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Cannabis Sacrament Minister
Cannabis Sacrament Minister

Joined: 12 Dec 2003
Posts: 3567

PostPosted: Sat Feb 21, 2004 12:41 am    Post subject: Stop the Drug Wars Reply with quote

Drug War Chronicle #325 -- February 20, 2004
(formerly The Week Online with DRCNet)

A Publication of the Drug
Reform Coordination Network (DRCNet)

"Raising Awareness of the Consequences of Drug Prohibition"

Phillip S. Smith, Editor,
David Borden, Executive Director,

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1. Editorial: Long in the Making

2. ACLU, Drug Reform Groups Sue over Federal Ban on Public
Transit Drug Reform Ads

3. Utah Asset Forfeiture Reform Law Under Attack

4. As Continental Harm Reduction Movement Hits Bump, Brazil House
Passes Drug Possession Depenalization Bill

5. Oakland "Regulate and Tax" Marijuana Legalization Initiative
Getting Underway -- Poll Says Public Support Strong

6. Action Alert: HEA Campaign Entering New Stage -- Your Letters
and Phone Calls Needed!

7. Newsbrief: DEA Moving to Restrict Vicodin

8. Newsbrief: Canadian Government Reintroduces Marijuana
Decriminalization Bill

9. Newsbrief: Methadone Maintenance Doctors Under Attack in

10. Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cops Story

11. Newsbrief: Drug War First -- Florida Town Offers Used Car
Drug Inspections

12. This Week in History

13. Psilocybin Cancer Research Study Seeking Participants

14. Asian Harm Reduction Network Launches Online Resource

15. Offer and Appeal: New Ink Stamps and
Strobe Lights -- DRCNet Needs Your Support in 2004

16. The Reformer's Calendar


1. Editorial: Long in the Making

David Borden, Executive Director,, 2/20/04

One of the major breakthrough issues of relevance to drug policy
reform the last few decades has been the emergence of medical
marijuana as a popular, mainstream issue. Medical marijuana, in
the modern political sense, has been long in the making. At least
as far back as the 1980s, pioneers like Bob Randall, whose lawsuit
led to the establishment of the small program under which seven
patients still receive medical marijuana legally from the
government, or early patient/activists Barbara and Kenny Jenks,
were pushing the envelope and undertaking the hard, slow-paced
work of mounting the early stages of what they hoped would be a
movement and a solution to an injustice.

It doesn't seem so long ago, then, when former San Francisco Mayor
Frank Jordan contributed to the medical marijuana debate by
telling a Los Angeles Times reporter on February 26, 1995, "I have
no problem whatsoever with the use of marijuana for medical
purposes. I am sensitive and compassionate to people who have
legitimate needs. We should bend the law and do what's right."

Some time has passed by now since even then, of course. Nine
years and several ballot initiatives later, San Francisco is still
kind to patients needing medical marijuana and Washington's
federal uber-oppressors and their henchmen around the country are
still cruel.

Fitting, perhaps, that Jordan's compassionate quote should be
recollected during Americans for Safe Access' Medical Marijuana
Week 2004 (
Though Randall and his fellow pioneers have left us, their cause
continues and has become something greater than they might have
dared to imagine. Numerous acts of courage and solidarity honor
their commitment to helping others. An enthusiastic and committed
grassroots movement around the country rallies to the defense and
doctors and patients. And Congressional intransigence
notwithstanding, victory may be within their grasp; I believe that
legalization of medical marijuana is all but inevitable.

That said, I'm not sure I agree with everything Mayor Jordan said
on that day. Of course I agree with his call for sensitivity and
compassion. But I don't think it's necessary to "bend the law" in
this case to do what's right. It's the other side that has bent
the law to their dark will. The Constitution -- the nation's
highest law -- is one our side, not theirs -- not according to
Court rulings, perhaps, but in truth. The law banning medical use
and prescribing of marijuana, like all the drug laws, is based on
an "interpretation" of the Constitution's Interstate Commerce
Clause that is stretched beyond belief. The power to regulate
interstate commerce does not rationally translate into permission
for the federal government to pass laws permitting armed agents of
the state to break down doors, handcuff patients and their
providers and caretakers, and lock them inside metal cages in
prison buildings for using and dealing in marijuana grown inside
of a state's borders for use in medical treatment. The same, of
course, goes for non-medical use.

The warping of the Interstate Commerce Clause to serve the
political purposes of drug warriors is also long in the making.
Americans for the most part are unaware of the nation's past
before drugs were banned but society didn't fall apart. Scenarios
in which currently illegal drugs are managed in a different way,
even medical prescribing of marijuana, still seem surreal in the
context of current US culture and politics. But that is
conditioning only.

Long in the making though it be, the unmaking of drug prohibition
is a just cause and must be done. It is possible, if all of us do
our part.


2. ACLU, Drug Reform Groups Sue over Federal Ban on Public Transit
Drug Reform Ads

Three drug policy reform organizations and the ACLU filed suit
Wednesday against the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit
Authority (WMATA) after it refused last week to run ads at subways
and bus stops advocating drug law reform. The lawsuit, filed by
Change the Climate (, the Drug
Policy Alliance (, the Marijuana Policy
Project ( and the ACLU's Drug Policy Litigation
Project ( claims that WMATA's
refusal to display the ads is an unconstitutional abridgement of
free speech rights.

But while WMATA is the named defendant, the suit's real target is
a new law passed last month as part of a massive omnibus federal
spending bill. Sponsored by Rep. Don Istook (R-OK), who took
great umbrage at an earlier Change the Climate WMATA ad linking
marijuana and sex, the law cuts off up to $3.1 billion in federal
funds to transit agencies if they display public service ads
advocating changing the nation's drug laws

But the ad rejected last week is different. Featuring a photo of
people locked up behind bars, the ad runs text across the top
saying: "Marijuana Laws Waste Billions of Taxpayer Dollars to
Lock-Up Non-Violent Americans." Unlike Change the Climate's
controversial ads last fall, there is no linking of sex and
marijuana and it is difficult to see how anyone could claim it is
encouraging drug use or the commission of crimes. And unlike the
earlier ads, which were placed as part of public service
announcement programs, the ad rejected last week was a paid ad.

