point Pittsburgh, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Thursday. "All in all, it's worked out well. It does grant us a little more permanency now that we have formal regulations."

It was a bumpy ride, though. After county council members complained in April, the health board in May drafted regulations that would have required people exchanging needles to give their names and other identifying information and would have banned "secondary exchanges," where people pick up needles and then distribute them to others not in the program. The board heard those complaints.

"They restored anonymity of exchangers, which is absolutely fundamental to the operation of the needle exchange," Cox said. "They also allowed for secondary exchange, which will expand the reach of this small program."

The new regulations must still be approved by the county council.

South Asia: India Rebels Threaten to Kill Drug Traffickers, Tobacco Dealers

A trio of armed separatist groups in the northeastern Indian state of Manipur are threatening to kill drug traffickers and tobacco dealers and shoot liquor sellers in the leg, the Indo-Asian News Service reported Thursday. The threat came in a joint statement from the outlawed United National Liberation Front (UNLF), the Kanglei Yawol Kanna Lup (KYKL), and the People's Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak (PREPAK).

According to the statement, the sale and use of heroin, opium, something called "Spasmo Provyvon tablets," and tobacco products will be banned effective September 15. There is an exception for home-brewed liquor used for religious purposes.

"Drug traffickers would face capital punishment without any trial and anyone found guilty of selling liquor would get a bullet in the leg," the rebel statement warned. "Drug abuse has only compounded the problem of HIV/AIDS but also taken a heavy toll on the mental and physical health of the youths," the statement said.

The state of Manipur -- population 2.4 million -- borders Myanmar (Burma) and along with much of India's northeast, which abuts Southeast Asia's opium-producing "golden triangle," has a serious injection heroin problem, the news agency reported. Up to 100,000 intravenous drugs users live in Manipur, many of them believed to be HIV positive.

The three separatist groups want independent homelands for the majority Metei community who inhabit the central valley of Manipur, but who are engaged in endemic conflict with their highland neighbors the Naga. They are but three of at least 19 rebel groups in the state seeking everything from greater autonomy from the central government to outright secession. More than 10,000 people have been killed in the fighting in the past two decades, the news agency said.

While this statement marks the first formal campaign against drug traffickers by the rebel groups, at least a dozen have already been killed in Manipur and more have been shot in the legs for "failing to reform." The moralistic rebels are big on that. They also shot 10 people in the leg last year for helping students cheat on college exams.

Appeal: Please Support DRCNet's New Web Campaign!

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/homepage.jpg
If you haven't been to the DRCNet web site the last ten days, you haven't seen... our new look, new content, new functionality, new ways to participate... you haven't seen this major upgrade to our critical educational program. When you do, we believe you'll be excited and impressed.

Our site traffic has already more than doubled -- and it's only just gotten started -- more is coming soon.

Please visit http://stopthedrugwar.org/donate to make a generous donation to help us continue to take DRCNet onward and upward to greater heights of visibility and impact. When you're done, click on the "Home" link and explore.

Thank you in advance for your support. Stay tuned for further news...

Sincerely,

David Borden
Executive Director

P.S. DRCNet accepts donations by mail too. Our address is P.O. Box 18402, Washington, DC 20009. Tax-deductible donations to support our educational work should be made payable to DRCNet Foundation. Non-deductible donations supporting our lobbying programs should be payable to Drug Reform Coordination Network, same address. Contact us for information on how to contribute stocks.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Announcement: New Format for the Reformer's Calendar

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/appointmentbook.jpg
With the launch of our new web site, The Reformer's Calendar no longer appears as part of the Drug War Chronicle newsletter but is instead maintained as a section of our new web site:

The Reformer's Calendar publishes events large and small of interest to drug policy reformers around the world. Whether it's a major international conference, a demonstration bringing together people from around the region or a forum at the local college, we want to know so we can let others know, too.

But we need your help to keep the calendar current, so please make sure to contact us and don't assume that we already know about the event or that we'll hear about it from someone else, because that doesn't always happen.

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

Feature: Vancouver's Safe Injection Site Gets Only Limited Continuing Exemption

Insite, Vancouver's pioneering safe injection site, won a reprieve from the Conservative government of Prime Minister Steven Harper last Friday -- but only a limited one. The site's three-year exemption from Canada's drug laws was set to expire next week, and the Harper government had dallied for months on whether it would re-approve the controversial harm reduction experiment. Supporters, including the city of Vancouver, the current and two former mayors, local activists, researchers from around the world, and Canadian politicians had sought a renewal of the three-year exemption, but the Harper government instead announced it would renew the exemption only through December 2007.

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/insite1.jpg
InSite (courtesy Vancouver Coastal Health)
In an announcement last Friday afternoon -- seemingly timed to make the story vanish during a three-day holiday weekend news dump -- Health Minister Tony Clement said the results of the first three years of Insite's operation raised new questions that must be answered before the Harper government would make a decision about the long-term future of Insite or approve any other safe injection sites in Canada.

"Do safe injection sites contribute to lowering drug use and fighting addiction? Right now the only thing the research to date has proven conclusively is that drug addicts need more help to get off drugs," Minister Clement said. "Given the need for more facts, I am unable to approve the current request to extend the Vancouver site for another three and a half years."

Clement's remarks reflected the Harper government's ideological antagonism toward harm reduction practices in general and any form of dealing with drug users that does not involve abstinence in particular. "We believe the best form of harm reduction is to help addicts to break the cycle of dependency," Clement said, "We also need better education and prevention to ensure Canadians don't get addicted to drugs in the first place."

Although Insite and Vancouver Coastal Health, the government entity charged with operating the site, have produced reams of research showing that the site has reduced drug overdoses, attracted users at risk to HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C, increased the number of users seeking treatment or counseling, and reduced needle sharing -- all without leading to increases in crime or drug use -- the Health Ministry insists it wants more.

"We looked at research put out by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and others," Health Ministry spokesman Erik Waddell told Drug War Chronicle. "We want more research done to show that this form of harm reduction will actually help addicts get off drugs."

