Drug War Chronicle #378
Raising Awareness of the Consequences of Drug Prohibition
Drug War Chronicle, Issue #378
March 11, 2004
Phillip S. Smith, Editor email@example.com
This week's stories:
1. BUSY WEEK: CAMPAIGN FOR REPEAL OF HEA DRUG PROVISION ON THE "RISE"
The campaign to repeal the Higher Education Act's anti-drug
provision got a boost this week, with a record number of
starting cosponsors on a repeal bill and eight members of
Congress speaking for events Wednesday and Thursday.
2. UN FORUM HIGHLIGHTS DIVIDES OVER HARM REDUCTION -- US
POWERFUL BUT ISOLATED
The United Nations' Commission on Narcotic Drugs meeting this
week in Vienna became the latest battleground in an effort led
by the United States to de-legitimize harm reduction strategies
in general and needle exchange programs in particular.
3. POLICE AND NEEDLE EXCHANGES: THE PHILADELPHIA STORY AND
An effort by Philadelphia police to crack down on the city's
illicit drug markets has had an unintended undermining impact on
the city's needle exchange programs.
4. HOWARD RIDES AGAIN: FORMER TEXAS LAWMAN RIDING CROSS COUNTRY ON HORSEBACK TO EXPLAIN WHY COPS SAY LEGALIZE DRUGS
Texas lawman Howard Wooldridge and his horse Misty are riding
across the United States, explaining the message on his t-shirt:
"Cops Say Legalize Drugs: Ask Me Why."
5. DRCNET INTERVIEWS DRUG POLICY ALLIANCE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR ETHAN NADELMANN ON REACHING OUT TO THE RIGHT
It must have seemed surreal to see Drug Policy Alliance
executive director Ethan Nadelmann appearing at the Conservative
Political Action Conference in Washington earlier this month.
Nadelmann spoke with Drug War Chronicle this week on reformers
reaching out to the right.
6. COASTERS TO STOP THE DRUG WAR
Order DRCNet's new Stop The Drug War coasters -- and enjoy your
favorite beverages while talking about prohibition.
7. NEWSBRIEF: FEDERAL PROSECUTORS ASK LIFE SENTENCE FOR DR. HURWITZ
Federal prosecutors are seeking to send nationally-known
Virginia pain specialist Dr. William Hurwitz to prison for life.
But others see him as a humane, life-saving physician.
8. NEWSBRIEF: MOUNTIE MURDERS SHIFT CANADA MARIJUANA DEBATE RIGHTWARD EVEN THOUGH GROW-UP LINK TENUOUS
When James Roszko shot and killed four Royal Canadian Mounted
Police at his rural Alberta farm last week, he may also have
fatally wounded prospects for that country to move beyond
limited marijuana law reform.
9. NEWSBRIEF: THIS WEEK'S CORRUPT COPS STORIES
It's the usual motley assortment again this week: Small time
dishonesty in Texas, enterprising jailers in Tennessee, and a
cop with a bad habit in Minnesota.
10. NEWSBRIEF: IN COLORADO FIRST, DENVER POLICE RETURN MARIJUANA TO PATIENT
On March 4, medical marijuana patient Thomas Lawrence made
Colorado history as the Denver Police Department returned to him
a bag of marijuana it had seized during a January 11 traffic stop.
11. NEWSBRIEF: PERUVIAN FIRST LADY DEFENDS COCA
In a February 22 speech at George Washington University in
Washington, DC, Peruvian first lady Elaine Karp said that coca
cannot be stamped out because its use is deeply rooted in Andean
cultures. And, it's good for you.
12. NEWSBRIEF: LOCAL AUTHORITIES TRYING TO BAN MILLION MARIJUANA MARCH IN LONDON NEIGHBORHOOD
The Annual Cannabis March and Festival in the London
neighborhood of Brixton is in danger of being banned by local
authorities. But former organizers of the event have already
disavowed any connection with it.
13. NEWSBRIEF: DUTCH COFFEE SHOPS FACING PRESSURE, GREATER CONTROLS
For the past three decades, Amsterdam has been Mecca for
marijuana connoisseurs and advocates of regulated cannabis sales
and use. That may be changing -- or it may not.
14. EVENTS AND CONFERENCES COMING UP FOR DRUG REFORMERS --COME OUT AND BE A PART OF IT
Events and conferences are coming up around the country -- come
out and get to know the people in the movement!
15. THIS WEEK IN HISTORY
Events and quotes of note from this week's drug policy events of
16. THE REFORMER'S CALENDAR
Showing up at an event can be the best way to get involved!
Check out this week's listings for events from today through
next year, across the US and around the world!
to sign up today.
1. Busy Week: Campaign for Repeal of HEA Drug Provision on the
The campaign to repeal the Higher Education Act's (HEA)
anti-drug provision got a big boost Wednesday as Rep. Barney
Frank (D-MA) and 55 other members of Congress introduced the
Removing Impediments to Students' Education (RISE) Act, H.R.
1184. With 55 cosponsors already onboard, this year's RISE Act
starts out well ahead of the corresponding bill Frank introduced
in 2003, which had 38 sponsors at launch time.
That was cause for good spirits later that night, when DRCNet
supporters and friends gathered to hear US Rep. John Conyers and
former drug war prisoner Kemba Smith address a fundraiser for
the John W. Perry Fund
A scholarship program created by DRCNet that provides scholarships to students who have lost their financial aid eligibility because of drug
convictions. It also added to the resolve of seven members of
Congress and others who spoke the next day at a press conference
organized by DRCNet for the Coalition for Higher Education Act
Reform (CHEAR) to mark the RISE Act's launch
Meanwhile legislators to the north introduced legislation in Rhode Island that would call on Congress to repeal the drug provision and put the state's money
to work counteracting it in the meantime.
Authored by arch-conservative congressional drug warrior Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN), the HEA anti-drug provision bars students with drug convictions from receiving federal financial aid for specified periods of time. The provision applies to any state or federal drug arrest, no matter how minor. Although passed in 1998, the provision went into effect in 2000 and was not
aggressively enforced until 2001. Since then, some 160,500 students have lost financial, according to the US Department of Education. Untold thousands more have not even applied, knowing
their applications would be rejected.
Rep. Frank has championed bills to repeal the provision for the
last six years, but this year's version begins from the
strongest position yet. Thursday, Frank and six other members of
Congress stood with representatives from some of the more than
200 organizations that support repeal at a noon press conference on Capitol Hill.
"The law discriminates against those who most often apply for
college financial aid -- minority and low-income students," said
Frank. "Students who have drug convictions but don't come from
families that need financial aid are not affected by this law. I
don't condone drug use and believe that someone who commits a
violent offense or is a major drug trafficker should be denied
financial aid. But preventing students with minor convictions
from being able to pursue an education is counterproductive and
"I have seen students come into my office and cry, and weep
because they couldn't get financial aid," said Rep. Danny Davis
(D-IL), adding that such punitive policies are "archaic, insane,
make no sense, and are utterly ridiculous."
"The NAACP continues to be ardently and absolutely opposed to
any automatic delay or denial of federal educational assistance
to students with past drug offenses on their record," said
Hilary Shelton, director of the group's Washington bureau. "The
NAACP is further committed to do all we can to see to it that
this over-punitive and consistently racist policy is
HEA anti-drug provision victim Marisa Garcia, now a student at
Cal State-Fullerton, also addressed the press conference. "More
than 160,000 students have been affected by the anti-drug
provision," she said. "I am one of them. In January 2000, I was
caught with a marijuana pipe. I pled guilty, paid my fine, and
thought I'd be able to get on with my life. But when it came
time to fill out my student financial aid application, there was
that question asking if I ever had a drug conviction."
Without financial aid, Garcia struggled to stay in school, but,
thanks to a timely refinancing of the family home and her
mother's credit card to buy her books, she was able to stay in
college. "Many others are not so fortunate," she said. "It's
time for Congress to admit that passing the HEA anti-drug
provision was a terrible mistake. Only full repeal of this law
will allow students like me to go to college."
Supporters of repeal include the National Association of Student
Financial Aid Administrators, whose Larry Zaglaniczny told the
press conference "our members believe it is an inappropriate use
of federal power to utilize the student assistance programs to
deny such assistance to individuals." For Zaglaniczny, the
association's congressional liaison, the answer was clear:
"Repeal should be accomplished now."
Other members of Congress speaking Thursday morning included
Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL), Rep. Robert Andrews (D-NJ), Rep. Barbara
Lee (D-CA), Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-CA), and Elijah Cummings
(D-MD), who noted that all people including these students "have
one life to live" and we should let them succeed in it. Other
organizational representatives included the ACLU's Jesselyn
McCurdy and Students for Sensible Drug Policy's Scarlett
In a spirit consistent with that of Rep. Jackson Lee, who spoke
not only of opposing the HEA drug provision but of "standing
against it," advocates are not merely seeking to overturn the
HEA anti-drug provision but are also working to provide
alternate financial assistance to its victims. To that end,
DRCNet created the John W. Perry Fund in March 2002. Named after
New York City policeman, anti-prohibitionist, ACLU member and
libertarian John Perry, who perished saving others at the World
Trade Center on September 11, 2001, the fund seeks to make up
for the financial assistance lost to students under the HEA
While the fund's ability to help students in need has faced
financial constraints, fund organizers this year have embarked
on an ambitious campaign to increase the size of the kitty while
raising awareness of the law and energizing the "bases."