"The government does not want the public to know how badly our
drug policy has failed, so it is trying to silence Americans who
oppose the war on drugs," said Graham Boyd, director of the ACLU
Drug Policy Litigation Project. "Fortunately, the First Amendment
clearly prohibits this kind of blatant viewpoint-based

"Rep. Istook's backdoor amendment proves that the Congress is
willing to violate the Constitution in order to hide from citizens
the most basic facts about the impact of our current drug laws,"
said Change the Climate head Joe White. "Government censorship to
quell criticism of its own policies should not be tolerated in the
United States. If politicians really want to reduce marijuana use
by young people they would regulate and control it like alcohol
and tobacco, instead of making it easily available on the mean
streets of America," he said.

"We took a little heat for running that 'enjoy better sex/tax and
legalize marijuana' ad," White told DRCNet, "but our strategy
worked because we wanted to lure the government into making a bad
decision that would allow us to communicate our message about the
need for reforming the marijuana laws. That ad was our Trojan
horse. It provoked the government into showing its true colors --
for censorship and for a one-dimensional approach to marijuana

"We are pleased to be part of this effort," said Steve Fox, MPP
director of governmental relations. "We had planned to sue on our
own, but everyone was thinking along the same lines," he told
DRCNet. "Even before the provision became law, we had a letter
delivered to Rep. Istook's office and copied to all members of the
House and Senate appropriations committees telling them that they
should take the provision out and warning them if they didn't we
would sue and get good publicity and win in court. It was a
wrongheaded provision from the start, but it's in their court now,
and we're going to get rid of it."

The ACLU pronounced itself confident of victory. "We are
confident that the law is on our side because our ad is promoting
political change, not illegal activities or drug use," said Anjuli
Verma of the Drug Policy Litigation Project. "That is political
speech, and political speech is protected by the First Amendment,"
she told DRCNet. "Unlike the earlier Change the Climate ads,
which were public service announcements, we are paying for these
ads. We are a group of private citizens who believe the drug laws
need to be changed."

Unlike the controversy over CBS's refusal to air ads critical of
President Bush during the Superbowl, said Verma, this case
involves public agencies funded by the federal government. "CBS
is a private entity and had the right to refuse the MoveOn ads,
but transit authorities are an arm of the government and they have
to be content neutral."

Congress left WMATA between a rock and a hard place, spokeswoman
Lisa Farbstein told the Associated Press. The transit agency
could have lost at least $85 million in federal aid if it accepted
the ad, she said. "Given our critical dependency on continued
federal funding, we have no choice but to follow the law that
Congress passed," she said. "To do otherwise would be a
disservice to our customers and the region's taxpayers."

WMATA is the first transit agency to be sued over the censorship
law, but it may not be the last, and San Francisco and New York
could be next on the list. "Every transit authority in the
country is subject to losing funds if it displays such ads," said
Verma. "They have a real dilemma. I think they feel like they're
being blackmailed by the federal government: 'If you want our
money you have to engage in unconstitutional censorship of free

"We're waiting to see the response from the court in Washington,
DC, both in terms of the decision and the time it takes to make
the decision before committing to launching campaigns in other
cities, particularly those that have huge amounts of federal
transit dollars waiting for them," said Change the Climate's
White. "San Francisco is a possibility, and New York is a huge
market. Similarly, we might run a campaign in San Jose where we
could better reach our target audience," he said, also mentioning
Chicago as a potential target.


3. Utah Asset Forfeiture Reform Law Under Attack

In 2002, Utah voters approved Initiative B, which drastically
tightened the state's asset forfeiture laws. The initiative won
with an impressive 70% of the vote, making crystal clear the will
of the state's electorate. But the state's law enforcement
apparatus, including state Attorney General Mike Shurtleff, whose
job it is to enforce the law, has never accepted the Utah Uniform
Property Protection Act. Now, it is in real danger of being
undone. A measure that would substantially gut the law in the
name of "reform" passed the Utah Senate Thursday and is headed for
the House.

Prior to the voter-approved reform in 2002, law enforcement
agencies in the state were entitled to keep all the booty they
seized -- almost exclusively from drug offenders -- but under
current law they are supposed to turn all seized assets over to
the Uniform School Fund. The bill approved by the Senate would
undo that by allowing police to keep seized goods.

Not that police ever really stopped profiting from asset
forfeiture. A year ago, state auditor Ed Alter found that police
continued to keep asset forfeiture funds rather than obeying state
law. Alter had to ask Attorney General Shurtleff to retrieve
nearly $300,000 police had convinced district court judges to hand
over to them. And by all accounts, Utah law enforcement has done
an end-run around the law by turning over seizures to its federal
partners, who in turn kick back a percentage to the locals.

Still, since July 1, 2003, some $483,500 in seized assets has made
its way to its intended end use, the betterment of education for
Utah's children. They would see no more of it if the bill, SB
175, passes.

"My bill goes right to the heart of preserving Initiative B and
even strengthens it," claimed the bill's sponsor, Sen. Chris
Buttars (R-West Jordan), in a display of verbal audacity before
darkly adding that out-of-staters had funded the initiative.
"They added some language that protected property owners, but the
unintended consequence was the elimination of our efforts at drug

"He has to claim that to get it through," scoffed Salt Lake
attorney Janet Jenson, who coauthored the initiative, "but SB 175
actually weakens just about every aspect of the law. All the
procedural protections have been gutted. The worst thing is that
it would let all the money go back to law enforcement," she told
DRCNet. "The whole idea was to remove law enforcement's incentive
to abuse people's rights by removing their profit motive. How
this could be called an improvement, I don't know."

But it will be tough to stop, said Jenson. "The attorney general
and his assistants are working full-time to get this undone, at
taxpayers' expense. We'll try to stop it, but it will be hard.
We don't get paid to go sit at the capitol."

While Utah reformers got national help during the initiative
campaign, that help has largely vanished. The only organized
opposition to the bill is Accountability Utah
(, which is not a drug reform
group but a socially conservative grassroots organization. The
group distributed flyers in Sen. Buttars' home neighborhood over
the weekend in which they referred to him as "a dangerous man."