While Minister Clement and the Harper government are calling for more research on the efficacy of Insite, they aren't willing to pay for it. The federal government had been sponsoring research at Insite to the tune of $500,000 a year, but Waddell said that had come to an end. "We will not be providing any additional funding for research," he said.

That was news to Vancouver Coastal Health and supporters of Insite. "We hadn't heard that," said Viviana Zanocco, spokeswoman for Vancouver Coastal Health. "We're still trying to get in touch with them and waiting for details," she told Drug War Chronicle. "Still, we are pleased the extension has been granted, even though it's not for the 3 ½ years we requested."

"It's good news that the exemption has been extended and they didn't close it down," said Gillian Maxwell of Insite for Community Safety, a coalition created to help ensure the site's continued existence. "Insite is staying open because of the broad support for it and the depth of research carried out that shows what is has already achieved," she told the Chronicle.

But Maxwell also complained that the Harper government is moving the goalposts. "They have raised the bar on us," she said. "We have a harm reduction program that helps people get into treatment, but now the Harper government wants it to show it helps people stop taking drugs. We can never get everyone to stop taking drugs. This means we have a lot of work to do to protect Insite."

Maxwell said she was shocked but not surprised by the Health Ministry's refusal to fund the additional research it calls for. "They are ideologically opposed to this, so they try to make it as difficult as possible. They may think things should be a certain way, but reality and the research say otherwise."

While the short term extension of the exemption is better than shutting down the facility, said Maxwell, it could well signal that the Harper government will try to shut it down permanently later on. "They didn't feel confident enough to try to close it down now, but they have already made it clear they favor a three-pillar, not a four-pillar, approach. They have little use for harm reduction, and I think they believe that 16 months from now there will have been another election and they will have a majority and then they can shut it down."

Representatives of Insite and the Vancouver city drug policy office were on vacation this week and unavailable to comment.

Ann Livingston of the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (VANDU) predicted months ago that the Harper government would seek an interim solution. "I guess I was right," she told Drug War Chronicle. "I know these guys, and they don't want to let us mount a campaign. If they had said no outright, that would have been great, we could have really mobilized."

But Livingston and VANDU are not just sitting back and waiting for December 2007. The group filed a lawsuit late last month seeking an injunction to keep the site open and charging the Harper government with discriminating against people with diagnosable illnesses like drug addiction. "Criminalizing a group of people who are addicted to drugs is blocking them from health care, and that's a Charter right," she said. "The lawsuit will continue."

The lawsuit also charged that Insite does not need an exemption from the Canadian drug laws and even if it does, the government has provided no application process. "The staff at Insite doesn't handle drugs, so they shouldn't need an exemption," Livingston argued. "If they are going to argue that they do need a permit, they have to tell us how to do that. Right now there is no application process; it's all at the whim of a minister."

The safe injection site has survived one execution date, but the would-be executioners in Ottawa are still sharpening their axes. Fortunately for Insite, it has a lot of friends and a proven track record. This battle is going to continue for awhile.

Job Opportunies: Drug Policy Alliance, NYC & Sacramento

The Drug Policy Alliance is seeking applications for two positions, one in New York and one in Sacramento, California:

Director, Public Affairs, New York:

This new position will bear primary responsibility for design and execution of comprehensive communications, marketing, and brand-building strategies to promote DPA and its mission, communicate its policy agenda, and enhance the organization's visibility and image among internal and external stakeholders, including DPA supporters, the media, policymakers, and the public at large. The Director, Public Affairs will have supervisory authority for eight staff comprising all of DPA's communications functions, including: media relations, Internet advocacy and the DPA website, publications, and the Lindesmith Library. The Director will also serve on the DPA management team.

Primary responsibilities include: Ensure that DPA's drug policy reform agenda is persuasively framed for multiple and diverse audiences, advantageously positioned in the context of other social policy issues, and effectively communicated through a wide range of existing and emerging media channels; Ensure consistent messaging and communication of DPA's image and policy positions both internally and to DPA's external stakeholders; Oversee relationships with broadcast, electronic and print media, to build understanding of DPA's work and policy positions, encourage recognition of DPA spokespeople, and promote coverage of DPA activities; Manage the writing, design, and production of all print and electronic publications; maintain systems to process distribution of all publications; Supervise the design of issue-based and other advertisements and coordinate their placement in appropriate media; Coordinate DPA's representation at regional, national and international conferences, symposia and other events; Oversee the design and production of DPA merchandise; Manage and mentor program staff and oversee budgets for all DPA communications functions; Train agency staff on communications strategies, key messages and use of materials.

The ideal candidate will be a collegial, self-motivated advocate who thinks conceptually, creatively, and strategically. Specific qualifications include: Ten years progressively senior experience in advocacy-oriented communications; criminal justice and/or public health experience preferred; Proven track record of designing and implementing sophisticated communications and marketing strategies; Experience managing one or more departments, overseeing budgets, and motivating creative teams; Thorough understanding of drug policy reform issues; Advanced degree in journalism or communications preferred but not required; Strong analytic ability and superior communication skills, including writing and public speaking; Direct experience with drug policy preferred; commitment to harm reduction philosophy essential; Availability to work occasional evenings and weekends and to travel periodically.

Director, California Capital Office, Sacramento:

This position bears primary responsibility for DPA's California legislative advocacy, supervises a small professional office, and serves on the DPA management team.

Primary responsibilities include: Identify opportunities to promote DPA institutional priorities, and respond to policy issues that emerge in the California legislature; Develop and maintain relationships with key legislative allies; educate and lobby legislators and staffers on drug policy issues; Supervise professional lobbyists and manage lobbying contracts; Collaborate with coalition partners on legislative strategies and public messaging; Mobilize statewide grassroots support at key times to communicate with legislators; Serve as DPA spokesperson in the media, and at community events, conferences, and other forums; Contribute to DPA management, oversight, quality control and internal communications through participation in management team; Ensure that California Capital office's programs and practices are consistent with DPA's overall mission and philosophy, strategic approach, goals and objectives; Manage small office, including the supervision and mentoring of staff, student interns, and volunteers; Contribute to DPA fundraising activities, both locally and nationally.