Patricia Perry, John Perry's mother, expressed the sentiment in
a written statement she provided -- read to attendees by event
emcee Arnold Trebach, founder of the Drug Policy Foundation --
in which she concluded, "I encourage all of you to support
students through the John Perry Fund as you work to make the
Fund unnecessary." Wednesday evening's event was the
continuation of a campaign that began in Boston three months
before and will wind through locations such as Santa Fe, Seattle
and others before it is done.
"Tonight's gathering is the second stop in a national tour of
events at which we are raising awareness of this law while
raising funds to help some of the people affected by it," said
DRCNet executive director David Borden, the Perry Fund's
founder, during introductory remarks for the more than 100
people in attendance. Promising impacts going beyond the
immediate beneficiaries of scholarships, Borden predicted, "By
coming together for this event, you are making a statement with
us that will resonate far beyond the walls of this building and
beyond the capital to catalyze social change."
Looking beyond HEA to the larger drug war, keynote speaker Kemba
Smith -- one of a handful of people granted executive clemency
by President Clinton from lengthy mandatory minimum drug
sentences -- spoke of her friends left behind in federal prison,
some serving life sentences, and the dream she has of seeing
them one day walk free. Rep. Conyers offered his perspective on
the larger political situation as it impacts a range of issues
reaching beyond drug policy. Conyers staffer Keenan Keller also
took the floor, discussing reentry issues for ex-offenders -- a
hot topic on Capitol Hill for both parties these days -- listing
the barriers facing the once convicted including not only the
HEA drug provision but stretching from welfare on one end to
denial of voting rights on the others. Also speaking Wednesday
night were David Baime of the American Association of Community
Colleges and Nkechi Taifa of the Open Society Institute, as well
as Garcia and Swerdlow and DRCNet associate director David
Fueling the momentum of the federal HEA reform campaign is
action beginning to bubble up at the state level as well, where
advocates are also seeking to counteract the law's impact and
are seeking the help of state legislators to do so. Most
recently legislators in Rhode Island late last week introduced a
bill in the General Assembly that would provide concrete
assistance to students affected by the anti-drug provision. The
Rhode Island Higher Education Assistance Act of 2005 would
replace lost federal financial aid with state funds, and
includes a retroactivity clause allowing students who were
denied aid in the past to be compensated.
"The drug provision wrongfully denies equal opportunity for
education to young people who have made mistakes in the past,"
said the bill's leading sponsor, Rep. Joseph Almeida. "We should
let these kids move on with their lives instead of holding their
mistakes against them by denying financial aid."
While Delaware legislators have already passed a resolution
calling for repeal of the drug provision and Arizona legislators
will vote any day now on a similar measure, the Rhode Island
bill marks the first time a state legislature will consider
funding students who have lost their financial aid because of
"Too many students have had the doors to education and
opportunity closed to them because of the HEA Drug Provision,"
said Chris Mulligan, CHEAR outreach director. "Congress should
heed the advice of these concerned Rhode Island legislators, and
repeal the law immediately."
With anti-drug provision author Rep. Souder now backtracking
furiously and saying he never meant the law to apply to students
convicted of drug crimes before starting college, momentum is
growing for change -- not just for a partial "reform," as Souder
is offering -- but for repeal too.
2. UN Forum Highlights Divides Over Harm Reduction -- US
Powerful But Isolated
The United Nations' Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) meeting
this week in Vienna became the latest battleground in an effort
led by the United States to de-legitimize harm reduction
strategies in general and needle exchange programs in
particular. The CND is the UN's policy-making body on drug
issues and is charged with developing proposals aimed at dealing
with global drug use. While the formal agenda item is strategies
for slowing the spread of injection drug use-related HIV, the
clear subtext is the fight over the role of harm reduction.
The practices under fire from the Bush administration are those
that seek not to repress drug use but to reduce its adverse
consequences for drug users and society alike. Similar to the
notion that one way to reduce sexually transmitted diseases and
unwanted pregnancies is through condom distribution, harm
reduction strategies for drug use include needle exchange
programs, safe injection sites, and drug maintenance programs.
The Vienna meeting came against a backdrop of heightened US
efforts to attack harm reduction and its practitioners led by US
drug czar John Walters, congressional drug warrior Rep. Mark
Souder (R-IN), and State Department Assistant Secretary of State
for international narcotics matters Robert Charles. Last fall,
Charles met with UN Office of Drug Control Policy head Antonio
Mario Costa to urge him to strike all references to harm
reduction from UNODC materials
Rep.Souder has been using his post as chairman of the Subcommittee
on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy and Human Resources of the
House Government Reform Committee to demand investigations of
possible US funding of harm reduction activities abroad, while
czar Walters is using his office as a bully pulpit to sound the
alarm about harm reduction.
Last week, in preparation for this week's Vienna meeting, AIDS
groups, human rights groups, policy analysts and researchers
from 56 countries urged the commission to "support syringe
exchange, opiate substitution treatment, and other harm
reduction approaches demonstrated to reduce HIV risk." The
letter was distributed by Human Rights Watch, which accused the
Bush administration of exerting pressure on the UNODC to stop
supporting needle exchange programs.
But Walters, undeterred by the critics, took his road show to
Vienna this week, where he addressed the CND on Monday. In a
coded slap at harm reduction, Walters said the international
community should not "acquiesce or practice appeasement with
addiction." Instead, Walters argued, "drug use is both a
preventable behavior and one that we can intervene against and
stop." When it comes to HIV, the best approach is not to provide
clean needles, he said: "The single greatest way of preventing
the spread of HIV/AIDS through drug users is taking those
addicted and getting them to recover. Continued drug use is a
fundamental cause of the dangers we face from blood-borne
Walters rejected the idea that opposition to needle exchanges is
"somehow an impediment to efforts addressing another global
crisis, the spread of HIV/AIDS and other blood-borne pathogens
such as Hepatitis C." And he addressed critics of the UN
conventions on drugs, the legal backbone of global prohibition,
which UN agencies read as prohibiting harm reduction activities
such as safe injection sites and opiate maintenance therapies.
"This charge is wrong. The conventions (opposing such programs)
are a bulwark against the public health tragedy of blood-borne
diseases and the public health tragedy of drug use and
addiction," Walters said.
But although UNODC head Costa had appeared to buckle under to US
pressure to remove references to harm reduction last fall, he
gave at least rhetorical support to harm reduction and needle
exchanges in particular in his speech Monday. Needle exchanges
are "appropriate as long as they are part of a comprehensive
strategy to battle the overall drug problem. We must not deny
these addicts any genuine opportunities to remain HIV-negative,"
Costa may have had his spine stiffened by near unanimous support
for harm reduction practices by countries attending the session.
Besides the US, only Japan spoke out forcefully against harm
reduction, arguing instead for more effort toward creating
On the other side of the debate were UN agencies and much of the international community. The European Union and several of its
member states voiced explicit support for harm reduction. Even
staunchly prohibitionist Sweden "fully associated itself" with
the EU's pro-harm reduction statement. Australia, Brazil,
Norway, and Switzerland also supported harm reduction efforts,
according to on-the-scene reports from Hungary's Peter Sarosi
and England's Andria Efthimiou-Mordaunt, who were representing
the European Coalition for Safe and Effective Drug Policies
http://www.encod.org In contrast to previous years, harm
reduction also drew support from Moslem countries, with Iran and
Morocco reporting they were working together to forge a response
to injection drug use. China reported that methadone maintenance
programs were underway and that "exchange of needles and
syringes is expanding step by step."
UNAIDS, the program in charge of global HIV/AIDS prevention
supported access to sterile syringes and condoms as part of a
comprehensive approach to HIV, and the World Health
Organization, which recently released a new report finding
needle exchanges were an effective means of HIV prevention,
called for six harm reduction measures that should be
accelerated in countries with injection drug use epidemics:
needle exchange, substitution therapy, HIV testing and
counseling, outreach and peer education, services for preventing
sexual transmission (including condom distribution), and HCV
But if harm reduction appeared to be winning the debate, UNODC
director Costa could not resist referring to and attacking the
"pro-drug lobby," as he labeled critics of prohibition and the
UN conventions. Critics make "a false dichotomy between drug
control and crime control," he said, "namely, on the argument
that drugs are a matter of choice, and that the legalization of
drugs would curb organized crime."
