Breaking News:Dangerous Delays: What Washington State (Re)Teaches Us About Cash and Cannabis Store Robberies [REPORT]

borden's blog

Hurwitz Family: The Jury Verdict on Dr. Hurwitz

I did not notice this open letter from Dr. Hurwitz's brother when it came out late last month, but I think it is worth a read.
Localização: 
United States
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
Looking for the easiest way to join the anti-drug war movement? You've found it!

Drugs to Vaccinate You... Against Drugs!

My friend Grant Smith over at Drug Policy Alliance has commented on NIDA research to develop vaccinations and the philosophical implications of "robbing entire future generations of the basic human right to have freedom of choice and sovereignty over their bodies and minds." As a follow-up, I'd like to point out here the danger from a straight medical perspective. The questions of whether a vaccine will work, what its side effects may be, and what the likelihood is of experiencing such side effects are questions that go along with the development of any new medication. But there is something fundamentally different -- medically and scientifically -- about the concept of a vaccine to permanently disable a person from experiencing the effects of ingesting a drug. First, the neurological system that goes to work when one tries to "get high" is intimately tied to the rest of our neurology -- getting a thrill from chocolate or a rush from exercise, for example, involves some of the same chemical interactions in the brain that are involved in smoking a cigarette or snorting cocaine. I'm not saying that the acts are the same, but they are biochemically similar and related. They have to be -- each of us only has one brain, after all. Second, most drugs, both legal and illegal, either are used medically now or are highly similar to drugs that are used medically now. Cocaine and methamphetamine are both schedule II substances -- highly regulated, but used in medicine. Meth is from the same family as the widely used Ritalin. Heroin is a close variant of morphine. I don't know of current medical uses for nicotine, but I don't think it can be categorically ruled out for all time. Could a vaccination to block the euphoric effects of these drugs interfere with the ability of the same or similar drugs to produce the medical benefits for which they are also used? The only way to really know for sure is to do test people for it. But because only a fraction of all children go on to experience the medical problems that would be treated by the drugs, to do such a test and have sufficient data for it to be meaningful would require vastly expanding the number of kids who have to be given the vaccination initially as part of the research. And possibly excepting Ritalin use, the data would not come in for several decades, because most people acquire the afflictions for which the medications are used late in life. So in addition to the disturbing philosophical implications that Grant has explored, I really see this direction as inherently reckless from a straight medical perspective -- there is just no truly reliable way to know whether the treatment administered to toddlers or grade-schoolers now could put them in a box with respect to medical treatment down the road -- there's just no feasible way to gather enough data in advance, and if we did we might still not find out for 70 years. Rank this one right up there with the drug-fighting franken-fungus -- don't go there!
Localização: 
United States
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
Looking for the easiest way to join the anti-drug war movement? You've found it!

Moscow Update

There's an update and action alert from Moscow on the brutalization/free speech violation committed against marijuana march participants. Click here for more...
Localização: 
Moscow
Russia
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
Looking for the easiest way to join the anti-drug war movement? You've found it!

