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Feature: Reed College in the Crosshairs of Prosecutorial Drug Crackdown

While Oregon sees hundreds of drug overdose deaths a year -- from both illegal and prescription drugs -- a pair of publicity-seeking state and federal prosecutors have made a small Portland liberal arts college where two students have died of heroin overdoses in the past two years the public focus of their attack on the drug trade. Last week, Reed College President Colin Diver was summoned to the federal courthouse in downtown Portland, where he was warned that the school could face a cutoff of federal funds, including student loans, if it is not found to be taking "adequate steps to combat illegal drug activity," starting with this weekend's annual school year-end bash, Renn Fayre, which the prosecutors vowed will be filled with undercover police determined to quash drug use and sales.

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Renn Fayre (sarako on flickr.com)
According to the Oregon State Medical Examiner, 119 people died from heroin overdoses in 2008 and 127 in 2009. Including prescription drug overdoses, 492 Oregonians died of ODs in 2008, 270 from prescription opiates. For some reason, the State Medical Examiner did not include prescription drug deaths in the 2009 figures.

In Multnomah County alone, where Reed is located, 63 people died of heroin overdoses in 2008 and 71 in 2009. That's more than one a week for both years. But no other single overdose or pair of overdose deaths has excited the reaction displayed by state and federal prosecutors who went after Reed last week.

Reed makes an excellent target for drug warriors. For decades, the academically rigorous school has had a reputation as a counterculture haven where drug use is accepted. While that reputation is overblown and outdated, students say, it makes the college a handy lightning rod for those engaged in the culture wars.

Enter US Attorney for Oregon Dwight Holton and Multnomah County (Portland) District Attorney Michael Schrunk. In an email to Divers that they asked be forwarded to the Reed community, the prosecutorial pair used the deaths of the two students as a battle cry for a crackdown.

After lamenting the loss of the students, they wrote: "But while now may be a time for reflection and grief, it is also a time for action. It is now time for the Reed community to abandon the myth that drug use is a safe and acceptable form of exploration. It is time for Renn Fayre and Reed to adopt a zero tolerance policy prohibiting illegal drugs flat-out."

It isn't beatnik days anymore, prosecutors wrote, in a bid to appeal to Reed's countercultural heritage: "The illegal drug trade has changed radically since the days when giants like Alan (sic) Ginsberg and Gary Snyder '51 roamed campus here. The fact is that the drug trade is now fueled by one of the most potent forces in the West: greed."

The pair then explained at length how "drug cartels" are "targeting middle class and wealthier kids," then went on to say they made no distinction between non-lethal drug like marijuana and drugs like heroin. "Don't get sucked in by this bogus Siren call. The fact is that if the Reed community insists that this is 'not our problem' and tries to draw distinctions between 'hard' and other drugs, you will send the message that drug use can be safe... It is time for the Reed community to embrace the notion that drug use is not safe and it will not be tolerated -- without fine print, without provisos, and without conditions."

They then issued a blunt warning: "As the top federal prosecutor in Oregon and the Multnomah County District attorney, we have a responsibility to this community -- including you and your families. We cannot, and we will not stand by if drug use is tolerated on your campus. We cannot, and we will not stand by if Renn Fayre is a repeat of years past -- where even in the wake of Alejandro Lluch's death drug use and distribution were allegedly rampant."

Finally, the prosecutorial pair gallantly offered their assistance: "We stand ready to help in any way we can. If need be, we will use all the tools available to us in federal and state law enforcement. We owe that to the people of our community, including you."

A suitably cowed President Diver responded with his own email to the Reed community: "My message regarding drug use at Renn Fayre 2010 is very simple: Do not use illegal drugs. That means no marijuana, hallucinogens, designer drugs, cocaine, amphetamines, opiates, or other illegal substances."

Diver said he got a forceful and direct message from the prosecutors: "Shut down illegal drug use and distribution at Reed College, starting with Renn Fayre. Based on ongoing criminal investigations, including conversations with current and former students and other sources, these officials have heard numerous allegations about drug use at Reed, and particularly at Renn Fayre."

