Drug War Chronicle

comprehensive coverage of the War on Drugs since 1997

Reportaje: Casos de inmigrantes deportados por pequeños delitos de drogas son vistos esta semana por la Corte Suprema

El martes, la Corte Suprema de los EE.UU. oyó los argumentos orales en dos casos consolidados que cuestionan si los inmigrantes que son residentes legales de los EE.UU. deben enfrentarse a deportación obligatoria por pequeñas infracciones como la tenencia de drogas. Miles de inmigrantes se enfrentan a una punición tan perturbadora y de acuerdo con la National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, más de un millón y medio de personas han sido deportadas desde la presentación de la deportación obligatoria por “crímenes agravados” según la Ley de Inmigración y Nacionalidad de 1996 [1996 Immigration and Nationality Act] que está siendo desafiada en estos casos.

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la Corte Suprema de los EE.UU.
Esa ley expandió la definición de “crímenes agravados” – crímenes por los cuales la deportación es obligatoria – más allá de los crímenes violentos graves, que habían sido el estándar anterior. Los casos delante de la Corte Suprema esta semana giran en torno de si las infracciones que son consideradas contravenciones de acuerdo con la Ley de Sustancias Controladas [Controlled Substances Act] federal, pero que son consideradas crímenes según la ley estadual en los estados en que las personas fueron condenadas, pueden calificarse como “crímenes agravados” de acuerdo con la ley de inmigración.

Muchos de aquellos deportados de acuerdo con la ley de inmigración fueron en realidad declarados culpables de crímenes serios, pero muchos otros no lo fueron. En un caso cubierto por la Crónica de la Guerra Contra las Drogas, João Herbert, que fue adoptado por una pareja estadounidense de un orfanato brasileño cuando niño, pero que nunca solicitó la ciudadanía estadounidense, fue arrestado en su adolescencia por vender una bolsita de marihuana. Fue condenado a libertad vigilada, pero las autoridades federales buscaron exitosamente deportarlo de acuerdo con la ley de 1996. Enviado a una tierra que nunca conoció, él sobrevivió algunos años como profesor de inglés antes de ser muerto por la policía brasileña en 2004.

En los casos delante de la corte el martes, López vs. Gonzales y Toledo-Flores vs. EE.UU., las infracciones por las cuales los EE.UU. buscan deportar a los inmigrantes son aún más triviales que las del caso de Herbert. José Antonio López era dueño de una bodega y de un puesto de tacos en Sioux Falls, SD, que vino de México en 1985. El hombre casado y padre de dos hijos, que son ciudadanos estadounidenses, se confesó culpable de decirle a alguien cómo obtener cocaína. Dicha infracción es una contravención de acuerdo con la ley federal, pero era crimen según la ley de Dakota del Sur. Los funcionarios federales de inmigraciones clasificaron su infracción como “crimen agravado” de acuerdo con la ley de inmigración y lo deportaron a México.

Reymundo Toledo-Flores fue arrestado por tenencia de cocaína en Tejas, donde eso es contravención, pero cuando fue atrapado intentando reentrar al país recibió una sentencia de prisión de dos años porque las autoridades de inmigraciones consideraron su aprehensión en Tejas un “crimen agravado” de acuerdo con la ley de inmigraciones. Él está recurriendo de la sentencia.

“El problema aquí es que la ley estadual y la ley federal no están de acuerdo en la determinación de la gravedad de la infracción”, dijo el Desembargador David Souter durante la argumentación oral del martes. “¿No es muy raro que el Congreso hubiera querido una lectura del estatuto que volvería su definición de contravención un crimen agravado para fines de las leyes de inmigración?” preguntó.

Los abogados del gobierno Bush debatieron que los funcionarios de inmigraciones clasificaron correctamente ambos casos. “La definición estatutaria de ‘crimen agravado’ abarca grandes categorías de conducta criminal de acuerdo con la ley estadual, sin exigir un paralelo con la ley federal”, escribió el Subfiscal General de Justicia de los EE.UU. en documento presentado a la corte.

El Subfiscal de Justicia Edwin Kneedler le dijo a la corte el martes que la ley de inmigración “mira la ley estadual”. Si un delito de drogas es crimen según la ley estadual, es un crimen deportable de acuerdo con la ley federal, debatió.

Pero tres ex abogados del Servicio de Inmigración y Naturalización discordaban en una posición favorable que ellos presentaron. “No hay indicios claros de que el Congreso pretendiera que la definición de crimen agravado se aplicara a los delitos de drogas que son... contravenciones de acuerdo con la ley federal”, escribieron ellos.

El Desembargador Jefe John Roberts estaba teniendo ideas similares. “Debe hacerle sospechar”, le dijo a Kneedler, “que su análisis de una infracción de ‘tráfico de drogas’... lleve a la conclusión de que la simple tenencia se iguala al tráfico de drogas”.

“Los inmigrantes no deberían ser echados del país por hacer lo que el presidente de los Estados Unidos hizo”, dijo Bill Piper, director de asuntos nacionales de la Drug Policy Alliance. “Está claro que el tipo de delitos de drogas que discutimos aquí no es el tipo de delitos que el Congreso pretendía cuando aprobó esa ley”, le dijo él a la Crónica de la Guerra Contra las Drogas. “También parece que esto plantea problemas de protección igual porque parece que ser deportado o no depende del estado en que se fue condenado. En aquellos estados en que la tenencia de drogas es crimen, se es deportado; en aquellos que no es, no se es deportado”.

Los grupos de derechos de los inmigrantes y de las libertades civiles están pidiendo a la corte que rechace la interpretación amplia de la ley del gobierno federal y aun el Center for Immigration Studies, que generalmente defiende una línea dura en la represión a la inmigración, no se quedó tan entusiasmado con la deportación de pequeños infractores de la legislación antidroga. “Si la legislatura estadual ha decidido que esto es un crimen serio y alguien que lo comete será deportado, no es como si esa persona no supiera que eso era ilegal”, dijo el Dr. Steven Camarota, director de pesquisa del grupo. “No veo ningún problema en echar a estas personas. En algunos casos, con todo, las personas se confiesan culpables de crímenes sin darse cuenta de que estarían sujetas a deportación y eso levanta una cuestión de justicia”, le dijo él a la Crónica de la Guerra Contra las Drogas. “Todo el sistema de justicia criminal debe moderar la justicia con la misericordia, pero con la inmigración hemos creado tantas excepciones y renuncias que a veces es bueno ser duro”.

Para Camarota, todo el debate sobre la deportación de inmigrantes por pequeñas infracciones de la legislación antidroga “no es nada” en comparación con los verdaderos problemas de inmigración que el país se enfrenta. “Estamos hablando de miles de personas cuando hay 37 millones de inmigrantes en el país”, señaló. “No hay nada equivocado en la forma por la cual el gobierno está abordando esto, pero parece que hay demasiado debate sobre algo tan pequeño. Deberíamos poner los recursos en la imposición general de las leyes de inmigración”.

“La ley de 1996 es destructiva de verdad”, dijo Arnaldo García de la National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. “En cualquier semana, hay 20.000 residentes permanentes legales que cometieron pequeñas infracciones esperando en la cárcel de acuerdo con los trámites de deportación. Eso incluye casos como el de un chico de 20 años que tuvo relaciones con su enamorada de 17 años e incluye cosas como el arresto de personas con tenencia de pequeñas cantidades de marihuana”, le dijo él a la Crónica. “El gobierno federal está intentando institucionalizar un doble estándar. Los residentes legales tienen derechos iguales bajo nuestro sistema judicial, pero después que completaron sus sentencias, son sometidos a una punición injusta – la proscripción para siempre. Ésta es una enorme fenda en la fundación del tratamiento igual bajo la ley”.

Hay poca cosa que los residentes permanentes pueden hacer, dijo García. “Lo que se puede hacer es asegurarse de que se conoce la ley”, dijo. “Si se es arrestado, se necesita tener el consejo de un abogado de inmigraciones para saber las consecuencias de la acusación y si ella es una infracción deportable. Algunos jueces trabajarán contigo – haciendo cosas como condenarte a 364 días en vez de 366, la diferencia entre una contravención y un crimen --, pero el INS solamente quiere deportarte. He visto personas que entran para hacer su teste de ciudadanía y la inmigración las está aguardando porque fueron presas cuando adolescentes”.

La protección final contra la deportación según la ley de inmigración es volverse ciudadano estadounidense. “Eso es más fácil decir que hacer”, dijo García. “Hay una enorme espera. Estoy trabajando con una familia que envió su petición de reunificación en 1994. Su caso está saliendo ahora”.

Reportaje: Más Allanamientos Antimarihuana Medicinal en California: ¿El Nuevo Estatus Quo?

Por lo menos cinco dispensarios distintos de marihuana medicinal en California han sido allanados en los últimos diez días, totalizando hasta ahora más de 30 este año, de acuerdo con los defensores de la marihuana medicinal. Pero, eso significa que aproximadamente 200 dispensarios existentes no han sido allanados, lo que sugiere que lo que está pasando es más una pequeña batalla de atrito que una ofensiva total de la Administración de Represión a las Drogas (DEA) de los EE.UU. y de sus aliados, entre funcionarios recalcitrantes del aparato judiciario-legal estadual y municipal y servidores elegidos.

He aquí el más reciente listado de bajas:

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foto cortesía ASA
El miércoles pasado en Modesto, un día después que la ciudad de Modesto votó en la revocación de una disposición municipal que exenta a las organizaciones sin fines lucrativos de su ordenanza que prohíbe los dispensarios, los agentes de la DEA allanaron al California Healthcare Collective, uno de los dos dispensarios restantes en el área. Un vocero de la DEA le dijo a la Crónica de la Guerra Contra las Drogas esta semana que la Policía de Modesto empezó a investigar el dispensario, de ahí entregó el caso a los federales. Cuatro personas fueron arrestadas bajo acusaciones federales de distribución de marihuana.

Al día siguiente, los agentes de la DEA y de la policía municipal allanaron al dispensario North Valley Discount Caregivers en Grenada Hills y confiscaron todo el cannabis medicinal en el lugar. Los dos dependientes fueron arrestados bajo acusaciones estaduales relacionadas con la marihuana.

Al mismo día, los adjuntos del Sherif de la Comarca de Stanislaus allanaron al 2816 Collective en una área rural cerca de Modesto usando una orden estadual de búsqueda. La policía confiscó cerca de un kilo de marihuana seca y las fichas de los pacientes. El colectivo había cerrado un día antes en razón del allanamiento en Modesto. Con tanto el California Healthcare en Modesto como el 2816 Collective fuera del negocio, la región entera está destituida de dispensarios ahora, dejando a millares de pacientes en la estacada.

El martes, la DEA allanó por lo menos a ocho ubicaciones en el área de la Bahía de San Francisco, confiscando más de 12.000 plantas, $125.000 en efectivo y un auto deportivo de lujo. A pesar de algunos informes iniciales histéricos en los medios locales, todos los allanamientos estaban relacionados con el dispensario New Remedies en San Francisco, que involucraba a la misma gente que trabajaba en Compassionate Caregivers, que fue allanado por la DEA en Los Ángeles en Mayo de 2005, cuando los federales encontraron más de $300.000 en efectivo, ocasionando la investigación que culminó en los allanamientos del lunes.