"We aren't into liberalizing drugs, but we are into due process,"
said the group's David Hansen. "We just see this as a real
conflict of interest when police seize goods and then turn around
and use them to fund their own operations. We feel like the drug
war is being used to make war on Americans," he told DRCNet. "SB
175 makes it so the locals can pick up more federal money by doing
more seizures."

Like Jenson, Accountability Utah has limited resources with which
to fend off the "reform," while state officials, law enforcement,
and one of the state's largest newspapers are working to ensure it
passes. The Deseret News waxed positively Orwellian as its
editorialists strove to turn black into white. Asset forfeiture
reform has "tied the hands of local narcotics officers," it
claimed, adding that SB 175 is a "compromise" that "builds upon
protections Initiative B gives citizens" and "refines" the
divvying-up of the loot.

"The money now flows through the state treasurer's office for
deposit in the Uniform School Fund," the News noted. "However,
little money has actually come to the state because local law
enforcement has begun partnering with federal law-enforcement and
prosecution agencies, rather than handling cases on their own.
Federal agencies aren't covered by the law's restraints."
Clearly, the News sees that the way to deal with police non-
compliance with the law is to reward it. But that's not the
point. The point is that those outside forces that helped pass
the initiative "are led by people who are vocal in their support
for the legalization of drugs" and they "exploited" the
newspaper's presumably dim-witted readers. The News and Attorney
General Shurtleff know better than the state's naïve voters.

The bill has now been forwarded to the House Clerk. If it is to
be stopped, something is going to have to happen soon.

Read the bill online at:


4. As Continental Harm Reduction Movement Hits Bump, Brazil House
Passes Drug Possession Depenalization Bill

The Brazilian Chamber of Deputies approved last Thursday a bill
that removes the possibility of arrest or prison sentences for
people charged with drug possession. Earlier in week, a meeting
of the Latin American Harm Reduction Network (RELARD in its
Spanish acronym) in Sao Paulo dissolved in acrimony amid charges
of corruption surrounding one of the group's most prominent
members and charges of dirty doings during voting to choose new

But while Latin American harm reductionists were recovering from
the bout of infighting, the Brazilian lower chamber was making
history. If enacted by the Brazilian Senate, which has already
passed one version of the bill, drug users would be subject to
community service, but not jail, for drug possession offenses.

"This does not decriminalize drug use, but it's an important step
in confronting a social hypocrisy because it says there will be no
more prison for drug use," Deputy Paulo Pimenta of the ruling
Workers' Party told the Folha de Sao Paulo. The bill also sets
penalties for drug trafficking offenses and allows for asset
forfeiture, said Pimenta, who played a key role in authoring the
measure. "Dependence is one thing," he explained. "Repression
and the battle against trafficking is something completely

While Luiz Paulo Guanabara, director of the Brazilian anti-
prohibitionist group Psicotropicus criticized the bill for not
going far enough, he lauded it as a step in the right direction.
"This bill is a very good thing because it helps mobilize public
opinion and is a first step toward a more just and rational drug
policy," Guanabara told DRCNet. "In addition to not sending
people to jail, there is no forced treatment -- judges can
recommend treatment, but this bill does not oblige people to
follow that recommendation," he said. "This is a step toward
future legalization."

Instead of forced treatment, the bill requires that drug users be
given free treatment on demand. It is also an indication that the
government of President Lula da Silva is moving on its promises of
drug reform. "This bill comes out of the ministries of justice
and health and the national drug directorate," said Guanabara.
"Those three groups put out the bill."

Under the bill, people charged with drug possession will be
ordered to do community service or perform educational activities
for a period of up to five months for a first offense, 10 months
for subsequent offenses. Although drug users cannot be jailed for
avoiding drug treatment, they would face jail time if they failed
to comply with the judge's orders.

The bill would also modernize Brazil's drug control apparatus,
creating a National Drug Policy System (SISNAD) consisting of all
federal, state, and local entities involved in any aspect of drug
control, from prevention and education to repression of the drug
traffic. The education, health and justice ministries would
maintain control of their areas of expertise beneath the SISNAD
umbrella. Additionally, the bill would create a repository for
information on all aspects of drug use, traffic, and control, the
Brazilian Drug Information Observatory (OBID).

The bill would also allow the cultivation of crops containing
psychoactive substances for religious purposes, emphasize harm
reduction as a guiding principle, and provide incentives for
private entities to hire drug users.

While the Brazilian congress was busy pushing reform legislation
forward, the Latin American Harm Reduction Network (RELARD) was
imploding at its Sao Paulo annual conference. Rocked by widely-
publicized allegations of corruption and nepotism against Brazil's
most prominent harm reductionist, Sao Paulo AIDS prevention head
Fabio Mesquita -- he is on leave from his Sao Paulo post as a
complaint is being investigated -- the conference was thrown into
deeper chaos by a bitterly fought leadership contest between
allies of Mesquita (the Simon Bolivar list) and others who sought
a new direction (the Latin American Unity or LULA list).

According to members of the defeated LULA list, the process was
doomed both by the lack of financial support for getting
representatives of various national organizations to the
conference, which led to an under-representation of groups from
outside Brazil, and by procedural irregularities in the voting
itself. But the conflict also reflected deeper differences within
the movement, said Silvia Inchaurraga, who ran on the LULA list.

"What we want is a truly Latin American network, not a Brazilian
one," Inchaurraga told DRCNet. "The Simon Bolivar list is not
representative of all Latin America, nor are all of its people
even related to harm reduction. Also, we want a network that is
actually involved in drug policy reform, not just hiding behind
HIV prevention. We want an antiprohibitionist network independent
of official agencies. Even if those agencies are friendly, we
need the autonomy in decision-making that the network has not had
up until now. And we are afraid of the harms we see from the most
dangerous and addictive drug: power."