Diver also mentioned the threats he received: "In the course of the conversation, the US Attorney pointedly referred to a federal statute that makes it a criminal and civil offense for anyone knowingly to operate any facility for the purpose of using illegal drugs. We were also reminded of federal legislation that allows all federal funding -- including student loans -- to be withdrawn from any college or university that fails to take adequate steps to combat illegal drug activity."

On Wednesday, Diver was forced to clarify. According to Inside Higher Education News, the US Attorney only cited the federal crack house statute, under which Reed could face large fines, not the Drug-Free Schools Act, which is the statute that could impact student loans, Diver said. While the US Attorney "referred to federal legislation that could be applied to the college if it failed to crack down more forcefully," he never cited the Drug-Free Schools Act, Diver conceded.

In his email to the Reed community, Diver also delivered a more immediate warning: "We have been told that, during next weekend's Renn Fayre celebration, undercover Portland police officers will be circulating on campus, uniformed Portland police officers will be on alert to respond immediately to calls, and prosecutors stand ready to process criminal charges."

The prosecutorial shakedown has stirred controversy both on campus and in the broader Portland community, with many defending Reed's students, while others say the "druggies" need to be brought under control. In any case, Reed's reputation has complicated its relations with law enforcement.

"There's always a market here for a 'Reed is strange and weird' story," Bear Wilner-Nugent, a Reed alumnus, one-time director of Renn Fayre, and Portland criminal lawyer told USA Today this week. "I think it's going to scare students using drugs to be more underground. I think it's going to discourage students from seeking help for drug problems. It's a waste of resources on what is a tiny fingernail clipping in the drug problem," he said. "It's showboating."

Wilner-Nugent will be attending Renn Fayre again this year, and he said it compares favorably with end-of-semester parties at other schools. "There's a less macho attitude to it, there is less drinking and so you don't see the sexual harassment compared to other institutions," he said. "They are busting one of the saner and healthier college parties in the nation."

"This is the first time any college president has been threatened with the loss of federal funding because of campus drug use, so that's pretty interesting," said Jon Perri, West Coast coordinator for Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP). "We need to be criticizing those prosecutors, as well as law enforcement, for sending in undercover agents and spreading misinformation about drug dealers coming in to target rich white kids. And we need to keep after Reed President Divers, who after his sit-down with prosecutors, basically said don't do illegal drugs, then mentioned a long list of drugs that doesn't include alcohol, which does more harm," Perri pointed out.

"Our chapter there is actively participating in the planning for Renn Fayre, and they will be waging a Good Samaritan policy campaign, while the feds are coming in and trying to do the same old stuff," Perri. "Reed SSDP is trying to pitch it as instead of trying to increase penalties, try something that will save lives."

Perri said he worked with students at Reed to reactivate the Good Samaritan campaign after the second student death. Good Samaritan policies allow drug overdose victims or their friends to seek help without fear of arrest, or, in the case of colleges, academic discipline. "I encouraged them to get it back up and running," he said. "They were wary of starting a campaign because they didn't want to be seen as politicizing those kids' deaths, but that's what the prosecutors have now done."

While by all accounts there has been drug use at Renn Fayre in past years, it is a much milder, less raucous event than many end-of-year campus parties, with a penchant for hallucinogens -- not heroin -- and an abundance of weed. Renn Fayre also features full-body human chess, softball tournaments, a great feast, and lots of music. And alcohol for those over 21.

"Everyone here fears that come Saturday there could be mass arrests for marijuana possession and underage drinking," said Reed SSDP chapter head McKenzie Warren. "It some senses, it's not totally surprising because there has been a lot of local press aimed at Reed, but there is a lot of worry," she reported. "ODs happen all the time, but the homeless population isn't going to get the same focus as a well-known private liberal arts college," said Warren. "Over the years, Reed earned a reputation as a crazy drug-taking school. Maybe it once was, way back in the 1970s, but these days the reputation outstrips the reality."

Reed SSDP is working with other campus groups to protect students from the tender ministrations of law enforcement, Warren said. "We have a number of groups working on harm reduction this weekend, we've had a Reed alumni who is a lawyer come and give talks on how to deal with the police, especially with respect to dorm rooms, and we printed up 1,500 ACLU know your rights cards. We've also been putting up flyers and posters."

