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February 22, 1996

Law Enforcement Raids Cincinnati Buyers Club

February 16, 1996, Covington, KY: The home of activist and medical marijuana user Richard Evans has been raided by law enforcement officials.

Evan's house served as the home base for the 9-year-old Cincinnati Cannabis Buyers Club.

Evans, who was not home at the time of the raid, subsequently checked himself into a local hospital to combat onsetting symptoms of manic depression -- a medical condition which he is treated for. Evans stayed at the hospital throughout the weekend and intends to turn himself over to local authorities.

Evans informed NORML that he still has "no idea" what charges may be pending against him, but speculated that he may be facing felony offenses for two marijuana seedlings that were present in his home. Ironically, witnesses report that law enforcement officers failed to seize the seedlings.

The Cincinnati Buyers Club is one of an estimated 30 underground cannabis buyers clubs located throughout the country. The Cincinnati CBC has an eight member board of directors and distributes marijuana to approximately 30 patients. NORML will attempt to update this story next week.

For more information on Richard Evans' case, please write to: Americans for Compassionate Use, P.O. Box 2175, Covington, KY 41012.

Missouri Medical Marijuana Bill Unanimously Passes Senate Public Health Committee

February 15, 1996: Jefferson City, MO: A medical marijuana bill (Senate Bill 573) introduced by State Senator Joe Mosley has unanimously passed the Senate Public Health Committee. The bill states that "no criminal or civil penalty shall apply to any person for the act of possessing marijuana provided that ... a [physician] certifies in writing that the person is under professional care ... [and] ... needs marijuana as part of a therapeutic regimen."

Missouri NORML Coordinator Dan Viets says that he is pleased with the committee's recommendation to the Senate to pass the bill. However, he added a note of skepticism regarding a last minute amendment to the bill that instructs the University of Missouri to conduct research on the efficacy and safety of whole-smoked cannabis to that of the synthetic-THC drug Marinol.

"I hope this doesn't bog the bill down and undermine the overall purpose of the legislation: to stop seriously ill individuals from going to prison for their medical use of cannabis," Viets said.

The bill will now go to the Senate floor for a vote.

For more information, please contact Dan Viets of Missouri NORML @ (314) 443-6866.

Hemp Businessman Sentenced To More Than 8 Years In Prison

February 15, 1996, Minneapolis, MN: Hemp activist and founder of the U.S. Hemp Company, Arlin Trout, was sentenced to more than eight years in prison after being found guilty of conspiring to possess more than 100 kilograms of marijuana.

Trout accused the prosecution of utilizing paid informers and snitches to frame him and labeled himself a political prisoner who is being targeted for his beliefs. Arlin's wife, Cathy, will now be left to run the successful clothing business and raise the Trout's six children on her own.

Prior to his sentencing, Trout gave an impassioned speech to U.S. District Judge James Rosenbaum. "I was charged and convicted of conspiring to sell a plant that grows wild in this region and [that] once provided legal jobs for Minnesota. This plant is the oldest, safest source of food, fuel, fiber and medicine on Earth and has infinite industrial and medicinal value to society...."

"... Fear and ignorance guided by greed and blind ambition created the prohibition of hemp. I am morally and intellectually compelled to resist these forces. When the American people find out what hemp is and why it's really illegal, may they deal with this government as harshly as it has dealt with me."

Although Trout's supporters applauded Arlin's bold speech, Judge Rosenbaum was unmoved and sentenced Trout to the maximum sentence recommended under the U.S. sentencing guidelines.

When asked if she felt that her husband's speech may have increased the length of his sentence, Cathy Trout responded, "Why not stand up for your rights? One day in jail is too long. You can't be expected to admit you're wrong when you don't believe you are. You've got to live with yourself. Besides, the extra time isn't going to destroy the fact that I love him and his children love him, and no matter how long he's in [prison], that won't change."

Despite Trout's incarceration, he is reportedly planning to run as the United States vice presidential candidate for the 10-year-old Grassroots Party.

For more information on this case, please contact either Cathy Trout of U.S. Hemp @ (602) 983-7065 or The Grassroots Party of Minnesota @ (612) 722-4GRP. Additional text relating to Trout's trial is available on the Internet @:

America Online Poll Reports That 91 Percent Of Americans Favor Marijuana Decriminalization

February 19, 1996: An informal poll conducted on America Online following this past Monday's debate between former Drug Czar Lee Brown and NORML Deputy Director Allen St. Pierre reveals that 91 percent of those responding favored decriminalizing marijuana.