Marijuana Activists Brutalized by Moscow Police During Annual Demonstration

Eugene Kazachenko distributed the following disconcerting report from Moscow yesterday:
Dear sisters and brothers! My name is Eugene Kazachenko. I'm from Moscow, Russia. Today, some hours ago my friends from Marijuana march were arrested. They tried to stretch the banner with calling to legalize marijuana. The goal of this march was legalization marijuana for medical use. Now there are about 20 people arrested. The police was very cruel with marijuana activists. With fear for life of our brothers and sisters my friends and I are receiving periodical news of Radio station Ekcho Moskvy ("The Echo of Moscow"). This is the only free radio channel, which real informs of social and political life in Russia. It informs that Police has placed people by faces on the ground. Police has dragged girls upon the ground and has beaten young men. Policemen have banged young men by their faces about parked cars. In the police department some young activist was beaten so cruel that this has caused coming an ambulance. The representatives of The Federal service of drug control have accused all delaying activists in biased attitude to narcotics. Without any reason they have accused participants of Marijuana March in propaganda of narcotics. At the police department some policemen are trying to plant the drugs to activists. However attorney was not passed to his clients for legal defense. On entrance with the sub-machine-gun in hands the policeman did not let to attorney to come into the door of the police department. Marijuana March was organized by Cannabis Legalization League. At this moment all of delaying marijuana activists are in Presnentsky administrative (misdemeanor) court of Moscow (phone number of this court: +7 495 254-53-59). They are accusing for undertaking unsanctioned meetings. This position of government disagrees with 31 articles of The Constitutions of Russian Federation and Public International law. Though many religious confessions concern with a rehabilitation and spiritual counseling for drug abusers, however they never call any attention in regard to the realistic position of medical cannabis. Regrettably Christians and other religious circles of Russia do not raise a voice in rights protection of drugs consumers from unjustified state repression. Because of unchangeable and increased repressive policy of Russia in attitude to consumers of drugs the religious figures are positioning itself apart of to questions of government drugs policy. Hypocritically the majority of them tacitly agrees with official drug policy or on the pattern of flattering politicians they loudly convicts all people, which voice opinion for legalization hemp as a medicine. With respect, Eugene Kazachenko MDiv of Moscow Theological Seminary
Localização: 
Moscow
Russia
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
Looking for the easiest way to join the anti-drug war movement? You've found it!

Atlanta Police Nearly Killed 80-Year-Old Woman Two Months Before Killing Kathryn Johnston

It has now been reported that a mere two months before killing 92-year-old Kathryn Johnston, Atlanta police conducted a very dangerous, similar raid on the home of 80-year-old Frances Thompson. The supposed drug dealer, named "Hollywood," didn't live there. (Read more about it on Radley Balko's The Agitator blog, the most continuous source of information on the problem of SWAT teams/paramilitarization of policing.) You'd think the Atlanta police would learn from one experience and take the steps needed to avoid making the same mistake. Then again, you'd think police nationally would learn when people wind up dying in these raids. But they keep doing it over and over and over...
Localização: 
United States
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
Looking for the easiest way to join the anti-drug war movement? You've found it!

Coordinated Drug War Raids as Taxpayer-Funded Lobbying

Peter Guither at the Drug WarRant blog has pointed out what he calls a "blatant and pathetic effort" by the State of Kentucky to secure drug war funding from Congress:
State police, local law enforcement, sheriff's offices, HIDTA and multi-jurisdictional drug task forces throughout the nation collectively conducted undercover investigations, search warrants, consent searches, marijuana eradication efforts, drug interdiction and arrest warrants for a period of one week. This collective effort, Operation Byrne Drugs II, was conducted from April 23-29 to highlight the need and effectiveness of the Byrne grant funding and the impact cuts to this funding could have on local and statewide drug enforcement.
Actually it is the media efforts that seem to be coordinated, in addition to the drug enforcement. I noticed a suspiciously similar press release distributed by the California Dept. of Justice last July about a suspiciously similar incident:
BNE task forces, comprised of state, local and federal law enforcement agencies, throughout the state served 16 search warrants, seized three firearms, confiscated 53 pounds of methamphetamine, 91 pounds of marijuana, and 37,747 marijuana plants. State drug enforcement agencies across the U.S. on July 27, 2006 participated in a "national day of drug enforcement." Organized by the National Alliance of State Drug Enforcement Agencies, "Operation Byrne Drugs" promoted the continued funding of the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant program that supports local and statewide drug enforcement. The federally funded program has suffered deep cuts over the last few years, directly affecting BNE. In fiscal year 2001-02, BNE received more than $11.5 million for personnel and operating costs. In fiscal year 2006-07, BNE received less than $6 million, nearly a 50% decline over five years.
your tax dollars at work to get more of your tax dollars Now I run an advocacy group, and I can tell you with confidence that this is exactly what groups who want to achieve a legislative objective will do -- organize media-worthy events in order to get the attention of the policymakers you need to influence, in this case Congress. The main differences between what we do and what the narcs are doing are that: 1) They are using taxpayer funds to carry out their media/lobbying campaign to secure taxpayer funds; and 2) They are using the authority the government has given them to wield state power including guns in order to arrest and incarcerate people, as a component of their media-lobbying campaign. We will generally just hold a press conference or a rally, or issue a report. I suspect that in strict legal terms they have not violated the law. But make no mistake -- this is lobbying of Congress by state agencies to get our money, and they are destroying numerous lives in order to do it. I don't agree with drug enforcement at all (as readers know), but even for those who do, clearly enforcement decisions about when and whom to raid should be based on law enforcement/public safety needs, NOT politics. Unfortunately, it is not only drug money that corrupts our law enforcement; it is drug war money too.
Localização: 
KY
United States
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
Looking for the easiest way to join the anti-drug war movement? You've found it!