And it will push for a full-fledged Good Samaritan policy. "We have only half a Good Samaritan policy," said Warren. "The school just adopted a new implementation plan for our drug policy, and it differentiates pot and alcohol from harder drugs. There is a Good Samaritan policy for alcohol and marijuana, but not for harder drugs. The administration is trying to crack down."

A Good Samaritan policy for alcohol makes sense; for marijuana, the need for it is much less. But a Good Samaritan policy that excludes the drugs that are most likely to kill people doesn't make much sense. There is work to be done at Reed, and the Good Samaritan battle looks like a good way to counter the weight of the prosecutorial offensive.

Jack Herer Has Died

Jack Herer, author of "The Emperor Wears No Clothes," died this morning in Eugene, Oregon. He had been in ill health since suffering a heart attack at the Portland Hempstock Festival last Fall. Here's the report from the Salem News:
The Hemperor, Jack Herer has Died (SALEM, Ore.) - The sad news has been confirmed. Jack Herer, author of Emperor Wears No Clothes and renowned around the world for hemp activism, has died at 11:17 a.m. today, in Eugene, Oregon. Jack Herer suffered a heart attack last September just after speaking on stage at the Portland HempStalk festival. The last seven months have proven to be a huge challenge to the man, with several health issues making his recovery complicated. Jack Herer's health has been poor lately, this last week there have been reports of the severity, and an outpouring of prayers on his behalf. "It's shocking news, even after these last seven, trying months," said Paul Stanford, THCF Executive Director. "Jack Herer has been a good friend and associate of mine for over 30 years. I was there when he had the heart attack at our Hempstalk festival and I know he wouldn’t appreciate the quality of life he's endured these last months. Still he will be greatly missed. I honor his memory." "No other single person has done more to educate people all across the world about industrial hemp and marijuana as Jack Herer. His book is translated into a dozen different languages, it's a bestseller in Germany," added Stanford. "The Hempstalk stage will forever be the Jack Herer Memorial stage. And, a Memorial is planned to be built where he fell that day," Stanford said. "His legacy will continue to inspire and encourage for generations to come."

Cheech and Chong vs. Bill O'Reilly: Worst Interview Ever


Boy, O'Reilly really knows how to suck the humor out of a room:



This should never have been allowed to take place. Bill O'Reilly shouldn't be allowed anywhere these guys, or anyone else who's ever been remotely funny at any point in modern history.

And if anyone can think of a legal way to make O'Reilly stop saying things like this, please share:
O'REILLY: We found out that in San Francisco, which leads the league in marijuana clinics, medical marijuana clinics, a lot of hard-core drug addicts go in there, buy the pot and sell it to kids so they can buy their heroin and meth and everything else.

CHONG: Sell it to kids?

O'REILLY: Yes.

CHONG: Where did you get that information?

O'REILLY: We got it from our undercover people.
Yeah, right. This is one of those social problems that you'll only hear about on the O'Reilly Factor because it only exists in the twisted mind of Bill O'Reilly.

Drug War Chronicle Book Review: "Drug War Zone: Frontline Dispatches from the Streets of El Paso and Juarez," by Howard Campbell (2009, University of Texas Press, 310 pp., $24.95 PB)

Phillip S. Smith, Writer Editor

Howard Campbell's "Drug War Zone" couldn't be more timely. Ciudad Juárez, just across the Rio Grande from El Paso, is awash in blood as the competing Juárez and Sinaloa cartels wage a deadly war over who will control the city's lucrative drug trafficking franchise. More than 2,000 people have been killed in Juárez this year in the drug wars, making the early days of Juárez Cartel dominance, when the annual narco-death toll was around 200 a year, seem downright bucolic by comparison.

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The violence in Mexico, of which Juárez is the current epicenter, has been setting off alarm bells in Washington, and the US has responded with thousands more law enforcement agents on the border and more than a billion dollars in aid to the Mexican government. In other words, what we've been doing hasn't worked, so let's do even more of it, even more intensely.