El miércoles, la DEA y los oficiales de la ley municipal allanaron al dispensario Palm Springs Caregivers en la Comarca de Riverside, confiscando cannabis medicinal, pero sin realizar ninguna detención en ese momento. El allanamiento ocurrió un día después que el Consejo de Supervisores de la Comarca de Riverside votó en la prohibición de los dispensarios en áreas municipales no-incorporadas, que ni siquiera incluyen a Palm Springs, y un mes después que el Fiscal de la Comarca de Riverside, Grover Trask, lanzó un informe gubernamental que debatía que los dispensarios son ilegales según la ley estadual y federal.

Los allanamientos precipitaron el Proyecto de Respuesta de Emergencia del grupo de defensa de la marihuana medicinal, el Americans for Safe Access, que reunió manifestantes el viernes pasado en la sede de la DEA en Los Ángeles, así como en Modesto, Oakland, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco y Santa Ana. Los manifestantes también recibieron los allanamientos del martes en San Francisco y más acciones están programadas para el día de hoy.

“Con nuestro programa de respuesta de emergencia, toda vez que hay un allanamiento federal – y podemos descubrirlo en una cuestión de horas --, activamos nuestra respuesta local, como hicimos en San Francisco esta semana”, dijo Caren Woodson del ASA. “Pero ahora, estamos activando la respuesta nacional de emergencia para el viernes. Es un día de llamadas. Estamos instándolos a todos a llamar a la administradora de la DEA, Karen Tandy, e informarla sobre lo que piensan de estos allanamientos. Karen Tandy tiene mucha discreción y necesita ejercerla”.

Aunque el ASA esté liderando una batalla inmediata, no está sólo entre los grupos del movimiento en la tentativa de descubrir qué está pasando. De acuerdo con la DEA, no es nada especial, apenas la imposición de las leyes contra la marihuana. “Los dos casos en los cuales nuestro gabinete estaba involucrado, Modesto la semana pasada y aquí en el área de la Bahía esta semana, fueron la culminación de investigaciones de largo tiempo”, dijo la funcionaria de información pública de la DEA de San Francisco, Casey McEnry. “En Modesto, la policía de Modesto empezó a investigar y de ahí nos pasó la investigación, y con la New Remedies, les habíamos presentado órdenes como con la Compassionate Caregivers en LL.AA. en Mayo de 2005 y supimos en Diciembre de 2005 que ellos habían cambiado sus nombres y habían abierto una tienda en Oakland”, le dijo ella a la Crónica de la Guerra Contra las Drogas.

“No podemos saber lo que piensa la DEA, pero no hay ninguna señal de una ofensiva total”, dijo Bruce Mirken, director de comunicación del Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “Esta gente en San Francisco ya estaba siendo objetivada – eran víctimas de su propio éxito --, pero seguramente hay muchos otros lugares funcionando abiertamente. Si la DEA quisiera, podía ir tras ellos con poco esfuerzo, pero parece que han tomado la decisión de no hacerlo”.

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foto cortesía ASA
McEnry de la DEA no contestó directamente las preguntas sobre si la agencia había tomado la decisión política de no ir agresivamente en contra de los casi 200 dispensarios del estado, pero ella sí dio un aviso. “El cómputo de la planta mágica es cero, el número de la distribución es cero si se quiere estar seguro de que no vayamos posiblemente a tocar su puerta”, dijo ella. “Cualquiera que cultive o distribuya marihuana corre riesgo”.

Aunque eso pueda ser una bravata dados los recursos limitados de la agencia, es preocupante para los dispensarios y sus defensores. “Estos dispensarios de cannabis legal certificados por el estado les parecen a la DEA abrigos de distribución de drogas”, dijo Woodson. “Si un dispensario sirve a 150 personas por día, el dependiente se parece a un rey del narcotráfico para ellos. Son blancos fáciles, están en la lista telefónica. Y ahora algunas de estas personas se enfrentan a sentencias muy duras, algunas de hasta prisión perpetua”.

No es apenas la DEA. “Tenemos el envolvimiento esporádico de la policía municipal en los allanamientos, principalmente en las comarcas en que el gobierno municipal no es favorable, como las Comarcas de Modesto o Riverside, que es donde queda Palm Springs”, dijo Mirken. “Eso nos dice cómo es importantísimo que los gobiernos municipales comprendan la Proposición 215 y oigan de sus bases que el acceso al cannabis medicinal es importante”.

“Ellos están escogiendo locales en que las autoridades locales no tienen una postura amigable”, dijo Woodson del ASA.

“Estos allanamientos son irrisorios cuando hay más de 200 dispensarios en funcionamiento”, dijo Dale Gleringer, director de la NORML California, “pero no queremos presenciar su diseminación. Temo que esto vaya a ser un campo de batalla durante algún tiempo aquí hasta que logremos un régimen que permita mejores sistemas de dispensarios y producción. La falta de un sistema de producción legal causa muchos problemas y todos en el negocio de los dispensarios están trabajando en el mercado negro o gris y están vulnerables a las incertidumbres legales”.

Aunque los dispensarios de marihuana medicinal sigan siendo numerosos en Los Ángeles y en el área de la Bahía de San Francisco, los allanamientos están teniendo un impacto muy real sobre la oferta en algunas áreas del estado. “En San Diego, hace algunos meses había una docena de dispensarios en funcionamiento, pero después de los allanamientos, han desaparecido y el acceso al cannabis medicinal ya casi no existe”, dijo Woodson. “Hay apenas un puñado de servicios de entrega ahora y no pueden tratar de la demanda. Hay una situación similar en Modesto – no hay ningún dispensario en el área ahora”.

“Creo que eso va a seguir a corto plazo, hasta que algo pase políticamente para cambiar la dinámica”, dijo Mirken. “Eso puede no ocurrir hasta que haya un cambio de régimen en Washington, y quizá no aun así, dependiendo de la inteligencia de los demócratas. No parece que las cosas van a cambiar drásticamente en California en el próximo mandato. La mayoría de las personas en el gobierno estadual y en algunos gobiernos municipales por lo menos hace boca a boca en apoyo a la Proposición 215, pero no hemos visto mucha acción de los funcionarios del estado con la influencia para intentar detener los allanamientos. En verdad, no veo ningún cambio a nivel estadual”, dijo.

Woodson del ASA no estaba tan lista para desistir del gobierno estadual. “Aquí en California, nosotros necesitamos hacer que más funcionarios estaduales se pronuncien y denuncien estos allanamientos”, dijo ella. “La legislatura estadual como un todo necesita tratar de esta cuestión y crear normas o redactar prohibiciones que ordenen a la ley estadual y municipal a no participar de estos allanamientos antimarihuana medicinal. La legislatura no está haciendo su trabajo si no protege adecuadamente a los pacientes”.

Otra cosa que la legislatura puede hacer es reiterar y expandir su apoyo a la Proposición 215. “Ellos deberían recodificarlo y tomar una posición en contra de los allanamientos federales”, dijo Woodson. “Y ellos deberían exigir que nuestra delegación federal prestara más atención a esta cuestión. Todo lo que Diane Feinstein sabe decir es sobre la metanfetamina; ella y Barbara Boxer no han levantado ni un dedo para ayudar a la marihuana medicinal. A nosotros también nos gustaría ver más oficiales de la ley entrenados en la cuestión del cannabis medicinal”.

“California no hará nada en todo el estado hasta que la ley federal cambie”, predijo Gleringer. “Veo este padrón de allanamientos esporádicos siguiendo hasta que haya un cambio en la ley federal. Hace dos o tres años, yo habría dicho que estábamos corriendo peligro mortal, pero, en verdad, no hemos tenido nada sino un aumento en el número de dispensarios aun después de perder dos decisiones en la Corte Suprema. De alguna forma, me es difícil creer que esto vaya a cambiar, especialmente dado lo que pasó en LL.AA. Hace dos años, no había ningún club en LL.AA., ahora hay cien. Me parece que la segunda ciudad más grande del país está siendo firmemente inundada de dispensarios. Cuando era solamente en el área de la Bahía, estaba preocupado que los federales pudieran cerrarlos, pero perdieron su oportunidad. Ahora, todo lo que pueden hacer es prender a alguien de vez en cuando e intentar macular la imagen de los dispensarios, pero ellos están aquí para quedarse”.

Editorial: ¿Queremos Realmente Ayudar a Nuestros Hijos a Encontrar Traficantes de Drogas?

Repetimos el editorial de Julio de David Borden sobre este tópico debido a su pertinencia esta semana.

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sesión usual de edición de David Borden del jueves por la tarde
Uno de los artículos sobre la guerra a las drogas de esta semana es un esfuerzo legislativo en el estado de Maine para crear un comité para estudiar la posibilidad de un registro, accesible al público en general, de gente que ha sido condenada varias veces por delitos de drogas. Los defensores han retratado la idea como una manera de ayudar a las familias a proteger a sus hijos de personas que puedan querer darles drogas en Maine.

Aun usando la lógica de la guerra a las drogas (que, generalmente, es una mala idea), esta idea fracasa decisivamente. La mayoría de los niños no empieza a usar drogas porque le son ofrecidas por traficantes profesionales. La mayoría de los chicos empieza a usar drogas porque le son ofrecidas por otros chicos - niños que les están ofreciendo por razones sociales o porque se han involucrado en dicha empresa criminosa, pero en cualquiera de los casos no por los adultos varias veces condenados que aparecerían en la página web del estado. También es importante recordar que la mayoría de los traficantes de drogas nunca fue atrapada, por lo tanto, nunca aparecerá en el registro por ese motivo.

Entonces, aunque un registro permita que los padres tengan ciencia de alguna parte de los verdaderos traficantes de drogas que existen, no tendrá en cuenta (y quizá desvíe la atención de) las maneras más comunes a través de las cuales las drogas llegan a las manos de sus hijos. Además, el mismo proceso económico incontenible que vuelve cualquier prisión de un traficante una oportunidad de empleo para nuevos traficantes, también debe aplicarse, por lo menos parcialmente, a cualesquiera traficantes reincidentes que perdieron el negocio porque algunos padres lograron hacer que sus hijos mantuviesen distancia de cualquier traficante - si los niños son determinados o simplemente voluntariosos, terminan consiguiendo sus drogas de otra persona.

Con todo, más resplandeciente es un argumento que fue señalado en una publicación de un blog "de teste" por un miembro de nuestro personal, Scott Morgan, en nuestra página web que será lanzada pronto. Scott usó un registro similar en Tennessee, limitado a infractores por delitos de metanfetamina, para mostrar cuán útil sería (quizá sea) para cualquier joven, en cualquier comarca en el estado, que desee encontrar pistas de gente en su comarca que pueda venderle metanfetamina u otras drogas - un resultado exactamente opuesto a lo que el registro pretende prevenir.