Despite the resistance to the US' effort to attack harm
reduction, European drug reformers were less than thrilled about
this week's session. "As always, the CND meeting is about
maintaining the impression that there is total consensus among
governments that the UN drug conventions are untouchable, and
that everybody is on the same track concerning the goal of
diminishing the supply and demand for drugs," said ENCOD's
Oomen. "In the meantime, there is a growing feeling of unrest
among governments that want to apply harm reduction about the
efforts of US and UN to discredit this strategy. This feeling is
strengthened by the comments of NGOs and international experts
like the WHO and UNAIDS," he told DRCNet.
The dispute over harm reduction language, said Oomen, "looks
like a simple detail that will be solved by adjusting the
wording. Costa is willing to obey US pressure to eliminate harm
reduction as a concept from UNODC statements and programs, but
he feels the pressure from other UN organizations to maintain
needle exchange. There is still a long way to go before we can
expect some significant debate going on inside the CND -- at
least publicly -- about the fundamental course of drug
3. Police and Needle Exchanges: The Philadelphia Story and
With injection drug use linked to 39 percent of new HIV cases in
Philadelphia in 2001, stopping people from sharing needles is a
serious but vulnerable enterprise. Prevention Point Philadelphia
http://www.critpath.org/ppp/ had been running needle exchange
programs (NEPs) to reduce the spread of HIV under an executive
decree from the mayor for more than a decade when the
Philadelphia police launched Operation Safe Streets, an effort
to crack down on the city's burgeoning and sometimes brazen drug
markets by saturating hard-hit sections of the city with
Citing declining crime statistics, police have deemed Operation
Safe Streets and its successors a success, but according to
Prevention Point and some recent academic research, the massive
police presence has had an unintended, and unhappy, side effect:
It has scared injection drug users away from the NEPs, which
have been proven repeatedly, most recently by the World Health
to reduce the rates of HIV infection among drug users.
Philadelphia's experience could prove useful for other NEPs
faced with law enforcement agencies who, while not necessarily
opposed to them, fail to take them into account when planning
and prosecuting heavy-duty enforcement actions.
In a study of the impact of Operation Safe Streets on NEP
participation, a team of University of Pennsylvania researchers
led by Corey Davis found a dramatic decline in NEP use after the
police action got underway. Yes, police were able to disrupt the
open-air drug markets, the study found, but "this benefit came
at a cost: the operation was significantly associated with a
reduction in the use of Philadelphia's syringe exchange
programs, especially among black and male participants. Such a
reduction in syringe exchange program use can be expected to
lead to increased sharing and reusing of syringes, with an
attendant increase in blood-borne infectious disease incidence
among IDUs who formerly used syringe exchange programs,"
concluded the article published last month in the American
Journal of Public Health.
"What we found was that after the start of Operation Safe
Streets, the number of people using the NEP went down
precipitously," said Davis, the study's lead author. "We saw the
number of African-Americans using the NEP go down more than
whites; we saw the number of males decline more than females,"
The decline in NEP use was not because the clients were getting
arrested, Davis pointed out. "It is interesting that this police
operation wasn't based on arresting users. They did not arrest
very many, so the decline came not because clients were
incarcerated, but because they were scared off."
The study jibed with what the NEPs were experiencing on the
ground. "What we were hearing from our clients was that it was
almost impossible to get to the exchange sites because police
officers were on the corners where they were," said Casey Cook,
executive director of Prevention Point Philadelphia, the group
that runs the city-approved NEP. "I don't think the police
planned it that way, but that's what happened. Our people felt
like they had to pass through a police cordon to get to the
sites, and when they would come out carrying the brown bags we
give them, they would be ID'd as exchangers and get stopped and
harassed. We saw an immediate impact in attendance at our
outreach sites, and it had a lasting effect," she told DRCNet.
Prevention Point Philadelphia tried to reduce the harm by
contacting city officials, a strategy that is paying some
dividends. "At our request, the Health Department intervened,
and we've been having meetings with officials in the police
department to address this. One thing we're doing is developing
a training video on NEPs to be shown in all 23 police districts
in the city."
City health and law enforcement agencies responded. "When
Operation Safe Streets went into place, it brought a number of
new police officers into the streets who were unaware of the NEP
sites and the mayor's executive order authorizing them," said
Philadelphia Health Department spokesman Jeff Moran. "That
created some problems. When we became aware of those problems,
we met with the police department leadership and intervened to
get the word out among that new group of officers. The problem
has been resolved," he told DRCNet.
Well, not exactly. "It's very clear that the leadership in the
police department has gotten the message," said Cook, "but I
don't know that it has trickled down to the officer on the
street yet. We are still getting reports from participants that
they're being stopped and harassed, they're getting their
needles confiscated, both new and used, and police officers have
even been throwing used ones in the sewer drains."
While the Philadelphia experience with Operation Safe Streets is
unique, the question of police-NEP relations is one faced by
almost all exchanges, and the impact of police crack-downs
varies. "Nationally, the situation is too varied for me to
generalize," said Dave Purchase, executive director of the North
American Syringe Exchange Network http://www.nasen.org "Here
in Tacoma, we have a very mature program -- at more than 17
years, it's practically an institution -- and we don't get
bothered by more than the occasional cowboy cop, some uniform in
a cruiser who one day finds out what we're doing. We just call
the sergeant, and he sets him straight."
That relationship with local police was the result of careful
work by the Tacoma needle exchange. "Back in the early days,
there were lots of meetings," said Purchase. "We met repeatedly
with the police chief and all that, but as the time wore on and
the community got more comfortable with us, we tended to meet
only on an as-needed basis. But I keep up with the guy who runs
the downtown precinct, I make sure I meet the new one whenever
they change, and I know he'll take my calls."
Tacoma is next month hosting the 15th North American Syringe
Exchange Convention -- visit http://www.nasen.org for info
Enlightened police chiefs and commanders make a big difference,
but there aren't enough of them, said Susan McCampbell, director
of the Center of Innovative Public Policies
http://www.cipp.org which has an initiative (now largely
dormant for lack of funding) for promoting collaboration between
police and NEPs. "The problem is that the police have been
backed up against the wall by administration policy and by some
police organizations to oppose NEPs. When all of this NEP stuff
started with Barry McCaffrey back in the 1990s, the drug czar's
office asked these police member organizations to pass
resolutions opposing NEPs, and they did so. There was no debate
-- the feds asked them, and they did it," she told DRCNet. "Two
of them, the National Sheriffs Association and the International
Association of Chiefs of Police, get money from the feds. With
the sheriffs, I've talked to some members and some of them
understand that was perhaps premature, but as for the IACP,
there is no hope with the current leadership," she said.
To work with police is a slow and laborious -- but necessary --
process, said McCampbell, a law enforcement veteran who served
as head of the Broward County, Florida, Department of Detention
and Community Control for four years and Assistant Sheriff in
Alexandria, Virginia, for 11 years. "You have to establish
relationships with police, build bridges, find commonalities,
agree on public safety strategies that include needle exchange,"
she said. "It doesn't happen overnight."
But it does happen, McCampbell argued, pointing to successful
efforts by Baltimore health commissioner Dr. Peter Beilenson,
who got Baltimore police to include NEP instruction in their
police academy training. Dr. Jody Rich in Providence has done
the same thing, said McCampbell, and so has Chuck Stoudt in
Boulder. "All of these people worked with police and broke down
barriers, and as a result police are working with NEPs instead
of against them."
While NEPs have some national ramifications, they are ultimately
local issues and have to be handled locally, said McCampbell.
"This is a jurisdiction by jurisdiction battle. You have to get
a chief in a position where it doesn't look like he's supporting
drug activity. You need to make this primarily a public health
-- not a public safety -- issue. Then you can get chiefs to
places where they don't have to even say anything."
But it's not just police indifference or hostility toward NEPs
that is a problem, said McCampbell. There is also hostility
among some NEP activists toward police. "I spoke at NASEN, and I
was hissed and booed when I said you need to build bridges to
police," she said. "I was taken aback. I didn't understand that
they are as entrenched as the police are. I understand that
these people may have been victims of police actions and they
maintain a skepticism or even downright dislike for the police,
but unless you have saner heads you are just wasting your time."
NASEN's Purchase didn't quibble with McCampbell's account of her
reception. And while he could empathize with needle exchange
activists who have a bad attitude about police, he didn't see it
as useful, either. "Some activists do have an attitude, and I
can understand why, but I think it's incorrect. Harm reduction
doesn't take sides on anything other than what reduces harm," he
said. "This idea of cops and robbers, cowboys and Indians, it's
a game that's best not played.
Meanwhile, back in Philadelphia, study author Corey Davis was
pondering the lessons learned. "Policing doesn't have to be done
this way," Davis said. "There is no reason that the goals of
increasing public order and decreasing the negative effects of
drug use have to be incompatible with the goal of providing
access to harm reduction activities and drug treatment.
Operation Safe Streets was a prime example of how not to do it."
4. Howard Rides Again: Former Texas Lawman Riding Cross Country
on Horseback to Explain Why Cops Say Legalize Drugs
Howard Wooldridge is the very picture of the long, tall Texas
lawman: Cowboy boots, jeans with big belt buckle, mustache,
cowboy hat. There is just one jarring note -- the t-shirt he
wears: "Cops Say Legalize Drugs," it says in large, colorful
lettering. "Ask Me Why."