We've all seen the horrific headlines; we've all seen the grim and garish displays of exemplary violence; we've read the statistics about the immense size of the illegal drug business in Mexico and the insatiable appetites of drug consumers in El Norte ("the north," e.g. the US). What we haven't had -- up until now -- is a portrayal of the El Paso-Juárez drug trade and drug culture that gets beneath the headlines, the politicians' platitudes, and law enforcement's self-justifying pronouncements. With "Drug War Zone," Campbell provides just that.

He's the right guy in the right place at the right time. A professor of sociology and anthropology at the University of Texas-El Paso who has two decades in the area, Campbell is able to do his fieldwork when he walks out his front door and has been able to develop relationships with all sorts of people involved in the drug trade and its repression, from low-level street dealers in Juárez to middle class dabblers in dealing in El Paso, from El Paso barrio boys to Mexican smugglers, from journalists to Juárez cops, from relatives of cartel victims to highly-placed US drug fight bureaucrats.

Using an extended interview format, Campbell lets his informants paint a detailed picture of the social realities of the El Paso-Juárez "drug war zone." The overall portrait that emerges is of a desert metropolis (about a half million people on the US side, a million and a half across the river), distant both geographically and culturally from either Washington or Mexico City, with a long tradition of smuggling and a dense binational social network where families and relationships span two nations. This intricately imbricated web of social relations and historical factors -- the rise of a US drug culture, NAFTA and globalization -- have given rise to a border narco-culture deeply embedded in the social fabric of both cities.

(One thing that strikes me as I ponder Campbell's work, with its description of binational barrio gangs working for the Juárez Cartel, and narcos working both sides of the border, is how surprising it is that the violence plaguing Mexico has not crossed the border in any measurable degree. It's almost as if the warring factions have an unwritten agreement that the killings stay south of the Rio Grande. I'd wager they don't want to incite even more attention from the gringos.)

Campbell compares the so-called cartels to terrorists like Al Qaeda. With their terroristic violence, their use of both high tech (YouTube postings) and low tech (bodies hanging from bridges, warning banners adorning buildings) communications strategies, their existence as non-state actors acting both in conflict and complicity with various state elements, the comparison holds some water. Ultimately, going to battle against the tens of thousands of people employed by the cartels in the name of an abstraction called "the war on drugs" is likely to be as fruitless and self-defeating as going to battle against Pashtun tribesmen in the name of an abstraction called "the war on terror."

But that doesn't mean US drug war efforts are going to stop, or that the true believers in law enforcement are going to stop believing -- at least most of them. One of the virtues of "Drug War Zone" is that it studies not only the border narco-culture, but also the border policing culture. Again, Campbell lets his informants speak for him, and those interviews are fascinating and informative.

Having seen its result close-up and firsthand, Campbell has been a critic of drug prohibition. He still is, although he doesn't devote a lot of space to it in the book. Perhaps, like (and through) his informants, he lets prohibition speak for itself. The last interview in the book may echo Campbell's sentiments. It's with former Customs and Border Patrol agent Terry Nelson. In the view of his former colleagues, Nelson has gone over to the dark side. He's a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.

If you're interested in the border or drug culture or the drug economy or drug prohibition, you need to read "Drug War Zone." This is a major contribution to the literature.

Marijuana: Boston Freedom Rally Draws 30,000 -- No Arrests, Some Tickets, in Wake of State Decrim Vote

The 20th annual Boston Freedom Rally brought an estimated 30,000 people to Boston Common on Saturday, September 19, to support the reform of marijuana laws. That would make the Freedom Rally the second largest marijuana reform event in the country, behind only the Seattle Hempfest.

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2009 Boston Freedom Rally (Scott Gacek on bostonfreedomrally.com)
All afternoon, tens of thousands of people sat in the sun, listening to speakers extolling the virtues of cannabis and calling for its legalization and bands rocking out for the cause. At 4:20pm, a massive cloud of marijuana smoke rose from the Commons as the crowd celebrated the stoner holiday (or time of day).

Sponsored by MassCann, the Bay State affiliate of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), the Freedom Rally had in some past years been marred by arrests for pot-smoking. In a previous article, Drug War Chronicle predicted that the rally would see "numerous arrests -- if police behavior in the past is any indicator." That was an overstatement -- our apologies to MASSCANN for it. 2007 did see 53 arrests at the Freedom Rally, according to Boston Police -- one of them of NORML founder Keith Stroup. But even that number, while significant, was a fraction of a percent of the attendees. Last year, the number of possession busts was down to just six.

