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. . . a weekly service for the media on news items related to Marijuana Prohibition.

February 27, 1997

Latest National Poll Shows Strong Support For Medical Marijuana

Cartoon - 'Freeze_Granny'

February 18, 1997, Washington, D.C.:  Americans reject the idea of sanctioning physicians who prescribe or recommend the use of marijuana as a medicine to seriously ill patients by 68 percent to 24 percent, according to a recent poll conducted by the Lake Research polling firm in New York City.
At the same time, the public supports the right of physicians to prescribe marijuana by two-to-one, 60 percent to 30 percent.
"Like the results of the 1995 poll conducted by the American Civil Liberties Union demonstrating that 85 percent of voters favored legal access to medical marijuana for specific illnesses, this latest survey further emphasizes the overwhelming support among voters for medical marijuana," said NORML's Deputy Director, Allen St. Pierre.
The questions were worded as follows and asked in the following order:
* Should doctors be able to prescribe marijuana for medical purposes to seriously or terminally ill patients?
* As you may know, voters in two states recently passed laws allowing doctors to prescribe marijuana to seriously ill patients for medical purposes.  The federal government says that doctors who prescribe are violating federal law, and has threatened to prosecute them or suspend their license.  Which comes closer to your views [rotate order of choices]: doctors should be able to prescribe marijuana for medical uses in states where it is allowed by law, or the federal government should penalize doctors who prescribe marijuana, regardless of whether state law allows them to?
Lake Research conducted the nationwide poll of 1,002 Americans between February 5-9 for the Lindesmith Center, a drug-law reform organization from New York City.
For more information, please contact Ethan Nadelmann of The Lindesmith Center @ (212) 887-0695 or Celinda Lake of Lake Research @ (202) 776-9066.  For information on additional polls demonstrating strong support for medical marijuana, please contact Allen St. Pierre of NORML @ (202) 483-5500 or visit NORML's website @:

Health Organizations Support Medical Marijuana Lawsuit

February 23, 1997, San Francisco, CA:  Four prominent state medical groups have entered a lawsuit aimed at preventing federal officials from taking punitive action against physicians who recommend the medical use of marijuana to their patients in compliance with California law.
"We believe that physicians have a right and a duty to discuss anything regarding a patient's medical health," Dr. Toni Brayer of the California Pacific Medical Center told the San Francisco Examiner.  Brayer is the immediate past president of the San Francisco Medical Society, one of the organizations that recently joined the lawsuit, and has been an outspoken proponent of the California Medical Marijuana Initiative since August.
Also supporting the plaintiffs with an amicus curiae (friends of the court) brief filed late Friday are the 6,000-member California Academy of Physicians, the 1,800-member Gay and Lesbian Medical Association, and the 400-member Marin Medical Society.
Plaintiffs contend that threatening to punish physicians who recommend the use of marijuana as a therapeutic agent to their patients is a violation of the First Amendment.  In their friend-of-the-court brief, the four medical groups contend that: "The unprecedented application of the nation's drug laws to physician-patient dialogue has severely chilled vital communications between physicians and their patients.  Forced to choose between the risk of prosecution and providing patients with potentially useful information, often the physician's only choice is to remain silent."
Oral arguments in this matter will be heard before U.S. District Judge Fern M. Smith on March 21.
"With the addition of these four respected medical organizations, there are now approximately 10,000 state-licensed doctors waging a legal battle against the federal government over access to medical marijuana," said NORML's Deputy Director, Allen St. Pierre.  "It is clear that many doctors do not share the government's hard-line approach to this issue."
The suit was filed on January 14 by Bay Area Physicians for Human Rights, a group of about 150 doctors who treat AIDS; Being Alive, an organization of people with AIDS or the AIDS virus; nine individual physicians, and five patients -- including former San Francisco police commissioner Jo Daly.  San Francisco prosecutor Keith Vines, who uses marijuana medicinally to combat effects of the AIDS wasting syndrome, has also signed on to the suit, known as Conant v. McCaffrey.
For more information, please contact Dave Fratello of Americans for Medical Rights (AMR) @ (310) 394-2952 or Allen St. Pierre of NORML @ (202) 483-5500.

California Congressional Delegation Urged To Support Prop. 215 And Stave Off Federal Assault On Physicians And Their Medical Patients

February 27, 1997, Washington, D.C.:  U.S. Representative George Brown (D-CA) has circulated a letter to his fellow 51 California House members urging them to join him in sending a letter to President Clinton asking him to refrain from imposing federal penalties on California physicians who might recommend marijuana to their patients.  Thus far, five members have signed on:

Rep. Brown's letter reads in part: "As Members of the California Congressional Delegation we are concerned with the actions of the Administration to threaten sanctions against the physicians of our state for recommending the use of marijuana for medical purposes under exceptional circumstances."
"...Federal agency officials are now threatening to revoke physician's licenses to prescribe drugs, bar Medicare and Medicaid participation, and encourage state licensing boards to revoke physician's license.  However, dozens of scientific and medical studies since the late 1970's have shown marijuana to be beneficial to suffering patients...".
"Yet, Federal officials are now interfering with the expressed will of a majority of Californians.  This is not a matter for the government to involve itself..."
"We ask that you reconsider your position and order all Federal agencies to refrain from taking actions against physicians and allow physicians in California to recommend marijuana in accordance with the Compassionate Use Act [Prop. 215], thus helping the thousands now suffering in dire straits."
For more information on Rep. Brown's delegation letter, please contact Allen St. Pierre of NORML @ (202) 483-5500.  For more information specific to marijuana policy in California, please contact Dale Gieringer of CA NORML @ (415) 563-5858.  If you live in California and don't know who your congressional representative is, please call the congressional switchboard operator @ (202) 225-3121.



© copyright 1996, 1997 NORML NORML Home Page comments:

Regional and other news

Body Count

Nine of the 17 felons sentenced by Multnomah County courts in the most recent week received jail or prison terms for controlled-substance offenses, according to the "Portland" zoned section of
The Oregonian, ("Courts," Feb. 27, 1997, p. 7, 3M-MP-SE). That makes the body count so far this year 37 out of 81, or 45.67 percent. The body count would be 10 out of 17 except one person was sentenced to just a $264 fine (and probably permanent unemployability) for possession of a controlled substance.

"Newspaper - Portland Clinic Reportedly Selling Marijuana As Medicine"

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP, Feb. 23, 1997) - An outlaw clinic in downtown Portland is dispensing marijuana to sick and dying people, The Sunday Oregonian reported.

Since the clinic opened six weeks ago, patients have found it through word of mouth.

Patients who suffer from arthritis, multiple sclerosis, AIDS and other chronic diseases can buy and eighth of an ounce of marijuana for $20 to $50 depending on their income. That's enough for four or five joints.

Marijuana cookies are sold in $2 packs. A brownie goes for $3.

The clinic opened after recent passage of propositions in California and Arizona allowing physicians to prescribe marijuana for medical purposes.

Oregon law makes no formal exception for marijuana grown, delivered, sold or used for medicinal purposes. Rep. George Eighmey, D-Portland has introduced two bills in support of legalizing marijuana for medical use.

Local authorities acknowledge that in general, they put higher priority on dealing with violent crime and flagrant drug dealing than with seriously ill people discreetly smoking marijuana.

"Our main focus is in prosecuting drug dealers and marijuana growers. Our focus is not on people who are legitimately using it for medical purposes," said Gary Meabe, senior deputy district attorney in charge the drug and vice unit for Multnomah County.

"On the other hand, as the DA's office, we're not a policy making body, and those people are breaking the law, and when those cases come to our attention, we have to pay attention to them," he said.

The clinic's 124 patients are protecting the center's secrecy. A reporter for The Sunday Oregonian learned about the clinic from a patient, and was allowed to visit on the condition that the location wouldn't be disclosed.

"We are concerned about vandalism, about our safety when it comes to people thinking that there are a lot of drugs here and a lot of money. And we are afraid of being accosted outside on the street," said Diane Densmore, a patient who complains of chronic back pain, irritable bowel disease, scoliosis, arthritis and depression.

The most prominent cannabis buyers' club, the Cannabis Cultivators Club in San Francisco, now operates under the protection of California's new law. It was founded in 1991 and had been shut down by authorities last fall.

No one will say how the Portland center gets the drug for distribution, or how the center is supported.

Some patients have a doctor's letter stating a diagnosis, such as multiple sclerosis, arthritis, glaucoma or AIDS. Patients say in some cases their doctors know about their marijuana use, but the letters are simply a statement of diagnosis and are not a sign of doctors' support of the treatment. New members waive confidentiality so the clinic can verify their diagnoses.