Wooldridge and his trusty horse Misty have hit the road to take
his Texas lawman image and his incongruous message across the
country as part of an effort to end the war on drugs and replace
current policy with something saner. Leaving from Los Angeles
last weekend, Wooldridge is currently riding his way across the
wastelands of interior Southern California, the very beginning
of a trek that will take him 3,600 miles across 13 states and
last seven months before ending on the streets of Manhattan.
A veteran of 18 years as a Texas police officer, Wooldridge, 53
and now retired, is a founding member of Law Enforcement Against
Prohibition http://www.leap.cc the fast-growing
conglomeration of cops and ex-cops who have seen first-hand the
futility of drug prohibition and who are now calling for the
drug war to be replaced wit h a system of regulated access to
currently illicit substances. While LEAP has made a name for
itself through its members' strong presentations to law
enforcement and service organizations, Wooldridge has embarked
on a unique effort to carry the message across the heartland,
winning converts one by one out on the lonely highway, at rest
areas, roadside cafes, camp sites, and watering holes.
It's not the first time for Wooldridge and Misty. Two years ago,
the duo rode from Georgia to Oregon
take the drug reform message directly to the people. Wooldridge
was so impressed with the results, he has decided to do it again
this year, only this time he is heading from West to East.
"I'm about 10 miles south of Banning, California, right now,"
the lanky lawman told DRCNet Wednesday. "It's day five of the
ride, and we've done about 80 miles so far," he said. "We'll be
in New York City November 1, God willin' and the creek don't
Reaction so far has been positive, he said. "I just sat down
with nine horse women in their 40s and 50s, and they all agreed
we have to treat drugs like whiskey, regulate it, and stop
wasting money on all those prisons. We all get a little cynical
listening to the politicians, but sit down in a cafe and start
talking, and people almost always respond positively to my
message, at least about marijuana, and most say we should just
legalize it all."
While riding down the roads of rural America may be lonely,
Wooldridge and Misty are not going it alone. There is a support
infrastructure, said Oklahoma NORML leader Norma Sapp ("NORML
Norma from Norman"), but because of problems obtaining insurance
it is ragged right now and more help is needed. "Thanks to Nora
Callahan and the November Coalition ( http://www.november.org),
we had access to the November Coalition's RV, and the plan was
to have different people agree to drive it for a day or two as
Howard and Misty make their way East," Sapp told DRCNet. "But we
could not find an insurance company anywhere that would insure
20 or 30 different people as drivers. So Howard took off for
California with his truck and horse trailer, and we are looking
for volunteers to come and drive his truck up behind him as he
passes through their local areas. Right now, we don't have
anyone in Southern California, so Howard has been three days
without his truck, camping out in the open." People interested
in helping out along the way she contact Sapp through
Wooldridge's web page http://www.leap.cc/howard/ she said.
Wooldridge and Sapp are not just seeking drivers, she added. "If
you live in an area where Howard is coming, come out and say
hello, send out the local media, find a place where he and Misty
can sleep for the night," Sapp said. "What we need is food and
water and plenty of attention. If there are medical marijuana
patients or other drug reformers, come on out and accompany them
for awhile. We had a medical marijuana patient from Washington
state come down and push his wheelchair alongside Howard and
Misty for a couple of miles in California. We need to see this
happen all across America. People need to come out and get the
"We need people from Denver on East," said Wooldridge. "Come out
and come along for a day or two, or just come out with a care
package and say hello; that would be much appreciated. The
hardest thing is getting the horse fed, and for me, the
loneliness. Misty is a good listener, but she's not much of a
After leaving California, Wooldridge will trek across Arizona
and New Mexico before heading north into Colorado along the
Front Range of the Rockies. But before that happens, he is
taking a week off to fly to London, where he will be honored by
the Royal Geographic Society. "Because I already rode from
Georgia to Oregon, I am being recognized as a long-rider by the
society," he said. "They've invited me to lunch in London, and
I'm looking forward to it. It's an honor and a privilege, and I
wouldn't miss it for anything."
After his brief sojourn in London, it's back to the road, where
Wooldridge has some speaking engagements lined up. "I'll be
talking to about 30 meetings of the Rotaries and the Kiwanis
around Phoenix and Albuquerque and up the Front Range in
Colorado," he said. "These are real community leaders, and
you've got to get that face time in. LEAP puts all our emphasis
on reaching out to these key people, meeting with the
unconverted, and helping them change their minds."
From Colorado, Wooldridge and Misty will ride roughly due east
across the Great Plains and the Midwest, with some detours into
Wisconsin and Michigan, before cutting across a corner of
Pennsylvania and winding through New York state into Manhattan.
"We've got media events lined up along the way, but we need
more," he said. "Let your media know something special is headed
So far, so good for both horse and rider, Wooldridge reported.
"Misty is doing well. She was stiff from the 1,500 mile trailer
ride from Oklahoma, and we had three whole days of nothing but
concrete getting out of Los Angeles, but now we're out of the
city and have hit our first stretch of green." For you horse
lovers out there, not to worry. Wooldridge rides for two hours,
then walks beside the horse for one, giving Misty adequate
breaks from the burden of carrying him. And just in case Misty
goes lame, a replacement, Rocky, is waiting in Oklahoma.
Wooldridge was scheduled to sleep at a Southern California ranch
Wednesday night after receiving an invitation from ranchers he
met along the way. That is not unusual, he said. "This sort of
thing happens quite a bit, and it is really heart-warming. To
ride across America is lonely and difficult, but when I get this
kind of response, I get motivated to get right back in the
saddle and keep going."
5. DRCNet Interviews Drug Policy Alliance Executive Director
Ethan Nadelmann on Reaching Out to the Right
It must have seemed surreal to some drug reformers (not to
mention some conservatives) to see Drug Policy Alliance
http://www.drugpolicy.org executive director Ethan Nadelmann
appearing at the Conservative Political Action Conference in
Washington earlier this month. An event where it seemed the most
exciting thing for many delegates was catching a glimpse of
ultra-conservative pundit Ann Coulter and where much of the talk
was about "good guys" (conservatives) and "bad guys" (liberals),
God and guns, might seem an unlikely venue in which to search
for allies in the war against the war on drugs. But that's not
what Nadelmann and the Drug Policy Alliance think, and not only
did Nadelmann address the conference, DPA also acted as a
It is not the first time in recent months that DPA has reached
out to the right. During the Republican national convention in
New York City in August, DPA purchased ads welcoming the GOP to
New York. Given that drug reformers are largely (though not
entirely) a mixture of social justice progressives and
libertarians -- many of whom are bitterly and unalterably
opposed to the conservatism embraced by the Bush administration
and its allies at the state and local level -- Drug War
Chronicle thought it was time to ask Nadelmann just what DPA is
up to and what it thinks it will achieve by courting
Drug War Chronicle: The Drug Policy Alliance took out ads to
welcome the Republicans to New York City during the Republican
Convention last summer, and last month DPA was a sponsor of the
Conservative Political Action Conference http://www.cpac.org
annual convention in Washington. Is it fair to say that you're
embarked on campaign to court conservatives?
Ethan Nadelmann: Not really. In some respects, this is a
continuation of something we've been doing for a long time. I
had an article in the National Review ten years ago; William F.
Buckley did that issue with Judge Robert Sweet and me; there was
that cover story on marijuana legalization. When New Mexico's
Republican Gov. Gary Johnson stepped out, we worked closely with
him both on stimulating a national debate and in moving drug
reform forward in New Mexico. Also, Republican senatorial
candidate Tom Campbell, who ran against Diane Feinstein in
California, was very much an ally. And of course, there are
folks like Milton Friedman and a range of other conservatives
who have spoken out on drug prohibition.
It is also part of our ethos at the Drug Policy Alliance that we
are a nonpartisan organization. We work with people from across
the political spectrum, with both parties, and with others. It
looks now like there is a greater concentration of things
happening with DPA and conservatives and Republicans. But is it
systematic? No, it is more a combination of three things. First,
we are pushing back a little harder on that front. Second, there
are more opportunities emerging. Third, the Republicans dominate
the nation's capital and are major players around the country.