In a message circulated on the RELARD list and signed by Eliane
Guerra Nunes of the LULA list, Gustavo Hurtado and Agustin
Lapetina of the stillborn Consensus list, and Silvia Inchaurraga
of the RELARD executive secretariat, the signers denounced the
election as unfair and demanded that it be nullified. The
election was supposed to be by secret ballot, the letter said, but
Fabio Mesquita, who presided over the voting, instead called for a
show of hands. The voting needed to be secret, the letter said,
because "many of the potential participants could feel pressured
to vote for someone other than who they wanted because of
contractual links with the members of both lists." The open
voting in violation of agreed upon rules, "nullifies the vote and
gravely wounds the principle of free choice," the signatories

Neither was there any control over who could vote in the election,
the letter said. Such uncontrolled voting "gravely wounds the
principle of legitimacy and representativeness," the letter
continued. What's worse, the letter continued, the assembly had
already voted to accept a temporary leadership composed of members
of both lists (the Consensus List) and the decision to hold
another vote "did not respect the decision of the assembly to form
a consensus list for the transition leadership." And worse yet,
the letter's lengthy litany continued, were irregularities in
awarding authority to the president of the assembly and that "some
of the members of the Simón Bolívar List are family members of the
presidential candidate Sandra Batista and have no background
in the field of harm reduction."

Taken together, the letter said, the missteps mentioned above
constitute "a grave and substantial violation of electoral norms,
procedural errors, and manifest arbitrariness" sufficient for the
results to be nullified. The new RELARD leadership is "illegal
and illegitimate" and new elections should be held to replace it,
the letter concluded.

"It needs to be emphasized that up until the moment of the
assembly we sought a unity list that would strengthen RELARD, said
Gustavo Hurtado of the Argentine Harm Reduction Association
(ARDA). "In the negotiations in which Fabio Mesquita and I took
part, the proposal was that RELARD be led by a Brazilian with
broad support of an executive representative of Latin American
harm reduction and that in no way would we would support any
maneuver at the assembly in Sao Paulo when there was no financial
support to ensure that representatives of the networks in all the
member countries could be there, and the ones who could come paid
their own way," he told DRCNet.

"For us, this is an opportunity that we must not ignore to
strengthen RELARD at a time when we are seeing advances in drug
reform in Latin America. It is a shame that the ambition for
power and the inability to co-direct of some people linked to
Fabio Mesquita made it impossible to arrive at an accord," Hurtado
continued. "It is unacceptable for us to allow a group of people
who are not representative of the harm reduction movement to lead
RELARD. We think that the least harm comes from denouncing and
nullifying the election, otherwise we would be accomplices in the
installation of spurious leadership in an institution that must
guarantee transparency in its political practices."

Others have since joined the call for nullification and new
elections, including individuals and groups from Argentine,
Bolivia, Brazil, and Uruguay. But newly elected RELARD head
Sandra Batista rejected the charges of electoral irregularities
and the call for nullifying the election. "No, there were no
problems at all, as can be confirmed by fully signed procedural
documents open to anyone," she told DRCNet. Nor did she confirm
that there are fissures in the organization. "We have no
information at all about any kind of actual dispute at RELARD,"
she maintained.

Late Thursday, Batista added that "I do not believe that we have
some divisions in the movement. We received a letter from four
members who participated fully at the general assembly,
complaining about the election process. This was the same
assembly they participated in with proposals and votes. This
letter was answered and we are waiting for the next step of

[Editor's Note: In fairness to Batista, Mesquita, and the Simon
Bolivar list, we must note that because of deadline pressures, we
could offer only a very short time for them to respond to the
substantive charges leveled against them, and we had not heard
further from them by press time late Thursday night.]

Batista also denied that there was any chance of RELARD breaking
apart. "Why should RELARD break up now, when we have so many
challenges ahead?" she asked.

But from the sound of it, RELARD's first challenge is to fix its
own house.


5. Oakland "Regulate and Tax" Marijuana Legalization Initiative
Getting Underway -- Poll Says Public Support Strong

A group of veteran activists is aiming to make Oakland,
California, the first place in the country to endorse legalizing
the use and sale of marijuana, and they have polling numbers
showing strong support for such a move. Filed with city officials
Thursday, the Oakland Cannabis Regulation and Revenue Initiative
would direct the Oakland City Council to establish a system of
licensed, regulated marijuana sales in the city as soon as legally
possible. While legal pot sales would have to await a change in
state law and federal law, a second provision in the initiative
would have an immediate effect. It directs the city to make
personal adult use of marijuana Oakland's lowest law enforcement

"This would be the first time any government entity in the country
will have called for what amounts to Amsterdam-style
legalization," said Dale Gieringer, California NORML
( executive director and one of the board
members of the Oakland Civil Liberties Alliance (OCLA), the newly-
formed group behind the effort. "Twenty years ago, we were asking
for decriminalization, but we're moving beyond that now. Even
though for much of the adult population there is a sort of de
facto decriminalization -- not that many adults around here
actually get arrested for pot use -- that still leaves the black
market, with all its disruptions."

It could work in Oakland. Already picking up the nickname
Oaksterdam for the flowering of medical marijuana dispensaries
around Telegraph & Broadway, the city appears ready for the move,
at least according to results from a poll commissioned by OCLA.
In that survey, conducted last month by McGuire Research Services,
71% of Oakland votes supported the taxed and regulated sale of
marijuana, while 75% supported making private adult use the lowest
law enforcement priority.

"We started with focus groups last summer to get a feel for what
Oakland voters wanted," said Claire Lewis of Progressive
Communications, the group hired by OCLA to get the campaign
underway, "and the poll results coincided with our estimates based
on the focus groups. This is a wonderful population for us," she
told DRCNet. "It is extremely low in Republicans and high in
Democrats, Greens, and independents. Oakland is a very
progressive city hit hard by the federal government's war on
drugs, and that's reflected in 90% saying the federal drug war
isn't working. Oakland voters are ready to reevaluate what is
going on."

Focus groups, polls, and setting up initiative campaigns takes
money. The Marijuana Policy Project ( came
through for the Oakland effort, Lewis said. "We got a grant in
MPP's last grant cycle to do the poll and the start up and the
petition gathering for the initiative," she explained. "Opinion
research can be expensive, but it gives us a solid knowledge base.
We'll use the numbers and messages that we found in the polling
and the focus groups. We know that what worries Oakland voters is
street crime and street dealing. Voters want to keep it off the
streets, and they're worried about serious crime. They don't want
to waste police resources on cannabis offenses."