The ideal candidate will be a collegial, self-motivated advocate who thinks conceptually, creatively, and strategically. Specific qualifications include: 7-10 years progressively senior experience in public policy, legislative and/or governmental affairs, political campaigns or ballot initiatives; criminal justice and/or public health experience preferred; Thorough understanding of California legislative and ballot initiative processes; Advanced degree in public policy/administration, public health, law or related field preferred but not required; Strong analytic ability and superior communication skills, including writing and public speaking; Direct experience with drug policy preferred; commitment to harm reduction philosophy essential; Availability to work occasional evenings and weekends and to travel periodically throughout the state and nationally.

These positions are open until filled. Send cover letter describing interest, résumé, and writing sample (unedited by others) to: Derek Hodel, Deputy Director, Drug Policy Alliance, 70 West 36th Street, 16th floor, New York, NY 10018, (212) 613-8021 fax, [email protected]. E-mail submissions are encouraged (please use the position title in the subject field) -- no phone calls, please.

DPA offers an excellent benefits package, including health, dental, vision, long-term disability and life insurance; a generous 403(b) plan; and four weeks paid vacation. Drug Policy Alliance is an Equal Opportunity Employer. Women, people of color, and people with disabilities are encouraged to apply. Visit http://www.drugpolicy.org to learn more about DPA.

Feature: Afghan Opium Crop Hits Record as Violence Increases

Things are not going well in Afghanistan. In a stunning admission that the hundreds of millions of dollars spent trying to eradicate the country's opium crop had accomplished little, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) announced Saturday that this year's Afghan opium crop is up a "staggering" 60% over last year and will yield a record 6,100 tons this year, leading to a global surplus in black market heroin.

Opium is the backbone of the Afghan economy, accounting for somewhere between 35% and 50% of gross national product, and Afghan opium is the backbone of the global traffic in narcotics, now accounting for 92% of total illicit global production, according to UNODC.

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/eradicationteam.jpg
opium eradication team (photo from the Senlis Council report, photo library section)
Meanwhile, US soldiers and NATO forces, who took over operations in the restive south of the country earlier this year, are being killed at a record pace as Taliban and Al Qaeda rebels reinvigorated by profits from the opium trade are taking the battle to the foreigners and the government they prop up. And in a reflection of the increased NATO role, for the first time, NATO casualties are keeping pace with American casualties. In what is turning into the bloodiest year so far for Afghanistan's occupiers, 73 NATO troops and 74 American soldiers have been killed so far. Last year, the second bloodiest since the US invasion nearly five years ago, 99 US and 31 NATO troops were killed in fighting.

"The news is very bad. On the opium front today in some of the provinces of Afghanistan, we face a state of emergency," UNODC head Antonio Maria Costa told a Kabul news conference after presenting results of its crop survey to Afghan President Hamid Karzai. "In the southern provinces, the situation is out of control."

In southern Helmand province, now a hotbed of Taliban activity, cultivation rose by a whopping 162% and accounts for 42% of total Afghan opium cultivation, the UNODC said. Costa told the Kabul news conference that NATO must step up its role in fighting the opium trade, especially in the south, where it is helping to fuel the Taliban insurgency.

"We need much stronger, forceful measures to improve security or otherwise I'm afraid we are going to face a dramatic situation of failed regions, districts and even perhaps even provinces in the near future," Costa said.

But while NATO commanders late this week called urgently for more troops on the ground in the south, they have little interest in fighting the drug war. NATO's official position is that its mandate is for stability and peace-keeping, not counternarcotics.

Still, there is pressure from the Americans and the British to try to wage both the war on terror and the war on drugs simultaneously. The top American anti-drug official in Afghanistan, Doug Wankel, told the press conference the need was urgent. "This country could be taken down by this whole drugs problem," he told reporters. "We have seen what can come from Afghanistan, if you go back to 9/11. Obviously the US does not want to see that again."

But analysts consulted by Drug War Chronicle warned that attempting to quash the opium economy and fight the Taliban at the same time is a recipe for disaster. "Paradoxically, the more they go after opium production, the more they strengthen the bond between the Taliban and the population and the traffickers," said Vanda Felbab-Brown, a research fellow at the Brookings Institution and Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government Affairs. "It is a difficult conundrum. There can be no fundamental progress on either the narcotics problem or stabilization in general unless we deal with the insurgency," she told the Chronicle.

"The Taliban have now once again become integrated into production in the south," Felbab-Brown explained. "After 2001, they were pretty much forced out of the drug trade because they were fleeing and because the US and coalition forces were not going after drug trafficking. But now, the traffickers need someone to protect them, to scare off the eradication teams and the state presence, and the Taliban is providing this protection. It is also exploiting the eradication effort," the expert on illicit drugs and military conflict said. "They are handing out leaflets saying things like 'We are the Taliban. Isn't it awful that Karzai under the pressure of the foreign infidels is trying to destroy our crops. Here's our cell phone number. Give us a call.' So now, the Taliban is not only profiting financially, it is also gaining the allegiance of the population by providing protection."

"Things are a bit out of control because so many things happening in Iraq and the Middle East keep the superpowers' eyes off of Afghanistan, so the intruders have more opportunities to accelerate their destruction and illegal activities," said Raheem Yaseer, assistant director of the Center for Afghanistan Studies at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. "At the same time, the coalition and the Karzai government are too busy fighting the Taliban and Al Qaeda to concentrate on eradication," he told the Chronicle.

"The Taliban is moving into the areas where there is drug cultivation, and they receive support from farmers who have had their crops destroyed or threatened," Yaseer continued. "Thus, the traffickers and growers have a bit more freedom than usual. That's why business is booming for the drug dealers. There are too many fronts to deal with, and eradication is just one front."