A second poll conducted the following day asked the question: Is the drug war failing? Of the respondents who answered, 92.8 percent said "yes."

A transcript of the February 19 debate is currently available on NORML's homepage @:

Public Hemp Display Under Attack From Local Residents

February 21, 1996, Norman, OK: A month long hemp display arranged by the University of Oklahoma NORML chapter is under fire from parents and local officials.

The three case exhibit, currently on display at the Norman Public Library, advocates the legalization of the hemp plant for industrial and agricultural purposes. On display are various products made from hemp such as hats, shoes, and backpacks as well as a caption next to a picture of former President George Washington encouraging farmers to: "Grow hemp."

School patron Robert Coffman, who said he was representing other parents, recently criticized the display at a City Council meeting and argued that such an exhibit was inappropriate for children. In addition, Mayor Bill Nations reports that he has had at least a dozen calls from people opposed to the exhibit. Nations admits that both city and library officials had tried to prevent UO NORML from running the exhibit.

Tony Smith, a member of UO NORML, states that the library has received an equal number of compliments as well as complaints from patrons regarding the controversial exhibit. He further argues that children should be allowed to view the exhibit so they can learn about the historical and industrial uses of the hemp plant.

"We teach our children that we have a free country where dissenting opinions can be expressed," Smith says. "Our children are well-informed about the government's position on marijuana. Our exhibit in a public forum demonstrates that we ... live in a country where freedom of expression exists."

For more information, please contact Eric Copenhaver of University of Oklahoma NORML @ (405) 366-7610.

Man Held In Texas Jail Begins Hunger Strike
To Protest Incarceration For Marijuana Possession

February 21, 1996, Macogdoches County, TX: A native of New York who was arrested in Texas for possessing a minor amount of marijuana has announced that he has begun a hunger strike while in jail to protest Texas' harsh stance on marijuana possession.

Robert Magill of Buffalo informs NORML that he is in his third day of a hunger strike to bring attention to the severity of Texas laws regarding marijuana possession. Magill is currently being held on a $1500 bond and is scheduled to be arraigned on February 27.

Magill explained to NORML that he was in the process of hitchhiking to California and does not possess the necessary funds to bail himself out of jail. He notes that under New York state statutes, he would have faced only a minor fine for possessing marijuana.

Magill intends to continue his hunger strike at least until his arraignment.

Marin County Police Chief Supports Medical Marijuana Initiative

February 14, 1996, Fairfax, CA: Jim Anderson, a long-time police chief for the town of Fairfax is one of the latest law enforcement officials to speak out in favor of the California's current medical marijuana initiative.

"I believe there is adequate unbiased and scientific evidence that marijuana does have medicinal benefit. When we consider the associated consequences of other prescription drugs it seems illogical to exclude marijuana as another alternative available to physicians for prescription. ..."

"... Even if there are no other benefits than relief of pain or stimulation of appetite, there appears to be a legitimate place for marijuana in the wide array of legally prescribed drugs. The legalization of marijuana for medicinal purposes seems to strike a reasonable balance between the abuse and illegal use of the drug and its legitimate medicinal value that could be available through prescriptive use.

"With the increased public attention on my own support of the medicinal use of marijuana, I find that many other conservative persons share this belief. ... Marijuana is not the street degenerate that ravages society."

Anderson has been employed in law enforcement and public safety since 1964 and has been a police chief for 14 years. He is also a member of the U.S. Army Reserve with rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

The Californians for Compassionate Use coalition is attempting to place an initiative on the 1996 general election ballot that would allow doctors to prescribe marijuana as a therapeutic agent. The coalition needs to collect 600,000 signatures by April 20 to place the initiative on the November ballot.

For more information, please contact Dennis Peron of Californians for Compassionate Use @ (415) 621-3986.

Marijuana Reformers Demonstrate In New Zealand

February 20, 1996, Wellington, New Zealand: According to a Reuters news feature, an estimated 250 people demonstrated outside of New Zealand's parliament for the legalization of marijuana. The demonstrators were members of the Aotearoa (New Zealand) Legalize Cannabis Party.

Spokesman for the party, Mike Finlayson, told supporters that the government should get out of people's lives and concentrate police resources on fighting violent crime. The marijuana-reform group estimates that half a million New Zealanders use the drug.

Police made 11 arrests during the protest after several of the demonstrators lit marijuana cigarettes. The eleven individuals were detained for possession of marijuana and obstructing police.