And this year there were none. Massachusetts residents voted to decriminalize marijuana possession last November, and so all the police could do this year was issue tickets with a maximum fine of $100, which they did to 136 people. Three others were arrested for marijuana distribution, and another three on unspecified charges.

Still, participants and organizers of the festival alike lauded the relative freedom of living in a decrim state, while decrying the presence of undercover officers who, apparently randomly, would select members of the crowd to be searched and hassled. On its web site, Freedom Rally organizers have asked that people who were ticketed or searched by police contact them.

Stay tuned for Chronicle coverage of the Massachusetts decriminalization law and of the movement in Massachusetts.

Europe: Danish Court Says Christiania Residents Have No Right to It

A Danish court has ruled that the residents of Copenhagen's Christiania neighborhood have no right to use the property they have called home since 1971. The ruling opens the way for the government to regain control of the hippie enclave.

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entrance to Christiania, Copenhagen (courtesy Wikimedia)
Nearly 40 years ago, Copenhagen counterculture activists invaded a disused former naval base and created the self-governing community of Christiania in the heart of the city. More than 900 residents lived an anarchic, self-governing existence, complete with the famous Pusher Street, where cannabis merchants openly sold their wares.

But in 2004, the Danish government moved to reassert control over Christiania with an eye to redeveloping the property. It has also forced the shutdown of Pusher Street, resulting in clashes with police. But residents didn't respond only with rocks; they filed a lawsuit in 2006 seeking to block the government from reasserting control.

On Tuesday, the Danish Eastern High Court dismissed the lawsuit. But residents had expected that ruling, Christiania spokesman Thomas Ertman told the Associated Press. "I believe that we will appeal the case" to Denmark's highest court, the Supreme Court, he said.

"No Danes are above the law, neither are the residents of Christiania," said Peter Christensen, a senior member of the ruling Liberal Party. "I am very satisfied that the ruling came out this way."

Feature: Cannabis Nation Takes to the Streets in First Week of Global Marijuana March

Marijuana aficionados and reform supporters took to the streets of more than a hundred towns and cities across the globe last weekend in phase one of the annual Global Marijuana March.

The march, first organized in New York City in the 1970s, has since grown into a massive international event. This year, some 263 cities on every inhabited continent are listed as holding the marches.

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Vancouver, British Columbia (courtesy cannabisculture.com)
Typically held the first weekend in May, the event this year was broken up into two weekends, largely to accommodate Europeans, where the May Day labor celebrations are taken far more seriously than in the US (where May 1 is not Labor Day, but National Law Day). Finland was the exception there, with a march in Helsinki last weekend drawing at least 300 people, and events in Tampere and Turku drawing about 200 people each.

But on this side of the water, marchers took to the streets in cities like Portland and Philadelphia, which both drew about a thousand people, among the largest crowds of the day. In San Francisco, where 15,000 people gathered last year, crowd size -- if not spirits -- was dampened by drenching downpours all day.

The marches also hit middle America, if in smaller numbers. In Champaign, Illinois, hundreds marched, while in Cincinnati a similar crowd gathered. In Ogden, Utah, 30 lonely cannabis supporters rallied together, while Palm Springs, California saw a few dozen marchers.

Things were a bit livelier in Canada, with some 15,000 people gathering in Toronto and a thousand more in Vancouver. Even Edmonton, way out on the northern plains of Alberta, drew several hundred participants.

"It was fantastic, we had a lot of people show up here in Vancouver," said Jeremiah Vandermeer, production editor for Marc Emery's Cannabis Culture magazine, one of the organizing foci for the marches. "It was a great march. The Liberals were having their convention here, so we marched on that shouting that they need to stop C-15, the Conservative bill that would impose mandatory minimum sentences even for growing one plant."

When asked why Canadian cities appeared to be able to generate larger turnout than American ones, Vandermeer made several points. "Canada has a very strong cannabis culture, we have a lot of organizers who have been working very hard for years, Marc Emery included, of course, and our newspapers are very friendly," he said. "They promote the marches before they even happen, and that's a big help."