Solutions are hard to come by. "Nobody knows what the answer is," Yaseer conceded. "Out of those billions of dollars they are spending, they need to use some to compensate farmers and create other jobs and projects. People in the provinces are unemployed and hungry, and the terrorists offer them money to join them. People turn to the Taliban and the terrorists and the drug dealers because that's where the money is. The government and the coalition cannot compete with the money drug dealers offer. It doesn't help that there is such nepotism and involvement of high level officials in the trade. That only makes it all the more difficult to enforce the drug laws. Many government officials are supporting the trade, not fighting it."

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/opium-smaller.jpg
the opium trader's wares (photo by Chronicle editor Phil Smith during September 2005 visit to Afghanistan)
"There is no doubt lots of government officials are complicit in the trade, but focusing on individuals is a mistake," noted Felbab-Brown. "This isn't about individuals, but about deep structural factors like the lack of stability, security, and economic development. Whoever is in power, whether honest or corrupt, will have to contend with these issues. The honest ones will confront the fact that there is nothing but poppy-growing for much of the population. The only way they can do eradication now is at gunpoint, and that is not the way to carry out a legitimate, widely-embraced policy. Forced eradication generates instability and opposition from the people, and ambitious politicians in the south will link up with the Taliban."

For Felbab-Brown, it comes down to doing counterinsurgency right. "It is critical to increase the number of forces, to increase the troop presence and the delivery of aid," she said. "It's difficult to deliver aid during an active insurgency, but it is vital. But we also need patience, especially on the narcotics issue. The big pressure for premature eradication coming from Washington and international organizations needs to be resisted. We need more money, more troops, more development. Is this international community willing to provide these resources?"

Being patient with the opium economy is getting closer to the correct approach, said Ted Galen Carpenter, a foreign affairs and drug policy analyst with the libertarian leaning Cato Institute. "The only solution is one that no one in any position of influence in Washington or the NATO capitals will consider -- drug legalization," he told Drug War Chronicle. "That would take the black market profits out of the drug trade. It is the ultimate solution. If they won't consider legalization, the very least they can do is look the other way with regard to the drug trade. That worked in Peru in the 1980s, when the Peruvian generals figured out that leaving the coca crop alone dried up support for the Shining Path. Something similar needs to occur in Afghanistan, whether they admit it or not. If they are serious about preventing a further rebound of the Taliban and Al Qaeda, they need to lay off the drug war."

Trying to wage both the war on terror and the war on drugs undermines US policy in the country, Carpenter argued. "There is a fundamental inconsistency in the US nation-building strategy in Afghanistan. The primary goal remains to undermine the Taliban and Al Qaeda, but the problem is if they go after the drug trade, they alienate a major portion of the population and strengthen support for the Taliban. Even trying to prosecute the war on drugs there undermines the primary US goal in Afghanistan."

One European defense and development group, the Senlis Council, has proposed for nearly a year now that the Afghan opium crop be licensed, legalized, and diverted to the legitimate medicinal market. Senlis was harshly critical of Western policy this week.

"Huge amounts of money have been spent on large and costly military operations, but after five years southern Afghanistan is once more a battlefield for the control of the country," said Senlis executive director Emmanuel Reinert as he announced the publication of a new report on the rebirth of the Taliban. "At the same time Afghans are starving. The US has lost control in Afghanistan and has in many ways undercut the new democracy in Afghanistan. I think we can call that a failure, and one with dire consequences which should concern us all. The US policies in Afghanistan have re-created the safe-haven for terrorism that the 2001 invasion aimed to destroy."

But the Senlis licensing proposal is getting little respect or traction and is unlikely to prevail, said Yaseer. "I don't think the Senlis Council proposal will get very far," said Yaseer. "There is all kinds of opposition to any legalization. The religious groups will not support it, the legislators will not support it. There are also serious questions about whether it would just open up more venues for growing and trafficking."

Questions, questions. There are lots of questions in Afghanistan, but few good answers.

Feature: Law Enforcement Against Prohibition Stirs the Waters in Ireland

Retired Florida police chief and Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) spokesman Jerry Cameron managed to put the drug debate squarely on the front burner with his appearance in Ireland last week. Cameron's address at the "Rethinking the War on Drugs" conference in Dublin, sponsored by a trio of Irish groups working on prison, drug policy and youth issues sparked numerous newspaper editorials and opinion pieces, filled the airwaves with talk about legalization, and forced the Irish government to respond.

Organized by the Irish Penal Reform Trust, the drug charity Merchant's Quay, and the Union for Improved Services, Communication, and Education (UISCE), a group combining sports and Gaelic language learning, "Rethinking the War on Drugs" brought more than one hundred Irish politicians, government workers, reformers, and activists together on August 28. With Cameron as the keynote speaker, the conference certainly inspired Irish reflection on national drug policy.

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/jerrycameron.jpg
Jerry Cameron at the Dublin conference (courtesy IPRT)
That's just what the IPRT wanted, said executive director Rick Lines. "The IPRT doesn't have any formal policy supporting legalization or decriminalization," he told Drug War Chronicle. "However, we do work from an analysis that drug criminalization is a main driver of growing prison populations in Ireland, and is a main cause of high rates of HIV and Hep C infection in prisons. Therefore, examining alternatives to drug criminalization, and alternatives to prison for people who use drugs, must be a central part of the work done by penal reform organizations. I understand that this might make us a bit unusual among our sister organizations internationally. I am often told by people at harm reduction conferences that the prison reform organizations in their countries don't talk about drug laws at all. Whether this is true or not, I am not sure, but I hope it isn't."

For Lines, the conference and the attention it drew were a huge success. "The event was successful beyond all our expectations," he said. "The crowd was much bigger than anticipated -- standing room only -- as was the press coverage. We counted 26 separate TV, radio, and print outlets covering the event, and we may have missed some. As such, the event was a very successful beginning to reframing the debate on this issue, which was all we really hoped to accomplish."

"This was one of the better conferences I've been to," LEAP's Cameron told DRCNet. "The folks from the Irish Penal Reform Trust did a wonderful job of organizing it, and among those attending were a member of parliament and a member of the European Parliament, the immediate past Irish drug minister, several members of the probation system, a representative from the Garda [Irish police] -- it was a real cross-section of people interested in these issues. I have to say that the people from the Irish government were a lot more open-minded than the politicians I run into in the US."