La diferencia principal entre el registro de Tennessee y el registro propuesto de Maine, sin contar que el de Maine incluye todas las drogas ilegales, es que el de Maine está limitado a infractores "habituales" de la legislación antidroga, la gente que ha sido condenada varias veces por tráfico de drogas. Pero, los infractores reincidentes son exactamente las personas que tienen más chances de infringir la ley nuevamente - los listados más útiles para los niños u otros que quieran localizar vendedores de drogas convenientemente restringidos. De cualquier forma, no se puede escapar de la idea de que un registro de infractores de la legislación antidroga es en verdad una campaña publicitaria sufragada por el contribuyente que apoya al tráfico de drogas.

Al fin, debemos regresar a la cuestión de que la principal manera por la cual los jóvenes empiezan a involucrarse en el consumo de drogas es a través de la influencia de los otros chicos - en muchos casos, comprando las drogas de otros chicos, en las escuelas. Éste es uno de los factores que ha llevado a un aumento en la predominancia de armas en las escuelas - adonde va el mercado ilegal, también tienden a ir las armas.

Pero no necesitaba ser así. Aunque el consumo de alcohol por menores de edad sea una cuestión importante (el alcohol es una droga como cualquiera de las otras, y bien destructiva), por lo menos los chicos no lo están comprando de otros chicos, en la escuela, de personas que portan armas. Esa situación existe con las drogas ilegales precisamente porque las hemos prohibido. Con la legalización de las drogas, los problemas criminales asociados con el comercio en drogas desaparecían - nada de tráfico armado de drogas en las escuelas, nada de guerras por territorio o mercados a cielo abierto.

Y aunque el daño del consumo de drogas no desaparezca cuando la prohibición se termine, el puro nivel de destructividad que está asociado actualmente con la adicción en particular también caería considerablemente, ya que los usuarios no estarían más sujetos a las impurezas aleatorias y a las fluctuaciones en la pureza, que actualmente llevan a intoxicaciones y sobredosis; y los precios altos que las drogas callejeras tienen también caerían, permitiendo que muchos, si no la mayoría, de los adictos que son llevados ahora a comportamientos extremados como el robo y la prostitución consigan su dinero para comprar drogas para por lo menos sufragar el vicio a través de medios legales de sustento. Intensificar la política fracasada de la prohibición no logrará esto.

Mientras tanto, por lo menos vamos a mantener la calma con estas ideas desatinadas como registros de infractores de drogas. La estigmatización continua de personas que ya han sido castigadas debe ser motivo suficiente. Pero si no es, la lógica increíblemente débil por detrás de esta idea debe serlo. ¿Queremos realmente ayudar a nuestros hijos a encontrar traficantes de drogas? Yo no quiero.

Editorial: Do We Really Want to Help Kids Find the Drug Dealers?

We repeat David Borden's July editorial on this topic due to its timeliness this week.

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David Borden's usual Thursday evening editing session
One of this week's drug war news items is a legislative effort in the state of Maine to create a committee to study the possibility of a registry, accessible to the general public, of people who have been convicted repeatedly of drug offenses. Supporters have portrayed the idea as a way to help families protect their children from people in Maine who may want to provide drugs to them.

Even using drug war logic (generally a bad idea), this idea fails pretty decisively. Most kids don't start using drugs because they are offered them by professional dealers. Most kids start using drugs because they are offered them by other kids -- kids who are providing either for social reasons or because they have gotten involved in the criminal enterprise, but in either case not the repeatedly convicted adults who would pop up on the state's web site. It's also important to remember that most drug dealers never get caught, hence will never appear in the registry for that reason.

So while a registry would enable parents to be aware of some fraction of the serious drug dealers out there, it will miss (and perhaps divert attention from) the more common pathways through which drugs might get into the hands of their children. Furthermore, the same unstoppable economic process that turns any bust of a dealer into a job opportunity for new dealers, must also apply, at least partly, to any repeat dealers who lose business because some parents were able to keep their children clear of any given dealer -- if the kids are determined or even just willing, they'll wind up getting their drugs from someone else.

Most glaring, however, is an argument that was pointed out in a blog post by a member of our staff, Scott Morgan, last July. Scott used a similar registry in Tennessee, limited to methamphetamine offenders, to show how usable it would be (perhaps is) to any young people, in any given county in the state, wishing to find leads on people in their county who might be able to sell them meth or other drugs -- an outcome exactly the opposite of what the registry purports to want to prevent.

The main difference (no pun intended) between Tennessee's registry and Maine's proposed registry, other than Maine's including all illegal drugs, is that Maine's is to be limited to "habitual" drug offenders, people who have been convicted of drug dealing multiple times. But repeat offenders are exactly the people who are the most likely to offend yet again -- the most usable listings for kids or others wanting to locate drug sellers conveniently narrowed down. But widening the registry to include all drug offenders won't help either -- because increasing the number of listings would also increase the registry's usability to kids wanting to find dealers. Either way you can't get around the idea that a drug offender registry is effectively a taxpayer-subsidized advertising campaign supporting drug dealing.

In the end, we must return to the issue that the primary way young people start to get involved in drug use is through the influence of other kids -- in many instances buying the drugs from other kids, in the schools. This is one of the factors that has led to an increased prevalence of handguns in schools -- where the underground market goes, so also tend to go weapons.

But it need not be that way. While use of alcohol by minors is a big issue (alcohol is just as much of a drug as any of the others, and a rather destructive one), at least kids are not buying it from other kids, in the school, from people who carry guns. That situation exists with the illegal drugs precisely because we have banned them. With drug legalization, the criminal problems associated with the trade in drugs would largely vanish -- no more armed drug trade in the schools, no more turf wars or open air markets.

And while the harm from the use of the drugs themselves will not simply disappear when prohibition is ended, the sheer level of destructiveness currently associated with addiction in particular would also drop substantially, as users would no longer be subject to the random impurities, and fluctuations in purity, that currently lead to poisonings and overdoses; and the high street prices drugs currently have would also drop, enabling many if not most addicts who are now driven to extreme behaviors like theft and prostitution to get the money to buy drugs to at least afford the habit through legal means of earning. Escalating the failed policy of prohibition won't accomplish this.

In the meanwhile let's at least cool it with these hare-brained ideas like drug offender registries. The continued stigmatization of people who have already been punished ought to be enough reason. But if it's not, the incredibly poor logic behind this idea ought to be. Do we really want to help kids find the drug dealers? I don't.

Documentary: Waiting to Inhale

Dear Drug War Chronicle reader:

Many drug reform enthusiasts read two weeks ago on our new blog about a new video documentary, Waiting to Inhale: Marijuana, Medicine and the Law, and an exciting debate here in Washington between two of my colleagues and a representative of the US drug czar's office that followed the movie's screening. I am pleased to announce that DRCNet is making this film available to you as our latest membership premium -- donate $30 or more to DRCNet and you can receive a copy of Waiting to Inhale as our thanks for your support.

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I've known about Waiting to Inhale for a few years, and I am pretty psyched to see it out now and making waves. People featured in the movie -- medical marijuana providers Mike & Valerie Corral and Jeff Jones, patient spokesperson Yvonne Westbrook, scientist Don Abrams -- are heroes whose stories deserved to be told and whose interviews in this movie should be shown far and wide. You can help by ordering a copy and hosting a private screening in your home! Or you and your activist friends can simply watch it at home for inspiration. (Click here for more information including an online trailer.)

Your donation will help DRCNet as we pull together what we think will be an incredible two-year plan to substantially advance drug policy reform and the cause of ending prohibition globally and in the US. Please make a generous donation today to help the cause! I know you will feel the money was well spent after you see what DRCNet has in store. Our online donation form lets you donate by credit card, by PayPal, or to print out a form to send with your check or money order by mail. Please note that contributions to the Drug Reform Coordination Network, our lobbying entity, are not tax-deductible. Tax-deductible donations can be made to DRCNet Foundation, our educational wing. (Choosing a gift like Waiting to Inhale will reduce the portion of your donation that you can deduct by the retail cost of the item.) Both groups receive member mail at: DRCNet, P.O. Box 18402, Washington, DC 20036.

Thank you for your support. If you haven't already checked out our new web site, I hope you'll take a moment to do so -- it really is looking pretty good, if I may say so myself. :) Take care, and hope to hear from you.

Sincerely,


David Borden
Executive Director

Book Review: "De los Maras a los Zetas: Los secretos del narcotrafico, de Colombia a Chicago" by Jorge Fernandez Menendez and Victor Ronquillo (Mexico City: Editorial Grijalbo, 2006, 290 pp. PB)

If one wishes an object lesson in the unintended consequences of drug prohibition, one need look no further than the other side of the Rio Grande. Like all borders, the US-Mexican border has always been the scene of a lively trade in contraband. Although the authors of "From the Maras to the Zetas: The Secrets of the Drug Trade, From Colombia to Chicago" don't get into the prehistory of Mexico's powerful drug trafficking organizations, way back in those halcyon days of the 1960s and 1970s, a lot of marijuana moved across that border, but it was a largely peaceful trade, often a family affair.

In 1982, when President Ronald Reagan, having declared a new war on drugs, sent Vice-President George H.W. Bush to Miami to head up a new effort to block the flood of Colombian cocaine flowing across the Caribbean to Florida, the Colombians adjusted by shifting smuggling routes through Mexico. The Colombian used existing smuggling networks, which since then have grown into a Frankenstein monster, not only in the eyes of the Mexican state, but also in the eyes of their Colombian counterparts, who have found themselves squeezed out of end-stage distribution to the US and the massive profits that followed.

Fueled by Colombian cocaine, American dollars, and American weaponry, in the past 20 years, Mexico's so-called "cartels" -- a misnomer for these brutally competitive trafficking organizations -- have corrupted legions of Mexican police, soldiers, and politicians, and murdered as many more. Every time the Mexican state, hounded by its partner to the north, tries to crack down on the cartels, the result is not social tranquility or the end of the drug trade, but bloody gang wars as the different organizations fight for position -- and the flow of drugs never seems to be affected.

In the past couple of years, the cartels have become so brazen and the death toll from the constant "ajuste de cuentas" ("adjusting of accounts" or "settling scores") so horrendous -- more than 1,500 last year and a like number so far this year -- that they appear to be working with impunity.

Enter Mexico City journalists Jorge Fernandez Menendez and Victor Ronquillo. With the drug trafficking groups beheading police and engaging in street battles with RPGs in Acapulco and wreaking mortal havoc along the US border, their timing couldn't be better because they aim to explain the murky workings of the Mexican drug trade. They study and report on Mara Salvatrucha, the much screamed about gang that grew out from the children of Salvadoran refugees in Los Angeles and other American cities (another lesson in unintended consequences) who learned all too well the ways of the thug life, then re-exported it back home to Central America. According to Fernandez and Ronquillo, Mara Salvatrucha controls much of the traffic in illegal immigrants and drugs -- on Mexico's southern border. But like the truly Mexican criminal organizations, its tentacles extend far to the north as well.