While the US has its cannabis friendly elements and its veteran organizers, too, it does not generally have a press that is willing to provide free publicity beforehand for the marches. Nor, with the exception of the two groups mentioned below, do the marches garner any meaningful support from drug reform organizations. And, unlike the case in some European cities that draw huge crowds, events here have not drawn sponsors willing to put up cash to publicize the marches.

In some cities, events are organized by independent activists. In others, local chapters of groups like the National Association for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) and Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) take the lead. But in all cases, the size and success of the events is determined largely by local resources and talent.

"With some legitimate organization ahead of time and funding and promotion, perhaps these turnouts would be bigger, but as it stands now most of these US efforts are loosely organized at best, said NORML's Paul Armentano. "And perhaps culturally Americans are not as likely to take to the 'streets' as are their counterparts in other countries like Venezuela and Greece."

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GMM 2009 poster (courtesy GMM)
Cures Not Wars is the primary US-based organizing focus for the Global Marijuana March. It does what it can, but its resources are limited.

"We at Cures Not Wars provide material and logistical support for the marches," said Douglas Greene, one of the group's cofounders, along with Dana Beal, the man present at the beginning. "But that support is basically limited to providing posters and contact lists, things like that. We don't have money to hand out to make them happen, so these marches are primarily financed by what the local grassroots people can do," Greene said.

"I think the 4/20 events just a couple of weeks before the marches may drain energy and resources from the marches," said Greene. "Press coverage helps, but unlike Canada, we don't have prior coverage here in any city I can think of."

Greene pointed to some of the European cities, such as Rome, Athens, London, and Berlin, that regularly see crowds of thousands or even tens of thousands. "In Berlin, where the events rival the size of the Boston Freedom Rally, they have at least 10 major sponsors. We don't get that in this country," he pointed out.

Greene also said that perhaps the drug reform community should rethink its disdain for the marches. "These have evolved into an expression of the cannabis community, and it's unfortunate that they haven't become something the broader drug reform community has come together on," he argued. "Here in New York City, we had a lot of kids chanting 'We smoke pot and we like it a lot!', and while that is not going to necessarily change the law, at the same time we always have people who come up to us who are really interested in learning and changing the laws. These marches are going to happen no matter what the reform community thinks; it seems like it would be a good idea if we could work together and attract some serious people and try to educate those people who show up."

The marches may not be politic, there may be too many tie-dyed t-shirts, too much hair, and an uncomfortable number of young-looking public tokers, but the marches aren't going away and they are an authentic expression of cannabis culture. Perhaps the different strands of the movement will find a way to move closer together.

Law Enforcement: Cops Go Phishing for Dope at Virginia Concerts, Reel in Plenty

The jam band Phish played a three-night show at the Hampton Coliseum in Hampton, Virginia, over the weekend -- their first appearance anywhere in five years -- but it was just like old times as local police and a surprising array of other law enforcement agencies arrested at least 267 people on drug charges and seized a reported $1.2 million worth of drugs. Hampton police reported 194 arrests, while police in neighboring Newport News reported 73 more.

Hampton police reported 81 felony arrests resulting in 119 charges and 113 misdemeanor arrests resulting in 126 charges. Newport News police didn't provide a breakdown of arrests, but said most resulted from operations targeting fans staying at local motels and hotels. The Newport News operation came "in anticipation of increased violations" of state drug laws, the department said, and a "majority of those arrested were Phish concert attendees."

Hampton police reported seizing marijuana, cocaine, heroin, Ecstasy, and various prescription drugs, as well as $68,000 cash. Newport News police reported seizing 17 grams of cocaine, 369 grams of marijuana, and small amounts of hashish, mushrooms, methamphetamine, Ecstasy, and OxyContin.

Big bust numbers at Phish Shows in the Hampton Roads are nothing new. When the band played Virginia Beach in 1998, police arrested 136 people, and when the band returned for a one-night show at the Coliseum in 2004, 100 people got busted.