If you break those out, if you look around the country, in three
states -- Alabama, Connecticut, Wisconsin -- where we are
working to get medical marijuana legislation, our lead
Republican cosponsor is someone who has a personal or family
experience with cancer or multiple sclerosis. In Alabama, we
have Republicans working on sentencing reform, too. Often,
Republicans control the legislature or one house, so we have no
choice but to work with them as well as Democrats. With
conservatives, we try to frame the issues in ways that appeal to
them, whether it's cutting budgets or fending off creeping
As for the Republican national convention, you will recall that
back in 2000 we tried to be a presence at both conventions, with
the Shadow Conventions in Philadelphia and Los Angeles. That was
partly because Arianna Huffington took the lead and we joined
with her. Our commitment was to do both, to try to stir up
debate in both parties. This time, there is no Arianna, our
resources were limited, and, after all, our offices are in New
York City, which is where the Republicans were meeting. If it
had been the Democrats in New York and the Republicans in
Boston, we might have done things differently. But it was the
Republicans who were coming to New York, and the question for us
was what was the best way to make an impression with the press
and the delegates. Given that many organizations who are our
allies on the progressive side were out demonstrating, we
thought any DPA effort to demonstrate against Bush drug policy
would have been lost in the crowd. So instead, we welcomed the
Republicans, we talked about "the right response" to drugs, we
ran our ad in the very conservative tabloid, the Sun, and it was
a big success for us. The ad more than paid for itself in
membership donations, and our second best ever fundraising pitch
-- only the RAVE Act pitch did better. And we got a story in the
New York Times business section all about the ad.
At the same time, I had become aware that Grover Norquist, head
of the American Taxpayers Union and a leading conservative
figure, had been quite critical of the war on drugs. I had some
conversations with him, and he encouraged us to be present at
CPAC -- the ACLU had a table there, too. We were able to get on
the agenda and have a few minutes at the final plenary session
to hammer out our message. We got a very favorable reception --
look for video on our web site soon. All of those things have
come together, and we are also aided by the fact that our
director of our Washington, DC, office, Bill Piper, had
previously worked with conservative and libertarian groups on
issues like term limits. He came to DPA with some connections in
Chronicle: What was CPAC like?
Nadelmann: I was part of a CPAC panel where five topics about
conservative principle and unresolved issues were debated. It
was called "Differences within the Family," and in addition to
drug policy, other panelists debated Cuba, US foreign policy,
gays and the federal marriage amendment, and free trade and job
loss. I never heard of the fellow I debated. His name was
Richard Poe and maybe he wrote a book attacking liberals
["Hillary's Secret War: The Clinton Conspiracy to Muzzle
Internet Journalists"-ed.]. I got up there and spoke for three
minutes, mentioning why conservatives like William F. Buckley,
Milton Friedman, and Gary Johnson supported this cause; it's all
about not throwing taxpayer dollars down the drain, preserving
freedom, fighting elements of socialist government within our
own society, basically hitting the key points. I got a strong
ovation. Then Poe came on, and he just mumbled for a bit, then
told the audience they shouldn't listen to a guy sponsored by
George Soros. That was followed by the Q&A, and a small-L
libertarian from Montreal got up and challenged Poe, asking him
how he could support the war on drugs. Poe said he didn't
support it, just that they shouldn't listen to this Soros guy.
Finally the moderator turned to me and I said, look, we have
25,000 members, and Soros is important, but he is only one among
many, and I thought we could get past these ad hominem attacks
and guilt by association.
Conservatives will support our agenda, if they will listen on
the merits. Even the Republicans are seeing a real evolution
among their young people on campus when it comes to issues like
gays and drugs. The students are not following a William
Bennett/John Walters model like a generation 15 or 20 years ago.
Drug War Chronicle: Can you tell us more specifically about the
sorts of appeals you make to conservatives?
Nadelmann: I elaborated this argument in the National Review.
After my summer cover story on legalizing marijuana, the Review
ran a back-and-forth between drug czar John Walters and me, and
what I said there is the core of my message to conservatives. I
say that the principled conservative believes in restricting the
reach of government into the lives and homes of its citizens. He
respects the rights of states and communities to regulate their
own affairs free from federal overreach. He rejects wasteful
government expenditures. And he insists on intellectual rigor in
refuting the arguments of his opponents and advancing his own
views. Thus, it should come as no surprise that so many
conservatives -- Friedman, Buckley, George Schultz, Norquist,
Gov. Johnson, Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, and dozens of others
-- have criticized the drug war and supported alternative
And when conservatives attack George Soros for supporting drug
reform, they might as well be attacking all those people I just
named. The attacks on Soros are partisan cheap shots aimed at a
man who more than any other private individual had a great role
in hastening the downfall of communism in Russia and Eastern
Europe and turning those countries into democratic, capitalist
countries. Soros saw in America's drug war many of the same
political traits that made him hate fascism and communism:
Political indoctrination masquerading as education, massive
deployment of police and informers in ever more intrusive ways,
millions of people arrested for engaging in personal vice via
capitalist transactions that are prohibited by the state for
reasons it no longer even recalls, and all this defended by
bureaucratic apparatchiks who respond to reasoned dissent by
impugning the character and motives of their critics. That's
what I tell them.
Chronicle: There are conservatives and there are conservatives,
from Libertarians to Catholic rightists to patriots to
militarists. What seems to unite them -- aside, perhaps, from
the Libertarians -- is a strict, tough moral code.
Self-discipline and obedience to legitimate authority are highly
valued, self-indulgence is not. It seems that conservatives view
drug use as self-indulgent, if not downright immoral. How on
earth do you get around that and get them to embrace drug
Nadelmann: It can be done, and the evidence is what's happening
now in the states. We are winning victories in the states,
building coalitions with lots of Republicans. In New Mexico, our
medical marijuana bill just won unanimous approval in the
judiciary committee -- I heard on Sunday that the Republican
National Committee was going to pressure New Mexico Republicans
to oppose the bill, but over half of Republicans nationally
support issues like medical marijuana and treatment over
incarceration. On medical marijuana, we have Republican allies
like Rep. Gregg Underheim in Wisconsin and Rep. Penny Bacchiochi
in Connecticut. We are seeing progress in places like Alabama,
California, Wisconsin. We see progress with conservatives on
budget issues. In California, clean needle bills got powerful
and interesting support from Republicans; in New York, the
Republicans were not so good on Rockefeller law reform, but
listen to Senate majority leader Joe Bruno's December speech --
it reads like a DPA press release!
Also, you can see what the Marijuana Policy Project
http://www.mpp.org has achieved working with Republicans in
Maryland and Vermont -- Republican governors in both states came
on board for medical marijuana. In New York, Gov. Pataki
campaigned on Rockefeller law reform in the 2002 elections. In
California, while Gov. Schwarzenegger did terrible things with
the three-strikes campaign -- basically killing it with a last
minute rush of dishonest Willie Horton-type ads -- he also
signed the clean needle bill that Democratic Gov. Gray Davis
twice vetoed. Although Schwarzenegger is a little too friendly
with the prison guards, he's not in their pocket like Davis was.
And if you look at this year's federal drug war budget, there
are some pleasant surprises. The Bush budget proposes
eliminating DARE and the Byrne grants, which fund those drug
task forces. Those are two major changes, and no Democrat
proposed that. I don't know what calculations lie behind those
budget decisions; maybe the administration is assuming Democrats
and Republicans will unite to restore those programs, but it is
interesting that the administration made those cuts. There is
also the bizarre spectacle of drug czar John Walters recently
bemoaning that we can't just lock up generation after generation
of young black men on drug charges. That's certainly different
from what he has said in the past. I don't know where it comes
from, perhaps from more of an engagement between the
conservative black churches and the Bush administration.
Chronicle: You're not trying to tell us we should look for
reforms from the Bush administration, are you?
Nadelmann: No, there is still lots of terrible stuff going on.
There's Rep. Mark Souder and his attack on harm reduction,
something Walters is following up on in Vienna this week. The
State Department's drug policy guy, Robert Charles, is a drug
war fanatic, and his meeting with the head of the UN Office on
Drugs and Crime has had a negative impact on the UNODC's
position on harm reduction. And then you have Walters saying
things like marijuana is the most dangerous drug in America and
that drug testing all kids and eventually everyone is a magic
bullet. In Republican Washington, they are, overall, propagating
a totalitarian approach to drug control. We do not give short
shrift to the very harsh and bad things coming out of this
administration. But things are not the same as they were 10 or
15 or even five or two years ago.
Chronicle: It's not like the Democrats have been exactly leading
the charge for drug reform.
Nadelmann: That's true, although there are differences. You can
see where the split is most pronounced -- just look at the votes
on Hinchey-Rohrabacher, the bill that would block the feds from
spending funds to raid medical marijuana patients and providers.
Two-thirds of House Democrats and the Democratic leadership were
on our side on this, but barely a dozen GOP representatives.
There was a strong directive from the White House influencing
Republicans on that. And you also have Speaker of the House
Dennis Hastert making some really outrageous comments about
George Soros, drug policy reform, and DPA. Hastert is not some
fringe figure; he's the speaker of the house! Clearly there is a
divide among legislators at both the state and federal levels,
and in general we clearly do much better with Democrats than
Republicans, but it is often Republicans in the governor's
office and other executive positions who are able to do things.
It's the "Nixon goes to China" syndrome at work.
But for us, the bottom line is that some of our members and
supporters are conservatives and Republicans, and not just
libertarians, but people who think the war on drugs is
incredibly stupid. One thing we've learned in American politics
is that a movement that thinks it is going to succeed simply by
being 100 percent in the middle of the progressive agenda is
mistaken. It is absolutely essential to cross over in order to
6. Coasters to Stop the Drug War
The Black Market... Gang Warfare... Bathtub Gin... Mobsters...