[End of article]

Portland NORML recently posted the complete text of the article by staff medical reporter Oz Hopkins Koglin in its World Wide Web pages at

The quality of the article contrasts not only with the usual malevolence of The Oregonian but also with that shown in reports Feb. 24-25 on Portland's Alternative Health Center by the news departments at KGW (8) and KATU (2), the local NBC and ABC affiliates. KGW's disorganized two-part report on cannabis buyers clubs in California and Portland was particularly inept. Not only did the KGW reporter break a promise not to identify the location of the club (by showing a view of the building's exterior), it mostly ignored patients and publicized the misguided and misleading fears of at least a half-dozen drug warrior types and informants. The KGW report ended with the announcers wondering out loud when the police would raid the club - and a pledge from cops to do so as soon as possible.

Multnomah County District Attorney's Hypocrisy Exposed

The Multnomah County (Portland) district attorney,
Michael Schrunk, was on Phil Stanford's radio talk-show on Portland's KKEY 1150 AM about 1 pm Friday, Feb. 21, saying he would endorse medical marijuana and stop busting sick people once doctors "stand up" for medical marijuana. Meanwhile, Schrunk's prosecutor on Phil Smith's cultivation-for-medical-patients case is trying to keep Smith's doctor from standing up in his defense. In particular, the prosecutor is trying to prevent Smith from invoking the "necessity" defense, without which any trial will be a farcical kangaroo court.

Jack Owenbey, another Portland medical patient/cultivator bustee (with post-traumatic stress syndrome - he's a Vietnam combat vet) was told last week he wouldn't be allowed to leave the state to seek medical counsel in California. Apparently, Smith was the last defendant in Oregon to avail himself of out-of-state medical advice. So again the district attorney's office has done everything it can to stop doctors from "standing up" in defense of medical marijuana.

Anyone who might feel moved to call or fax the Multnomah County District Attorney and complain about how this looks can call (503) 248-3162 or fax (503) 248-3643.

Schrunk seems to demand that physicians unanimously endorse marijuana as a medicine. Although the recent, Jan. 30 endorsement of the New England Journal of Medicine and the March 1996 endorsement of the American Public Health Association as well as the November 1995 endorsement of The Lancet would appear to fulfill that requirement, Schrunk seems to take the extreme position that he has to have an endorsement from the most conservative, government-controlled medical organizations, such as the American Medical Association and Oregon Medical Association, before he will stop traumatizing sick people.

But the law itself is not that unreasonable. As detailed in the 1988 ruling and decision of fact by the DEA's own top administrative law judge, Francis L. Young, "it is unrealistic and unreasonable to require unanimity of opinion on the question confronting us. For the reasons there indicated, acceptance by a significant minority of doctors is all that can reasonably be required. This record makes it abundantly clear that such acceptance exists in the United States":

[page] - 64 -


The Act, at 21 U.S.C. 812(b)(1)(C), requires that marijuana be retained in Schedule I if "[t]here is a lack of accepted safety for use of [it] under medical supervision." If there is no lack of such safety, if it is accepted that this substance can be used with safety under medical supervision, then it is unreasonable to keep it in Schedule I.

Again we must ask - "accepted" by whom? ... The only proper question for the Agency here is: Have a significant minority of physicians accepted marijuana as safe for use under medical supervision?

- 65 -

The gist of the Agency's case against recognizing marijuana's acceptance as safe is to assert that more studies, more tests are needed. The Agency has presented highly qualified and respected experts, researchers and others, who hold that view. But, as demonstrated in the discussion in Section V above, it is unrealistic and unreasonable to require unanimity of opinion on the question confronting us. For the reasons there indicated, acceptance by a significant minority of doctors is all that can reasonably be required.

This record makes it abundantly clear that such acceptance exists in the United States. ...

Based upon the facts established in this record and set out above one must reasonably conclude that there is accepted safety for use of marijuana under medical supervision. To conclude otherwise, on this record, would be unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious.

Oregon's 'Choice Of Evils' Defense

The only defense available to medical-marijuana defendants in Oregon is the state's "Choice of Evils" statute, ensuing. Oregon's "Choice of Evils" statute legally takes away Oregon medical-marijuana defendants' "necessity" defense for otherwise illegal acts, which has its origins in Common Law. However, as noted in the Feb. 15, 1996 Portland NORML Weekly News Release (
"Multnomah County Prosecutor Moves to Dismiss Felony Drug Charge Due to Medical Necessity"), no Common Law medical-necessity defense has ever been allowed by an Oregon judge - unlike in every state contiguous to Oregon. Moreover, as you can see from the text below, the "Choice of Evils" defense can be invoked only with the permission of the judge, before a trial starts.

Multnomah County prosecutor Gary Meabe did not dismiss charges against the late Scott McKinney because McKinney's judge allowed him to put on a "Choice of Evils" defense - Judge Gallagher did not do so. Other Multnomah County Circuit Court judges have allowed the defense to be invoked twice in recent memory, though. Local attorneys Rob Wolf and John Henry Hingson defended those cases, at least one involving a husband-and-wife medical-marijuana situation, where one was ill and the other was the caregiver. Irritable bowel syndrome was the medical condition cited by Wolf's clients. Both went to the jury, but both were convicted. Wolf's case was prosecuted by Thomas Smith-Cupani under Judge Frankel. In the case of Wolf's clients, both counts were 10-2, although two different jurors held out on each guilty verdict. Barring changes in the law, those two singular cases seem to be the exceptions to the otherwise consistent refusal by Multnomah County judges to allow medical-marijuana defendants the "Choice of Evils" defense. Until at least one such unfavorable ruling is appealed to the state Supreme Court, the luck of the draw (in judge assignments) may be the best hope for Portland-area medical-cannabis defendants.

West's Orlaw Oregon Revised Statutes Annotated

161.200. Choice of evils.

Copr. (C) West 1996 No claim to orig. U.S. govt. works

O.R.S. s 161.200





Legislative Counsel Committee
Current through 1995 Sp. Sess.

161.200. Choice of evils.

(1) Unless inconsistent with other provisions of chapter 743, Oregon Laws 1971, defining justifiable use of physical force, or with some other provision of law, conduct which would otherwise constitute an offense is justifiable and not criminal when:

(a) That conduct is necessary as an emergency measure to avoid an imminent public or private injury; and

(b) The threatened injury is of such gravity that, according to ordinary standards of intelligence and morality, the desirability and urgency of avoiding the injury clearly outweigh the desirability of avoiding the injury sought to be prevented by the statute defining the offense in issue.

(2) The necessity and justifiability of conduct under subsection (1) of this section shall not rest upon considerations pertaining only to the morality and advisability of the statute, either in its general application or with respect to its application to a particular class of cases arising thereunder.

(1971 c. 743 s 20)

Note: See note under 161.015.


161.190 to 161.265


1. Under former similar statute

(2). Excusable homicide (ORS 163.110). There were cases where self-defense would not be a defense but the right to self-defense was still available to establish that the defendant was engaged in a lawful act at the time of the killing. State v. Leos, 7 Or App 211, 490 P2d 521 (1971)

FURTHER CITATIONS: State v. Locke, 7 Or App 366, 489 P2d 991 (1971), Sup Ct review denied



Trial court properly granted pre-trial motion preventing defendant, charged with escape in third degree from custody of probation officer, from presenting evidence for purpose of choice of evils defense that defendant escaped in order to avoid being returned to county jail where he had been beaten by other prisoners and forced to commit oral sodomy. State v. Whisman, 33 Or App 147, 575 P2d 1005 (1978)

Rationale of case law that duress under ORS 161.270 requires danger to be present, imminent and impending is equally applicable to choice of evils under this section. State v. Whisman, 33 Or App 147, 575 P2d 1005 (1978)

Under evidence that defendant put companion's gun in her purse because she was afraid that in his disturbed state of mind he might use it when he returned to restaurant, defendant was entitled to jury instruction on "choice-of-evils" defense. State v. Lawson, 37 Or App 739, 588 P2d 110 (1978)

Choice of evils defense is available to defendant charged with being ex-convict in possession of firearm. State v. Burney, 49 Or App 529, 619 P2d 1336 (1980)

Where defendant, charged with eluding police officer, was allegedly seeking to avoid assault by police officer and further delay in returning to care for his mother, trial court's refusal to instruct on necessity was error. State v. Matthews, 30 Or App 1133, 569 P2d 662 (1977)

"Choice of evils defense" is not available in prosecutions for driving while revoked in violation of ORS 484.740. State v. Neubauer, 68 Or App 885, 683 P2d 136 (1984)

Defendant may justify otherwise criminal act by showing it was "necessary as an emergency measure to avoid an imminent public or private injury." State v. Olson, 79 Or App 302, 719 P2d 55 (1986)

Choice of evils defense is not limited to actions taken to protect life, but also may be invoked by defendant who has acted unlawfully in order to protect property. State v. Webber, 85 Or App 347, 736 P2d 220 (1987), Sup Ct review denied

Defendant presented evidence to support choice of evils defense, and instruction on that defense should have been given to jury. State v. Costanzo, 94 Or App 516, 766 P2d 415 (1988)

Where evidence included graphic photographic evidence of research practices and abuses and graphic videotaped documentaries, trial court did not abuse its discretion in ruling on admissibility of evidence before trial. State v. Troen, 100 Or App 442, 786 P2d 751 (1990), Sup Ct review denied