In addition to hiring Progressive Communications, OCLA has brought
some of the Bay Area's most dedicated activists together. Along
with California NORML's Gieringer, OCLA's board includes Oakland
politico Joe Devries, who as former head of the city's Public
Health and Safety Commission helped make Oakland medical
marijuana-friendly; Richard Lee, owner of Oaksterdam landmark the
Bulldog Coffee Shop, and Mikki Norris of the Cannabis Consumers
Campaign (, which seeks to
introduce normal pot-smokers to the American public.

"This is exactly where we want to go," said Norris. "OCLA wants
to tax and regulate the use of marijuana by adults, and the work
of the Cannabis Consumers Campaign fits right into this. We want
to get people to come out of the closet to allay the public's
fears about what happens to people who smoke cannabis," she told
DRCNet. "The long-term goal is to have equal rights in society
and not be discriminated against, and this initiative will be a
giant step in that direction."

"We've been crafting the language of this right up to the last
minute," said Gieringer, "and we set out some parameters. It
doesn't apply to kids, there would be licensing for smoking
facilities, there would be no advertising on media like billboards
and TV. We think Oaklanders are going to be very receptive," he
said. "It also directs city lobbyists to lobby for changes in
state law that would allow the city to regulate and tax marijuana

The campaign will hit hard on crime and public safety issues,
Norris said. "Oakland has serious problems with street crime and
murders and kids being exposed. We are offering a solution that
would channel some of the street dealing into legitimate
businesses that could be held accountable for problems. In the
focus groups, a lot of people were really bothered by the street

The prospect of tax revenues could also prove seductive to social
service-starved Oakland voters. "This is arguably the largest
cash crop in the state and it's completely untaxed," Gieringer
pointed out. "Revenue considerations are very important, and only
with full-scale regulation can you tap into those dollars. This
could raise real tax money for the city."

With the state of California suffering record deficits and ripple
effects hitting cities and counties across the state, it may not
be just Oakland voters who get interested. "We can offer at least
some sort of solution to the budget crisis," said Norris. "That
could get a lot of attention. People across the state are
concerned that we're wasting money going after nonviolent
offenders and they see a revenue stream just waiting to be tapped
into. The cities and counties are hurting, and we have a
solution: Tax us!"

While OCLA concedes that state law must change for the initiative
to take effect, it argues that the ramifications of a November
victory could be large. "There would definitely be a change in
the local political climate," said Gieringer. "Politicians would
begin to understand that this is a safe issue. And it could also
instigate change elsewhere, similar to what happened with medical
marijuana. That got started with a local initiative, Proposition
P in San Francisco in 1991, then it went on to Santa Cruz and
other cities and counties, then the state legislature got
interested and passed a bill, only to see it vetoed by Governor
Davis. We could follow a similar trajectory, though hopefully
without a veto."

City officials now have 15 days to review the initiative and
provide it with a title and voters' summary. After that, the
signature gathering begins. If all goes well for OCLA, voters in
Oakland will get to decide on legalization of marijuana -- in
principle, at least -- in November.


6. Action Alert: HEA Campaign Entering New Stage -- Your Letters
and Phone Calls Needed!

As you may know, DRCNet, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, and a
wide range of education, civil rights, religious, drug policy
reform and other groups have long campaigned against a 1998
amendment to the Higher Education Act that delays or denies
federal financial aid to anyone convicted of a drug offense, no
matter how minor. More than 128,000 would-be students have been
adversely affected by this provision. H.R. 685, a bill in the US
House of Representatives to repeal the HEA drug provision, has the
support of 66 Representatives, and six presidential candidates
have spoken out for its repeal as well.

Our battle has recently entered a new stage. The Higher Education
Act is itself in the midst of reauthorization, making this a
particularly critical moment for working on this issue. Also, our
coalition has mounted a major new effort to launch the repeal
effort into the Senate, after previously focusing only on the
House of Representatives. Finally, responding to growing support
for repeal of the drug provision, its sponsor, notorious drug
warrior Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN), has offered a proposal to scale
the law back so that it only applies to people who were in school
at the time they committed their offense. While he has brought up
this reform previously, this time it is particularly likely to
become law.

While the Souder reform will help some number of people and
represents an important partial victory for the students and
others working on this issue, only full repeal can adequately
address the education, discrimination and other serious concerns
that members of our coalition have about the HEA drug provision.
For all these reasons, we are asking you to take a moment right
now to mark this new stage of the campaign by contacting your US
Representative and your two US Senators -- use our web site at to do so online -- and to follow up
with a phone call to them tomorrow, Friday February 13, or as soon
thereafter as you can.

you are done, please forward this alert to your family and friends
or use the tell-a-friend form that we have made available on online.

Also, we and our campaign partners at Students for Sensible Drug
Policy will be sending you a special bulletin next week outlining
our strategy for advancing the full repeal cause, announcing a
NATIONAL DAY OF ACTION this April, and letting you know what
students and non-students alike can do to help. You can start
getting ready by visiting for
extensive information about the issue and resources for getting
involved in the campaign, including our newly-updated student and
non-student activist packets.

Some talking points for your phone calls:

* The vast majority of Americans convicted of drug offenses are
convicted of nonviolent, low-level possession.

* The HEA drug provision represents a penalty levied only on the
poor and the working class; wealthier students will not have the
doors of college closed to them for want to financial aid.

* The HEA drug provision has a disparate impact on different
races. African Americans, for example, comprise 13% of the
population and 13% of all drug users, but account for more than
55% of those convicted of drug possession charges.

* Access to a college education is the surest route to the
mainstream economy and a crime-free life.

Again, visit to write to Congress
and get involved in the campaign!


7. Newsbrief: DEA Moving to Restrict Vicodin

How's this for a Valentine's Day present for America's tens of
millions of pain sufferers? The Washington Post reported February
14 that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) wants to make it
more difficult for them to get access to some of the most commonly
prescribed opioid pain relievers. The agency is plotting a move
against hydrocodone, with plans to move the drug, commonly sold as
Vicodin, Lortab, and more than 200 generic brands, from the
Controlled Substances Act's Schedule III to the much more
restrictive Schedule II.