Regional and other news

Body Count

The "Portland" zoned edition in Thursday's
Oregonian, delivered to subscribers in the central metropolitan area, shows that seven of 14 felons sentenced to jail or prison in the latest week by Multnomah County courts were controlled-substance violators. (Feb. 22, 1996, p. 6, 3M-MP-SE). That makes 50 of 76 felons so far in 1996, or 65.78 percent.

Portland NORML Meeting February 28

The Portland chapter of NORML meets 7:30 pm Wednesday, Feb. 28, at the Phantom Gallery, 3125 SE Belmont St. The message phone is (503) 777-9088.

How To Stop A Railroad With Three Minutes' Oratory?

Train A small contingent of Portland NORML members will be on hand at public forums 7 pm Feb. 26-27 & 29 concerning the May 21 bond vote for more borrowed money for more jails for yet more controlled-substance violators. The Monday forum is in Room 602 of the Multnomah County Courthouse and the Tuesday forum is at Gresham City Council Chambers. (A summary is here.)

Career Opportunities

An article in the Sunday, Feb. 18, 1996 Sacramento Bee reported on accused drug trafficker Juan Garcia Abrego's claims that he bribed INS agents and National Guardsmen to drive cocaine and marijuana in their buses past US Customs checkpoints. The story was written by Beatriz Johnston Hernandez, the West Coast corespondent for Proceso, based in Mexico City.

Zychik Chronicle, February 21, 1996

Add $20 Billion to the cost of the War on Drugs:
(CBS News) Clinton is being urged to label Mexico as a country that is not helping the US' war against drugs. If he were to do that, Mexico would not be eligible for the $20 billion left in the $50 billion bail-out that Clinton and the Republican arranged for Mexico - to bail out Wall Street. Expect Mexico to makes some more noise about intensifying its war on drugs. Expect Wall Street to rejoice. Expect more innocent Americans sent to prison."
and Feb. 22, 1996:
Beats the stock market 2 to 1:
(New York Times) In 1980 the Dow Jones was at about 1,000. Today it's at about 5600. That's a little 5.6 to 1 return. However, there's another institution that beat the Dow. According to Ethan Nadelmann, in his letter to The New York Times, there are 10 times as many inmates in state prisons for drug violations now, than there were in 1980. By the way, in California prison guards are paid more than teachers.

Double Standard?

The Dallas Morning News lamented Feb. 18 or 19 Adidas' decision to name its latest shoe design "The Hemp" (because of its hemp fabric component). Do you think they made a similar outcry when the designer perfume "Opium" was recently brought forth with much fanfare?

Post-Debate Spin Session

The online debate over "legalizing" pot that took place Monday night on America Online (AOL) between former Drug Czar Lee Brown and NORML Deputy Director Allen St. Pierre proved one thing: AOL's forum software must be the worst anyone could possibly design. The exercise might have been much more interesting and useful if it had been carried out on Usenet over a more extended period of time.

Several statements by Brown were quite odd, including his assertion that marijuana users are not now sent to jail, only growers and traffickers. (Apparently the hunger striker in Texas, Robert Magill and quite a few guests of Multnomah County weren't able to log in. According to FBI statistics, 83 percent of the 481,000 Americans arrested for pot in 1994 were busted merely for possession.) Previously, Brown had defined "decriminalization" as a system under which pot growers and traffickers go to prison, but not those arrested for possession only. If you put these statements together, it appears Brown thinks decriminalization is already here. Try as I might, I just can't make any sense out of this guy. AOL conducted an unscientific survey over the next few days asking all subscribers the question: "Do you think the U.S. is winning the war on illegal drugs?" In AOL's own words:

"RESULTS: Of the 17,994 responses we received, 91 percent said the U.S. is not winning the war on illegal drugs. Of the remaining votes, only 5 percent said the U.S. was winning the war and 4 percent were undecided."

"RESULTS IN DETAIL: 17,994 total responses
857 responded YES (4.76%)
16,428 responded NO (91.30%)
709 responded UNDECIDED (3.94%)"

Who's Introducing What To Whom?