The concerts drew about 17,000 people each night, and with such a target-rich environment, local police called their colleagues to get in on the action. In addition to Hampton, Poquoson, and Newport News police, other agencies working the show included the Hampton Sheriff's Office, the Virginia State Police, the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Commission, the DEA, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, the Army's Criminal Investigations Division, and the Air Force's Office of Special Investigations.

Substance using or peddling Phish fans: You're not paranoid. They are after you.

Dia Mundial de la Marijuana (Global Marijuana Day), Mexico City

Here in Mexico's capital, several thousand people gathered at the Alameda Central, a large park in the historic center of the city, to celebrate Global Marijuana Day. Punks, Goths, hippies, and members of all the other "urban tribes" that constitute the youth counterculture of one of the world's premier cities came together for a day of respect, tolerance, music, and above all, to call for the legalization of the sacred herb. Of course, it's not just the youth cultures of Mexico City that we're talking about here; it's the global cannabis culture. Cannabis Nation knows no boundaries. In many respects, I could have been standing in Memphis or Malmo or Madrid or Mombasa or Minsk--the t-shirts and slogan are the same, the concerns roughly identical. I'll say this for the global prohibition of marijuana: It has created a global culture of resistance that supercedes national identities or barriers. The music and musicians were spot-on, but lyrically and rhythmically. Some of the songs were pure celebration:
We're going to the beach and I wanna smoke We're going to dance and toke
Some of the songs were highly politicized and, naturally, critical of the US. One rapper compared Bush ("creating hell on earth") with Hitler and Hernan Cortes, placing him squarely in a particularly Mexican pantheon of villains. Speaking of politics, one of the great battles going on in Mexico right now is over the government's efforts to privatize Pemex, the state oil monopoly. For many Mexicans, Pemex is a symbol of the Revolution a century ago that overthrew foreign domination. After the Revolution, the Mexicans expropriated the foreign oil companies; now they fear the government is going to give the national oil industry back to the foreigners. One sign at the march tied that struggle to the struggle for marijuana legalization:
Mariguana y petroleo Eso es nuestro patrimonio Marijuana and Oil That's our patrimony
The police presence was minimal, and as far as I could see, there were no problems and no arrests, although pot-smoking was open and frequent throughout the day. I took lots of photos, as you can see. (Sixteen more below the fold.)Sadly, my memory stick got full, and I missed some of the potentially most impressive shots, when the multitude was marching down Avenida Juarez, past the Bellas Artes palace and in front of some of the old colonial buildings in the city center. Still, Global Marijuana Day in Mexico City was a trip. Enjoy the photos, and look for a full report on the action in the Chronicle later this week. marching down Avenida Juarez -- Torre Latinoamericana in the background marching around the Alameda Central at the circulo Benito Juarez hip hip and reggaeton artist Moyenei Youalli G police observe the event -- no arrests march organizer Leopoldo Rivera addresses the crowd Jorge Hernandez Tinajero and Leopoldo of AMECA explaining the medical marijuana and decrim bills before Mexico's Congress Lucha Libre (Mexican wrestling) mask with marijuana leaf Reefer Bender (Futurama character) civil disobedience civil disobedience jello with marijuana leaf police woman in front of signs mounted policeman in sombrero, with punketos (punks) Sylvia Maria Valls, Mexican activist and friend of DRCNet from our 2003 Latin America conference
Localização: 
Mexico City
Mexico

Christiania is in trouble again (video)

The marijuana friendly, Danish counter-culture enclave of Christiania is in trouble, according to an article in the UK newspaper The Independent, "On the barricades: Trouble in a hippie paradise." The intro to the article, authored by Cahal Milmo, reads:
[Christiania] was set up in the heart of Copenhagen as an antidote to the selfish society. But Europe's most famous commune is under threat from a right-wing government determined to 'normalise' this relic of the 1970s.
The Legalise Cannabis Alliance (UK) has video footage of what looks like a pretty serious police raid posted to YouTube -- there are links to more video there too. We published a Chronicle news feature in January 2004 when hash sellers on Pusherstrasse burned their own stands in protest of a looming government crackdown, and again two months later when the trouble hit. Reason's Kerry Howley provides some "fun facts" about Christiania here. Why not just leave the hippies alone, conservative Danish government (and US government)?
Localização: 
Christiania
Denmark

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