Defense under this section to charge of criminal trespass was unavailable to abortion protesters because defense is inconsistent with other provision of law. State v. Clowes, 310 Or 686, 801 P2d 789 (1990)

Activity that is lawful and nontortious is not imminent public or private injury as required for defense under this section. State v. Clowes, 310 Or 686, 801 P2d 789 (1990)

Choice of evils defense could not exonerate defendants charged with contempt for violating injunction arising from demonstration to prevent abortions because defense is available only if defendants' necessary conduct is not inconsistent with other provisions of law. Downtown Women's Center v. Advocates for Life, Inc., 111 Or App 317, 826 P2d 637 (1992)

Where threat of injury, if there was one, existed on day defendant was scheduled to appear in court and was conditioned on what he might do on that date, threat was "imminent." State v. Boldt, 116 Or App 480, 841 P2d 1196 (1992)

FURTHER CITATIONS: State v. Jackson, 30 Or App 681, 567 P2d 1057 (1977), Sup Ct review denied; State v. Willhelm, 55 Or App 168, 637 P2d 1294 (1981)

General Materials (GM) - References, Annotations, or Tables

O. R. S. s 161.200
OR ST s 161.200

"Psychoses, Adverse Reactions, and Personality Deterioration"

As noted in the
Jan. 30, 1997 Portland NORML Weekly News Release, the book "Marihuana Reconsidered," by Dr. Lester Grinspoon of Harvard Medical School, comprehensively examines the bad science that has inspired and perpetuated prohibition. In particular, Chapter 10, "Psychoses, Adverse Reactions, and Personality Deterioration" dispels the myth that marijuana is generally harmful to people with mental disorders. The eye-opening chapter has now been posted in its entirety in Portland NORML's World Wide Web pages at "Psychoses, Adverse Reactions, and Personality Deterioration" is also an excellent introduction to errors in scientific methodology medical professionals and others are still making every day.

"US Panel Urges Study Of Medical Marijuana"

The New York Times, Feb. 21, 1997
By Warren E. Leary

BETHESDA, Md. - Marijuana shows promise in aiding some medical conditions and its use should be studied further, a panel of experts convened at the National Institutes of Health said Thursday.

Dr. Alan I. Leshner, the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, said the eight-member panel would draft recommendations on possible marijuana studies within four weeks. They would then be sent to Dr. Harold E. Varmus, the director of the National Institutes of Health, who had called for the two-day conference that ended here Thursday.

The possible medical use of marijuana has been debated for decades and the panel members are not the first medical authorities to say it may be a useful therapy in certain diseases. But the panel was the first organized by the National Institutes of Health to see potential promise in marijuana therapy.

In referendums last year, voters in California and Arizona approved the medical use of marijuana, but the Clinton administration threatened sanctions against doctors who prescribed it. Varmus said he had convened the conference of experts because of the public health debate that followed the referendums.

The panel said additional studies should be conducted on the medical uses of marijuana. The drug appears to show promise in combating symptoms of several diseases or conditions, based on the limited information available, panel members said, but they added that many questions remained to be answered before scientists could state with confidence that marijuana had a medical role.

Among other things, scientists must determine whether the drug is as good as or better than other therapies to treat the same conditions, and whether its possible benefits could be obtained without the intoxicating effects of smoking the drug.

Demonstrators favoring less restricted medical use of marijuana interrupted Leshner and panel members several times, asserting that the conference and National Institutes of Health's expressed interest in the topic was a "stalling tactic" to delay freer availability of marijuana for treating symptoms of AIDS, cancer and other diseases.

Leshner said at a news conference afterward that the National Institutes of Health was open to research proposals for studying medical uses of marijuana and would finance them if they passed the standard evaluation process.

Dr. William T. Beaver, a professor of pharmacology at Georgetown University and the chairman of the panel, said there was scant but promising evidence that smoking marijuana might ease the suffering of some patients. Although the panel reached no conclusions about the effectiveness of marijuana, Beaver said, there was a sense among the group that further study would be justified.

"For at least some of the potential indications, we feel that it looks promising enough to recommend that there would be some new controlled studies done," Beaver said. "Which ones, we're going to have to discuss further. The general mood was that for some indications, there is a rationale for looking further into the therapeutic effects of marijuana."

The major active ingredient in marijuana, THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is available in synthetic form as a pill and can be prescribed by doctors for any condition, Beaver said. This medication is approved to treat the nausea and vomiting associated with cancer chemotherapy, as well as the physical wasting that afflicts some patients with AIDS.

There is more clinical evidence that THC pills are more effective than smoked marijuana, Beaver said, but advocates for marijuana say the smoked drug is better for many patients, especially those whose digestive systems are disturbed.

A major difficulty in conducting studies with smoked marijuana is developing a placebo that is enough like the real thing so that it can be tested against the plant product.

Beaver also suggested that smoked marijuana carried some of the same risks as smoked tobacco and said that the panel was interested in suggestions for alternative delivery systems that do not involve burning the plant.

It might be possible to evaporate THC or vaporize marijuana in a way that it could be used in an inhaler, he said, an approach that also might help in concocting a placebo for clinical tests.

Dr. Robert Temple, an official with the Food and Drug Administration, said any drug, including marijuana, would not have to prove itself superior to current medications to be approved by the agency.

"FDA approval does not require that any drug be better than, or even as good as, an existing drug," Temple said at the news conference.

Clinton Unveils $16 Billion Anti-Drugs Plan

$ graphicWASHINGTON (Reuter, Feb. 25, 1997) - President Clinton Tuesday unveiled a record $16 billion anti-drug plan for 1998, including $175 million for a national media campaign aimed at keeping young people off narcotics.

"We are deeply concerned about the rising trend of drug use by young Americans," Clinton said in a letter to Congress included in the anti-drug plan. "... That is why the number one goal of our strategy is to motivate America's youth to reject illegal drugs and substance abuse."

The White House said the anti-drug plan, proposed for fiscal year 1998 beginning Oct. 1, has the largest budget in history, an $800 million increase over the current year.

Besides the advertising campaign, it provides $75 million for drug courts, a 150 percent increase the White House said would offer a voluntary alternative to incarceration for non-violent offenders.

More than half a billion dollars was set aside for the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a 6 percent rise over this year, to conduct basic drug prevention and treatment research.

It also includes $42 million, a 40 percent increase, for the costs associated with drug-testing of those arrested.

Another large chunk of the anti-drug budget, $367 million, was for beefed-up patrols along the U.S.-Mexican border.

"We have to do something better on the southwest border," Clinton's drug czar, retired Army Gen. Barry McCaffrey, said at a news briefing.

Under questioning, McCaffrey acknowledged that the dismissal of Mexico's top anti-narcotics official, Gen. Jesus Gutierrez, on corruption charges was "a terrible blow" and indicated a failure of U.S. intelligence in this area.

But McCaffrey, who had earlier praised Gutierrez, demurred when asked whether the United States should recertify Mexico as an ally in fighting drugs. The deadline for this action by Washington is Saturday and the final recommendation must come from Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who returned from China on Tuesday.

"This is not a cooked deal ... this is not a political decision," McCaffrey said of the certification decision.

Democratic Senators Dianne Feinstein of California and Robert Torricelli of New Jersey - Clinton allies from states with significant Hispanic populations - urged the president not to certify Mexico, saying it had not fully cooperated with Washington in stopping drug trafficking.

Mexico and 31 other countries undergo the U.S. drug certification process each year. Countries that do not pass the test face U.S. economic sanctions.

The American Civil Liberties Union gave faint praise to the Clinton drug plan as "the first step toward a sober national drug policy" but said it did not go far enough in focusing on treatment, education and prevention.

Other proponents of drug-law reform were also critical.

"Whether you ask ... police chiefs or the general public, everyone agrees the national drug control policy is an overall failure," said Eric Sterling of the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation, a private advocacy group, at a news conference.

"Cocaine supplies and consumption are undiminished over the last dozen years," he said. "Heroin addicts have increased by 20 percent and teenage marijuana use is steadily climbing."

[End quote]

On Feb. 21
Arthur Livermore commented:
I would like to thank Dick Evans for sending me a paper copy of [the 1997 National Drug Control Strategy].

I notice that the focus is on the kids. The strategy they are proposing is more of the same. Director McCaffrey says that our drug policy "is inspired by a long-term vision of a nation free of drug abuse in which youthful dreams are fulfilled and the ideal are realized." This sounds like a worthy vision, but is more of the same going to achieve a different effect? The utopian dream of eliminating all abuse of drugs is impossible to achieve.

The Drug War has produced these statistics (page 3):

  • Adolescents today are about 7 times more likely to use marijuana than adolescents in the 1960s.

  • The mean age of first use dropped from 17.8 years in 1987 to 16.3 years in 1994.

    With results like that, the Drug War will have kids using more drugs at a younger age every day we continue to promote prohibition.