The media attention was tremendous, Cameron said. "We were in every Irish newspaper the day after the conference. I also did a lot of work with Irish radio and TV stations," he explained. "I even appeared on a radio talk show where the woman arguing me was so crazed we had caller after caller calling in to reject her positions and argue for fundamental reform."

Indeed, the media response was intense and mostly favorable. The Irish Examiner covered the conference and Cameron's remarks the same day with a story titled "US Police Chief's Warning Over Doomed Drug Policy", while the Irish Times published a reaction piece, "Government Considered Legalizing Heroin", and the Examiner came back the next day with another reaction piece, "Legalizing Cannabis 'Would Result in State Being Sued'". But even those reaction pieces featuring government figures explaining why drugs could not possibly ever be legalized kept the discussion of drug prohibition in front of the Irish public.

By the end of last week, the Irish government was forced to respond directly. The man in charge of Irish drug treatment, Minister of State at the Department of Community Noel Ahern, called in reporters to tell them the government was rejecting calls for drug legalization. "We are not going in that direction," he said in remarks reported by Irish wire services. "And if there are moves in the future it would have to be dealt with on a worldwide basis. One country on its own cannot move. Holland tried for a few years ago and they're backing off big time because they realized they were bringing in drug tourism," Ahern added, misrepresenting current Dutch drug policies as he did.

"We wouldn't have expected anything else from the government response," said IPRT's Lines. "But again our main objective was really just to raise debate, and in that sense we were remarkably successful. To paraphrase one of the speakers at the event, if we had held a public forum 20 years ago talking about needle exchange, people would have thought it was a crazy idea, but now it is well established policy."

"The media storm is still going on," Cameron said Tuesday with a mixture of surprise and pleasure. "There have been a couple more columns in the last few days, one of which quoted me extensively. The tack I took went over quite well. I told them I was not there to tell Ireland how to conduct its business, but to tell them US drug policy has been a total failure and ask them to profit from our mistakes. They have a lot of talented people who can come up with Irish solutions for Irish problems. What we've done in the US sure hasn't worked," he said.

An op-ed in the Irish Independent last Sunday titled "The War Isn't Working So Is It Now Time to Consider the Unthinkable and Legalize All Drugs?" was typical of Irish press commentary. "Currently, there is more crime, disease, death and addiction than ever before," wrote the columnist. "He [Cameron] believes, and I share his view, that not one objective or goal of the 'war on drugs' has been met, and that the 'relegalization of drugs' is 'the only way to stop drugs falling
into the hands of our children, to make room for violent offenders to serve their full terms in our prisons, and to return law enforcement to its legitimate function of protecting our citizens.'"

A columnist in the Irish Examiner opined similarly the day before in a piece titled "We Are Losing the War on Drugs and Policy Should Be Stood On Its Head". In that piece, columnist Ryle Dwyer summarized Cameron's argument, added some of his own, and concluded thusly: "Using tried and tested tactics that have failed so dramatically is a cause of, not the answer to, our problems."

"The first step in any effort to promote policy change is to mainstream your perspective, and move it beyond being a 'crazy idea' and make it into a legitimate part of the public discourse," said IPRT's Lines. "One event won't accomplish this, but it is a start. The story continued on in the press in the days after the event, and I think this bodes well for continuing work on this issue, as perhaps we have helped open up safe space for others to make similar arguments themselves."

Conference by conference, op-ed by op-ed, radio show by radio show, the anti-prohibitionist message is spreading, and with the help of groups like LEAP and the IPRT, it is spreading into the mainstream.

Click here to watch the LEAP video online or donate $15 or more to DRCNet to order a copy of the DVD.

Europe: Scottish Police Move Toward Warnings for Simple Marijuana Possession

Police in two Scottish police districts have begun a pilot program where people caught in possession of small amounts of marijuana are given warnings instead of being arrested and prosecuted. Police reported already issuing 23 warnings in the West Lothian area. The other district where the program is underway is Fife, where some 40 warnings had already been issued.

The newspaper The Scotsman quoted a spokesman for the Lothian and Borders police as saying, "West Lothian is the only division where they use adult warnings. There is a pilot project agreed with procurators fiscal."

After Scottish police were criticized by some anti-drug campaigners for "sending the wrong message," the Association of Chief Police Officers, the grouping of Britain's top cops, moved to assure the nervous that police weren't going soft. "The police service in Scotland continues to take a robust stance on anybody caught in possession of drugs. The projects in place in Fife and Lothian and Borders are in agreement with local procurators fiscal and in the spirit of the criminal justice reform process," the group said.

The pilot program comes on the heels of a decision by all Scottish police forces to move to warnings instead of arrests for a variety of minor offenses -- such as public urination or low-level disturbing the peace -- for first-time offenders. The moves are part of an effort to reduce the burden of a heavy caseload on courts and prosecutors.

But Scottish First Minister Jack McConnell is grumbling. While telling reporters he would not dictate to police or prosecutors, he added that he was "very keen" that people with pot be prosecuted. "Cannabis is illegal and nobody in Scotland should ever get the impression otherwise," he said.

Pain Medicine: DEA Set to Ease Restrictions on Schedule II Prescriptions

Under a proposed rule unveiled Wednesday, the Drug Enforcement Administation would allow doctors prescribing Schedule II drugs, such as morphine or Oxycontin, to fill prescriptions for 90 days instead of 30 days. Currently, pain patients can only get 30-day non-refillable prescriptions, requiring them to make additional visits to the doctor's office just to get a new prescription written. Doctors and patients have complained that the DEA's strict regulation of Schedule II drugs has forced doctors to limit their prescriptions, with patients going untreated as a result.

At a Wednesday press conference in Washington, DEA administrator Karen Tandy attempted to signal that the agency was hearing those concerns. "Today's policy statement reaffirms that DEA wants doctors to treat pain as is appropriate under accepted medical community standards," said Tandy in remarks reported by the Associated Press. "Physicians acting in accordance with accepted medical practice should be confident that they will not be criminally charged."