"Hydrocodone is one of the most abused drugs in the nation," said
Christine Sannerud, deputy chief of the drug and chemical
evaluation section of the DEA. "The agency thinks it would be
wise to move it to Schedule II, because that would help a lot in
terms of reducing abuse and trafficking," she told the Post.

If hydrocodone is one of the most abused drugs, it may be because
it is one of the most widely prescribed. Last year, it was
prescribed more than 100 million times to millions of patients who
use it to treat pain from arthritis, AIDS, cancer, and a variety
of chronic conditions. The DEA cites a 50% increase in emergency
room mentions of hydrocodone in the last five years, but that
increase has been coupled with a 25% increase in the number of
prescriptions written. And with 118,000 mentions in 2002's Drug
Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) numbers, hydrocodone accounted for
only half the mentions that simple analgesics like aspirin did.

The move is part of the DEA's larger effort to crack down on
opioid prescribing, which has so far focused on persecuting
Oxycontin and prosecuting physicians, especially pain management
specialists, it accuses of overprescribing it. Now, the agency
wants to treat Vicodin as restrictively as it treats Oxycontin.
The impact of reclassifying doing so would be dramatic. Because
Schedule II drugs cannot be refilled, patients would have to visit
their doctors more often. Likewise, doctors could no longer phone
in prescriptions and would face greater penalties if accusing of
improper prescribing, while pharmacists would have to do
significantly more paperwork and keep the drug in a safe.

The move has drawn criticism from pain patient advocates and
health care professionals. "Rescheduling the drug will bring more
hoops and barriers to getting access to the drugs, and it may
prevent some minimal amount of abuse," said Richard Payne,
president of the American Pain Society. "But my concern is that
it will come at the cost of denying access to thousands of
patients," he told the Post.

Susan Winkler of the American Pharmacists Association warned of
"ripple effects" if hydrocodone is rescheduled. "Our members and
doctors would have increased liability if [hydrocodones] are
rescheduled, and that will inevitably reduce prescribing," she
said. "We urge the DEA to make sure their decision is based on
science and will make the situation better, not worse."

And John T. Farrar, a pain specialist at the University of
Pennsylvania and consultant to the FDA advisory panel on
analgesics, told the Post restricting doctors' ability to phone in
prescriptions would hurt patient care. "There's really no
substitute that doctors would be allowed to call in," Farrar said.
"That means many patients would probably be getting other Schedule
III drugs that are less effective for their pain, while drug
abusers will just find another source."

(Visit -- the newly redesigned
and expanded web site of the Pain Relief Network -- for extensive
information on this issue and to learn about the upcoming pain
patient "March on Washington.)


8. Newsbrief: Canadian Government Reintroduces Marijuana
Decriminalization Bill

The Canadian government of Prime Minister Paul Martin reintroduced
the marijuana decriminalization bill that failed last fall when
then Prime Minister Jean Chretien adjourned parliament prior to
stepping down. Bill C-10 would decriminalize possession of less
than 15 grams of pot. People caught by police would be ticketed
and would be subject of fines up to $110 US for adults or $75 US
for youth. Those caught in possession of between 15 and 30 grams
could be either ticketed or charged with a criminal offense at the
discretion of the officer involved.

This year, the government has accepted some amendments to the
bill, including one that would also decriminalize the cultivation
of up to three plants. Under last year's version, small-time
cultivation would have garnered up to a year in jail and a fine of
up to almost $4,000. Both versions contain stiffer penalties for
people operating larger grows.

And in a rebuff to the Americans, who had made noises about using
records of marijuana tickets as a means of barring Canadians from
traveling to the States, the government also accepted an amendment
that would make it a criminal offense for Canadian officials "to
knowingly disclose to a foreign government or international
organization" the name of anyone ticketed for possession.

The bill remains unpopular both with drug warriors and drug
reformers. For the former it is too much; for the latter, too
little. "It certainly doesn't win any points with us," said
Sophie Roux, a spokeswoman for the Canadian Professional Police
Association, which represents 54,000 officers. "We think it
should be delayed. We don't think it should go ahead. We're
going to fight it."

"The federal New Democratic Party (NDP) opposes this bill because
it falls short of the government's promises of decriminalization,"
said Member of Parliament Libby Davies, NDP's social policy
critic. "The federal NDP has long advocated for the full
decriminalization of marijuana and for a drug policy that does not
primarily rely only on the police and criminal justice system. If
enacted, the bill may well lead to increased prosecutions and
waste of resources. Replace charges with fines, and people the
police would let off with a warming and a wave under the old
system will instead be hit with a fine. In other words,
decriminalization could lead to more people being punished, not

But the Liberal Party controls the government with a solid
parliamentary majority, and Prime Minister Martin did reintroduce
the bill, signaling that the government is serious about pushing
it through. Martin and his Liberal Party, however, are currently
being kept busy and on the defensive with a $100 million
corruption scandal, and elections are expected to be called
sometime this spring, so the bill's fate remains to be seen.

Read Bill C-10 online at:


9. Newsbrief: Methadone Maintenance Doctors Under Attack in

A long-simmering struggle between anti-drug hard-liners and
doctors specializing in treating addicts is heating up. Next
week, seven doctors prescribing maintenance doses of the heroin
substitute methadone for their addict patients must appear before
the General Medical Council, British medicine's disciplinary body,
after the British government's Home Office filed formal complaints
against them. More than 200 heroin addicts now face the prospect
of being cut off from their methadone if the doctors are found to
have engaged in professional misconduct.

Under attack is the prestigious Stapleford Center in London, whose
founder and medical director, Dr. Colin Brewer, is a globally
recognized leader in the treatment of heroin addiction. Brewer
and six doctors with ties to the center are all charged in Home
Office complaints of inappropriate prescribing of methadone.