Analysis of Hurwitz Verdicts Online...

... in Alex DeLuca's War on Doctors / Pain Crisis blog. In case anyone was wondering, I disagree with the guilty verdicts. But based on what I've read so far, I can't be too harsh on the jurors this time. The following is an uncomfortable thought to have to state: It's not clear to me that a jury is a competent body for reliably evaluating the extremely complex facts at work in medical care, especially when it intersects with criminal law and the "drug war." This case, and dozens more like it, should never have been brought in a criminal venue. A prominent civil liberties attorney told me a couple of years ago he is working on a book about the unwarranted extension of federal power into civil matters where they have no business, including pain control -- I think I will check back with him to see how it is coming along. The main point is, whatever one thinks of Hurwitz's decisions in this matter, having them reviewed by juries in criminal cases brought by federal prosecutors seeking hard time is an absolutely disastrous scenario for pain patients. The under-treatment of chronic pain is a quiet but widespread tragedy afflicting our country today. Prosecutors deserve the lion's share of the blame -- that profession is desperately need of some housecleaning if any is. Click here -- an article posted in a newsletter we published in DRCNet's early days -- for some history from the first chapter of the Hurwitz saga.
Localização: 
United States
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
Looking for the easiest way to join the anti-drug war movement? You've found it!

Partial Crack Cocaine Sentencing Reform Approved by Sentencing Commission

The US Sentencing Commission has voted for a partial reform to the infamous crack/powder cocaine sentencing disparity -- Families Against Mandatory Minimums announced Friday. According to FAMM the new rules would help about 78% of federal prisoners serving crack cocaine offenses by reducing their penalties about 16 months. We consider it a small but important step -- even equalizing the penalties would be kind of small when measured next to the vast federal gulag -- but it will help some people and it's a start. When the Commission voted 4-3 for equalization of crack and powder cocaine penalties almost 12 years ago, Congress voted -- for the first time in the history of the Sentencing Commission -- to block the reform. Had Congress not acted, the quantity thresholds triggering draconian five- and ten-year mandatory sentences for crack cocaine -- five grams and 500 grams, amounts that have been compared with a sugar packet and a candy bar, respectively -- would have been raised to the larger quantities that now trigger the same penalties for powder cocaine. The move by Congress sparked unrest in the federal prison system. If Congress leaves it alone this time, the new rules will take effect on November 1.
Localização: 
United States
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
Looking for the easiest way to join the anti-drug war movement? You've found it!

Mixed Result in Hurwitz Case

See NYT's John Tierney's initial post-Hurwitz trial blog post. Not the result we were hoping for by any means. On the other hand, the last time was far worse, and according to eyewitness accounts the prosecutors seemed really disappointed too. Judge Brinkema has the power to give a much less draconian sentence or even time served, and her handling of the case seemed pretty reasonable; we'll find out in July what she decides.
Localização: 
United States
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
Looking for the easiest way to join the anti-drug war movement? You've found it!