Bootlegging... Disrespect for Law... The Roaring Twenties...
Crime... The Valentine's Day Massacre... Speakeasys...
Are the parallels between alcohol prohibition from 1920 until
1933 and the current "war on drugs" glaringly apparent to you?
If they are, you and your guests may enjoy reflecting upon the
irony of serving your favorite beverages on DRCNet's latest gift
item, cork coasters bearing our StoptheDrugWar.org stop sign
logo. Make a donation of any size and receive one coaster for
free -- visit http://stopthedrugwar.org/donate/ if you would
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Make a statement to your guests that the war on drugs is wrong,
and inspire conversations about how drug prohibition drives the
thriving and dangerous black market, enriches criminal
organizations, places children at risk, spreads death and
disease, wastes criminal justices resources, contributes to the
decay of our cities, and erodes the Constitution.
If you want to contribute, but would rather not do so online,
you can also send your check or money order to: DRCNet, P.O. Box
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supporting our educational work should be made payable to
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7. Newsbrief: Federal Prosecutors Ask Life Sentence for Dr. Hurwitz
Federal prosecutors are seeking to send nationally-known
Virginia pain specialist Dr. William Hurwitz to prison for life.
In a memo filed in US District Court in Alexandria, Virginia,
Tuesday, prosecutors argued Hurwitz deserved a life sentence
because he "blatantly violated his Hippocratic Oath," his
"criminal behavior was simply disgraceful," and he lied on the
witness stand. But while prosecutors portrayed him as craven
drug dealer, many supporters believe he is unjustly convicted
and many patients, including some who testified at his trial and
others who came hundreds of miles to attend in moral support,
see him as a humane, life-saving physician.
Hurwitz is the prominent, cutting edge pain specialist who was
convicted in federal court in Alexandria in December of
over-prescribing opioid pain medications and conspiracy to
distribute controlled substances in a trial that put the clash
between the imperatives of drug law enforcers and those of
medicine, and pain management in particular, in stark relief http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/367/50counts.shtml
Relying on the testimony of a group of related Hurwitz patients
themselves facing drug charges, who never testified that Hurwitz
conspired with them, as well as expert medical testimony that
has since been discredited, prosecutors convinced a federal jury
that Hurwitz' medical practice was beyond the pale.
Hurwitz's defense attorneys, supporters, medical associations,
and pain relief experts expressed nearly uniform dismay, anger,
and shock at the prosecutors' request. The request is
"absolutely insane and way beyond the realm of rationality,"
Hurwitz defense attorney Marvin Miller told the Washington Post.
"This is obscene."
It is not surprising that Miller would stick up for his client,
but expressions of concern are also coming from leading pain
relief experts. "That's really something. That's unbelievable,"
said Russell Portenoy, chairman of pain medicine at Beth Israel
Medical Center in New York. "Such an extreme sentence sends the
message to the medical community that the government will
continue to go after doctors." Portenoy was one of a group of
academic pain specialists who worked with the DEA for years in
an abortive effort to arrive at pain pill prescribing guidelines
that would satisfy both law enforcement and medical imperatives.
The American Academy of Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS), a
60-year-old organization representing private doctors, also
weighed in calling for lenient treatment for Hurwitz even before
prosecutors announced they were seeking a life sentence. A life
sentence for Hurwitz would be "a travesty," AAPS said in a
February letter to presiding Judge Leonard Wexler. "He is
someone who took his professional obligations to his patients
very seriously and did his utmost to help the most ill among us.
He published his work in the medical literature and shared his
experiences and research results by speaking at medical
conferences, including ours. He is certainly not a drug dealer
to be incarcerated for nearly the rest of his life. Dr. Hurwitz
is someone we all admire, the criminal actions of a tiny
percentage of his patients notwithstanding."
Citing false expert testimony by prosecution witness Dr. Michael
Ashburn -- his testimony has been authoritatively challenged by
a group of past presidents of the American Pain Society -- the
AAPS challenged the validity of his conviction. "A conviction
based on this false medical testimony should not stand, and,
respectfully, sentencing should not rest on it," the group wrote
under the signature of its president, Dr. Jane Orient.
Dr. Hurwitz is scheduled to be sentenced April 14. Given the
controversy that has only increased as he was hunted, indicted,
tried, and convicted, that hearing could be highly contentious.
8. Newsbrief: Mountie Murders Shift Canada Marijuana Debate
Rightward Even Though Grow-Up Link Tenuous
When James Roszko shot and killed four Royal Canadian Mounted
Police at his rural Alberta farm last week, he may also have
fatally wounded any prospects for that country to move beyond
limited marijuana law reform. While the killings were originally
played as a marijuana grow-op bust gone bad, that has turned out
not to be the case, but in the intervening days, police and
politicians alike used the incident to call for a crack-down on
Canada's burgeoning marijuana growing industry, and the momentum
toward tougher grow-up laws may now be irreversible.
The four Mounties were shot to death March 3 after they went to
Roszko's remote farm to try to repossess a pick-up truck on
which he had failed to make payments. They went to the farm the
previous evening, and stayed there waiting for Roszko after they
found stolen truck parts and a small, 20-plant marijuana grow.
He found them instead, shot them dead, then turned his rifle on
himself. According to Canadian press reports, Roszko was a
dangerous loner with a love of guns and a hatred for police.
But those nuances were lost in the early reaction to the
killings, the worst slaughter of Canadian police since the
Northwest Rebellion 120 years ago. RCMP Commissioner Giuliano
Zaccardelli used the killings to call grow ops "a major, serious
threat to our society," in an emotional news conference the
night of the killings.
Public Safety Minister Anne McLellan said it might be time to
crack down on marijuana grows. She and Justice Minister Irwin
Cotler will "want to take a look at whether we have the right
resources being used in the right ways and whether we have the
Under current Canadian law, marijuana growers can face up to
seven years in prison. But in reality, few are sentenced to
prison. Under the government's pending decriminalization bill,
penalties for grows would be doubled, with some growers facing
up to 14 years in prison. Sentiment now appears strong to pass
that portion of the legislation, or even strengthen it, though a
backlash to the use of the Mounties' death to push an
anti-marijuana position may be growing.
It was already apparent last weekend, as the ruling federal
Liberal Party met for its annual convention. With two competing
resolutions on marijuana on the agenda -- one calling for the
weed's legalization and taxation and another calling for stiffer
grow op penalties -- debate was heated in the emotional
atmosphere after the killings. Some criticized those who used
the killings to argue for a crackdown on marijuana grows. "I
find it a shame that on the heels of this tragedy we have people
calling for tougher sentences," said Boris St.-Maurice, founding
member of the Canadian Marijuana Party who had recently joined
the Liberals. "It is, sadly, a lack of respect, I think, towards
those fallen officers to boil it all down to marijuana. By doing
that, we're not serving their interests. We're missing the boat
That didn't stop Toronto-area Member of Parliament Jim
Karygiannis from using the killings to call for mandatory
minimum sentences for pot growers, including a two-year
mandatory minimum for someone growing as few as three plants.
"My prayers and thoughts are with the families of the fallen
officers," Karygiannis said. "The need to discuss tougher
sentencing for marijuana grow house operators is paramount. We
are facing an epidemic of marijuana grow-house operations."
BC Liberal Ginny Hasselfield, who authored the resolution
calling for stricter grow op penalties, also used the killings
to shill for her proposal. "We've been concerned about things
like this (shooting in Alberta) potentially happening," said
Hasselfield. "And that's why we feel we have to get tough on
this issue. Grow-ops are a scourge in this country."
Hasselfield's comments drew loud groans from the back of the
hall. "Do we want a US war-on-drugs approach to this problem? Or
will we sit down and consider a Liberal solution?" responded one
delegate to loud cheers.
In votes over the weekend, both the legalization resolution and
the grow op penalty resolution failed to win approval to become
party policy. At the same time, the federal government was
hurrying to get aboard the punish-grow-ops bandwagon.
By Monday, RCMP Commissioner Zaccarellli was retracting his
comments linking the killings to the grow op problem. In an
interview with the National Post, he conceded that his
condemnation of grow-ups the night of the killings may have been
hasty. "I gave what I believed was the best information I had
knowing full well that at that time I didn't have all the
information," a contrite Zaccardelli said. "Clearly, there's a
lot of things in there that, in hindsight, we will have to look
at in a different perspective."
But now the political landscape has shifted and pressure for
tougher grow-up penalties increases.
9. Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories
It's the usual motley assortment again this week: Small time
dishonesty in Texas, enterprising jailers in Tennessee, and a
cop with a bad habit in Minnesota. Let's get to it:
In the small town of Clute in Brazoria County, Texas, a police
department narcotics investigator has been suspended without pay
for five-days and placed on six months probation for letting one
of his informants rack up a $236 bill on a prisoner's cell
phone, the local news sheet The Facts reported on March 5.