While the number of doctors who faced federal charges over their prescribing practices is relatively small, it is increasing -- from 38 in 2003 to 67 last year. Other pain management physicians have faced state criminal charges of administrative sanctions, and pain patient and physician advocacy groups complain that the agency is interfering with and having a chilling effect on the practice of pain medicine.

The move was welcomed by the American Medical Association, with AMA board member Dr. Rebecca Patchin telling the AP it was a step toward improving the care of pain patients. "Relieving suffering while doing everything we can to prevent the abuse of controlled substances reflects appropriate patient care, a standard which is easier to achieve when a strong patient-physician relationship exists," said Dr. Patchin. "We need to provide access to pain relief for patients with legitimate needs, and the DEA proposal would help in doing this."

Others were less sanguine. "Ms. Tandy states here, as she has on many occasions, that doctors need not fear criminal prosecution as long as they practice medicine in conformity with what these drug cops think is 'appropriate,'" said Siobhan Reynolds, president of the Pain Relief Network. "If that isn't a threat, it will certainly pass for one within the thoroughly intimidated medical community."

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

The temptations of the border tarnish another Texas lawman's badge, a Tulsa cop is convicted of being too helpful to a drug dealer, and a pair of Newark's finest plea to a pill-pushing scheme. Let's get to it:

In McAllen, Texas, the US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Texas issued a press release announcing the August 29 indictment of a former South Texas police officer for allegedly taking a bribe to protect what he thought was a cocaine shipment. Former Elsa City Police Officer Herman Carr, 45, is accused of taking a $5,000 payment from an undercover FBI agent to use his position as a law enforcement officer to protect a vehicle he was told contained five kilos of cocaine. He is charged with bribery and faces up to 20 years in federal prison.

In Tulsa, Oklahoma, a federal jury last Friday found a former Tulsa police officer guilty of conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and providing unlawful notice of a search warrant. Former Officer Rico Yarbrough was convicted of informing a suspected drug dealer that a search warrant was about to be served at his residence, the Tulsa World reported. In February, Yarbrough called a Tulsa man and asked him to inform the suspected dealer of the impending raid. Unfortunately for Yarbrough, the conversation was being recorded. Federal investigators who had wiretapped the suspected dealer's phone overheard references to Yarbrough, then fed him information to see if he would leak it. He did. Yarbrough was found not guilty on two related counts, but still faces significant prison time when sentenced November 29.

In Newark, two Newark police officers pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday to charges they bought thousands of Oxycontin pills from a doctor and resold them, the Associated Press reported. Patrolmen John Hernandez and Ronald Pomponio face up to 20 years in prison and $1 million in fines when sentenced in December for conspiracy to distribute oxycodone, the active ingredient in Oxycontin. The pair admitted in court that Hernandez purchased Oxycontin tablets valued at hundreds of thousands of dollars, while Pomponio took prescriptions for the pills to pharmacies across the state. The doctor from whom they allegedly purchased the drugs has pleaded not guilty.

Southeast Asia: Australian Foreign Minister "Grateful" for Indonesia's Tough Drug Stance After Four Australians Sentenced to Death for Smuggling

After the Indonesian Supreme Court sentenced four Australian citizens to death for trying to smuggle heroin from Bali to Australia, Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer told a press conference Tuesday night he was "grateful" for Indonesia's tough stance on drug policy. Downer held out little hope that the four, and two others already sentenced to death, would be spared.

Part of a group known as the "Bali Nine," the four Australians had originally been sentenced to lengthy prison terms, but prosecutors appealed the "lenient" sentences, and earlier this week the Supreme Court resentenced them to death. They join two other young members of the "Bali Nine" already sentenced to die in a case involving 18 pounds of heroin.

At the press conference called to confirm the imposition of the death sentences, Downer said the case would not harm relations between the two countries. "We actually urged the Indonesians to be tough on drug trafficking," he said. "The last thing we want is heroin brought into Australia from Indonesia. Don't make any mistake about that. We are grateful to the Indonesians for being tough on drugs. It's just that we don't support capital punishment. That they have arrested people who've been trafficking drugs means those drugs don't come into Australia and innocent Australians, or drug users in Australia innocent or not, aren't going to use those drugs, and that's a good thing."

Despite Downer's sanguine comments, Liberal Prime Minister John Howard, himself a staunch drug warrior, announced he would seek clemency, although he cautioned it would be unlikely. "I don't think people should entertain too many optimistic thoughts because it's difficult, but we will try hard and we will put the case against the death penalty," Howard said late on Wednesday.

Other Australian politicians have protested more loudly. "Judicial murder is what the Indonesian authorities have in mind here. It is a repugnant and barbaric practice," Green Senator Bob Brown told Reuters.

A group of Australian politicians who are members of Amnesty International said they would protest to the Indonesian government. "We should not sit back and say this is their laws and they can do what they want," said government MP Bruce Baird. Meanwhile, the six young Australians confront their imminent mortality.

One of the Australians sentenced to death, 20-year-old Scott Rush, said he was shocked by the ruling and pleaded for help. "This is making my head spin. I am sitting on death, am I?," he said. "At first I didn't want to appeal because of this sort of thing. I was scared and me and my parents were stressed. But everyone said no Australians would be put to death, and now I am on death row. If there is anything people can do to prevent this please make it happen because I need a second chance at life."

That's the way we do things in Indonesia, the country's top cop, General Sutanto said. "In Indonesia, drugs abuse is rampant because punishment has been too lenient. If we are not serious about tackling the problem, drug traffickers will not be deterred," Sutanto told reporters, according to Reuters.

Editor's Note: It's foolishly naive to think that the death penalty does or can deter drug trafficking. After all, many participants in the drug trade already risk death at the hands of their competitors routinely. A government adding a few more bodies to the pile does nothing to fundamentally alter that reality. Much more likely is that it will push the trade into the hands of the most dangerous kinds of criminals who are most comfortable taking the risk.