Punk Rocker's Drug Test a False Positive -- But Charges Still Pending

Dr. Bronner's sent out this follow-up press release earlier today: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Adam Eidinger April 17, 2007 Breaking News! Orange County Crime Lab Test Shows Dr. Bronner's Soap Clean of GHB or Any Other Drug Germs' Drummer Don Bolles Wrongly Imprisoned; Police Field Drug Test Kits Faulty ESCONDIDO, CA – The Bronner family, makers of the popular organic Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps, has learned that the confirmation drug-testing at the Orange County crime lab of soap taken from Don Bolles does not contain GHB (Gamma Hydroxy Butyrate). The crime lab's confirmation tests use the GC-MS method which is much more accurate than the field drug test kits used by the Newport Beach Police, which on April 4th produced a false-positive for GHB for Dr. Bronner's peppermint soap. Based on this flawed faulty field test, Newport Beach police threw Don Bolles, drummer for the legendary punk band The Germs, in jail for three and half days over Easter weekend. Media reports that Dr. Bronner's soaps test positive for THC are also false. Bruce Margolin, attorney for Jimmy Michael Giorsetti who goes by the stage name Don Bolles, was told Friday by the Orange County DA that Mr. Bolles' soap tested negative for drugs. "Mr. Bolles' charges of felony drug possession charges have been proven false," said David Bronner, President of Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps. "It's shocking that the DA's office is sitting on the lab results on the soap and hasn't dropped the charges already. Mr. Bolles has always been innocent in this case, but as long as these charges are pending he may not get a passport to travel out of the country to perform and is in major legal jeopardy," said Bronner who appeared in court last Friday to support Mr. Bolles. The next court appearance for Mr. Bolles is May 18, 2007. "Don and our soaps shouldn't have to wait a month to clear this up," says Bronner. "Our customers need to know now this whole soap opera is a mistake by police who tormented an innocent 50 year old man with jail. We purchased the same NarcoPouch® 928 GHB field test made by ODV, Inc. that was used by the police, and ran tests on our soaps. We confirmed that the test is useless when used on soap since every test came back positive. We also tested other common brands of soap including Johnson & Johnson's popular Neutrogena brand, as well as Colgate-Palmolive's popular Tom's of Maine brand, which gave the same false-positive tests as well. What kind of justice system allows police to use field drug tests that deprive citizens of their God-given liberty, that test positive for something as common as soap? What kind of policies and regulations are in place on police drug-testing practices and products, such that a US citizen can be tossed in the slammer over Easter weekend for possession of soap? Police departments nationwide should immediately stop using the ODV, Inc. field test for GHB as it is not accurate when used on soaps and who knows what other common household products." ODV, Inc is a subsidiary of Armor Holdings, Inc. Mr. Bolles was arrested following a search of his vintage 1968 Dodge A-108 van by the Newport Beach police. During the search they found an 8 oz bottle of peppermint Dr. Bronner's soap which is made with organic coconut, olive, hemp, peppermint and jojoba oils. The police ignored repeated pleas by Mr. Bolles that the liquid was nothing more than soap. "I've used only Dr. Bronner's soap for 35 years," says Mr. Bolles. "I use it for everything - bathing, washing my hair, washing my clothes - it goes everywhere I go. I'm scheduled to go to Europe to tour with The Germs this summer, but these felony charges could keep me from traveling out of the country." To arrange an interview with Don Bolles or David Bronner please contact Adam Eidinger.
Localização: 
Escondido, CA
United States
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
Looking for the easiest way to join the anti-drug war movement? You've found it!