  • And on Feb. 26 Joe Horman commented:
    Looking into the federal drug control apparatus one is struck by what they do not know. With a $16 billion dollar budget the Office of National Drug Control (Czar) cannot even say, with any reliability, how many addicts or users are current. The principle method used to cite the numbers is an annual $11 million dollar self-reporting telephone poll conducted by (NHSDA) the HEW. This methodology is extremely flawed after all who would admit to a stranger the commission of a felony? It is so flawed that the NHSDA acknowledges a margin of error of 40-80 % in the estimates of heroin and 20-40% in cocaine addiction. The entire report may be accessed at

    There is a deliberate attempt on the part of the warriors to on the one hand claim success in the alleged number of drug users while on the other sowing panic to increase their budgets. This is best illustrated by the opening paragraphs of Clinton's 1996 National Drug Control Strategy report to congress, excerpted below. First a rather comprehensive Gallup poll is cited (margin of error 2-3%) which indicates the existence of about 34 million hard core addicts. That number is immediately followed by the NHSDA number for past month users which is contradictory on its face.

    Another problem they have is their inability to reconcile their number of users with the potential supply officially estimated by the State Department. Cannabis availability, 20 million lbs. from Colombia and Mexico plus X US production, suggests 25-35 million regular users not the piddling 9 million (who they say smoke 17.8 joints a month weighing 0.0136 ounce). Heroin availability, they say, has doubled since 1986 and emergency room treatments have increased 256% in the last 3 years and are at the highest levels in history while, they say, heroin addicts are still the same number. Another of their statistics on heroin addiction which they do not factor is DUF urine testing done in 23 metropolitan lockups. These numbers show 7.7% of those tested being positive for heroin. With 15,500.000 arrests in the US last year this would indicate about 1.2 million addicts (not including those who do not come in contact with cops), not the 600,000 ONDCP cites. Another of their indices they ignore is the survey of convicts which disclose that 24% admit that their motive in committing property crimes was to obtain money for drugs. The Department of Justice reports that 31 million property crimes occurred in the US in 1994 so the number of addicts are substantially beyond anything even approaching government estimates.

    The National Drug Control Strategy: 1996

    To the Congress of the United States

    Why we must respond to the drug problem in America today

    Drugs affect the lives of millions of Americans. According to a recent Gallup Poll, almost one half (45%) of Americans report that either they, someone in their family, or a close friend has used illegal drugs.

    Of these, 28 percent characterized the drug use as moderate, while 29 percent described it as a serious addiction.


    o As a result of aggressive prevention efforts, the number of illegal drug users has fallen by half since 1985, from 22.3 million to 12.2 million "past-month" users.

    And the Drug Policy Foundation issued this press release:
    "New Clinton Drug Plan Repeats Mistakes of History
    Kinder, Gentler Rhetoric Sounds Hollow Next to Drug War Budget"

    WASHINGTON, Feb. 25 - President Clinton's new $16 billion drug plan will not achieve its primary goal of making young people more safe or illegal drugs harder to get, the Drug Policy Foundation announced today.

    DPF President Arnold S. Trebach said, "President Clinton is promoting a drug plan based on knowing what works to protect young people from drugs. This statement does not match Clinton's record, which includes endorsing counterproductive drug education programs and allowing dirty needles to contribute to about 60% of pediatric AIDS cases by not supporting needle exchange programs. Even worse, drug prohibition has not stopped teenagers from finding out that marijuana is much easier to buy than beer. Clearly, bad policies can hurt children more easily than drugs."

    "Recently, the administration has delayed action on medical marijuana saying that 'science, not ideology' must be its guide. If science reigned, then administration officials would not defend the DARE program, which has been consistently found not to reduce drug use among youth. If science reigned, then Clinton would have backed needle exchange programs years ago. And, if science reigned, the Clinton team would not have denied that marijuana has medical uses."

    Trebach noted that the new Strategy pledged to move away from the "drug war" metaphor to the fight against cancer, as the reigning policy description.

    Trebach added, "There are two problems with this rhetorical shift: First, the fight against cancer does not require arresting cancer patients, forcing them into treatment, or having no tolerance of their condition. These hallmarks of the drug war remain in the new plan. Second, Clinton's budget continues funding the drug war with 66% of the budget devoted to law enforcement, interdiction, and other supply reduction tactics, as opposed to more effective public health measures, which is more in keeping with the new metaphor."

    "The cancer metaphor is also surprising given that the administration has threatened to arrest Arizonan and Californian doctors who recommend marijuana to seriously ill patients. In the fight against cancer, doctors are not the enemy."

    Trebach urged Clinton to reclassify marijuana to remove the federal threat hanging over doctors who recommend it and to advance research. Trebach also urged the president to lift the ban on federal funding of needle exchange programs. "These small steps would vastly improve our drug policy," Trebach said.

    "New ways of thinking about drug since 1986"

    4455 Connecticut Ave., NW
    Suite B-500
    Washington, DC 20008-2302 USA
    Tel: (202) 537-5005 * Fax: (202) 537-3007

    Prohibition Increases Kids' Access

    Nearly 90% of high school seniors consider marijuana easy to obtain, according to the "National Survey Results on Drug Use from the Monitoring the Future Study, 1975-1995," L. Johnston, J. Bachman, and P. O'Malley (HHS, National Institute on Drug Abuse); Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office.

    Marijuana Can't Be Deducted - Try A Swimming Pool

    Rocky Mountain News [Denver], Feb. 23, 1997

    Washington - Stepping into a political and medical controversy, the Internal Revenue Service has ruled that taxpayers cannot deduct the cost of marijuana as a medical expense.

    The ruling, published without fanfare Feb. 14, was another strike against new laws in California and Arizona. Voters in both states approved ballot initiatives in November making the sale and possession of marijuana legal if recommended by a doctor as medicine.

    [End quote]

    On Feb. 23
    Annette French responded:
    I saw this in the Q and A in the Personal Finance section of today's paper under the Hotline category:

    Q: Can I take a medical expense deduction on my California tax return for purchasing marijuana for my health? (Carol Tanner).

    A: Not this filing season.

    Q: I have arthritis and my doctor has written me a prescription for a swimming pool. Can I deduct the cost of the swimming pool as a medical deduction? (Sharon Dodson).

    A: Yes. You get to take the cost of the pool, minus the increase in the fair market value of your home due to the pool. That requires you to have an appraisal before and after. And you can take the deduction all in one year.

    "More Is Spent On New Prisons Than Colleges"

    "Institute Urges Change In Funding Priorities"

    The Washington Post, Feb. 24, 1997, p. A12
    By Roberto Suro
    Washington Post Staff Writer

    More money is being spent in this country building prisons than building universities, according to an analysis of state and federal budget priorities released yesterday.

    From 1987 to 1995 state government expenditures on prisons increased by 30 percent while spending on higher education fell by 18 percent, said the study, which was conducted by the Justice Policy Institute, a research and advocacy organization based in Washington.

    Many states are rapidly expanding prison facilities while the size of their college-age population has remained static for several years. The study found that in 1995, spending by states on prison construction increased by $926 million nationwide while building funds for higher education decreased by an almost equal amount.

    "These findings prove that, in the funding battle between prisons and universities, prisons are consistently coming out on top," said Vincent Schiraldi, director of the policy institute.

    The report, by Schiraldi and Tara-Jen Ambrosio, argues that "prisons are not only costly and ineffective for most nonviolent offenders, they also siphon funding from vital programs such as higher education."

    The report recommends a moratorium on new prison construction and a 50 percent reduction in the nonviolent prisoner population over the next five years.

    From 1980 to 1994 the number of adults in prison nationwide tripled from 320,000 to 992,000, according to the Justice Department. This increase in the corrections population and the accompanying growth in prison construction occurred in an era marked by historically high crime rates.

    During this period lawmakers across the country enacted longer sentences for many crimes, including nonviolent drug offenses, and police agencies increased the number of people they arrested for selling drugs, particularly during the crack epidemic of the late 1980s.

    Over the same period, enrollment in institutions of higher education increased from 12 million to 14.7 million people, marking a 22 percent increase overall and a small but steady increase in the proportion of the college-age population that was enrolled, according to the Department of Education.

    Taking construction spending as a measure of governmental priorities, the Justice Policy Institute study noted that California has built 21 prisons since 1984 and only one new university.

    Looking at overall budgets, the study found that both California and Florida state governments now spend more on their prison systems than on their public universities, while a decade ago higher education budgets were considerably larger than those for correctional institutions. In both those states and many others public universities have increased tuition to make up for losses in state funding, so students now pay a larger share of the cost of their education.

    Drug Czar Says, "Screw Controlled Research!"

    On Feb. 22 Stanton Peele wrote:
    Happy faceI'm sure you all noticed that the payoff to the Dateline segment on DARE [Feb. 21, 1997] was its interview with Barry McCaffrey, who strongly endorsed DARE (it is a personal favorite of Clinton's). McCaffrey cited one Illinois study which he said supported DARE's efficacy. But then the interviewer pulled the study out, and pointed out its finding that DARE middle-class, suburban kids showed a disturbing pattern of increased drug use compared with non-DARE kids.