At the root of the complaints is the belief shared by the Home
Office and some doctors that the goal of treating drug users
should be to force them to abstain from drugs. Thus, methadone
should be prescribed only temporarily and in rapidly-reduced doses
under close supervision.

But at Stapleford, Brewer and the other doctors supplied
"maintenance prescriptions" to some patients, which, they said,
would allow patients to escape the black market and lead normal,
healthy, crime-free lives.

British law allows for maintenance prescriptions, but, as the
Guardian newspaper drolly noted, the rules for such prescriptions
"are unusually complex." Brewer and the Stapleford Center had
avoided problems by working closely with the Home Office and
encouraging users to detox, but have recently run afoul of high
National Health Service officials over the maintenance
prescriptions and over his pioneering use of naltrexone in
providing painless detoxification. Now, the Guardian reported,
Home Office inspectors are poring over prescription records in
search of violations of the complex rules.

The Guardian quoted a source close to the Home Office as saying:
"They have been talking about getting rid of every private doctor
who prescribes for heroin users."

"This is a very poor development, a very negative development,"
said Bill Nelles, executive director of the Methadone Alliance.
"We are very worried about the patients who may end up with no
care if these doctors are not allowed to prescribe. This could
also have a serious knock-on effect on other doctors who work in
this field."

"This is so crass," said Labor MP Paul Flynn, vice-chair of the
all-party drugs group. "These are people who would be knighted if
there was a decent honors system for their courage in prescribing
in a way that is of enormous benefit to the drug users and to
their communities who may otherwise suffer from their crime."

Instead of being knighted, though, the good doctors are being


10. Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cops Story

Competition remains fierce as drug war corruption goes banal. One
dishonorable mention goes this week to former Hazard, Kentucky,
police officer Calvin Sizemore. In charge of the department's
evidence room, he staged fake drug burns and instead peddled
seized marijuana and Oxycontin. He got 32 months from a federal
judge on February 13. Another runner-up is Denver police officer
Damon Finley, charged the same day with taking a $10,000 bribe
from a crack seller to destroy evidence. Finley took the money
but didn't destroy the crack, the aggrieved seller complained, and
now Finley is looking at serious time.

But this week's winner comes from Kansas, where former Trego
County Sheriff Curtis Bender was indicted February 10 on federal
cocaine distribution charges. Bender became the former sheriff in
April, when he was first arrested on state charges by the Kansas
Bureau of Investigation, who had been tipped that Bender and a
pair of associates were trying to move some cocaine.

Located in the vast flatness of western Kansas, Trego County,
whose largest town is WaKeeney (pop. 1,924), is not known for its
cocaine habit. But it does sit astride Interstate 70, which like
all the nation's great traffic arteries, is, in DEA-speak, "a
narcotics trafficking corridor." And there is where Sheriff
Bender met temptation.

The cocaine in question, more than one pound, had been discovered
in a seized car being readied for a sheriff's auction, and was
turned over to Bender for safe-keeping. Instead, according to the
federal indictment, the cash-hungry cop saw a chance to turn a
profit. Now he faces two counts of cocaine distribution, one
count of possession with intent to distribute, one count of
conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute, and, for good
measure, one count of possessing a handgun in the furtherance of
drug trafficking.


11. Newsbrief: Drug War First -- Florida Town Offers Used Car
Drug Inspections

In response to what is apparently a critical problem that had
until now slipped under the radar in South Florida, the town of
Miramar is offering city residents the chance to have used cars
inspected to ensure they're not full of dope, the Fort Lauderdale
Sun-Sentinel reported. Residents must make an appointment with
the Miramar Police drug dog, who will provide the sniffing free of
charge as a public service, the department announced last week.

The move is the brainchild of City Commissioner Winston Barnes,
who said he thought of it after a resident complained that a
friend had been stopped and police found drugs left in a car she
had just purchased. By using the program, said Barnes, one could
avoid the possibility of getting "stopped at 2:00am and the drug
dogs get crazy on your car, and you don't know what is happening."

According to Miramar police Captain John Savaiko, if small amounts
of contraband are found, the car will be cleaned and the buyer can
leave without punishment. Savaiko didn't say what would happen if
large amounts of drugs were found. Not that leftover dope had
been a big issue, Savaiko added, but the department wanted to be

Miramar resident Richard Davis pronounced himself bemused by the
whole notion. He would never have thought of it, he told the Sun-
Sentinel. "It would be the last thing on my mind if I bought a
used car," he said.


12. This Week in History

February 25, 1997: President Bill Clinton proposed spending $175
million for a national television blitz targeting drug use by
America's youth. Matching funds from the private sector would be
sought. Clinton said, "If a child does watch television -- and
what child doesn't -- he or she should not be able to escape these

February 26, 1995: Former mayor of San Francisco Frank Jordan is
quoted in the Los Angeles Times: "I have no problem whatsoever
with the use of marijuana for medical purposes. I am sensitive
and compassionate to people who have legitimate needs. We should
bend the law and do what's right."


13. Psilocybin Cancer Research Study Seeking Participants

A study being conducted by Dr. Charles S. Grob at Harbor-UCLA in
Torrance, California, is recruiting stage IV cancer patients with
anxiety to participate in an FDA approved study with psilocybin.
Visit for further information,
or contact Marycie Hagerty, RN study coordinator, at or (310) 222-3175.


14. Asian Harm Reduction Network Launches Online Resource

The Asian Harm Reduction Network (AHRN) has announced the "AHRN
Resource Centre," a comprehensive resource collection, compiled
over the past five years, on drug use and HIV/AIDS in (and
outside) Asia. This collection of titles -- 632 electronic and
754 printed -- is now available online at the AHRN Resources
Database. New titles are announced monthly through the AHRN-LIST
discussion group and quarterly via the AHRN Newsletter.