Detective Sgt. Jay Grimes has turned over the cell phone and a
money order to repay the prisoner, Clute Police Chief Mark
There were bigger doings in Memphis, where a dozen Shelby County
deputy jailers were arrested Wednesday morning on charges they
were involved in a pervasive conspiracy to smuggle drugs into
the jail. Also arrested were two former jailers and three
others, including a US Postal Service employee. They are alleged
to have taken money, usually in installments of $500 or $1,000
to smuggle what they believed to be Oxycontin and crack into the
jail. But the drugs were bogus, supplied by FBI agents who were
investigating corruption, according to the Memphis Commercial
Appeal. One defendant is charged with smuggling real heroin into
the jail. He faces up to 40 years in prison, while the others
face 20 years. Shelby County Sheriff Mark Latrell, who is
responsible for jail operations, said he was disappointed by the
indictments. "It shows we have flaws," he said. "It doesn't look
In St. Paul, Minnesota, an assistant lab director for the state
Bureau of Criminal Apprehension has been caught with his hand in
the cokie jar. David Peterson was charged Monday with possessing
more than 25 grams of cocaine he stole from the state crime lab,
the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported with a sympathetic tone
usually missing from its portrayal of drug busts. According to
the paper, Petersen was "a man struggling against substance
abuse, succumbing to it, then worrying about how to hide it from
his peers." The complaint against Petersen charges that he used
his access to cocaine stored "for undercover drug buys" (!?) to
repeatedly steal from the state stash. But he got caught when a
suspicious fellow BCA agent reported he had been making many
trips to the storage lockers. Petersen cooperated with
investigators, showing them the area in his home where he cut
his dope. Investigators found drug residues there, the complaint
said. Petersen is free on $15,000 bond pending trial. Oh, and
he must submit to a chemical dependency evaluation and random
10. Newsbrief: In Colorado First, Denver Police Return Marijuana
On March 4, medical marijuana patient Thomas Lawrence made
Colorado history as the Denver Police Department returned to him
a bag of marijuana it had seized during a January 11 traffic
stop. While Lawrence didn't have his permit with him when
stopped, he did have a state medical marijuana permit, and he
went to the police station on February 3 with a court order
demanding the medicine be returned. Police initially balked, but
last week the weed walked.
"This is the first time that drugs have been released to anyone"
by Denver police, Detective Sgt. Teresa Garcia told the Colorado
Freedom Report ( http://www.FreeColorado.com). As for the
department's earlier refusal to comply with the court order,
Garcia pleaded ignorance. "I'm not too specific about that," she
said. "It's narcotics, it's a controlled substance, so we have
to take every precaution."
"They were really polite -- they apologized for the
misunderstanding," said Lawrence. "It was simple; it was like
picking up anything else... It was difficult for them to let go
of, I guess."
While Lawrence was happy to get his medicine back, his attorney,
Robert Corry said police had acted improperly in seizing the
marijuana in the first place. "The state government has no right
to take his medicine from him... The police need an education on
Colorado law. There are certain people who have a right to use
medical marijuana," he said. Still, said Corry, the medicine's
return was "a victory for the voters of Colorado" and for
patients, who, he said, "for too long have been living in fear."
But Lawrence still had one complaint: The condition of his
medicine after nearly two months in police storage. "It's a
little drier than I'd like," he said.
11. Newsbrief: Peruvian First Lady Defends Coca
In a February 22 speech at George Washington University in
Washington, DC, Peruvian first lady Elaine Karp said that coca
cannot be stamped out because its use is deeply rooted in Andean
cultures. And furthermore, it's good for you.
"Coca has many, many virtues in addition to health and
ritualistic uses," said Karp, an anthropologist. Peruvian
Indians use the leaf to combat fatigue, fend off hunger, and
prevent altitude sickness, she said, "as part of their way of
life and their rituals."
Coca, from which cocaine is derived, has been cultivated for
thousands of years in the Andes, but is the object of a
decades-long US effort to eradicate the crop as part of its war
on drugs. For Indian populations in Bolivia, Colombia, and Peru,
chewing the leaf provides a slight stimulation and euphoria that
has been likened to drinking a strong cup of coffee. Peru, where
an estimated 90 percent of coca production ends up as cocaine
headed for markets in North America and Europe, is now the
world's second largest cocaine producer after Colombia. The US
and the Peruvian government of President Jaime Toledo are
spending tens of millions this year to eradicate coca crops, but
last year the amount of new cultivation exceeded the crops that
were eradicated by a margin of nearly two to one.
According to Karp, the international demand for coca leaf for
illicit cocaine ensures that production will continue. "It's
completely market-driven. The demand exists," she said. "Coca
cannot be completely eradicated."
12. Newsbrief: Local Authorities Trying to Ban Million Marijuana
March in London Neighborhood
The 7th Annual Cannabis March and Festival in the London
neighborhood of Brixton, scheduled as part of global Million
Marijuana March activities, is in danger of being banned by
local authorities, according to the Brixton Cannabis Coalition.
But in a sign of disintegration in the local cannabis reform
movement, the former organizers of the march, known as the
Cannabis Coalition (UK), have disavowed any connection with the
event and questioned its current direction
On February 23, the council in Lambeth, the London borough that
includes Brixton, sought to ban the annual event, citing citizen
complaints and drug dealing. In a statement issued that day, the
council said that while it supported freedom of speech, "the
council cannot condone illegal activities such as cannabis use
and drug pushing -- both of which have taken place at previous
festivals held by the Cannabis Coalition... When the festival
has taken place before we have received numerous complaints from
local people who have been harassed by drug dealers and we have
received many reports of people taking drugs... We do not feel
confident that the Cannabis Coalition will be able to prevent
such incidents occurring again," the Lambeth council noted. "We
have a duty to ensure that any event taking place in the borough
is not being used to support illegal activity -- which drug
dealing and drug use clearly is."
But it is not the Cannabis Coalition organizing this year's
event. That coalition disintegrated over "unresolved disputes
regarding the organization of the march," according to a
statement posted on the Cannabis Coalition web site.
Furthermore, the defunct group noted cryptically, "there has
been growing concern about the direction both the march and the
festival have been heading." And what is more, "the Brixton
Cannabis Coalition was never part of the Cannabis Coalition and
seems to mainly represent the interests of the Green Party Drugs
Group, which is based in Brixton. It most certainly does not
represent the interests of the cannabis movement as a whole."
Be that as it may, the Brixton Cannabis Coalition is fighting to
overturn the council's decision and is accusing the council and
the Lambeth executive of failing to follow normal procedures in
deciding whether the march can take place in Brixton, a
progressive mixed neighborhood of West Indian immigrants and
urban ravers. "The Brixton Cannabis Coalition regrets the
decision supported by the Lambeth Executive to ignore the agreed
public events policy and try to ban the Cannabis March and
Festival on Saturday 7th May because of cannabis dealers at last
years festival," the Brixton coalition complained.
The council has taken the March and Festival to court over
alleged minor violations twice in the last six years without
managing to win a case, the coalition noted. Accusing the
Lambeth council of making "a political football" of the march,
the Brixton Cannabis Coalition noted that last year's event
attracted only four public complaints, while it was enjoyed by
thousands of people.
Claiming to be part of Brixton's progressive and diverse
population, the coalition invited the council "to work with us
and the police to overcome these issues. However if they refuse
and simply try to prohibit the March and Festival then we accuse
the Executive of being intolerant of diversity. We note the
media's reaction to the Council's ban has already increased the
size of the march. Presumably people will want to do something
after the march. The question for the Executive is do they want
it done licensed or unlicensed. A bit like the sale of cannabis
13. Newsbrief: Dutch Coffee Shops Facing Pressure, Greater
For the past three decades, Amsterdam has been Mecca for
marijuana connoisseurs and advocates of regulated cannabis sales
and use. Since 1975, the Dutch government has pragmatically
allowed so-called coffee shops to sell marijuana to adults even
though Dutch law continues to make cannabis sales illegal. But
that may be changing -- or it may not.
The conservative Dutch government of Prime Minister Jan Van
Balkenende was congratulated last week by the International
Narcotics Control Board for making a "crucial and significant
change in its policy on cannabis." The Dutch government has
promised to crack down on marijuana tourism, street dealing, pot
growing, and the coffee shops, the United Nations anti-drug
agency noted in its annual report http://www.incb.org "The
Dutch government notes that coffee shops may discredit the drug
policy of the country in general."
"They now say for the first time that cannabis is not harmless
and that coffee shops are not blameless," said INCB head Hamid
According to the British newspaper the Independent, citing a
"leading drug specialist" and a "government advisor," coffee
shops in Holland could be extinct within five years. The number
of coffee shops has already declined by half, down from a peak
of 1,500 to only 750 now.
The conservative Dutch government has already introduced a pilot
project in Limburg that bans foreigners from buying cannabis in
coffee shops. Belgians and Germans have flocked to the border
region for years to score good weed before returning to their
own, more repressive, countries. Similarly, the Independent
reported, the government is studying strong varieties of
cannabis, which could well result in their being banned. Also,
the police are cracking down on home growers.