Punk Rocker Jailed -- Over Soap!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Adam Eidinger April 9, 2007

"Germ" Wrongly Jailed Over Soap

Absurd GHB Drug Charges for Don Bolles, Drummer of the "The Germs", Stem From a Bottle of Dr. Bronner's Peppermint Soap Found in Van During Police Stop ESCONDIDO, CA – The Bronner family, makers of the popular organic Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps are shocked and disturbed by musician Don Bolles' April 4th arrest for felony drug possession after police alleged an 8oz bottle of peppermint Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap tested positive for the illicit drug GHB (Gamma Hydroxy Butyrate). The notion that anyone would put GHB in a rinse-off liquid soap product is beyond belief, and the police field test used must have been flawed or tampered with. GHB, which produces euphoria and is an alleged aphrodisiac when ingested, of course has absolutely no effect in a soap product that is rinsed off the hands and body. Mr. Bolles, drummer of the legendary punk band The Germs, was arrested following a police traffic stop and spent three and half days in various jails in Orange County before being released early Easter morning. During a consented search of Mr. Bolles vintage 1968 A-108 van, Newport Beach police found a bottle of peppermint Dr. Bronner's soap which is made with organic coconut, olive, hemp, peppermint and jojoba oils. Felony drug possession could mean 20 years in prison if convicted. A pretrial hearing is scheduled for Friday, April 13, 2007 at the Harbor Justice Center, 4601 Jamboree Road Newport Beach, CA at 8:30am. "I've used only Dr. Bronner's soap for 35 years," says Mr. Bolles. "I use it for everything - bathing, washing my hair, washing my clothes - it goes everywhere I go. I'm scheduled to go to Europe to tour with The Germs this summer, but these felony charges could keep me from traveling out of the country. This whole thing could be really devastating to a 50 year old guy just trying to make a living. I told the officer 'its soap, it smells like peppermint soap,' but he seemed intent on arresting me." "It is totally outrageous that the police could be this malicious and idiotic," says Michael Bronner, Vice-President of Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps. "This clearly is a case of profiling by the Newport Beach police of a person who doesn't look like the people who live in that town. We are paying the cost of Mr. Bolle's lawyer, and we demand the charges be dropped or proof from the police forensics lab of GHB contamination be immediately provided to us," said Bronner. Adds brother David Bronner, President: "We cannot imagine anyone putting GHB, or any other drug for that matter, into a rinse-off soap product that is lathered and rinsed off the body immediately. The Newport Beach police should see how much of a buzz putting beer in their shampoo gives them, and get a grip and apologize on their hands and knees to Mr. Bolles." At the time of the arrest Mr. Bowles was driving his girlfriend, and fellow musician Cat Scandal to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting in Newport Beach. "I had heard of GHB but the police had to tell me what it was," said Bolles. "I'm going to fight these charges." To arrange an interview with Don Bolles, Michael Bronner or David Bronner please contact Adam Eidinger at [email protected] ###
Localização: 
Newport Beach, CA
United States
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
Looking for the easiest way to join the anti-drug war movement? You've found it!

Hurwitz Prosecutor Caught Up in US Attorneys Controversy

good riddance, let us hope We have not previously commented here about the US Attorneys firing controversy (or scandal, depending on how one looks at it) -- mostly because drug policy has not come up in it -- partly because we assume that both the people who got canned and the people replacing them are all all likely to be serious SOBs from our point of view. For example, it was one of the firees, San Diego's Carol Lam, who prosecuted medical marijuana provider Steve McWilliams, an act that ended in McWilliams' suicide. Readers who have followed the pain issue will doubtless be interested to know that the guy who prosecuted pain physician Dr. Hurwitz, Paul McNulty, and who was responsible for the infamous withdrawal by the DEA during that prosecution of the pain FAQ it had worked together on with doctors and other experts, is in serious hot water. McNulty was the US Attorney for eastern Virginia at the time, but was subsequently promoted to the #2 spot at DOJ. According to his official bio he played a key role in abolishing parole in Virginia in 1994. McNulty's name has come up on and off within the firings matter since early on, but until this evening it seemed like he might survive it and quite possibly become the next Attorney General. But things have shifted again in this fast-changing story. According to the Politico, in a story filed at 9:06 EST:
Republican sources also disclosed that it is now a virtual certainty that Deputy Attorney General Paul J. McNulty, whose incomplete and inaccurate congressional testimony about the prosecutors helped precipitate the crisis, will also resign shortly. Officials were debating whether Gonzales and McNulty should depart at the same time or whether McNulty should go a day or two after Gonzales.
Let's hope the reporting about McNulty at least is on target. Whatever the cause for his career's abrupt ending, it will be a good thing. McNulty's actions in the Hurwitz case caused incalculable damage to the cause of pain management with opioids for patients who need it -- effectively he caused large numbers of pain patients to be tortured through denial of medication or under-use of it. Having met Dr. Hurwitz a number of times, and counting a number of his former patients friends, I could be biased about that -- though his conviction has since been overturned due to the trial flaws that prosecutors and the judge created. But I think McNulty's instigation of the withdrawal of the FAQ demonstrates objectively that he is willing to attack the rule of law itself if it suits his purposes. No tears shed for this guy's career, none deserved -- good riddance to at least one really, really cruel, unethical and dishonest prosecutor.
Localização: 
Washington, DC
United States
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
Looking for the easiest way to join the anti-drug war movement? You've found it!