According to The Australian (Melbourne) p. A4 on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 1996, Dr. Graeme Hawthorne of the Centre for Health Program Evaluation is due to introduce some interesting research conducted in 1993 at the seventh International Conference on Reducing Drug Related Harm, scheduled to begin in Tasmania next month. Dr. Hawthorne's research indicates that girls who participated in drug education in schools were 80 percent more likely to smoke than those who did not participate in the classes. Boys exposed to the education program were 70 percent more likely to smoke and drink than those who were not. Dr. Hawthorne suggested the community needs to consider whether "sensitising" all students through drug education programs was desirable. (No word on whether drug "educators" down under give the non sequitur response that a DARE officer made up here when confronted with similar research results: "...if I can save one kid from using drugs, then I'm being effective." ["Truth or DARE," Willamette Week, Aug. 16, 1995, p. 9])

More News From Australia

The Australian Friday, Feb. 16th, 1996, p. 3: Chairman of the Premier's Drug Advisory Council in Victoria, Professor David Pennington, today made comments suggesting the Council was considering recommending the decriminalisation of certain illicit drug use, particularly the use of marijuana. Asked to comment on the possibility of decriminalisation, the Victorian Premier, Mr. Kennett, made comments that may come as a surprise to some, "It is not something that I would feel comfortable with necessarily but the Government has entrusted these people [the advisory committee] ...therefore, we have to accept that having charged them with the responsibility of doing the job we should be big enough to accept their recommendations."

Would that President Nixon had felt the same way about his own Shafer Commission....

"Paper Without Trees"

Paul Stanford, Chief Petitioner for the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act, and his company, Tree-Free Ecopaper, are featured in the "Science & Technology/Materials" column in the March 1996 Popular Science (p. 32). Here's a verbatim transcript:

Paper Without Trees

Paper doesn't grow on trees, according to activist-businessman Paul Stanford. The founder of Tree-Free Ecopaper prefers making paper for printing and writing from high-fiber weeds.

Plants such as hemp produce more usable fiber per acre than trees and are naturally pest-resistant. Hemp paper is easily bleached with peroxide instead of chlorine. And because it's acid-free, the paper doesn't yellow or crumble for hundreds of years.

Based in Portland, Oregon, Tree-Free has imported Chinese paper made from hemp and [wheatstraw ??? -- bad fax transmission] since 1992. Last spring, the company began producing its own hemp-based paper, the first made in the United States since World War II, at a Massachusetts mill.

Hemp paper has a long history in this country; George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were hemp farmers. But because hemp can be bred for drug use, the United States outlawed its cultivation in 1937.

That forces Tree-Free to import its raw materials.

The ban has kept hemp prices artificially high, Stanford says. But the price gap is narrowing. The cost of the cheapest grades of wood-pulp paper has doubled in the past year, and the price of hemp-based paper is now within 10 percent that of recycled wood-pulp paper.

Tree Free has sold 700 tons of its paper to date, but wood-pulp mills produce many times that in a day. Stanford's closest competitor, Trailblazer Visionpaper of Albuquerque, New Mexico, sells paper made from kenaf fiber, which offers many of the same benefits as hemp. A hibiscus plant from Africa, kenaf is grown in the southern United States.

University researchers are also experimenting with paper made from chitin and kudzu. Chitin is a waste product of seafood processing, and kudzu is a quick-growing vine that is already crowding out native plants throughout the South. -- Joyce Gramza

'Higher Times' Online

CNN has posted the entire transcript of its excellent Feb. 11 documentary on marijuana, "Higher Times," on the World Wide Web at: html. By the way, according to Dennis Peron, co-founder of the San Francisco Cannabis Buyers' Club, the DEA was not pleased with CNN's special. Peron says the DEA contacted Ted Turner demanding rebuttal time and Turner said no. (While we think everyone should be able to have their say in any discussion of drugs and drug policy, any broadcast journalist would have turned down such a demand. Now that the DEA knows what it's like, maybe it will reconsider and consent to debate drug-policy reformers?)

...In Which Case...

Clifford Schaffer, America's undefeated drug-policy debate king, who has more than 3,000 victories to his credit, writes: "I have been in off-and-on private debate/discussions with a DEA agent for over a year now. He has been a real tough cookie, as you might expect. I just recently got a letter from him stating that he had been reading the stuff on my Web page and he had finally come to the conclusion that it made no sense to bust drug users. We are making progress - even with the toughest of them."

USA Weekend Misfires

The USA Weekend article on marijuana Sunday, Feb. 18, 1996, that national NORML promoted at the bottom of last week's press release turned out to be rather extremist "reefer madness" propaganda. It opened with the story of Kevin West, a teen-ager who survived a game of solo Russian roulette after smoking marijuana. (About the only charge not made was that the pot threw off his aim.) Playing Russian roulette after smoking pot is unprecedented, as far as I know, and the government's own statistics show that pot smokers do not suffer disproportionately from accidents or suicides, but the author of the article didn't discuss West's psychological problems before the incident.