They also provide the skinny on the Zetas, the US-trained former anti-drug elite force that switched sides and now acts as the armed forces of Osiel Cardenas and the Gulf Cartel -- one more lesson in unintended consequences. Thanks to the paramilitary skills of the Zetas, Cardenas has been able to directly confront the Mexican state, as when his men killed six prison employees in Matamoros in early 2005 in retaliation for a federal government crackdown on imprisoned cartel leaders.

There is much, much more in between. Fernandez and Ronquillo warn that imprisoned cartel leaders spent part of their time behind bars buddying up with imprisoned leftist guerrillas and could be either learning tactical lessons or forging unholy alliances with them. Despite the apparent ideological differences between Marxist rebels and drug traffickers, the Mexican cartels have shown that when it comes to business they are nonpartisan. They will corrupt politicians of any party, make deals with whoever can benefit them, and kill those who get in their way.

The cartels circle around power. When the old-time PRI ran the government, the cartels corrupted the PRI. When the PAN government of President Vicente Fox came to power, they attempted to corrupt it, and as Fernandez and Ronquillo demonstrate, they have arguably succeeded. PANista politicians have been caught attending the funerals of leading narcos, PANista local administrations have been bought off, and the narcos even managed to place an associate in President Fox's inner circle before the taint of scandal drove him off.

But while Fernandez and Ronquillo are quite good in unraveling the mysteries of the cartels and explicating the results of decades of prohibitionist drug policy, they fail to make the leap to the next level. For them, "From the Maras to the Zetas" is a desperate wake-up call for the Mexican public and political class, a warning that the power of the cartels threatens the integrity of the Mexican state. They do not take the next step and ask if there is not a better way. But then again, they really don't have to -- the book itself is eloquent testimony to the corrupt and bloody legacy of prohibition in Mexico.

Yes, the book is only available in Spanish. It won't be much use to many of our North American readers, but Drug War Chronicle also goes out in Spanish and Portuguese, and perhaps if we can drum up a little interest here in Gringolandia, an American or Canadian publisher will print a translation. Goodness knows we get very little serious reporting up here about the Mexican drug war.

In the meantime, for you English-only speakers out there with an interest in this topic, I recommend the recent report from the Washington Office on Latin America, "State of Siege: Drug-Related Violence and Corruption in Mexico."

Feature: More California Medical Marijuana Raids: The New Status Quo?

At least five California different medical marijuana dispensaries have been raided in the last ten days, bringing the total so far this year to more than 30, according to medical marijuana supporters. But that means nearly 200 existing dispensaries have not been raided, suggesting that what is occurring is more like a low-level battle of attrition than an all-out assault by the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and its allies among recalcitrant state and local law enforcement and elected officials.

Here is the latest casualty list:

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photo courtesy ASA
Last Wednesday in Modesto, one day after the city of Modesto voted to repeal a municipal provision exempting nonprofits from its ordinance banning dispensaries, DEA agents raided the nonprofit California Healthcare Collective, one of only two remaining dispensaries in the area. A DEA spokesperson told Drug War Chronicle this week the Modesto Police Department began investigating the dispensary, then handed the case over to the feds. Four people were arrested on federal marijuana distribution charges.

The following day, DEA and local law enforcement agents raided the North Valley Discount Caregivers dispensary in Grenada Hills and seized all the medicinal cannabis at the site. The two operators were arrested on state marijuana charges.

That same day, Stanislaus County Sheriff's deputies raided the 2816 Collective in a rural area near Modesto using a state search warrant. Police seized about two pounds of dried marijuana and patient files. The collective had closed the day before because of the Modesto raid. With both California Healthcare in Modesto and the 2816 Collective gone, the entire region is now destitute of dispensaries, leaving hundreds of patients in the lurch.

On Tuesday, the DEA raided at least eight locations in the San Francisco Bay area, seizing more than 12,000 plants, $125,000 cash, and a fancy sports car. Despite somewhat hysterical initial reports in the local media, all the raids were connected with the New Remedies dispensary in San Francisco, which involved the same people involved in Compassionate Caregivers, which was raided by the DEA in Los Angeles in May 2005, when the feds found more than $300,000 in cash, sparking the investigation that culminated in the Monday raids.

On Wednesday, DEA and local law enforcement officers raided the Palm Springs Caregivers dispensary in Riverside County, seizing medicinal cannabis, but not making any arrests at the time. The raid came one day after the Riverside County Board of Supervisors voted to ban dispensaries in unincorporated county areas, which does not include Palm Springs, and one month after Riverside County District Attorney Grover Trask issued a white paper arguing that dispensaries are illegal under both state and federal law.

The raids triggered the Emergency Response Project of the medical marijuana defense group Americans for Safe Access, which brought out protestors last Friday at DEA headquarters in Los Angeles, as well as Modesto, Oakland, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco and Santa Ana. Demonstrators also greeted the Tuesday raids in San Francisco, and more actions are set for today.

"With our emergency response program, every time there is a federal raid -- and we can usually find that out in a matter of hours -- we activate our local response, as we did in San Francisco this week," said ASA's Caren Woodson. "But now, we're activating the national emergency response for Friday. It's a call-in day. We are urging everyone to call in to DEA administrator Karen Tandy and let her know how they feel about these raids. Karen Tandy has a lot of discretion, and she needs to exercise it."

While ASA is leading the immediate battle, it is not alone among movement groups in trying to figure out just what is going on. According to the DEA, it's nothing special, just enforcing the federal marijuana laws. "The two cases in which our office was involved, Modesto last week and here in the Bay area this week, were both the culmination of long-term investigations," said San Francisco DEA public information officer Casey McEnry. "In Modesto, the Modesto police began investigating and then passed it on to us, and with New Remedies, we had served warrants on them as Compassionate Caregivers in LA in May 2005, and we learned in December 2005 that they had changed their name and set up shop in Oakland," she told Drug War Chronicle.

"We can't read the DEA's mind, but there is no sign of an all-out offensive," said Bruce Mirken, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "These guys in San Francisco were already in the crosshairs -- they were victims of their own success -- but there are certainly plenty of other places operating openly. If the DEA wanted to, it could go after them with little effort, but it seems like a decision has been made not to do that."

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photo courtesy ASA
The DEA's McEnry did not respond directly to questions about whether the agency had taken a political decision to not aggressively crack down on the state's roughly 200 dispensaries, but she did issue a warning. "The magic plant count number is zero, the distribution number is zero if you want to be safe from us possibly knocking at your door," she said. "Anyone who cultivates or distributes marijuana is at risk."

While that may be bluster given the agency's limited resources, it is worrisome for dispensaries and their supporters. "These state-certified legal cannabis dispensaries look to the DEA like drug distribution havens," said Woodson. "If a dispensary is serving 150 people a day, the operator looks like a drug kingpin to them. They're like sitting ducks, they're listed in the phone book. And now some of these people are facing very severe sentences, some of up to life in prison.

It isn't just the DEA. "We have sporadic local police involvement in raids, mostly in counties where local government is not supportive, like Modesto or Riverside County, which is where Palm Springs is," said Mirken. "That tells us it is really important that local governments understand Proposition 215 and hear from their constituents that access to medicinal cannabis is important."

"They're picking locations where local decision-makers don't have a friendly attitude," said ASA's Woodson.

"These raids are really a drop in the bucket when you have 200 dispensaries out there," said Dale Gieringer, head of California NORML, "but we don't want to see them spread. I fear this is going to be a battlefield for awhile here until we come up with a regime that allows for better systems of dispensaries and production. The lack of a legal production system causes a lot of problems, and everybody in the dispensary business is operating in the black or grey market and vulnerable to legal uncertainties."

While medical marijuana dispensaries remain numerous in Los Angeles and the Bay area, the raids are having a very real impact on availability in some areas of the state. "In San Diego, a few months ago there were a dozen dispensaries in operation, but after the raids, they're gone and access to medical cannabis is largely gone," said Woodson. "There are only a handful of delivery services now, and they can't handle the demand. It's a similar situation in Modesto -- there aren't any dispensaries in the area now."

"I think it's going to continue for the short term, until something happens politically to change the dynamic," said Mirken. "That might not be until there is regime change in Washington, and maybe not even then, depending on how smart the Democrats are. It doesn't seem like anything is going to change drastically in California in the near term. Most people in the state government some local governments at least pay lip service to supporting Proposition 215, but we haven't seen much strong action from state officials with the clout to try to stop the raids. I really don't see anything moving on the state level," he said.

ASA's Woodson wasn't quite ready to give up on state government. "Here in California, we need to see more state officials standing up and denouncing these raids," she said. "The state legislature as a whole needs to take this issue on and create guidelines or craft prohibitions directing state and local law enforcement not to participate in these medical marijuana raids. The legislature is not doing its job if it is not properly protecting patients."

Another thing the legislature could do is restate and expand on its support for Proposition 215. "They should re-codify it and take a stand against the federal raids," said Woodson. "And they should demand our federal delegation pay more attention to this issue. All Diane Feinstein can talk about is meth; she and Barbara Boxer haven't raised a finger to help on medical marijuana. We would also like to see more law enforcement officers trained on the medical cannabis issue."

"California will do nothing statewide until federal law changes," predicted Gieringer. "I see this pattern of sporadic raids continuing until there is a change in the federal law. Two or three years ago, I would have said we were in mortal danger, but in fact, we've had nothing but an increase in the number of dispensaries even after we lost two Supreme Court decisions. Somehow I have a hard time believing that this is going to be reversed, especially given what happened in LA. Two years ago, there weren't any clubs in LA, now there are a hundred. It looks to me like the nation's second largest city is firmly infected with dispensaries. When it was just the Bay area, I was concerned the feds could shut it down, but they blew their chance. Now all they can do is bust someone every once in awhile and try to tarnish the image of the dispensaries, but they are here to stay."

Announcement: New Format for the Reformer's Calendar

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

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

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

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

Feature: Cases of Immigrants Deported for Minor Drug Offenses Heard at US Supreme Court This Week

The US Supreme Court Tuesday heard oral arguments in two consolidated cases that question whether immigrants who are legal US residents should face mandatory deportation for small-time offenses such as drug possession. Thousands of immigrants face such wrenching punishment, and according to the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, more than a million and a half people have been deported since the introduction of mandatory deportation for "aggravated felonies" under the 1996 Immigration and Nationality Act that is being challenged in these cases.

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US Supreme Court
That law expanded the definition of "aggravated felonies" -- crimes for which deportation is mandatory -- beyond serious violent crimes, which had been the previous standard. The cases before the Supreme Court this week revolve around whether offenses that are considered misdemeanors under the federal Controlled Substances Act but are considered felonies under state law in the states where people were convicted can qualify as "aggravated felonies" under the immigration law.