    McCaffrey sneered down his nose at this idea, even though it was part of a study he himself cited! The interviewer asked, "Do you just reject all studies that run counter to your position?" These studies include one by University of Kentucky sociologist Richard Clayton, a leading drug prevention program evaluation specialist. The NIDA - the government agency charged with evaluating drug treatments - recently produced a list of effective prevention programs, among which DARE was noticeably absent.

    McCaffrey rejected this research because it contradicted his impressions and so much anecdotal evidence he had heard. He told about how kids at a Los Angeles graduation he worked with the Reverend Rosie Greer loved DARE. This is the man who rejects anecdotal accounts of marijuana's medical usefulness, who will accept only the highest standard clinical research! Mr. Medical Research hisself says, screw the research - me, the Reverend Greer and the DARE kids know what works!

    Stanton Peele

    Maine Man Starts Drive For Medical Marijuana

    Portland Press Herald, Feb. 19, 1997, p. 3B.
    Guy Gannett News Service

    Encouraged by successful initiatives last year allowing the medical use of marijuana in California and Arizona, a local advocate on Tuesday announced a petition drive for a referendum vote in Maine. Donald Christen of Madison, founder of Maine Vocals, said a newly formed organization needs 52,000 signatures to bring a proposal for the medicinal use of marijuana to a public vote in 1998.

    "Spain May Allow Growing Marijuana"

    BARCELONA, Spain (AP, Feb. 24, 1997) - Spain's drug laws are among Europe's most liberal. They allow people to smoke marijuana, but not grow it. Or do they?

    A regional court said it could find no law barring people from growing cannabis, and the Supreme Court is studying whether the court is right. A ruling is expected any day.

    The case has its roots, literally, in a two-acre plot of land outside the town of Reus, 40 miles southwest of Barcelona.

    In 1992, a marijuana advocacy group bought the land and raised a lush crop of cannabis. They dry the leaves, making marijuana for their personal use.

    The group, whose 1,800 members include professionals and academics, told journalists about the marijuana plantation but didn't specify its location. It became a top news story and prompted a police hunt.

    Someone tipped off police to its location. One summer day in 1994, Spanish paramilitary Civil Guards raided the field and uprooted 450 plants.

    Four members of the group went on trial for endangering public health, a common charge for drug traffickers. But a regional court found the defendants innocent last year because it could find no Spanish law prohibiting cannabis cultivation for personal use.

    If the Supreme Court rules that cannabis cultivation is indeed legal, anti-drug officials foresee pot fields on the horizon.

    "Instead of 450 plants, people will be growing 2,000," said Javier Zaragoza, Spain's top anti-drug prosecutor.

    If the Supreme Court confirms the lower court's ruling, parliament may try to pass a law making marijuana cultivation illegal. But deputies say it's premature to discuss the possibility before the Supreme Court's ruling.

    Felipe Borallo, leader of the marijuana advocacy group and one of the four who went on trial, is a bit taken aback by all the fuss. The diminutive 47-year-old said the whole thing began as a simple money-saving idea.

    "We were tired of giving our money to drug traffickers," Borallo said.

    He puffed on a cigar-sized joint in his Barcelona bookshop, which is lined with zany comics and guides to alternative lifestyles and cannabis cultivation.

    Passersby drop into the Makoki Bookstore for a puff of pot, and to catch up on the Supreme Court case.

    Borallo's group considers Spanish law a contradiction. While it permits marijuana smoking, selling marijuana is a crime. The group's answer is Cannabis cultivation for personal use, which they say could put drug dealers out of business.

    "What better way to stop marijuana trafficking than growing some marijuana?" Borallo said.

    If marijuana cultivation becomes legal, Spain would be going against the trend in Europe of maintaining tough anti-drug laws.

    But Spain is already relatively lenient. Spaniards legally can possess small amounts of marijuana or hashish, a more potent cannabis derivative, for personal use at home.

    Holland, which has hundreds of coffee shops that legally sell small amounts of hashish and marijuana, is one of the few other European countries lenient on so-called soft drugs.

    In contrast, possession of a small amount of marijuana in Britain can bring a five-year prison sentence, although police often don't bother with enforcement. In France, marijuana possession can land a person in prison for up to a year and bring stiff fines.

    California NORML Endorses Sen. Vasconcellos' Medical Marijuana Research Bill - SB 535

    California NORML
    Feb. 23, 1997
    Dale Gieringer
    (415) 563-5858 //
    2215-R Market St. #278, San Francisco CA 94114

    SACRAMENTO: State Senator John Vasconcellos (D-San Jose) has introduced his medical marijuana bill, SB 535, which would establish a $6-million, 3-year state research program at the University of California to study the safety and efficacy of medical marijuana.

    SB 535 is backed by a coalition of Prop. 215 supporters, including Americans for Medical Rights, the California Nurses' Association, the AIDS Life Lobby, and California NORML.

    "The sooner California begins a research program, the sooner we'll have the evidence we need to force the government to approve marijuana," says Cal. NORML coordinator Dale Gieringer.

    In other provisions, SB 535 would:

  • Require that physicians who recommend marijuana to children obtain written acknowledgment from parents that they have been informed of the risks;

  • Make it clear that Prop. 215 does not override anti-smoking ordinances;

  • Make it clear that recommending physicians must have a state physician's and surgeon's license;

  • Ensure that persons charged with marijuana offenses have the right to a pretrial hearing to present their medical claims;

  • Establish an 18-month task force to propose a "safe and affordable" legal distribution system for medical marijuana.

    Some medical marijuana activists, including Prop. 215 proponent Dennis Peron, are opposed to the Vasconcellos bill because they fear that the state-appointed task force will not look favorably on medical marijuana buyers' clubs.

    Ultimately, the fate of S.B. 535 will depend on Gov. Wilson. Wilson has warned that he still has "serious concerns about the use of marijuana for medical purposes."

    NIH Panel Wants Study Of Marijuana Use

    "Panel wants study of marijuana use"
    Skagit Valley Herald [Mount Vernon, WA], Feb. 21, 1997

    BETHESDA, MD - A lack of scientific studies, not an abundance of legal problems, is preventing widespread medical use of marijuana, a banned drug that may ease the suffering of some patients, the chairman of a panel of experts says.

    Dr. William T. Beaver, professor of pharmacology at Georgetown University School of Medicine, said a committee of experts assembled by the National Institutes of Health believes there are suggestions that smoking marijuana may benefit some seriously ill patients. But the committee says more study is needed before the drug's medical value is confirmed.

    Legal considerations, such as a Clinton administration threat to penalize doctors who prescribe the illegal drug, was not part of the committee's evaluation of marijuana, Beaver told reporters Thursday on the final day of the committee's meetings.

    "Pot Debate Stimulates Appetite For Data"

    The San Jose Mercury News, Feb. 25, 1997
    By Donna Alvarado, Mercury News Staff Writer

    In 1975, Harvard researchers found that marijuana's active ingredient reduced the terrible nausea and vomiting that some cancer patients get from chemotherapy.

    They published their conclusion in the nation's best-known medical journal, the New England Journal of Medicine. And the researchers involved still have confidence in their work. "I'm very comfortable with our conclusions," said Dr. Emil Frei, professor of medicine at Harvard. "I think they were correct."

    But more than 20 years later, that study and others have faded from memory, or been discounted, as the debate over using marijuana as medicine has grown ever more shrill. The federal "war on drugs" policy has, by some accounts, turned into a "war on doctors" in California, with federal drug agents questioning at least one physician who recommended medical marijuana under California's new law.

    "This has been such a long and festering national argument," said Dr. William T. Beaver, professor of pharmacology at Georgetown University and chairman of a national panel that met last week on the issue.

    Last week's panel, convened by the National Institutes of Health, is likely to recommend that more studies be done on whether marijuana is truly medicinal. Beaver said that's the only way to resolve the bitter conflict. "Certainly if nothing is done, you're going to have the ongoing stalemate you have now," he said.

    The stakes have risen since voters in California and Arizona passed laws legalizing medical marijuana - laws that contradict the federal ban on possessing marijuana for any reason. Doctors and patients are caught in the middle of the conflict, fearing the state laws won't protect them from federal punishment.

    Activists say that there's plenty of scientific evidence, such as the 1975 Harvard study, to justify the medical use of marijuana. So why convene a panel of scientists to contemplate doing more studies that would delay resolution of the issue for at least a few more years?

    That's because the studies done so far are few and small, according to Beaver and other scientists on the panel. Nor are there many formal studies yet of marijuana's use for newer medical problems, such as the wasting syndrome from AIDS, which some doctors say may be the most pressing need.

    Nevertheless, the studies already done point out what potential and pitfalls there may be to using marijuana as medicine. Here's a summary of much of the research done to this point:

    Chemotherapy nausea

    Some disagree with study showing positive benefits

    The 1975 Harvard study found that 80 percent of the patients given capsules of marijuana's active ingredient, called THC for tetrahydrocannabinol, cut their nausea and vomiting at least in half. None of those given a "dummy" pill, or placebo, felt any relief.