Titles are classified according to the categories Drugs; Drug
Use/Injecting Drug Use; Harm Reduction; Hepatitis and Drug Use;
Tuberculosis, Sexually-Transmitted Infections, and Other Diseases;

The AHRN Resource Centre can be accessed at --
free membership registration with AHRN required. Online titles
can be downloaded in PDF format, which printed titles are
available by contacting AHRN's Librarian or visiting the Resource
Centre located at the AHRN Secretariat in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
In the future, these titles will include AHRN's CD-ROM and video

For inquiries and publications to add to the AHRN Resource Centre,
please contact: Ms. Umaporn Petchlim, AHRN Clearinghouse


15. Offer and Appeal: New Ink Stamps and
Strobe Lights -- DRCNet Needs Your Support in 2004

DRCNet is pleased to announce two new "fun" gift items available
as our gift to any and all interested parties who want to donate
to DRCNet at or above a certain level and also get the message out
in their own communities. In addition to our t-shirts, mugs and
mousepads, DRCNet's merchandise line now includes a stop sign
shaped ink stamp (complete with red ink pad)
and a stop sign shaped strobe light. Mark your
envelopes and other papers or appropriate possessions with the message via red stamp; and use our 2 1/2 inch
octagonal, flashing light as the perfect attention-getter at
parties or other events. The flashing red
light also doubles as a bike safety device as it is visible for up
to 1/2 mile, and comes complete with a replaceable battery good
for 100 hours of continuous use and a handy clip.

Just visit and donate $25 or
more by credit card or PayPal, and we'll send your complimentary strobe light. Donate $30 or more and we'll
send you the stamp with red ink pad. Donate
$50 or more and we'll send you both, or two of either one. Send
any amount, large or small and you will qualify for a free button and sticker. While you're there,
consider getting some of our t-shirts, mugs or
mousepads, the exciting Flex Your Rights Foundation video "BUSTED:
The Citizens Guide to Surviving Police Encounters" or any other
item -- use the handy comment box at the bottom of the donation
form for any needed clarifications to your order.


If you're not comfortable donating by credit card, visit to print out a paper order form
to mail with your check or money order to: DRCNet, P.O. Box 18402,
Washington, DC 20036. Donations to the Drug Reform Coordination
Network to support our lobbying work (like the action alert
program) are not tax-deductible. Tax-deductible contributions to
support our educational work can be made to the DRCNet Foundation,
same address. We can also accept donations of stock: Our broker
is Ameritrade, phone: (800) 669-3900, account number: 772973012,
DTC number: 0188, make sure to contact us directly to let us know
that the stocks are there and whether they are meant for the Drug
Reform Coordination Network or the DRCNet Foundation.

Again, please visit to check out
the new items and help DRCNet work to end the war on drugs! Thank
you for your enthusiasm and support.


16. The Reformer's Calendar

(Please submit listings of events concerning drug policy and
related topics to

February 15-22, nationwide, "Medical Marijuana Week 2004," day of
protests organized by Americans for Safe Access. E-mail, call (510) 486-8083 or visit to get involved.

February 24, 5:00pm, Oakland, CA, "Triumph Over Fear" Victory
Party and Award Ceremony, celebrating the Raich v. Ashcroft court
victory. At the Oakland Box Theater, 1928 Telegraph Ave., RSVP to
(510) 764-1499 or, or visit for further information.

February 26, noon-2:00pm, Washington DC, Washington Council of
Lawyers Brownbag on Tulia. At the firm of Hogan & Hartson,
contact (202) 942-5063 or visit for further information.

February 26, 4:30-6:00pm, New York, NY, "Over the Influence:
Managing Drugs and Alcohol, A Harm Reduction Perspective," forum
at The Lindesmith Library, Drug Policy Alliance, 70 West 36th St.,
16th Floor. RSVP to Julie Ruckel at (212) 613-8053 or, or visit for info.

March 1-2, Houston, TX, speaking tour by Bob Owens of Law
Enforcement Against Prohibition. Contact Mike Smithson at (315)
243-5844 or or visit for
further information.

March 3-11, Idaho, "Modern-Day Paul Revere calls America to the
Truth," speaking tour by Howard Wooldridge of Law Enforcement
Against Prohibition. Contact Mike Smithson at (315) 243-5844 or or visit for information.

March 27, noon-6:00pm, Sacramento, CA, Medical Marijuana Rally.
At the State Capitol, L & 12th, north steps, featuring
singer/songwriter Dave's Not Here, speakers, entertainment.
Contact Peter Keyes at or (916)
456-7933 for further information.

April 1-3, Houston, TX, "Breaking the Chains: Communities of Color
and the War on Drugs," conference of Drug Policy Alliance, contact, (888) 361-6338 or visit for further information.

April 18-20, Washington, DC, "America's in Pain!", March on
Washington and Chronic Pain Patients Leadership Summit. For
further information, visit http:// or
contact Mary Vargas at (202) 331-8864 or Siobhan Reynolds at (212)

April 20-24, Melbourne, Australia, "15th International Conference
on the Reduction of Drug Related Harm." Visit
or e-mail for information.

April 22-24, Washington, DC, NORML conference, details pending,
visit for updates.

May 18-19, New York, NY, "Break the Cycle: Tear Down the New
Slave Industry -- Criminal Injustice." Conference at Manhattan
Community College/CUNY, 199 Chambers St., for further info contact
Johanna DuBose at (212) 481-4313 or, or
Victor Ray or Umme Hena at the BMCC Student Government
Association, (212) 406-3980.

May 20-22, Charlottesville, VA, Third National Clinical Conference
on Cannabis Therapeutics. At the Charlottesville Omni Hotel,
visit for further information.

September 18, noon-6:00pm, Boston, MA, 15th Annual Freedom Rally,
visit for further information.

November 11-14, New Orleans, LA, "Working Under Fire: Drug User
Health and Justice 2004," 5th National Harm Reduction Conference.
Sponsored by the Harm Reduction Coalition, at the New Orleans
Astor Crowne Plaza, contact Paula Santiago at (212) 213-6376 x15
or visit
for further information.


DRCNet needs your support! Donations can be made by credit card
at or sent by mail to P.O. Box
18402, Washington, DC 20036-8402. Donations to the Drug Reform
Coordination Network are not tax-deductible. Deductible
contributions supporting our educational work can be made by check
to the DRCNet Foundation, a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization,
same address.

PERMISSION to reprint or redistribute any or all of the contents
of Drug War Chronicle is hereby granted. We ask that any use of
these materials include proper cre
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