Many of those deported under the immigration law were in fact found guilty of serious crimes, but many others were not. In one case covered by the Drug War Chronicle, Joao Herbert, who was adopted by American parents from a Brazilian orphanage as a young child but who never applied for US citizenship, was arrested as a teenager for selling a small bag of marijuana. He was sentenced to probation, but federal authorities sought successfully to deport him under the 1996 law. Sent to a land he never knew, he scraped by for a few years as an English teacher before being gunned down by Brazilian police in 2004.

In the cases before the court Tuesday, Lopez v. Gonzales and Toledo-Flores v. US, the offenses for which the US seeks to deport immigrants are even more trivial than in Herbert's case. Jose Antonio Lopez was a Sioux Falls, SD, grocery store and taco stand owner who legally emigrated from Mexico in 1985. The married father of two children, who are US citizens, pleaded guilty to telling someone how to obtain cocaine. Such an offense is a misdemeanor under federal law, but was a felony under South Dakota law. Federal immigration officials classified his offense as an "aggravated felony" under the immigration law and deported him to Mexico.

Reymundo Toledo-Flores was arrested for cocaine possession in Texas, where it is a misdemeanor, but when he was caught trying to reenter the country he was hit with a two-year prison sentence because immigration authorities considered his Texas bust an "aggravated felony" under the immigration law. He is appealing the sentence.

"The problem here is that state law and federal law are at odds in determining the gravity of the offense," Justice David Souter said during oral arguments Tuesday. "Isn't that very strange that Congress would have wanted a reading of the statute that would turn its definition of a misdemeanor crime into an aggravated felony for purposes of the immigration laws?" he asked.

Bush administration attorneys argued that immigration officials correctly classified both cases. "The statutory definition of 'aggravated felony' encompasses large categories of criminal conduct under state law, without requiring a federal-law parallel," the US solicitor general wrote in a brief to the court.

Deputy Solicitor General Edwin Kneedler told the court Tuesday that the immigration law "looks to state law." If a drug offense is a felony under state law, it is a deportable felony under the federal law, he argued.

But three former Immigration and Naturalization Service general counsel disagreed in a friend of the court brief they submitted. "There is no clear indication that Congress intended the definition of aggravated felony to apply to drug offenses that are... misdemeanors under the federal law," they wrote.

Chief Justice John Roberts was thinking along similar lines. "It must give you pause," he told Kneedler, "that your analysis of a term 'drug-trafficking' offense... leads to the conclusion that simple possession equates with drug trafficking."

"Immigrants shouldn't be kicked out of the country for doing what the president of the United States did," said Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance. "It is clear that the type of drug offenses we are talking about here are not the type of offenses Congress intended when it passed that law," he told Drug War Chronicle. "It also seems like this raises equal protection issues because it looks like whether you get deported or not depends on which state you were convicted in. In those states where drug possession is a felony, you get kicked out; in those where it isn't, you don't."

Immigrant rights and civil liberties groups joined in calling on the court to reject the federal government's broad interpretation of the law, and even the Center for Immigration Studies, which generally hews to a hard line on immigration enforcement, was not overly enthusiastic about deporting small-time drug offenders. "If the state legislature has decided this is a serious crime and someone who commits it will get deported, it's not like that person didn't know it was illegal," said Dr. Steven Camarota, director of research for the group. "I don't see a problem with making those people go. In some cases, however, people plead guilty to a crime not realizing they would be subject to deportation, and that raises a fairness issue," he told Drug War Chronicle. "The whole criminal justice system is supposed to temper justice with mercy, but with immigration we've created so many exceptions and waivers that sometimes it's good to come down hard."

For Camarota, the whole debate over deporting immigrants for small-time drug offenses is "small potatoes" compared to the real immigration issues facing the country. "We are talking about a few thousand people when there are 37 million immigrants in the country," he pointed out. "There is nothing wrong with the way in which the government is approaching this, but it does seem like an awful lot of debate over something so small. We should be putting resources into general enforcement of immigration laws."

"The 1996 law is really destructive," said Arnaldo Garcia of the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. "On any given week, you have 20,000 or so legal permanent residents who committed small offenses sitting in jail under deportation proceedings. That includes things like a 20-year-old who had sex with his 17-year-old girlfriend, and it includes things like people getting arrested with small amounts of marijuana on them," he told the Chronicle. "The federal government is trying to institutionalize a double standard. Legal residents have equal rights under our court system, but after they have completed their sentences, they are then subjected to an unfair punishment -- banishment for life. This is a big crack in the foundation of equal treatment under the law."

There is little legal permanent residents can do, said Garcia. "What you can do is make sure you know the law," he said. "If you get arrested, you need to get the advice of an immigration attorney to know the consequences of the charge and whether it's a deportable offense. Some judges will work with you -- doing things like sentencing you to 364 days instead of 366, the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony -- but the INS just wants to deport your ass. I've seen people going in for their citizenship tests and immigration is waiting for them because they got busted as a teenager."

The ultimate protection from deportation under the immigration law is to become a US citizen. "That's easier said than done," said Garcia. "There is a huge backlog. I'm working with one family that submitted a reunification petition in 1994. Their case is just coming up now."

Weekly: This Week in History

Posted in:

October 6, 2000: Former US President Bill Clinton is quoted in Rolling Stone: "I think that most small amounts of marijuana have been decriminalized in some places, and should be."

October 7, 1989: Former US Secretary of State George P. Shultz tells an alumni gathering at Stanford Business School, "It seems to me we're not really going to get anywhere until we can take the criminality out of the drug business and the incentives for criminality out of it. Frankly, the only way I can think of to accomplish this is to make it possible for addicts to buy drugs at some regulated place at a price that approximates their cost... We need at least to consider and examine forms of controlled legalization of drugs... No politician wants to say what I have just said, not for a minute."

October 7, 2003: Comedian Tommy Chong begins a nine-month federal prison sentence for operating a glass blowing shop that sold pipes to marijuana smokers.

October 8, 1932: The Uniform State Narcotics Act is passed, endorsed by the federal Bureau of Narcotics as an alternative to Federal laws. By 1937 every state prohibits marijuana use.

October 9, 2000: PBS begins a special two-day program entitled "Drug Wars." The series examines America's ceaseless efforts over the past three decades to stop the flow of illegal drugs into the country, and shows how the drug war wastes hundreds of billions of dollars, alters the criminal justice system, puts millions of people in jail, and allows organized crime to thrive.

October 10, 2002: Drug Czar John Walters travels to Las Vegas, Nevada and begins two days of making appearances around the state illegally lobbying against Question 9, a proposal to amend the state constitution by making the possession of three ounces or less of marijuana legal for adults. The measure is defeated at the polls the following month.

October 12, 1984: The Comprehensive Crime Control Act becomes law, establishing federal "mandatory minimum" sentencing guidelines allowing judges no discretion in handing down prison terms. Over the next two years drug sentences increase by 71% nationwide.

Sentencing: California Governor Signs Bill To Shorten Parole for Offenders Who Take Drug Treatment

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) quietly signed a bill Saturday that will allow nonviolent offenders to get off parole early if they complete an intensive drug treatment program. Under the new law, parolees who wish to participate will be sent directly to a five-month residential treatment program. Upon graduation, they will get off parole.

The new law will take effect in January. Only nonviolent offenders will be eligible, and they must have completed at least six months of drug treatment while in prison.

Post-release parole has proven onerous for many offenders. According to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, 47% of parolees are returned to prison as parole violators. These are people who committed administrative infractions -- failing to notify the parole officer of a new address or new job, coming up positive on a drug test -- not new criminal offenses. An additional 15% of parolees are returned to prison on new criminal charges. There are currently more than 116,000 people on parole in California.

Sponsored by state Sen. Jackie Speier (D-Hillsborough), the bill won the support of a variety of groups, including the powerful prison guards union. "Parolees who demonstrate that level of commitment to treatment deserve recognition for their effort, union spokesman Lance Corcoran told the Los Angeles Times Wednesday. "It's a concept worth supporting," he said. "The only question is how they are going to come up with enough drug treatment beds for everybody who qualifies.

Sen. Speier told the Times she sponsored the measure because about three-quarters of the state's 172,000 inmates have drug or alcohol issues. "If we can help them conquer their addictions and get them off this treadmill of returning to prison, we'll save the taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars," Speier said.

Now the question is where the money is going to come from. The state will save $4,340 per year for each ex-convict it doesn't have to supervise. The bill signed this week does not earmark any funds for expanded treatment, but Speier suggested the savings on parole costs could pay for new beds.

Hemp: California Governor Vetoes Industrial Hemp Bill

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) last Friday vetoed a bill that would have allowed California farmers to grow industrial hemp. Sponsored by Assemblyman Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), Assembly Bill 1147 would have defined industrial hemp as an agricultural crop, limited its THC content to less than 0.3%, and mandated annual testing of fields to ensure content limits are met.

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(courtesy Independent Media Center)
In his veto message, Schwarzenegger said the measure conflicted with federal law and would have made it more difficult for law enforcement to monitor illicit marijuana crops. While he acknowledged recent successful court battles waged by the hemp industry, Schwarzenegger said "no court has specifically ruled that a live cannabis plant is a non-controlled substance or that farming these plants is not a regulated activity. As a result, it would be improper to approve a measure that directly conflicts with current federal statutes and court decisions. This only serves to cause confusion and reduce public confidence in our government system."

Schwarzenegger fell for the standard US police excuse that allowing hemp production would make it more difficult to stop outdoor marijuana grows: "Finally," he said, "California law enforcement has expressed concerns that implementation of this measure could place a drain on their resources and cause significant problems with drug enforcement activities. This is troubling given the needs in this state for the eradication and prevention of drug production."

Oddly enough, police in countries where hemp farming is a legal and productive part of the economy don't seem to have any problem distinguishing between industrial hemp and marijuana.

The hemp industry was not pleased. "Gov. Schwarzenegger's veto is a letdown for thousands of farmers, business people, and consumers that want to bring back industrial hemp to California to create jobs, new tax income and to benefit the environment," said Eric Steenstra, founder and President of Vote Hemp, the nation's leading industrial hemp farming advocacy group, in a Monday press release denouncing the veto. "The veto was not based on facts but instead an irrational fear he would look soft on drugs in an election year. His veto message shows he knew industrial hemp is an economic development and agriculture issue, but he instead allowed himself to be cowed by confused drug war lobbyists. AB 1147 would have reigned in the overreach by federal authorities that has prevented non-drug industrial hemp varieties of cannabis from be being grown on US soil for fiber and seed. It is disingenuous to cite federal restrictions when drug war lobbyists refuse to sit down with the large coalition of farmers, business people and environmentalists who crafted the industrial hemp legislation. Industrial hemp will continue to be the only crop that is legal to import, sell and consume, but illegal to grow, in California."

"It's unfortunate that Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed AB 1147. We had looked forward to the hemp oil and seed in our products being grown and produced right here in California," said David Bronner, chair of the Hemp Industries Association Food and Oil Committee and president of Alpsnack/Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps. "Farmers in California, like farmers all across the United States, are always looking for profitable crops like hemp to add to their rotation. This veto clearly points out why HR 3037, the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2005, needs to be passed on the federal level."