    Although the study used THC capsules rather than marijuana cigarettes, the author says there is evidence that smoking may be better. "It is true you can control the blood level with smoking much more accurately than with THC," said Frei, the Harvard researcher who also serves as physician in chief at Dana Farber Cancer Center in Boston.

    But for every scientist like Frei who supports marijuana as medicine, there is another equally adamant that the drug's medical value is questionable. Richard Gralla, a member of the NIH panel and director of the Ochsner Cancer Institute in New Orleans, for example, believes there are newer drugs more effective than marijuana at easing nausea caused by cancer chemotherapy. Although some patients prefer pot, he said, "the degree of efficacy seems less than that of other agents."

    But the newer anti-nausea drugs may not work for all patients, such as those so sick they cannot swallow anything. "Maybe marijuana would only add something in a subgroup of patients," Beaver said. If studies found this to be true, he said, "then you would have a potentially useful therapy."


    Long-term smoking raises worries

    Glaucoma, the second leading cause of blindness, occurs when inner eye pressure increases to the point that it damages the optic nerve. Several studies in animals and humans have shown that smoked marijuana lowers eye pressure quickly and sharply. One 1976 study at the University of California-Los Angeles found smoked marijuana caused an "impressive" decrease in eye pressure in 10 of 12 glaucoma patients.

    But unlike nausea caused by chemotherapy, glaucoma is a long-term condition. That suggests that treating it with marijuana would require frequent and long-term smoking.

    "Somebody with glaucoma might wind up having to take this stuff several times a day for decades," Beaver said.

    That raises the question of long-term effects of substantial marijuana smoking. Some studies have shown that smoking marijuana damages lungs.

    "It's as bad as a conventional cigarette," said Beaver. "You get all those tars and carbon monoxide and products of burning weeds."

    While short-term marijuana smoking might not produce much damage, long-term use could have substantially harmful effects, he said.

    Neurological problems

    Conflicting reports about reducing spasms

    Some patients have reported that smoking marijuana prevents or lessens spasms caused by spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis or epilepsy. But the reports are scattered and inconsistent.

    One 1974 report from a Veterans Administration hospital in Florida found that five of 10 men with spinal cord injuries had a decrease in muscle spasms after smoking marijuana. A 1981 New York study of nine multiple sclerosis patients showed that four showed large improvements in muscle-spasm scores after taking THC capsules. And a 1975 report in the Journal of the American Medical Association found one epileptic patient was able to control his seizures by smoking marijuana.

    Marijuana might be useful in these neurological cases because it acts quickly and can be used sporadically as needed, Beaver said.

    "The spasms can be very distressing," Beaver said. "But people don't have them all the time. If you have something that can be used on an as-needed basis that might act quickly," he said, "that might be attractive."

    But he added, "There isn't really any solid data there."

    AIDS wasting

    Smoking may work faster than pills

    One of the devastating effects of AIDS is a wasting syndrome where patients grow gaunt and weak from weight loss. A few reports have shown that THC capsules stimulate appetite in such AIDS patients, said Kathleen Mulligan, a researcher at the University of California-San Francisco. But the patients didn't gain enough weight to show a statistically significant effect.

    AIDS activists insist that smoking marijuana is far more effective than taking THC pills. Beaver said that's plausible but not proven.

    The pills deliver THC to the digestive tract. "Maybe only 5 to 10 percent of the drug you swallow gets into the blood stream," Beaver said. "And it's erratic. One person can get a fair amount and the other doesn't get much at all."

    Smoking also delivers a variable amount of THC to the body, but it's more direct and faster-acting. The THC goes through the lungs to the bloodstream and through the heart to the brain.

    "It's more like getting an intravenous injection when you smoke it," Beaver said.

    But smoking marijuana could also have some side effects particularly serious for AIDS patients, he said. AIDS makes some people vulnerable to a rare kind of pneumonia that can be fatal.

    If marijuana smoking damages lungs in the same way as tobacco cigarettes, that could make AIDS patients even more susceptible to the pneumonia.

    The future

    Ongoing quest for more data

    Other questions surround the use of medical marijuana, such as whether some patients might be frightened or uncomfortable with the euphoric effects of the drug. Some studies suggest it can increase heart rate, which could be risky in some patients.

    But Beaver said the only way to sort out marijuana benefits and risks would be to do careful studies looking at both.

    "We really have no idea how many people in the U.S. are using self-administered marijuana for various medical problems," Beaver said. "It might be that half or a quarter of people get a useful response. . . . But then again, maybe it's only one in 50 patients."

    "That's why we want to get some well-controlled studies."

    The NIH scientific panel's mission was to consider the scientific merits of medical marijuana - not the political ones.

    Objections from law enforcement groups that allowing the medical use of marijuana would encourage recreational abuse weren't considered, Beaver said. He added that he doesn't believe such arguments.

    "We use morphine for people with advanced cancer," Beaver said. "That does not encourage people to shoot up morphine for the fun of it."

    "Prop. 215 Leads To Boom In Indoor Cultivation Of Pot"

    Cannabis plant
    "A Growth Industry"
    The San Francisco Chronicle, Feb. 26, 1997, p. A11
    Glen Martin, Chronicle Staff Writer

    The passage of Proposition 215 - the "medical marijuana" initiative - has suddenly fueled a Bay Area boom in the indoor cultivation of high-grade pot.

    Dennis Peron, the director of the Cannabis Cultivators Club, San Francisco's largest medical marijuana outlet, said the price for top-quality "buds," or flowers, has dropped steadily since the initiative was implemented in January.

    "We used to have to charge our clients $80 for an eighth-ounce of the highest grade marijuana," said Peron. "But a few weeks after 215 went into effect, the price dropped to $65 an eighth. Now it's $60, and I believe it will be $50 within two months."

    Peron said the reason for the price depreciation is simple: more marijuana on the market, a result of zealous indoor cultivation.

    "People aren't afraid to grow anymore, especially for a medical marijuana outlet," he said. "They now have some legal protection."

    Intensively managed indoor plots can yield a lot of pot. Ed Rosenthal, an East Bay writer and publisher who has produced several books on marijuana cultivation, said one square foot of space can yield 1.5 ounces of cured, high-grade marijuana every 75 days.

    Joe Doane, the chief of the California Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement, agrees that the pot supply is up.

    "When you see marijuana prices drop, it is usually due to an expansion of supply," said Doane. "Since the outdoor cultivation season has not begun, we can as sume the situation we're now seeing is due to increased imports or expanded indoor cultivation - probably both."

    San Francisco's marijuana cultivators say that both imported marijuana and indoor domestic product are driving prices down.

    "A lot of high-grade indoor bud is coming from Canada," said John Hudson, the director of Flower Therapy, a San Francisco medical marijuana outlet that serves about 900 clients. "You can buy a pound of prime bud for about $1,800 (U.S.) dollars up there," he said.

    In the United States, marijuana of similar quality goes for between $3,000 and $6,000 a pound.

    But Hudson said domestic indoor cultivation is also booming, serving to further depress prices.

    He should know. Flower Therapy doesn't just distribute marijuana to its patients - the firm also grows it. Hudson is something of a marijuana maven who has been studying the craft of indoor pot cultivation for a decade.

    "I'm fairly good at it," he observed. "I've won the Cannabis Cultivators Cup two times." The cup is awarded annually by a group of some 20 Bay Area marijuana growers who stage an informal (and necessarily clandestine) smoke-off to determine the producer of the best locally-grown indoor pot.

    Hudson currently grows about 250 plants at his headquarters, ranging from tender seedlings to gnarled, bud-laden specimens that look like bonsai trees. The air in the growing rooms is redolent with the pungent aroma of fresh marijuana.

    These aren't just any old pot plants. For years, Hudson has selected "scions," or cuttings, from plants that have demonstrated potent psychotropic properties.

    The seedlings are identified with proprietary names, much in the style of roses or fruit trees: Bubble Berry, Shiva and Quicksilver.

    Once a scion is cut from a parent plant, it is rooted, or induced to grow roots. It then matures in a special hydroponic solution, stimulated by special grow lights.

    Once the plant has reached sufficient size, the photoperiod - or number of hours under the lights - is reduced, encouraging the production of the much-esteemed flowers.

    Hudson said he is not worried about being busted.

    "This marijuana is strictly for sick people," he said. "We're extremely rigorous about documenting physician recommendations for clients (as required by Proposition 215), and the new (medical marijuana) guidelines issued by the San Francisco health department makes me optimistic that the city is on the side of the doctors and patients."

    For now, at least, the boom appears likely to continue.

    "A reliable gauge of the pressure on the nation's cultivators is the ad count in High Times Magazine (a publication devoted to marijuana and other illegal drugs)," said Allen St. Pierre, the deputy director of the Washington, D.C.- based National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

    "When you don't see many ads for grow lights and other equipment, the pressure is high," St. Pierre said. "When you see a lot of ads, the pressure is low. Right now, the magazine is full of ads."