"Bong Hits 4 Jesus" Oral Arguments Transcript Now Online

Posted in:
http://www.supremecourtus.gov/oral_arguments/argument_transcripts/06-278.pdf Let us know what comments you find the most interesting... Drug War Rant has a great backgrounder web section about the case here.
Localização: 
United States
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
Looking for the easiest way to join the anti-drug war movement? You've found it!

Pictures from the "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" Free Speech Supreme Court Demonstration and Press Conference

Posted in:
UPDATE: Drug War Chronicle feature report now available here online. DRCNet associate director David Guard attended the "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" free speech demonstration outside the Supreme Court today, and took pictures for the benefit of those of us who couldn't make it there ourselves. Here are some of the highlights: Students demonstrating at the courthouse: Ken Starr, counsel for the bad guys: Former US drug czar Barry McCaffrey (also there for the bad guys): More demonstration and press conference pictures (click the "read full post" or title link in this post to see the rest if you don't already see them):
Localização: 
Washington, DC
United States
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
Looking for the easiest way to join the anti-drug war movement? You've found it!

Bobby Scott and Panel on Higher Education Act drug provision

Posted in:
Visit http://edlabor.house.gov/hearings/hellc030807.shtml and fast forward to 1:15:25 in the video to hear discussion of the HEA drug provision (also known as the "Aid Elimination Penalty"). According to SSDP's Tom Angell, Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA) raised the issue with panelists testifying before the committee, and got a strong response to the effect of how we are shooting ourselves in the foot by taking college aid away from these people.
Localização: 
United States
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
Looking for the easiest way to join the anti-drug war movement? You've found it!

University of Maryland Students Get Support from State Rep for Campus Drug Reform Effort (plus some DRCNet strategy thoughts)