Seven states (Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Montana, North Dakota and West Virginia) have now changed their laws to give farmers an affirmative right to grow industrial hemp commercially or for research purposes. But the bill Gov. Schwarzenegger vetoed differs from those laws. In those seven states, the laws require a DEA license to grow the crop, one the agency is historically reluctant to provide. The California bill would have explicitly provided that the federal government has no basis or right to interfere with industrial hemp in California.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Posted in:

We have them at every stage of the criminal justice process this week, from arrest to guilty plea to sentencing. For a pair of greedy, wheeling-dealing cops in St. Louis and Miami, the ride through the criminal justice funhouse is just getting started. A former St. Paul cop has just copped a plea, and now former cops in Connecticut and Hawaii are heading to prison. Let's get to it:

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Miami-Dade Police Department patch (or item # 180033018469 on ebay)
In Miami, a Miami-Dade County police officer was arrested last Friday on cocaine trafficking charges, the US Attorney for the Southern District of Florida announced in a press release the same day. Officer Errol Benjamin is accused of selling 13 pounds of coke while in uniform. He is charged with possession of cocaine with intent to distribute and faces up to life in prison and a $4 million fine, the feds noted.

In St. Louis, a suburban Hillsdale, Missouri, police officer was indicted in an elaborate cocaine distribution conspiracy, the office of the US Attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri announced in a press release last Friday. Hillsdale Police Sgt. Christopher Cornell conspired with a tow truck company operator to rip off drug dealers and resell their cocaine, the feds charged. The tow operator would set up drug runners to deliver cocaine in Hillsdale and notify Cornell, who would stop and jail them for minor violations, leaving their cars at the roadside. The towing company would then tow the cars, steal the drugs, and resell them. US Attorney Catherine Hanaway estimated that the scheme had brought in $2.4 million in profits. The indictment seeks the forfeiture of Cornell's property, including a Mercedes Benz and other cars.

In St. Paul, Minnesota, a retired St. Paul police officer pleaded guilty last Friday to possessing methamphetamine with the intent to distribute, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported. Clemmie Howard Tucker, a 23-year veteran who retired in 1998, was busted trying to pick up 22 pounds of cocaine and 12 pounds of meth at the Greyhound Bus Depot in neighboring Minneapolis. Police put the value of the seized drugs at $4 million. Although Tucker was tearful and contrite during his plea, it doesn't matter: He faces a mandatory minimum 10-year prison sentence. Pending cocaine charges will probably be dropped at sentencing, Tucker's lawyer said.

In Bridgeport, Connecticut, a former Bridgeport police officer was sentenced to 45 months in prison for peddling oxycodone, the active ingredient in the popular pain reliever OxyContin. Former Officer Jeffrey Streck, 40, a 10-year veteran, pleaded guilty in January to conspiring to possess oxydone with the intent to distribute after being arrested by the FBI in 2005. According to the Associated Press, Streck was arrested as part of a three-month investigation into large-scale cocaine and marijuana trafficking and had arranged an Oxycontin buy.

In Honolulu, a Honolulu police officer who pleaded guilty to selling more than $5,000 worth of methamphetamine to an undercover informant was sentenced to five years and five months in prison on September 28, the Honolulu Star-Bulletin reported. Robert Henry Sylva, 50, had faced three counts of distributing meth during 2004, but copped to one count in a December plea agreement. Although Sylva faced an federal advisory guideline sentencing range of 7 to 12 years, US District Judge David Ezra cut him some slack at federal prosecutors' request after they said he had cooperated with investigators after being busted.

Sentencing: Federal Bill to Create Criminal Drug Dealer Registry Introduced

It was just a matter of time. First came the laws mandating that society's favorite demonized criminals, sex offenders, must register their whereabouts with the state even after they have completed serving their sentences. Next, various states began passing legislation requiring convicted methamphetamine cooks to do the same. Now, a Republican congressman from New Mexico, Rep. Steve Pearce, has filed federal legislation that would create a national online "criminal drug dealer" registry and require the states to do the same or risk losing federal aid.

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Do we really want to help kids find the drug dealers?
Last month, Pearce introduced yet another cutesy acronym of a bill, HR 6155, the "Communities Leading Everyone Away From Narcotics through Online Warning Notification Act," or the "CLEAN TOWN Act." Under the proposed bill, anyone convicted of a drug distribution, conspiracy, or possession with intent to distribute offense would be required to register with authorities annually and provide them with their name, address, employer and/or school information, social security number, criminal history, physical description, copy of official identification, and other personal information. Length of registration would vary from five years from the end of sentence for a first offender to 10 years for a second offender to life for a three-time offender.

The bill would require both the US attorney general and the various states to establish such registries. States that failed to comply would be penalized by withholding a percentage of the federal crime control funds they receive through the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act. Convicted drug dealers could be exempted from registration if they become snitches, or in the anodyne language of the bill, if they provide "substantial assistance in the investigation or prosecution of another person who has committed an offense."

The bill mandates that states pass laws criminalizing failure to register. Such laws must carry sentences of greater than one year. In other words, they must be felonies.

In a press release touting his new legislative baby, Pearce coached his sponsorship of the bill in terms of protecting the children and gave his constituents credit for the idea. "During our methamphetamine awareness tour across the 2nd District in August, I heard repeatedly that we should treat convicted drug dealers like we do convicted sex offenders," Rep. Pearce said. "Both have the capacity to violate our children and destroy their lives. Our communities need more tools to protect our children. In particular, parents and teachers have a right to know when someone who could poison their son or daughter lives in their neighborhood."

No other legislators have so far stepped forward to cosponsor the bill. It has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee.

Sentencing: Arizona Legislative Initiative Would Roll Back Reforms When It Comes to Methamphetamine Offenders

A decade ago, voters in Arizona approved a groundbreaking initiative, Proposition 200, "The Drug Medicalization, Prevention, and Control Act of 1996", which barred judges from sending first- or second-time drug possession offenders to prison. Instead, drug possessors are placed on probation and sometimes sent to drug court. But now, the Arizona legislature, concerned with the demon drug du jour, wants to treat those convicted of methamphetamine possession differently -- to be sent to jail or prison instead of getting probation and drug court.

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Arizona State Prison Complex - Safford
On the November ballot is Proposition 301, an initiative sponsored not by the voters but by the state legislature. If Arizona legislators wanted to go on the record as partially undoing Prop. 200, they could have voted to amend it. Instead, they crafted this proposition and dropped it in the laps of the voters.

"Meth is highly addictive and destructive," wrote Maricopa County (Phoenix) Attorney Andrew Thomas in a ballot argument for the measure. "There is a strong connection between meth abuse and identity theft. Phoenix has the second highest rate of methamphetamine abuse of all the nation's cities, as evidenced by drug tests done on arrestees... This proposition will change the law so that people arrested for possession of meth can be sentenced to jail or prison after their first conviction for drug possession. Currently, meth users can be incarcerated only after their second or third conviction for drug possession, or if they refuse to participate in treatment. Time in jail is often the only thing that offers meth addicts a secure, drug-free environment and an opportunity to reflect on their situation."

Proposition 301 singles out meth offenders for special treatment, and it does so on the basis of inaccurate ballot language -- language that survived a court challenge not on the merits, but because the challenge came too late. In the Arizona Legislative Council's analysis of the initiative, which is part of the ballot, the council informs voters that: "This change in the law will allow judges to use a jail term as a condition of probation to force methamphetamine users to comply with court mandated drug treatment and rehabilitation."

That language is misleading at best. While under current law, judges may not sentence people to jail or prison for first- or second-time drug possession offenses, they can put them on probation and send them to jail for violating it, as in, for instance, not complying with court-ordered drug treatment programs.

"Their spin is that this thing is simply a tool to force people to stay in treatment," said Caroline Isaacs of Meth Free Arizona -- "No" on 303. "That is completely contradictory to the bill's actual language," she told the Tucson Weekly last week. "Everybody is rightfully concerned about the extent of meth use in our community. But Proposition 301 would take us in exactly the wrong direction, in terms of dealing with our meth problem. To say the solution is to not provide treatment to people is absolutely backwards."

It is not just activists like Isaacs who oppose the measure. Pima County Superior Court Judge Barbara Sattler, who presides over the county's drug court program, told the Weekly "there is a lot of misconception concerning Proposition 301... It is true that first- and second-time offenders who possess small amounts of drugs (be it meth, cocaine, heroin, etc.) cannot be initially sent to prison or jail. However, if they violate treatment orders or get arrested for other felonies or drug offenses, they can be sent to jail or prison. Second-time offenders can get jail time up front as a condition of probation (although again they can not go to prison up front). Violating a treatment order means failing to drug test, testing positive for drugs or failing to attend treatment, whether that is going to counseling or failing to live in a halfway house catering to drug offenders," Judge Sattler wrote. "You can also go to jail or prison if you reject probation or refuse drug treatment."

A win for Proposition 301 would be a disaster, wrote Judge Sattler. "Incarcerating people keeps them off the streets, but when they come out, if they have not had treatment, they will begin using again. If this prop is passed, it will cost the taxpayers lots of money and clog prison with nonviolent addicts. While there is some drug treatment, in jail or prison, it is minimal and available only to a small percentage of prisoners.

"I think the bill is very short-sighted in targeting meth only," she continued. "While meth is certainly a horrible, highly addictive drug, addicts can be treated. Drug courts and other programs have had success. In the past, other drugs such as heroin and crack cocaine were the 'meth' of their time. The solution is not to target one drug. In a few years, there will be a new drug that takes the place of meth."

Marijuana: Idaho High Court Rules Officials Can't Block Legalization Initiative Just Because They Don't Like It

Two years ago in Sun Valley, Idaho, Ryan Davidson wanted to begin petitioning for a municipal initiative that would have allowed Sun Valley residents to possess, grow, and sell marijuana within the city limits of the mountain resort community. But city officials, instead of merely confirming that Davidson's initial petition with 22 signatures was formatted correctly, as specified in the municipal code, rejected his proposed petition altogether, saying it contravened state and federal law and was thus outside the scope of the city's initiative process.

Davidson filed suit and lost in district court, then appealed to the Idaho Supreme Court. In a decision rendered September 27, the high court unanimously agreed with Davidson. "The City protests that if the Clerk cannot halt unconstitutional initiatives any group could submit petitions for any number of outlandish causes," wrote Justice Roger Burdick for the court. "While it is true that many such initiatives could be proposed, sorting through the substance of proposed initiatives to separate the wheat from the chaff is not the role of the City Clerk. The proper checks on the power of initiative are the voting public and the courts, and a city council retains the power to repeal or amend ill advised ordinances passed by direct legislation."

In addition to allowing for regulated marijuana use and commerce, Davidson's initiative would have directed local law enforcement to make the pot laws their lowest priority. It would also have directed the city to lobby state officials to change the state's marijuana laws.