    "US Drug-Policy Pendulum Swings To Youth Education"

    The Christian Science Monitor, Feb. 26, 1997
    Faye Bowers, Staff writer

    BOSTON - The nation's drug czar is casting a wider, longer, and pricier net to combat illegal drug use.

    In the ever-evolving US strategy to control illicit drug use, retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey yesterday said the nation will put more emphasis on educating America's youth - at younger ages - about the dangers of drugs. Moreover, the education effort will not only target illegal drugs, but will also extend to "gateway drugs" of alcohol and tobacco.

    The revised strategy is likely to renew the longstanding debate over how the US should invest the bulk of its resources: trying to quell demand or attempting to limit supply.

    The revised antidrug strategy represents a 10-year federal commitment, supported by five-year budgets vs. one-year, to ensure continuity in drug-combating efforts.

    "This strategy's overarching purpose is the reduction of illegal drug use and the harm it causes," Mr. McCaffrey said. "A nation that can set and reach a timed goal of landing a man on the moon can certainly reach the objective of protecting the safety and health of its citizens by working together to reduce drug abuse."

    President Clinton has requested $16 billion in the 1998 budget - an $818 million increase over the 1997 antidrug budget. In placing a greater emphasis on the nation's youth, the new strategy calls for $620 million for the Safe and Drug-Free Schools Program, up from $558 million this year and $438 million in 1996. It also calls for $175 million for a national media campaign aimed at youth.

    Recent studies show a rise in drug use - mainly in eighth to 12th graders. But most children are exposed to drugs for the first time in sixth grade. Studies also show that youngsters who use tobacco and alcohol at young ages are more likely to use illegal drugs later.

    But the liberal, Washington-based Drug Policy Foundation says the new policies don't go far enough to educate kids against the use of drugs.

    "We noticed a shift in the rhetoric toward a kinder, gentler policy, but if you look at the budget numbers, there is still a lot of emphasis on law enforcement, prisons - the traditional focus of drug policies," says foundation spokesman Scott Ehlers.

    Mr. Ehlers points out that the federal budget calls for a $41 million increase for community policing, a $45 million increase for drug courts, a $48 million increase to boost Border Patrol in the Southwest, and $17 million more for counterdrug programs in Peru, the leading source of cocaine.

    But John Walters, former deputy director for supply reduction in the drug policy office of the Bush administration, says the Clinton administration's new drug strategy is misguided. More needs to be done to stop the flow of drugs into the US, he argues, noting that the Clinton administration is spending only half as much on interdiction as the Bush administration did.

    Mr. Walters, now president of Philanthropy Roundtable in Washington, also doubts whether the Clinton approach will prove effective in curtailing drug use among Americans. More money has already been spent to teach young people about the dangers of drug use, but demand continues to climb, he says.

    "We all want demand reduction, but the Clinton policies have made more drugs available on playgrounds at candy-store prices," Walters says.

    He also points out that McCaffrey had strongly supported Mexico's antidrug czar, who was recently arrested for protecting Mexico's leading drug lord. Two-thirds of illegal drugs entering the US are channeled through or produced in Mexico.

    California Man Loses Job For Using Medical Marijuana

    Rocky Mountain News [Denver], Feb. 23, 1997, p. 2A

    SANTA ANA, Calif. - A county worker who drives heavy construction equipment was fired for using marijuana, which he said he uses after work only to treat his glaucoma. Rob Dunaway, 38, of Mission Viejo said he was fired effective Monday.

    California approved the medical use of marijuana last fall but the federal government still considers it an illegal drug. Thursday, a federal panel of experts said there was some promising evidence that smoking marijuana helps some patients with cancer, AIDS or glaucoma, but more study is needed.

    "Reefer Madness -
    Why The Clinton Administration Is Terrified By Medical Marijuana"

    Reason magazine, March 1997

    Reefer Madness book cover California and Arizona voters gave substantial majorities to the proposition that sick people ought to be allowed to use marijuana (and, in Arizona, other illegal drugs) if it might ease their suffering, the reaction in Washington was predictable: utter horror. Propositions 215 and 200 struck not only at the heart of drug war propaganda but also at the most sensitive assumptions underlying the regulatory state.

    For drug warriors, Propositions 215 and 200 are terrifying because these laws recognize that marijuana is not especially dangerous. "We have a problem," said Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala at the Clinton administration's anti-initiative press conference. "Increasing numbers of Americans believe that marijuana is not harmful." Indeed.

    Like the once-common insistence that steroids do not help athletes bulk up, the oft-repeated lie that marijuana is some kind of deadly poison leads people - especially young people - to suspect all suggestions that drugs may be dangerous. It's hardly surprising that drug use has turned up among the most propagandized generation in history, or that almost all the upswing is accounted for by casual pot smoking. You don't have to smoke marijuana yourself, or even have a very wide circle of friends, to find plenty of anecdotal evidence that the drug is neither particularly hazardous to health nor the gateway to drug-abuse hell. If she doubts this commonsensical observation, Shalala could ask the president or vice president, among numerous other administration officials with marijuana smoking in their past. Or she could consult mountains of scientific research, much of it aimed at proving the dangers of dope.

    As Lester Grinspoon and James B. Bakalar wrote in a 1995 editorial in The Journal of the American Medical Association: "One of marihuana's greatest advantages as a medicine is its remarkable safety. It has little effect on major physiological functions. There is no known case of a lethal overdose; on the basis of animal models, the ratio of lethal to effective dose is estimated as 40,000 to 1....It is true that we do not have studies controlled according to the standards required by the FDA - chiefly because legal, bureaucratic, and financial obstacles are constantly put in the way. The situation is ironical, since so much research has been done on marihuana, often in unsuccessful attempts to prove its dangerous and addictive character, that we know more about it than about most prescription drugs." (This and related articles are available at The Lindesmith Organization.)

    Just as anti-gay conservatives are far more threatened by stable, bourgeois same-sex couples (who want to get married!) than by anonymous bathhouse sex or exhibitionists parading in leather jock straps, nothing would undermine the official line on drugs more than lots of respectable, otherwise law-abiding people admitting that they smoke marijuana without ruining their lives. Very few responsible recreational users, however, are likely to risk the legal consequences of coming out of the closet.

    The medical marijuana initiatives bypass that problem. They introduce a prospect even more threatening to the status quo: What kind of mean-spirited person, after all, would deny sick people relief? As Jim Christie reported in REASON, even Pat Buchanan sympathizes with patients who need pot, as did Newt Gingrich back in 1981. Yet if thousands - or even hundreds - of average Americans suddenly start admitting in public that they smoke marijuana to relieve various illnesses, the demonization of the drug can't be sustained.

    The Clinton administration is trying mightily not to appear to be attacking physicians. When asked about what they planned to do to deter doctors from recommending marijuana, Shalala and her law-enforcement colleagues - Attorney General Janet Reno and drug czar Barry McCaffrey - dodged desperately. "This isn't about physicians," said Shalala. "This is about truck drivers. It's about workers in federal buildings. It's about teachers." In other words, it's about doctors and their patients.

    And the administration is quite assuredly threatening doctors. "We are going to take very, very serious action against them," Drug Enforcement Administration head Thomas Constantine told The New York Times. Reno, meanwhile, urges local authorities to "make arrests and prosecute." Remember, too, that what's at stake is merely recommending marijuana - free speech, in other words, between physicians and patients. The administration that began its first term by repealing the so-called gag rule prohibiting federally funded clinics from advising patients about abortions is starting its second by trying to impose a gag rule in cases where federal money isn't even involved.

    In their attempts to manipulate the public by misusing the language, administration officials have decided to wrap themselves in science. Instead of defending the criminal law - which, for the most part, doesn't even fall under their jurisdiction - they are relying on pharmaceutical regulation to save them.

    "We have a consensus in this country and national law that establishes a standard for drugs that are used in California and in New York. The NIH and the FDA are the core of that approval process," said Shalala at the December 30 press conference. "If it starts falling apart and every state legislature can suddenly approve a drug - not based on any scientific fact - we are undermining the basic health and scientific standard by which this country has established the most extraordinary quality of health care....What's at stake are our youngsters, but just as important, the scientific base for our entire health care system."

    This statement was designed to confuse both the journalists in the room and the public at large. For starters, the National Institutes of Health ordinarily have no role in approving drugs. They fund biomedical research, some of which leads to new pharmaceuticals. Most new drugs come not from the government but from private companies, entities that apparently don't exist in Shalala's mental universe. Nor is it clear that U.S. pharmaceutical innovation - much less the "entire health care system," which includes unregulated and highly innovative and successful medical procedures - depends on the FDA.