Maconha: DEA Se Mete em Enrascada em Denver com Esforço Abortivo para Derrotar a Iniciativa de Legalização em Novembro

Jeff Sweetin, o agente especial da DEA em Denver, provavelmente deseja ter ficado quieto. Já era muito ruim que o jornal da Universidade do Colorado, o Daily Camera, informasse no domingo que um dos seus agentes especiais enviara um e-mail através de uma conta do Departamento de Justiça em busca de um agente de campanha para o “Comitê de Informação sobre a Maconha do Colorado”, aparentemente uma organização estabelecida para derrotar a iniciativa de legalização da maconha do Colorado. Essa iniciativa legalizaria o porte adulto de até trinta gramas de maconha.

Mas então Sweetin cometeu uma gafe de verdade, dizendo ao Daily Câmera que a lei “permite que a sua agência se envolva no processo de dizer aos eleitores por que eles não deveriam descriminalizar a maconha” e que o comitê arrecadara $10.000 de “doações privadas, inclusive algum dinheiro das próprias contas dos agentes”.

Isso foi suficiente para provocar o defensor da iniciativa, a SAFER Colorado, que criticou a agência pela interferência arbitrária em uma questão eleitoral estadual. “O dinheiro do contribuinte não deveria ir para a defesa do poder executivo de um lado ou outro”, disse o diretor executivo do grupo, Steve Fox, ao Daily Câmera. “É um uso totalmente inadequado do dinheiro do contribuinte”.

Mas, a SAFER Colorado não estava sozinha em sentir-se ofendida com as ações contrárias da DEA. Os dois maiores e mais influentes jornais do estado, o Rocky Mountain News e ol Denver Post, condenaram a ação em editoriais. A posição do News era clara pela sua manchete: "DEA Should Keep Out of State Politics” [A DEA Deveria Ficar Longe da Política Estadual].

O Post teve uma abordagem mais preocupada com que a politicagem da DEA possa ultrapassar os limites do apropriado, senão da legalidade. “Proporcionar os fatos às pessoas que os queiram é uma coisa”, escreveu o Post. “Usar a agência como plataforma para influenciar as eleições é outra. Sweetin diz que entende claramente a diferença. Com certeza, esperamos que isso seja assim”.

Se Sweetin esperava que a matéria simplesmente desaparecesse, ele não ajudou nada quando nublou ainda mais as coisas quando a KMGH-TV em Denver informou na terça-feira que: “Sweetin disse que, apesar dos informes contrários, o gabinete dele não está nem fazendo campanha contra ela nem arrecadando fundos. Quando indagado sobre o comitê e os $10.000 mencionados no e-mail, Sweetin disse, ‘Eu nunca soube dos $10.000 em dinheiro’”.

Isso levou a SAFER Colorado a levantar toda uma série de perguntas sobre qual versão do ativismo da DEA era a verdadeira, a qual eles enviaram bondosamente aos meios de comunicação do Colorado. “Achamos que é muito suspeito que o mesmo agente da DEA que deixou claro que o comitê tinha verbas de doadores e agentes privados esteja dizendo agora que nunca ficou sabendo deste dinheiro”, disse o coordenador de campanha, Mason Tvert. “Achamos que a DEA pensava que podia fazer campanha ativamente contra a gente, mas então lhes disseram por algum tipo de aconselhamento legal que isso não podia acontecer assim. De qualquer jeito, estamos tentando transformar isto na matéria mais relevante possível”, disse ele à Crônica da Guerra Contra as Drogas.

Campanha Midiática do ONDCP: Anúncios Antidrogas do Secretário Antidrogas São um Fracasso, Diz GAO

O Tribunal de Contas do Governo (GAO) descobriu que a campanha publicitária antidrogas de $1.4 bilhão que visa à juventude e é administrada pelo Gabinete de Política Nacional de Controle das Drogas (a secretaria antidrogas, ONDCP) não funciona. O título do relatório do GAO, “ONDCP Media Campaign: Contractor's National Evaluation Did Not Find That the Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign Was Effective in Reducing Youth Drug Use” [A Campanha Midiática do ONDCP: A Avaliação Nacional de Licitantes Não Achou que a Campanha Midiática Antidrogas para a Juventude Fosse Eficaz na Redução do Consumo de Drogas da Juventude], basicamente diz tudo.

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/drugstory.jpg
evidentemente, não funciona...
O relatório do GAO é pelo menos o terceiro a criticar o programa nos últimos três anos. Em 2003, o Gabinete de Administração e Orçamento da Casa Branca qualificou o programa como “ineficiente” e carente em quaisquer resultados demonstráveis. Em 2005, a Westat, Inc. e a Universidade da Pensilvânia fizeram um estudo de $43 milhões financiado federalmente que descobriu que a campanha não funcionava. Essa avaliação descobriu que as crianças e os pais se lembravam dos anúncios e das mensagens deles, mas os anúncios não mudavam as condutas das crianças a respeito das drogas. Também sugeriu que a baixa porcentagem informada no uso de drogas entre adolescentes era resultado não da campanha publicitária, mas de uma série de outros fatores.

O estudo do GAO lançado na sexta-feira passada averiguou a avaliação da campanha publicitária feita pela Westat e a achou crível. “A revisão das avaliações da Westat realizada pelo GAO e a documentação acompanhante levam à conclusão de que a avaliação proporciona provas críveis de que a campanha não era eficiente na redução do consumo de drogas da juventude, seja durante todo o período da campanha, seja durante o período de 2002 a 2004 quando a campanha foi remanejada e esteve concentrada no consumo de maconha”, disse o GAO em seu sumário executivo.

Previsivelmente, o ONDCP atacou o relatório do GAO. O porta-voz Tom Riley disse ao USA Today que o relatório é “irrelevante para nós. Tem como base os anúncios de dois anos e meio atrás, e eles também foram eficazes. O consumo de drogas esteve caindo enormemente. Cortar o programa agora poria o seu progresso em perigo”.