As one veteran drug-abuse counselor commented in a different forum (he quotes from the USA Weekend article): "Anyone whose philosophy is 'I felt I could stand out if I did crazy things' had major problems long before he got 'high on top of high.' He sounds like a poly-drug-abuser to me, and notice the article did not state that he was smoking pot only." More than 800 comments posted on the USA Weekend Web site in the next two days complained about the writer's obvious bias by about a 10-1 margin.

One interesting quote from the USA Weekend article: "When WE smoked marijuana, no one said to us it was harmful to our health," says HHS' Shalala." Is this more credible than "I didn't inhale"?

Drug, Crime Data On Web

Drug and crime data from the U.S. Justice Department are now available online. The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) has established a World Wide Web site that includes information on drugs and crime, violence against women, gun crimes and capital punishment. The data runs from the present back to the mid-1970s and will be updated regularly. The BJS' Web address is: (Bob Ramsey asks: "Does it include stats on the number of civilians killed or injured in the custody of law enforcement officials?" Sorry Bob.)

Biggest Disappointment Of The Week - (JAMA)

The latest issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association features a new study by Harrison G. Pope, Jr., M.D. and Deborah Yurgelun-Todd, Ph.D. of the McLean Hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts (JAMA, Feb. 21, 1996). The study reportedly shows, according to Reuters news service, that "People who use marijuana daily may have trouble paying attention or performing other simple tasks, even after abstaining from the drug for a day." The editor has been collecting some of the better critiques of this study if anyone's interested.

Basically, the new research, which has not been replicated by other scientists, contradicts a vast amount of previous inquiry (see for example Psychopharmacology 115(3):340-9, July 1994) and has very serious methodological problems. The real significance of the article is probably that it signals a resurgence of political bias against marijuana at JAMA. In his book, "Marihuana Reconsidered," Harvard psychiatrist Lester Grinspoon details JAMA's anti-pot history in a decorously hilarious chapter titled "The Campaign Against Marihuana." "The fact of the matter," Dr. Grinspoon writes, "is that during 1969 the information on the subject of cannabis available in The Journal of the American Medical Association was less useful and credible than that published during the same period by the magazine Playboy." (p. 331) There was some hope that the AMA and JAMA were becoming less politicized after they published "Marihuana as Medicine - A Plea for Reconsideration," by Dr. Grinspoon and James B. Bakalar, JD, in the June 21, 1995 issue. The poor quality of the new article suggests its real function is to counteract recent influential editorials calling for the decriminalization of cannabis by Britain's top two medical periodicals, The British Medical Journal and The Lancet. The Lancet editorial, "Deglamorising Cannabis," opens with a statement that "The smoking of cannabis, even long term, is not harmful to health." It ends with the observation that "cannabis per se is not a hazard to society but driving it further underground may well be." As far as I know, no research has ever been cited by JAMA, NIDA, the DEA or other drug warriors which suggests that mass incarceration is an effective way to reduce illegal-drug use in society. The AMA's position seems to be, "Put 'em in prison - that'll teach 'em to pay attention."

Bob Melamede, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the department of microbiology and molecular genetics at the University of Vermont, writes about the new JAMA study:

"There is an editorial that accompanies the Pope and Yurgelun-Todd article (which does not show dramatic affects). It states intelligently some of the caveats of determining the long-term affects of heavy cannabis use, especially since these affects have often been hard to reproduce. Importantly, the editorial points out that there has been no such difficulty in demonstrating and reproducing 'cognitive deficits associated with heavy use of alcohol compared to marijuana.' ... They maintain a tone of expecting negative effects from heavy users and being surprised when they do not find them. Additionally, they seem surprised when they find positive effects associated with heavy smokers. For example, the result of various psychological profiles were similar between the two groups studied with one exception, 'general positive affect.' The 'heavy users scored slightly higher than light users.' Also, 'although heavy male users were slower to name 100 colors then light users,' 'they also made slightly fewer errors.' I find this reminiscent of the federal highway study that showed stoned drivers to drive slower and make more corrections.

"A number of other relevant conclusions can be drawn from this study. For example marihuana is not addicting since even the heavy smokers are willing to stop at least for the day of the study. Would the same be true for heavy users of cigarettes, alcohol, heroin or cocaine? In a similar vein, many of the infrequent users were, in the past, heavy marihuana users that stopped heavy use. Interestingly, many from both the heavy and infrequent use groups reported that they had previously gone through a period of heavy alcohol use. Is alcohol the gateway drug or does marihuana use reduce chronic alcohol use?"