The court did not rule on whether such an initiative would be constitutional under Idaho law, saying that decision could await the passage of such an initiative. In a concurring opinion, Chief Justice Gerald Shroeder argued that parts of it would violate state law and thus be invalid. "Time, effort and money will have been wasted, except to the extent that lawmakers will have the opinion of a small segment of the state's qualified electors," Schroeder wrote. "Nonetheless, the decision to allow the process to play itself out without judicial intervention is appropriate."

No word yet on whether Davidson will begin a new petition drive now, although it is reasonable to think that someone who has gone to the highest court in the state to win that right is likely to exercise it soon.

Anúncio: Novo Formato para o Calendário do Reformador

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

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

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

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

Dê Só Uma Olhada: Muitos Novos Comentários e Notícias Diárias e Mais na DRCNet

Caro leitor da Crônica da Guerra Contra as Drogas:

Na maioria das semanas, eu escrevo um editorial para este boletim. Hoje, achei que seria melhor chamar a sua atenção para o novo e extenso conteúdo que está entrando na nossa página diariamente desde o relançamento do nosso sítio.

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O enfoque dos nossos novos esforços expandidos (apesar de não ser a totalidade deles) é o projeto blogosférico do “Bar Clandestino da Stop the Drug War”, você pode ler as notícias diárias, comentários, notas à imprensa e anúncios dos nossos muitos grupos aliados no movimento, links para outros artigos interessantes em outros blogs, o ponto de vista da DRCNet sobre o que é novo e importante na questão sem ter que esperar até sexta-feira.

Algumas das publicações mais recentes incluem as seguintes:

Também, há um fomento de links Últimas Notícias para matérias sobre as políticas de drogas na mídia, uma seção atualizada Os Policiais Contra a Guerra às Drogas e muito mais em breve.

Obrigado por se juntar a nós! Por favor, se puder, faça uma doação para apoiar este e outros trabalhos.

Sinceramente,


David Borden
Diretor Executivo

Oportunidade de Meio-Período: Entrevistadores, Programa Expandido de Acesso a Seringas do Estado de Nova Iorque

O Instituto Baron Edmond de Rothschild de Dependência Química do Centro Médico Beth Israel está contratando entrevistadores para conduzir a coleta de dados primários para uma avaliação independente do Programa Expandido de Acesso a Seringas do Estado de Nova Iorque. Os entrevistadores localizarão e recrutarão usuários de drogas injetáveis para entrevistas in loco de 25 minutos cada nas ruas do Queens e do Brooklyn; e subministrar exames orais OraSure HIV aos primeiros 300 participantes que forem entrevistados. Os entrevistadores serão treinados em métodos de pesquisa.

Os requerimentos do trabalho incluem a capacidade de determinar quem é usuário atual de drogas injetáveis; experiência em trabalho e pesquisa nas ruas entre usuários de drogas; as habilidades organizacionais e a atenção ao detalhe são muito importantes; o trabalho ao ar livre em todas as estações; a capacidade de trabalho com um parceiro e dar apoio às condições de rua; a experiência na realização da redução de danos com usuários de substâncias é um bônus; o conhecimento do Queens e do Brooklyn é outro bônus; ser dono de um carro seria muito útil, mas não é requerido.

$20/hora, 8-9 horas diurnas/semana a partir das 08:30 (exceto aos domingos); o contrato termina no dia 30/06/2007; os candidatos que buscarem menos de 10 meses de trabalho não devem se candidatar, no interesse de manter uma coleta firme de dados.

Envie currículo e carta de intenção por e-mail ou fax a: Cathy Zadoretzky, Diretora do Projeto, Instituto Baron Edmond de Rothschild de Dependência Química, Centro Médico Beth Israel, Nova Iorque, NY 10038, (212) 256-2570 (fax), [email protected].

Esta Semana na História

29 de Setembro de 1969: No início da segunda semana da Operação Intercepte [Operation Intercept], a tentativa fracassada e unilateral do governo Nixon de impedir o fluxo de drogas do México aos Estados Unidos, a Agência de Orçamento (predecessora do Gabinete de Administração e Orçamento) envia uma crítica mordaz à Casa Branca do relatório de Junho que servia como catalisador do plano, chamando-o de “base grosseiramente inadequada para a decisão presidencial” e advertindo que as suas recomendações estavam baseadas em afirmações defeituosas e não-provadas.

29 de Setembro de 1989: O recorde de apreensão doméstica de cocaína é estabelecido (ainda em vigor hoje): 21ton589kg516g em Sylmar, Califórnia.

30 de Setembro de 1996: O Presidente Bill Clinton assina o projeto do Ato de Apropriações Consolidadas para 1997 [Omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Act for 1997]. Os totais do Ano Fiscal 1997 estipulam um aumento no financiamento relacionado às drogas para as duas principais agências de imposição da legislação sobre as drogas no Departamento de Justiça: o FBI ($2,838 milhões) e a DEA ($1,001 milhão).

01 de Outubro de 1998: O aumento no financiamento das prisões e a diminuição no gasto nas escolas ocasionam protestos dos estudantes californianos do segundo grau.

02 de Outubro de 1982: Ronald Reagan, em um discurso de rádio ao país sobre as políticas federais de drogas, diz, “Não inventamos pretextos para das drogas – leves, pesadas ou outras. As drogas são más e vamos atrás delas. Como disse antes, baixamos a bandeira de rendição e hasteamos a bandeira de batalha. E vamos vencer a guerra contra as drogas”.

02 de Outubro de 1992: Trinta e uma pessoas de várias agências da lei atacam o rancho de 200 acres de Donald Scott em Malibu, Califórnia. A esposa de Scott grita quando vê os intrusos. Quando Scott de 61 anos, que achava que ladrões estavam entrando na casa dele, sai do quarto com uma arma, morre a tiros. Uma força-tarefa antidrogas estava procurando plantas de maconha. Interessantemente, antes Scott se recusara a negociar a venda da propriedade dele ao governo. Os agentes da DEA estavam ali para confiscar o rancho. Depois de extensas buscas, maconha nenhuma é encontrada.

03 de Outubro de 1996: A Lei Pública 104-237 dos EUA, conhecida como o “Ato Compreensivo de Controle da Metanfetamina de 1996” [Comprehensive Methamphetamine Control Act of 1996], é transformado em lei pelo Presidente Bill Clinton. Contém dispositivos que tentam deter a importação de metanfetamina e precursores químicos aos Estados Unidos, tentam controlar o preparo de metanfetamina em laboratórios clandestinos, aumentar as penas para o tráfico em metanfetamina e precursores químicos da Lista I, permitir que o governo busque a restituição para a limpeza dos locais de laboratórios clandestinos e tentam impedir que as empresas criminais vendam grandes quantidades de precursores químicos que são desviadas aos laboratórios clandestinos.

04 de Outubro de 1970: A cantora lendária, Janis Joplin, é encontrada morta no Hotel Landmark de Hollywood, vítima do que se conclui ser uma overdose acidental de heroína.

05 de Outubro de 1999: A guerra contra as drogas é “um fracasso absoluto”, diz o Gov. Gary Johnson do Novo México na conferência sobre políticas nacionais de drogas no Instituto Cato. Johnson, que atraiu críticas incisivas de líderes antidrogas por ser o primeiro governador em exercício a defender a legalização das drogas, debate que o governo deveria regulamentar os narcóticos, mas não punir aqueles que abusam deles: “Tornar as drogas substâncias controladas como o álcool. Legalizem-nas, controlem-nas, regulem-nas, taxem-nas. Se forem legalizadas, poderíamos na verdade ter uma sociedade mais saudável”. Johnson também se reúne com os membros fundadores do Students for Sensible Drug Policy.

Busca na Rede

Bem-Vindos ao Novo Susto das Drogas de 2007, por Maia Szalavitz para Stats.

Você Está Resfriado? Prove e Assine Aqui, Anthony Papa sobre o perigo dos registros de metanfetamina, para a Counterpunch

a linha do tempo da proibição das drogas, da Transform do Reino Unido

The User's Voice, boletim/página do John Mordaunt Trust, Reino Unido

Uma Estratégia de Saída para a Guerra Contra as Drogas, Neal Peirce para stateline.org, na Alternet

A rádio Drug Truth:

Cultural Baggage for 09/22/06: Gary Bernsten, o ex-oficial da CIA que liderou a carga contra o Afeganistão e o autor de "Jawbreaker" + Poppygate, Terry Nelson da LEAP e Stash of Bags

Century of Lies for 09/22/06: Paul Armentano da NORML: 120 estudos da maconha medicinal desde o ano 2000 + Cliff Thornton, Candidato ao Governo no Connecticut, Drug War Facts, a perspectiva negra

Maconha: Município do Arkansas Se Junta à Lista de Municipalidades com Iniciativas de Menor Prioridade Legal Neste Mês de Novembro

Eureka Springs, Arkansas, é a mais recente comunidade a se juntar às fileiras daquelas que votaram em iniciativas que tornariam os delitos de maconha a menor prioridade legal. Esforços similares foram vitoriosos em Seattle e Oakland e a cidade universitária de Colúmbia, Missouri; e, neste ano, Missoula, Montana e três cidades californianas – Santa Bárbara, Santa Cruz e Santa Mônica – já têm iniciativas de menor prioridade classificadas para a votação.

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apreensão de maconha
Graças aos esforços da vizinha NORML Universidade do Arkansas, que assumiu o esforço de coleta de assinaturas, a Comissão Eleitoral da Comarca de Carroll aprovou a medida para a votação na segunda-feira. A medida faria da detenção e do processo dos casos de porte de maconha que envolverem menos de trinta gramas a menor prioridade legal.

“Nós achamos que isto vai liberar outros recursos da polícia para lidar com os crimes mais sérios”, disse o presidente da filial municipal da NORML, Ryan Denham, à Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

O Comandante da Polícia de Eureka Springs, Earl Hyatt, não estava entusiasmado, apesar de parecer um pouco confuso. Ele disse equivocadamente à Democrat-Gazette que a medida estaria em contradição com a lei estadual e federal, mas que somente ordenaria que a polícia estabelecesse uma política a respeito das prioridades legais. “Seja aprovada ou não, se estiver em contradição com a lei estadual ou federal, não vale”, disse Hyatt.

Denham da NORML disse ao jornal municipal que o grupo do campus começara originalmente a empreender campanhas em Fayetteville, onde a universidade está localizada, mas abortou esses esforços depois que perceberam que não conseguiriam a vitória. Ao invés disso, miraram na pequena Eureka Springs, onde apenas 144 assinaturas válidas – 15% daqueles que votaram na última eleição para prefeito – eram requeridas. O grupo entregou 156.

Cânhamo: Governador da Carolina do Norte Assina Projeto para Estudar Uso Industrial

O Governador da Carolina do Norte, Michael Easley, assinou um projeto que criará uma comissão para estudar os usos industriais do cânhamo. Com essa ação acontecendo enquanto a Califórnia aguarda a decisão do Governador Arnold Schwarzenegger sobre a assinatura de um projeto de cânhamo ali e Dakota do Norte finaliza as regras que permitiriam que os agricultores cultivassem cânhamo de acordo com uma lei de 1999, parece que o engarrafamento do cânhamo está começando a abrir caminho – pelo menos nos estados.