O secretário antidrogas, John Walters, também se queixou que a Westat carecia de provas de uma relação real entre os anúncios e os dados que sugerem a diminuição do consumo de drogas entre adolescentes. “Estabelecer uma relação causal entre a exposição e os resultados é algo que os marqueteiros importantes raramente tentam porque é virtualmente impossível de fazer”, disse Walters em uma carta. “Este é o motivo pelo qual a campanha publicitária antitabagismo ‘Verdade’, aclamada como iniciativa bem-sucedida em vista das quedas consideráveis que temos visto no fumo adolescente, não afirmou provar uma relação causal entre a exposição da campanha e os resultados no fumo, informando ao contrário que a campanha estava associada às quedas consideráveis no fumo entre os jovens”.

Diferentemente de Walters, o Congresso pode querer ver algum tipo de relação causal entre a campanha publicitária e os dados de consumo de drogas antes de financiá-la durante outro ano. O governo Bush quer mais $120 milhões para o ano fiscal 2007, mas o GAO disse que sem um plano melhor de parte de Walters, o financiamento deveria ser cortado. O Congresso ponderará a questão neste outono.

Primeira Emenda: Kenneth Starr Se Une a Recurso de Decisão do 9º Circuito dos EUA em Caso “Bong Hits 4 Jesus”

O ex-promotor especial de Whitewater, Kenneth Starr, está oferecendo os seus serviços pro bono ao distrito escolar de Juneau, Alasca em um caso que opõe os direitos à Primeira Emenda contra as severas políticas antidrogas do distrito. O Tribunal de Apelações do 9º Circuito dos EUA decidiu em Março que a Diretora Deborah Morse infringira os direitos do estudante do Colégio Secundário de Juneau-Douglas, Joseph Frederick quando ela o suspendeu por 10 dias por segurar uma faixa que dizia “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” durante um desfile de Janeiro de 2002. Os funcionários do colégio disseram a Frederick que ele estava suspenso por defender o consumo ilegal de drogas.

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/kenstarr.jpg
o novo alvo de Ken Starr: as camisetas sobre narguilés
O 9º Circuitop não concordava com isso. Em decisão unânime, um painel composto por três juízes sustentou que mesmo os estudantes do segundo grau têm o direito a se expressarem se não fizerem que a escola perca a sua missão educacional. “Uma escola não pode censurar nem punir a expressão dos estudantes meramente porque os estudantes defendem uma posição contrária às políticas do governo”, escreveu o Juiz Andrew Kleinfeld pelo painel.

Starr, cujo principal trampolim à fama foi investigar a relação entre o Presidente Bill Clinton e a estagiária Mônica Lewinsky, entrou com uma petição na segunda-feira que instava a Suprema Corte a ouvir o caso. Não é um assunto encerrado; pelo menos quatro de nove ministros devem votar a favor de uma audiência se ficar aprovado que deve aparecer perante a corte alta.

A Superintendente do distrito escolar, Peggy Cowan, disse à Associated Press que o distrito está recorrendo para buscar clareza nos direitos dos administradores a imporem a disciplina contra estudantes que infringirem as políticas da mensagem antidrogas do distrito. “A decisão do distrito de seguir adiante não é desrespeito nem da Primeira Emenda nem dos direitos dos estudantes”, disse ela. “Esta é uma questão importante sobre como a Primeira Emenda se aplica a mensagens pró-drogas em um ambiente educacional”.

Parece que alguém precisa voltar à escola para aprender o significado da Primeira Emenda.

Drug War Issues

Criminal JusticeAsset Forfeiture, Collateral Sanctions (College Aid, Drug Taxes, Housing, Welfare), Court Rulings, Drug Courts, Due Process, Felony Disenfranchisement, Incarceration, Policing (2011 Drug War Killings, 2012 Drug War Killings, 2013 Drug War Killings, 2014 Drug War Killings, 2015 Drug War Killings, 2016 Drug War Killings, 2017 Drug War Killings, Arrests, Eradication, Informants, Interdiction, Lowest Priority Policies, Police Corruption, Police Raids, Profiling, Search and Seizure, SWAT/Paramilitarization, Task Forces, Undercover Work), Probation or Parole, Prosecution, Reentry/Rehabilitation, Sentencing (Alternatives to Incarceration, Clemency and Pardon, Crack/Powder Cocaine Disparity, Death Penalty, Decriminalization, Defelonization, Drug Free Zones, Mandatory Minimums, Rockefeller Drug Laws, Sentencing Guidelines)CultureArt, Celebrities, Counter-Culture, Music, Poetry/Literature, Television, TheaterDrug UseParaphernalia, Vaping, ViolenceIntersecting IssuesCollateral Sanctions (College Aid, Drug Taxes, Housing, Welfare), Violence, Border, Budgets/Taxes/Economics, Business, Civil Rights, Driving, Economics, Education (College Aid), Employment, Environment, Families, Free Speech, Gun Policy, Human Rights, Immigration, Militarization, Money Laundering, Pregnancy, Privacy (Search and Seizure, Drug Testing), Race, Religion, Science, Sports, Women's IssuesMarijuana PolicyGateway Theory, Hemp, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Marijuana Industry, Medical MarijuanaMedicineMedical Marijuana, Science of Drugs, Under-treatment of PainPublic HealthAddiction, Addiction Treatment (Science of Drugs), Drug Education, Drug Prevention, Drug-Related AIDS/HIV or Hepatitis C, Harm Reduction (Methadone & Other Opiate Maintenance, Needle Exchange, Overdose Prevention, Pill Testing, Safer Injection Sites)Source and Transit CountriesAndean Drug War, Coca, Hashish, Mexican Drug War, Opium ProductionSpecific DrugsAlcohol, Ayahuasca, Cocaine (Crack Cocaine), Ecstasy, Heroin, Ibogaine, ketamine, Khat, Kratom, Marijuana (Gateway Theory, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Medical Marijuana, Hashish), Methamphetamine, New Synthetic Drugs (Synthetic Cannabinoids, Synthetic Stimulants), Nicotine, Prescription Opiates (Fentanyl, Oxycontin), Psilocybin / Magic Mushrooms, Psychedelics (LSD, Mescaline, Peyote, Salvia Divinorum)YouthGrade School, Post-Secondary School, Raves, Secondary School