Our friends at the University of Maryland's (UMD) SSDP chapter have been working on a campus drug policy reform measure, seeking to have marijuana's classification in the school's disciplinary code downgraded to a less serious level than its current status. A campus-wide referendum was passed, and now a resolution by the RHA Student Senate. Maryland Delegate Ana Sol Gutierrez, the same Delegate with whom we are working on trying to fix the state financial aid/drug conviction problem, has provided a letter of support for the measure, sent to the school's Director of Residence Life. Click here to read it in PDF form. This seems like a good time to talk a little bit about a part of DRCNet's "big-picture" strategy and strategic thinking. Last year we published a report, under the auspices of the Coalition for Higher Education Act Reform, on the issue of state financial aid bureaucracies denying college assistance to students who have lost their eligibility for financial aid because of drug convictions -- not because the states have their own laws saying to do so (extremely few states do), but only because the federal government is denying them aid, and the states have chosen to make use of the federal financial aid processing system (FAFSA), to be able to do less work themselves or out of habit or mistaken assumptions about their obligations or for other reasons. It is this report that led to the Maryland financial aid bill that has been discussed in other posts here. For a lot of our members, restoring college aid to students with drug convictions is an issue that is good but in the grand scheme of things small -- we're StoptheDrugwar.org, our goal is to end the war on drugs, the financial aid work is worthy but what about sentencing, police raids, forfeiture, ending prohibition itself? The smaller chunk of college aid provided by the states, or for that matter by any one state, is a smaller issue than that, and with fewer people being affected now that the federal law affects fewer people, the numbers make it even smaller. Still a good thing if we can do it, but end the whole drug war and these smaller problems will be fixed in the process too. All true. That said, however, politics is a process, and the steps we take today can enable further steps later. For example, if we had not issued that report, the issue would never have come to Del. Gutierrez's attention, and we would never have met her. If we had not supported her efforts in the state house last year and again this year, Stacia Cosner at UMD and Kris Krane at SSDP National would never have met or gotten to work with her either. And with that relationship never having been established, Gutierrez's letter to the official at UMD would never have been written, one less piece of support provided for an effort to make marijuana policy at a major state school less harsh. Will the letter make the difference? That sort of question is usually impossible to definitely answer, but possibly. What new reforms may be made possible if this one happens, and what effect might a victory for the chapter have on its ability to mobilize students to support our issue? There is probably no issue out there for which it is easier to build bridges like that than the financial aid/drug convictions issue; it's almost embarrassing how easy it is to bring allies in with that issue. It's also time to branch out, to be sure. Over the next two years or so it is our goal to do coalition-building -- with organizations, legislators and other supportive individuals -- on a range of drug war issues. The welfare and public housing drug provisions are one logical next step (see our Chronicle review of the topic here), because many of the 300+ organizations we are in contact with who have support the financial aid efforts will also be willing to help us with those. But it won't stop there. Eventually we will have a network of thousands of organizations around the country, all of them helping to chip away at the drug war in whichever aspects of it they are individually willing and able. This model has already succeeded in getting one federal law (financial aid) scaled back significantly, and that happened when Congress was still controlled by the Republicans! What will having thousands of them accomplish? If you like this vision -- and if you like the fact that we do so much to promote and support the work of our allies in the cause like SSDP -- for that matter if you like our newsletter and this blog -- I hope you'll support those efforts with a generous donation, which can be done online here. - Dave
Localização: 
United States
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
Looking for the easiest way to join the anti-drug war movement? You've found it!

Two Bolivia Reports from Phil

Phil is en route back home. Read two major Bolivia reports he wrote in the latest issue of the Chronicle here. More will be posted over the coming weeks.
Localização: 
United States
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
Looking for the easiest way to join the anti-drug war movement? You've found it!

CNN Terrorism Analyst Peter Bergen on Afghan Opium Conundrum

Last week I promised to post comments by Peter Bergen (CNN terrorism analyst) responding to a question I asked of him last week about the Afghan opium conundrum.

Localização: 
Afghanistan
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
Looking for the easiest way to join the anti-drug war movement? You've found it!

The drug war is everywhere, even in my mailbox...

Posted in:

Today our new federal and DC labor law posters showed up in the mail -- there are a lot of different posting requirements, and it's easier to just order a set, as opposed to figuring everything you need and taping it all together on the wall -- plus we have three organizations in the office and we can split the bill. None of that is very interesting for a drug policy blog, in and of itself. But stuffed inside the poster tube was a flyer advertising some additional posters they have for sale, including a "THIS IS A DRUG FREE WORKPLACE" poster. The poster, if we displayed it, would proclaim DRCNet to be a "DRUG FREE WORK ZONE" and explain that "Tests for use of illegal drugs and/or alcohol may be required prior to hiring and periodically during your employment." The blurb accompanying the poster graphic reads as follows:

DRUG FREE WORKPLACE All employers should provide a Drug-Free Workplace program including a written policy statement. If an employee receives a positive confirmed drug test for illegal use of drugs or alcohol, or refuses to submit to drug or alcohol test, then the burden of proof is shifted to the employee. Substance abusing workers are:
  • Five times more likely to file a worker's compensation claim;
  • 3.6 times more likely to be involved in on-the-job accidents; and
  • Late for work three times as often.
  • Absenteeism: Substance abusers are 2.5 times more likely to be absent 8 or more days a year.
  • Lost Productivity: Substance abusers are one-third less productive.
This "data," if you can call it that, is problematic in a number of ways. First, there is no differentiation of use from abuse, no explanation of what exactly is meant by abuse, no clarity as to whether the numbers refer only to illegal drugs or if they also include alcohol. If they do include alcohol, is there some distinction between casual use and heavier use that can affect work performance? Presumably the alcohol tests they mention would not have the same kinds of standards as illegal drug tests, since there is no legal or prevailing cultural standard calling for teetotalism (abstention from alcohol use). It is really hard to say exactly what they are saying. What we do know, however, is that drug testing isn't worth the money or the collateral costs. According to the 1994 National Academy of Sciences report "Under the Influence: Drugs and the American Work Force" (as summarized by the ACLU):
  • Research results indicate that drug use does not pose significant productivity or safety problems in the work force. In 1994, the National Academy of Sciences published results from a three year research effort compiling research resulting from all major studies of drug testing program effectiveness. The report concluded, "the data... do not provide clear evidence of the deleterious effects of drugs other than alcohol on safety and other job performance indicators."
  • Though frequently inaccurate and ineffective, drug testing is extremely expensive. Texas Intruments reports that their drug testing program costs $100 per employee. Drug testing products and services are a multi-billion dollar industry. But the incidence of drug use in the workforce is very low. The federal government reported in 1990 that only 0.5% of tested employees tested positive. The same year, the government spent $11.7 million on its drug testing program. That works out to $77,000 per identified drug user.
  • The NAS looked for and was unable to find evidence of drug testing programs' deterrent effects. Studies which appear to show a decrease in positive test rates since the implementation of drug testing programs usually don't adjust for the expansion of such programs' testing groups to include not only for-cause drug tests but also suspicionless drug tests. That is, as drug-testing programs have expanded, they have tested more and more people who aren't suspected of drug use, improving their numbers and subjecting thousands of non-users to invasive testing procedures.
Needless to say, at DRCNet we consider our staff's personal choices about substances to be their personal choices, and we have no intention of instituting such a program -- our people know that if they show up to work sober, get their work done and don't create risk for the organization by carrying contraband into the office, they'll be okay. Isn't that the way it should be, anywhere? This company is called The Labor Law Poster Service, located in Lansing, Michigan. I don't think we'll be ordering from them again. If there are any employers out there reading this who can point us to another such outfit, one that has the labor law posters we need but does not attempt to profit from the drug testing scam, please drop me a line before next year. Otherwise, we may just have to find all the different forms we need separately and cobble them together here ourselves. The drug war is everywhere...

Localização: 
United States
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
Looking for the easiest way to join the anti-drug war movement? You've found it!

Phil is on the way to the Chapare...

Posted in:
Phil wrote me this morning that he was heading out to the Bolivian city of Cochabamba and the Chapare region of which it is part. The Chapare is one of the major coca-growing regions in the country. It is unclear whether he will be able to post to the blog today -- Phil will be out in the fields -- or if that will have to wait until he returns to La Paz. The Andean Information Network is an organization that monitors and reports on developments in Bolivia in general and the Chapare in particular, and they are helping Phil with this leg of his trip. I have met current and past AIN staff during their not-infrequent visits to Washington. The AIN web site is a great resource for people wanting to learn more about the relevant issues as well as keep up with the latest developments. Among other things, I just noticed that they have published a curriculum to help schoolteachers deal with US and Andean drug control issues in their courses. Of course the site discusses the state of the coca issue in the administration of Bolivian cocalero leader turned president Evo Morales.
Localização: 
United States
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
Looking for the easiest way to join the anti-drug war movement? You've found it!

Drug War Issues

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