O Ato de Usos Benéficos do Cânhamo Industrial [Beneficial Uses of Industrial Hemp Act], aprovado como parte do Ato de Estudos de 2006 [Studies Act of 2006], preparará o terreno para a agricultura do cânhamo industrial no agrícola Tarheel State.

De acordo com a nova lei, uma comissão será criada para estudar “os usos do azeite de cânhamo industrial como combustível alternativo e óleo de motor; os usos da semente de cânhamo industrial rica em ômega-3 e o azeite de cânhamo industrial em aperitivos, loções e pomadas e alimentos; os usos das fibras do cânhamo industrial como as matérias-primas para produtos de construção, papel e tecidos; e os usos de cânhamo industrial na fabricação de autopeças recicláveis”.

A comissão terá 15 membros, inclusive delegados do Governador, o Comissário da Agricultura, o Secretário de Comércio, os líderes da Câmara e do Senado, os presidentes do Comitê de Agricultura, o Presidente da Agência de Agricultura da Carolina do Norte e os reitores da Faculdade Kenan-Flagler de Administração na Universidade da Carolina do Norte-Chapel Hill, a Faculdade Fuqua de Administração em Duke, a Faculdade de Agricultura e Ciências da Vida na NCSU e a Faculdade de Agricultura e Ciências Ambientais na NC A&T. A comissão informará as suas descobertas e recomendações à Assembléia Geral de 2007 e à Comissão de Revisão Ambiental até o dia 1° de Dezembro de 2006.

Condenação: Nada de Alívio Retroativo para os Prisioneiros da Lei Rockefeller Sobre as Drogas, Decide Tribunal de Apelações de Nova Iorque

As pessoas que cumprem sentenças de nível médio segundo as duríssimas leis Rockefeller sobre as drogas de Nova Iorque não poderão reduzir essas sentenças se foram condenadas antes que as reformas das penas para as drogas entrassem em vigor em Janeiro de 2005, decidiu o tribunal superior do estado no dia 21 de Setembro. Em seu parecer nos casos consolidados de três homens sentenciados de acordo com as leis antigas, o tribunal sustentou que a assembléia pretendia apenas cortar as sentenças daqueles que foram recém-condenados.

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não é o bastante: o Gov. Pataki assina o projeto de reforma da lei Rockefeller, 12/04
Segundo a Lei de Reforma da Lei Sobre as Drogas [ Drug Law Reform Act] que entrou em vigor no ano passado, uns 400 presos que enfrentam as sentenças mais duras – até prisão perpétua – tiveram permissão para procurarem cortes retroativos nas sentenças. Mas, milhares de presos que cumprem sentenças menos duradouras, mas ainda duras, não receberam explicitamente a concessão desse direito. Três deles – Thomas Thomas Utsey, Michael Nelson e Corey Smith – recorreram ao Tribunal de Apelações, debatendo que eles deveriam ter tido a mesma chance de buscar alívio retroativo.

Porém, em decisão unânime, o tribunal disse que não. O projeto declarou claramente que a lei “se aplicaria aos crimes cometidos em ou depois da data efetiva”, observou o tribunal. “Segundo o texto pleno do estatuto, os dispositivos relevantes da DLRA têm a intenção de se aplicarem somente aos crimes cometidos depois de sua data efetiva”, disse a Juíza-Chefe Judith Kaye em sua decisão. “Sendo assim, os réus não são elegíveis para as penas reduzidas contidas na nova lei”.

Foram necessários anos de tentativas de uma ampla coalizão de grupos dos direitos civis, da reforma das prisões e da reforma das políticas de drogas para conseguir mesmo a reforma parcial que foi aprovada em 2004. Agora, os tribunais de Nova Iorque apontaram fortemente que qualquer outro alívio deve ocorrer através do mesmo processo legislativo moroso.

Sudoeste Asiático: Importante Acadêmico Dá Aula a Comitê de Relações Exteriores Sobre o Narcotráfico Afegão

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/kabul2.jpg
o Afeganistão devastado pela guerra (foto do editor da Crônica, Phil Smith, 2005)
Embora o Presidente Hamid Karzai estivesse em Washington nesta semana para reuniões com o Presidente Bush e seus funcionários, e políticos em ambos os partidos estivessem pedindo mais gastos antidrogas no Afeganistão para tratarem do cultivo florescente de papoulas desse país, uma audiência do Senado pouco notada na semana passada proporcionou um verdadeiro curso sobre políticas racionais de drogas no Afeganistão. Em uma audiência do Comitê de Relações Exteriores do Senado no dia 21 de Setembro, o Professor Barnett Rubin da Universidade de Nova Iorque, talvez o principal especialista em Afeganistão do país, fez fortes críticas ao enfoque obsessivo na erradicação de cultivos e até sugeriu aos legisladores que pensassem em regulamentar o tráfico de ópio. Ultimamente, Rubin foi autor de Afghanistan: Uncertain Transition from Turmoil to Normalcy [Afeganistão: Transição Incerta da Desordem à Normalidade], publicado pelo Conselho de Relações Exteriores em Março.

Rubin tratou da questão tanto em seus comentários preparados como em uma sessão de perguntas e respostas no fim da audiência. Vale a pena citar os comentários dele extensamente. Eis aqui o que ele disse em seus comentários preparados (disponível somente para assinantes):

”Sobre narcóticos, eu gostaria – às vezes, quando as pessoas pedem políticas mais enérgicas contra os narcóticos, o que eu apóio completamente, eles se concentram na erradicação de cultivos, como se a erradicação da planta fosse o ponto central da operação antinarcóticos. Eu diria que isso é um erro.

“Primeiro, temos que ser claros sobre qual é a meta das nossas políticas antinarcóticos no Afeganistão. De onde vem o dano? Não estamos tentando – ou não deveríamos tentar – solucionar o problema da dependência química do mundo no Afeganistão. Se nós, com toda a nossa capacidade, não conseguimos deter a dependência química nos Estados Unidos, com certeza não vamos usar a lei com sucesso para eliminarmos metade da economia do país mais pobre e mais armado do mundo.

“Portanto, devemos nos concentrar no dano real que vem do dinheiro das drogas. Agora, 80% do dinheiro das drogas dentro do Afeganistão, apesar dos 90% da renda total das drogas que saem do Afeganistão --, 80% do dinheiro das drogas dentro do Afeganistão estão nas mãos de traficantes e caudilhos, não de agricultores. Quando erradicamos os cultivos, o preço das papoulas sobe e os traficantes que têm estoques enriquecem. Portanto, deveríamos nos concentrar nos caudilhos e nos traficantes, na interdição e por aí vai, enquanto ajudamos os agricultores pobres. Isso também é consistente com os nossos interesses políticos de ganharmos os agricultores e isolarmos aqueles que estão contra a gente.

“Além disso, é um equívoco considerar o problema das drogas no Afeganistão como algo que está isolado nas grandes áreas de cultivo de papoulas. Por exemplo, agora há um combate na província de Helmand, que é a principal área de produção de papoulas no mundo. Porque acontecem os combates, não é possível implementarmos uma estratégia antinarcóticos em Helmand. Precisamos implementar o desenvolvimento rural por todo o Afeganistão, especialmente nas áreas em que não há papoulas, a fim de mostrarmos às pessoas o que é possível e construirmos uma economia alternativa”.

E aqui está um intercâmbio entre Rubin e os Senadores George Voinovich (R-OH) e Frank Lugar (R-IN):

VOINOVICH:

“Sr. Presidente, posso fazer uma última pergunta? Você aludiu à questão do problema das drogas nos Estados Unidos. Eu tive a impressão de que partes destas drogas estão chegando aos EUA. Isso é...

RUBIN:

Bom, talvez eu devesse ter dito o mundo desenvolvido. Na verdade, eu acho que o grosso dos narcóticos produzidos no Afeganistão é consumido no Irã e no Paquistão.

VOINOVICH:

Muito bem. Por isso os iranianos estão tão interessados em garantir que isso pare.

RUBIN:

Sim.

VOINOVICH:

O motivo pelo qual eu menciono nisto é que fiz que o nosso diretor local do FBI viesse de Cincinnati para me visitar e ele me disse, “Senador, a questão do terrorismo é uma com a qual estamos gravemente preocupados”. Mas, ele disse que o maior problema que temos aqui nos Estados Unidos ao qual não prestamos atenção é o problema das drogas e que nossos recursos estão sendo, você sabe, meio espalhados. E realmente temos que examinar isso. Ainda está ali e precisamos lidar com isso. Não estamos lhe dirigindo a nossa atenção. Acho que você se lembra de outra audiência que tivemos há um ou dois anos, recebemos as pessoas aqui e estavam falando sobre como a máfia russa é ativa nos Estados Unidos e parecia estar fazendo o que lhe desse na telha, porque não temos os recursos para lidarmos com esse problema. Então, a meu ver, você está dizendo que o maior mercado está naqueles países que você acabou de mencionar...

RUBIN:

Isso é em quantidades físicas. O maior mercado em dinheiro fica na Europa e, claro, nos Estados Unidos. Se puder acrescentar algo, se não se importarem que mencione algo que ouvi a outra câmara ontem, o Dr. Paul, um republicano do Texas, mencionou na audiência ontem que, no ponto de vista dele, nós fracassáramos em aprendermos as lições da lei seca, a qual, claramente, proporcionou o capital inicial ao crime organizado nos Estados Unidos, e que, na verdade, ao transformar o consumo de drogas em crime, estamos financiando o crime organizado e a insurgência ao redor do mundo. E pode ser que precisemos dar uma olhada nos outros métodos de regulamentação e tratamento.

VOINOVICH:

Obrigado.

LUGAR:

Obrigado, Senador Voinovich. O pensamento que o senhor acabou de expressar é fascinante, o de que apesar de que o grosso das drogas possa ser utilizado pelo Irã e pelo Paquistão, o valor mais alto daquelas que não são absorvidas por estes países vem da Europa e dos Estados Unidos. Por quê? Porque as pessoas certamente não as recebem de graça, mas, qual é a distribuição? Por que o Paquistão e o Irã são tão afligidos pelas drogas de...

RUBIN:

Bom, estão mais perto. Basicamente, o custo da produção é uma parte irrisória do preço dos narcóticos.

LUGAR:

Então, é o transporte...

RUBIN:

Não, não. É o risco, porque é ilegal.

LUGAR:

Entendo.

RUBIN:

Se não fosse ilegal, não valeriam quase nada. É apenas a ilegalidade deles o que os torna tão valiosos.

LUGAR:

Outro tópico fascinante. (RISOS) Bom, lhe agradecemos novamente pela sua ajuda (inaudível). A audiência está encerrado”.

Outro tópico fascinante, de fato. Pelo menos, alguém está tentando conscientizar os nossos servidores eleitos sobre as conseqüências econômicas e políticas da proibição das drogas – no Afeganistão, de qualquer maneira.

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