"The changes have been brought about by the influence of the
Yankees, the United States, Brussels and the European Union,"
said August de Loor, an independent drug policy advisor to the
government. "The Dutch approach is usually very pragmatic, but
in the past four years things have started to change and there
is a more conservative approach. The control of coffee shops has
become much more strict. The police are checking up on them more
and there is much more strict interpretation of the rules. More
and more mayors are banning coffee shops from their cities. I
think in four or five years' time there will be no more coffee
shops left in Holland," he predicted. "We have a conservative
government at the moment but it's nothing to do with the left or
right. It's a moral thing. It's a sign of the times."
Not all observers think this is the beginning of the end for
Holland's coffee shops by any means. But the Dutch government
continues to tighten the screws.
14. Events and Conferences Coming Up for Drug Reformers -- Come
Out and Be a Part of It
Events and conferences are coming up around the country. One
major annual gathering is the conference of the National
Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), taking
place this year from March 31 to April 2 in San Francisco. This
is a great opportunity to learn and to meet and get to know
fellow reformers -- DRCNet will be attendance, so look for us if
you're there. Visit http://www.norml.org for further
Later in the month, April 21-23, the North American Syringe
Exchange Convention will reconvene in Tacoma, Washington. Visit
http://www.nasen.org to find out more.
Later in the year, November 9-12, further south in Long Beach,
California, the 2005 International Conference on Drug Policy
Reform will convene. This is expected to be a big one -- DRCNet
will be there too. Visit http://www.drugpolicy.org for the
And for those of you in Britain or with a taste for travel, the
International Conference on the Reduction of Drug-Related Harm
will meet in Belfast, Ireland, later this month from March
20-24. Visit http://www.ihrcbelfast.com to learn more.
There are many local events coming up around the country -- see
>our Reformer's Calendar
learn more -- New York, Wisconsin, Washington, Utah, are just a
few locations where you can come out and be a part of the
movement. Keep an eye out in the calendar for more upcoming
Perry Fund events by DRCNet, too, including June 1 in Seattle.
Hope to see you there!
15. This Week in History
March 11, 1966: Timothy Leary is sentenced in Texas to 30 years
for trying to cross into Mexico with a very small amount of
March 12, 1998: Canada legalizes hemp production, setting a
limit of 0.3 percent THC content that may be present in the
plants and requiring all seeds be certified for THC content.
March 12, 1998: The mayors of San Francisco, Oakland, Santa Cruz
and West Hollywood write letters to President Clinton asking him
to keep the Cannabis Buyers Clubs open.
March 13, 1997: The US House of Representatives votes 251-175 to
overturn Mexico's certification as partners in the drug war in
March 16, 2000: An unarmed black security guard, Patrick
Dorismond, is shot dead by undercover New York City police
officers conducting a marijuana "buy-and-bust."
March 17, 1999: A report by the Institute of Medicine for the
Office of National Drug Control Policy states that, "there is no
conclusive evidence that the drug effects of marijuana are
causally linked to the subsequent abuse of other illicit drugs"
and that "scientific data indicate the potential therapeutic
values of cannabinoid drugs for pain relief, control of nausea
and vomiting, and appetite stimulation."
16. The Reformer's Calendar
Please submit listings of events concerning drug policy and
related topics to firstname.lastname@example.org
March 12, 7:00pm, New York, NY, Judge James P. Gray addresses
the Community Church of New York. At 40 East 50th St., contact
Rev. Tracy Sprowls at (212) 683-4988 or email@example.com for
March 12-17, New York, NY, further appearances by Judge Gray,
including John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Bard High
School/Early College and other venues, on behalf of Law
Enforcement Against Prohibition. For further information, visit
http://www.leap.cc or contact Mike Smithson at firstname.lastname@example.org
or (315) 243-5844.
March 14, Austin, TX, Family Advocacy Day by the Texas Inmate
Families Association. Visit http://www.tifa.org for information.
Monday March 14 will be a lobby day for the Texas Inmates
Families Association. In other words they will be coalescing in
Austin and talking to legislators about prison-related issues.
For more information see http://www.tifa.org .
March 17, 8:30am-2:30pm, Washington, DC, "Framing a Moral
Debate: Criminal Justice Reform -- A Dialogue Exploring the
Interfaith Community's Role in Addressing Critical Reform." One
day dialogue sponsored by The Interfaith Alliance, at the
Columbus Club, Union Station, visit
http://www.interfaithalliance.org/justicereform/ to register online, or
contact Jason Gedeik at (202) 639-6370 or
email@example.com for further information.
March 17-18, New York, NY, "Caught in the Net: The Impact of
Drug Policies on Women and Families," conference sponsored by
the ACLU, Break the Chains and the Brennan Center for Justice.
At New York University School of Law, e-mail
firstname.lastname@example.org for info.
March 20-24, Belfast, Northern Ireland, 16th International
Conference on the Reduction of Drug Related Harm. Sponsored by
the International Harm Reduction Association, visit
http://www.ihrcbelfast.com or contact Dawn Orchard at +44 (0) 28
9756 1993 or email@example.com for further information.
March 24, 7:00pm, Madison, WI, Madison NORML benefit concert. At
Cafe Montmartre, 127 East Mifflin Street, admission $5 in
advance or $7 at the door, contact Gary Storck at (608)
241-8922 or firstname.lastname@example.org for further
March 29, 6:00pm, New York, NY, art sale to benefit Drug Policy
Alliance. At Cheim & Read, 547 West 25th St., contact Livet
Reichard Co. at (212) 966-4710 for further information.
March 31-April 2, San Francisco, CA, "Get Up, Stand Up! Stand Up
for Your Rights!", 2005 NORML Conference. At Cathedral Hill
Hotel, visit http://www.norml.org for further information.
April 8-9, Iowa City, IA, Students for Sensible Drug Policy
Midwest Conference, organized by University of Iowa SSDP. For
further information, contact Diana Selwyn at (210) 860-2077 or
April 9, noon-6:00pm, Sacramento, CA, rally in support of
medical marijuana. South Steps of the State Capitol, near "N"
and 12th, singer/songwriter Roberta Chevrette, Reggae/Dancehall
DJ Wokstar, speakers and more. For further information, Peter
Keyes at (916) 456-7933.
April 21-23, Tacoma, WA, 15th North American Syringe Exchange
Convention. Sponsored by the North American Syringe Exchange
Network, visit http://www.nasen.org for further information or
contact NASEN at (253) 272-4857 or email@example.com.
April 30, (date tentative), 11:00am-3:00pm, Washington, DC,
"America's in Pain!," 2nd Annual National Pain Rally. At the US
Capitol Reflecting Pool, visit
http://www.AmericanPainInstitute.org for further information.
May 4, Washington, DC, Marijuana Policy Project 10th Anniversary
Gala. Featuring Montel Williams and US Rep. Sam Farr, at the
Washington Court Hotel, contact Francis DellaVecchia at (310)
452-1879 or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://www.mpp.org/galas/
for further information.
May 7, numerous locations worldwide, "Global Marijuana Day,"
visit http://www.cures-not-wars.org for further information.
May 9, Santa Monica, CA, Marijuana Policy Project 10th
Anniversary Gala. Featuring Montel Williams and Tommy Chong, at
the Sheraton Delfina Hotel, contact Francis DellaVecchia at
(310) 452-1879 or email@example.com or visit
http://www.mpp.org/galas/ for further information.
June 1, Seattle, WA, John W. Perry Fund fundraiser, featuring
keynote speaker US Rep. Jim McDermott. Details to be announced,
contact DRCNet Foundation at (202) 362-0030 or
firstname.lastname@example.org for updates or visit
August 19-20, Salt Lake City, UT, "Science and Response in
2005," First National Conference on Methamphetamine, HIV and
Hepatitis C. Sponsored by the Harm Reduction Coalition and the
Harm Reduction Project, visit
http://www.harmredux.org/conference2005.htm after January 15 or
contact Amanda Whipple at (801) 355-0234 ext. 3 for further
August 20-21, 10:00am-8:00pm, Seattle, WA, Seattle Hempfest
2005. At Myrtle Edwards Park, Pier 70, admission free, visit
http://www.hempfest.org or (206) 781-5734 or
email@example.com for further information.
September 17, Boston, MA, "Sixteenth Annual Fall Freedom Rally,"
sponsored by MASSCANN. On Boston Common, visit
http://www.masscann.org for updates, or contact (781) 944-2266
November 9-12, Long Beach, CA, "Building a Movement for Reason,
Compassion and Justice," the 2005 International Drug Policy
Reform Conference. Sponsored by Drug Policy Alliance, at the
Westin Hotel, details to be announced. Visit
http://www.drugpolicy.org/events/dpa2005/ for updates.
April 5-8, 2006, Santa Barbara, CA, Fourth National Clinical
Conference on Cannabis Therapeutics. Sponsored by Patients Out
of Time, details to be announced, visit
http://www.medicalcannabis.com for updates.
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