[More commentary on the JAMA article can be found in next week's news release. - ed.]

Legal In Texas?

Texas' marijuana tax stamp, enacted by the state legislature for the sole purpose of heaping yet more punishment on convicted pot sellers, has apparently led to the "legalization" of pot there, just as the same circumstances recently led to the same situation in Arizona. (See The Feb. 19, 1996 issue of Texas Lawyer magazine (pp. 31-33) details a decision following remand from the U.S. Supreme Court that, yes, the marijuana tax stamp in Texas is punitive in nature, and thereby constitutes double jeopardy. Unlike Arizona, whose legislature is now in session and capable of repealing the tax stamp, Texas will not be reconvening its legislature until January 1997. So the tax stamp will stay on the books at least until that time. Texas' tax stamp rate on marijuana is $3.50 per gram or $101.50 per ounce. More on this topic will follow as information becomes available.

William F. Buckley - "Misfire On Drug Policy"

Here's an extra feature just for you who receive the e-mail version of the Portland NORML press release. William F. Buckley's Feb. 26 The National Review column is a masterpiece. I hope you'll agree the ensuing excerpt is worth the extra bandwidth this week:
Misfire On Drug Policy

The bipartisan Council on Crime in America, whose most conspicuous spokesman is William Bennett, does fine work, but when it touches on the matter of drugs its analytical powers simply decompose, as though the writer were high on crack cocaine or the legal stuff.

Last week the Council exploded in opposition to the call for an approach to the legalization of drugs made by seven writers (myself included) in this journal. To the title of the symposium - "The War on Drugs Is Lost" - the Council replies that that is most certainly not so. To the end of proving this, it cites the reduction of drug use by non-addicts. It declined by 50 per cent between 1979 and 1992. The planted axiom of course is that that decline is owing to the war on drugs. But what is it that accounts for the decline in the number of users of tobacco during the same period, from 33.5 million to 26.5 million? The use of tobacco is not illegal. But since 1979, and beginning even before that, the deleterious effect of cigarettes was so persuasively argued that even William Bennett gave up smoking.

A look at the formal side of the war on drugs is required. If something is illegal, then the law that makes it so is effective to the extent that it imprisons those who violate it, thereby hypothetically reducing the number of lawbreakers.

That would seem obvious, but isn't to the distinguished members of the Council on Crime in America. In 1985, 811,000 arrests were made for drug offenses. In 1994, 1.35 million arrests were made for drug offenses. Does that mean that the war on drugs is effective? Well, no. An effective law diminishes, rather than increases, the number of violators who have to be arrested.

And then of course one asks, If 1.35 million drug users were arrested in 1994, how many drug users were not arrested? The Council informs us that there are more than 4 million casual users of cocaine (defined as people who use it less than once a week). How so? Why haven't they been arrested? And goes on to say that there are over 2.2 million heavy (at least weekly) users. That makes a total of 6.2 million who violate the law from once a week, to every two weeks or so. How effective is the war when such figures can be cited? Now take the big one. There are over 70 million Americans who have smoked marijuana, and about 10 million who continue to do so. Why aren't they in jail? Does the Council on Crime in America really wish that they were in jail?

It must have embarrassed the Council that the same week it sputtered forth on the great success of the war on drugs, The Economist cited another Council report on crime in America which gainsays its entire position on the drug war. We learn that only one criminal is jailed for every hundred violent crimes committed; that over one-half of America's convicted felons are not sentenced to prison (because, in part, the prisons are full); that the most violent criminals serve less than one-half their sentences, and the average murderer released in 1992 from a state prison had served only 5.9 years.

The Economist cites the experience of a patrolman in Haughville, a scruffy area of Indianapolis. "He drives up and down in the evenings, past anoraked [sic] figures who stand outside liquor stores and turn their faces from him. He can guess what they are; few people apart from drug dealers stand around on nights like this, when the puddles in the potholes freeze hard. Besides, Patrolman Reichle knows most of them: he reckons he has arrested one in five of these young men." City prosecutors "do not even bring charges against drug dealers until they have been arrested several times. Those who do get charged and found guilty will not go to prison, unless they have other convictions. President Bill Clinton's call for a crackdown on drug dealers sounds pretty hollow in Haughville.''



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