    Second, not all biologically active substances fall under Shalala's precious approval process. Some "medicines" are not pharmaceuticals but folk wisdom, often eventually backed by experimental science. If I tell you to put ice or cold water on a burn or eat chicken soup and drink hot tea for a cold, I do not need FDA approval. More analogous - given the product's ordinary use - is the old, and in my experience highly effective, Southern folk remedy of putting a paste of tobacco on bee stings. Suggesting that a plant might relieve your symptoms is not the same as prescribing a commercial pharmaceutical. If marijuana had never been made illegal, using it medically as well as recreationally might require no more FDA approval than drinking herbal tea. And since marijuana isn't patentable, no pharmaceutical company would invest in FDA testing, even if it were legal.

    Since it isn't legal, Shalala's "approval process" is not just the FDA's normal hoops - as bad as they are. While there is little doubt that smoking marijuana can relieve glaucoma, chemotherapy-induced nausea, and AIDS-related wasting, it would indeed be nice to have more solid scientific research on the subject. But it's essentially impossible to do efficacy testing on a substance whose very possession is a crime.

    That's where the NIH comes in. You can't just, as a scientific matter, decide to investigate whether marijuana might relieve nausea or migraines. If you want to do your research legally, the DEA and National Institute on Drug Abuse will have to approve - and recent history suggests they won't. (Plus, researching the possible medicinal benefits of evil, illicit, politically incorrect substances is not exactly the way to win friends, grants, or tenure.) As a result, there are no ongoing studies. That Shalala, McCaffrey, and Janet Reno spent a press conference pretending otherwise just shows the Clinton administration's endless ability to twist the facts to suit its political spin.

    The Arizona and California propositions don't just subvert the drug war by threatening to expose its propaganda. They attack the favorite argument for big, technocratic government: "health and safety." They dare to suggest that health is, for the most part, an individual, private matter; that safety depends on how each person weighs relative dangers; and that knowledge about both is not the sole possession of centralized bureaucrats. The initiatives explode the most beloved premises of paternalistic Progressivism. No wonder the Clintonistas are going crazy. This isn't a battle they can afford to lose.

    Washington Prison-Guard Cartel Sacrifices One Of Its Own

    The Aberdeen [Wash.] Daily World, Feb. 20, 1997, p. 1

    MONTESANO - A corrections officer allegedly introduced contraband into the County Jail and is also being investigated for drug violations, the sheriff reported today.

    Catrina Hammell, 26, was arrested Wednesday afternoon. She was released this morning pending further investigation. Sheriff Dennis Morrisette said Hammell, an employee at the Sheriff's Office for two years, resigned this morning.

    Morrisette said his two under-sheriffs are overseeing the investigation. Until that investigation is complete, "I don't think it would be appropriate for me to get into the specifics" of the allegations, the sheriff said.

    "The overall security in the jail was intact. But there were times when there were some weaknesses."

    Morrisette said the investigation began "several days ago" and involved the Drug Task Force, but Morrisette declined to elaborate on how officials came to suspect wrongdoing.

    "Obviously, when something like this occurs, you have a difficult time believing it's occurring inside your department," the sheriff said. "At the same time, we're law enforcement officers, and we have an obligation to look at. We did.

    Morrisette said Hammell was taken into custody about 3 p.m. after a traffic stop on Highway 12 at Montesano. Because it is a Grays Harbor case, she was booked into the Pacific County jail for Violation of the Uniform Controlled Substance act and introducing contraband into the jail. "It was a pretty sad afternoon for all of us," Morrisette said. "When something like this happens, we're in shock ourselves, and we're saddened by this. Something like this reflects on all of us."

    "Troops Sent To Replace Northern Baja's Police"

    "Mexico moves against drug trafficking"

    MEXICO CITY (Reuter, Feb. 21, 1997) - In a major reshuffle in Mexico's war on drugs, Mexican soldiers replaced 45 civilian anti-drug agents in the northwestern state of Baja California, the state government said Friday.

    "There was a change of 45 Federal Judicial (Police) agents in Baja California. They were replaced by 45 soldiers," Guadalupe Esparza, spokeswoman for the state government in Mexicali said in a telephone interview.

    The change followed the firing Tuesday of Mexico's top anti-drug official, an army general who was imprisoned on corruption charges after allegedly taking payoffs from the country's top drug lord, Amado Carrillo Fuentes.

    Esparza declined to speculate on whether Gen. Jesus Gutierrez Rebollo's arrest was linked to the changes in Baja California, a state through which a lot of South American cocaine is trafficked to the United States.

    She said the replacements were part of a nationwide move to step up the army's involvement in the drug war.

    High-ranking officers have taken several important civilian police posts since last year. Gutierrez Rebollo's posting in December to head the National Institute for Drug Control was seen as the army's crowning achievement until his arrest. He was replaced by another army general.

    Ezparza was unable to give the total number of Federal Judicial Police agents in Baja California, which borders the state of California in the United States.

    The Federal Judicial Police is Mexico's main anti-drug agency, but it has a reputation for corruption that it has been unable to shake off because major drug traffickers regularly elude the authorities.

    "Fallout From Mexican Drug Scandal Hits U.S."

    Los Angeles Times, Feb. 21, 1997
    By Mark Fineman, Times Staff Writer

    MEXICO CITY - The day after he met his tough new Mexican counterpart here last December, President Clinton's top counter-narcotics official, Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey, offered effusive praise.

    "This is a deadly serious guy," McCaffrey, himself a retired four-star general, said of the Mexican army general who had just taken over all federal drug enforcement here.

    Gen. Jose de Jesus Gutierrez Rebollo, McCaffrey told several U.S. reporters over breakfast at his Mexico City hotel that day, was a hard-nosed field commander of the "highest integrity" who clearly was committed to cooperating with the United States in battling Mexico's powerful drug cartels.

    In the weeks that followed, Gutierrez reportedly was privy to a wealth of data on counter-narcotics operations. Hosted by McCaffrey and the United States' top drug enforcement agencies in Washington as recently as three weeks ago, Gutierrez was briefed on the inner workings of the United States' anti-drug efforts and the intricacies of the joint U.S.-Mexican drug war - part of a new era of cooperation and intelligence-sharing. On Thursday, though, Gutierrez - chief of Mexico's anti-drug effort until he was fired Tuesday - was in maximum-security federal prison here, accused of collaborating for years with Mexico's biggest narcotics-smuggling cartel.

    U.S. intelligence agencies were feverishly assessing the damage and whether it would jeopardize future cooperation with Mexico on the drug front.

    "It's a very serious revelation and deeply troubling," Clinton acknowledged in Washington on Thursday when asked about the general's arrest.

    However, Clinton praised Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo for taking bold and swift action against Gutierrez.

    At the same time, though, administration officials acknowledged that the Mexican general's arrest also raised questions about the competence of U.S. intelligence forces, given that Tuesday's announcement in Mexico City that Gutierrez was allegedly collaborating with drug traffickers appeared to have taken Washington by surprise.

    "The question is being asked," said Eric Rubin, spokesman for the White House National Security Council. "It's one thing not to know he was corrupt, but it's another thing not to even know that he had been [under investigation] for two weeks."

    For Mexico, the damage clearly was greater.

    As head of the National Institute to Combat Drugs - Mexico's equivalent of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration - Gutierrez had access to all top-secret efforts by the Mexican government to combat drugs.

    Officials said Thursday they believe that he may have warned Mexico's top suspected drug lord that agents were going to raid his sister's wedding in Sinaloa last month. That military operation was seen as a failure, and the suspect is now the target of a renewed manhunt.

    And Gutierrez's arrest has left Mexico's counter-drug war in apparent disarray. Human rights officials in Guadalajara, where Gutierrez was military commander for seven years, said Thursday that at least 20 state and federal drug agents there had been reported missing in the scandal's aftermath.

    But for academics, independent analysts and some U.S. law enforcement officials, the latest scandal goes beyond illustrating how drug corruption has penetrated the highest levels of Mexico's institutions. They say it underscores how neither the U.S. nor Mexican government can seem to stay ahead of the Mexican drug mafias, which reap billions of dollars by supplying up to 75% of the cocaine sold in the United States. And inside information on the cartels has always been a weak link in the war on drugs.

    Just two weeks before Clinton is required to decide whether to certify Mexico's cooperation in counter-narcotics efforts - a move with far-reaching economic and political implications - the scandal also calls into question the strategies of both nations in their effort to interrupt the flow of hundreds of tons of South American cocaine through Mexico and into the U.S.

    Clinton told reporters Thursday that Gutierrez's arrest showed both the level of corruption that impedes drug enforcement and the Mexican government's resolve to root it out.

    But neither Clinton nor his top anti-drug officials were publicly discussing the overall strategy that led to the scandal.

    Gutierrez's Dec. 3 appointment was, in fact, a key element in that strategy, which has been endorsed enthusiastically by the Clinton administration - a militarization of the drug war that includes U.S. military training for Mexican officers and the delivery of U.S. military hardware to aid Mexico's counter-narcotics efforts.

    When Zedillo turned to the army to name his new anti-drug chief last December, senior Mexican officials said he did so because the military is considered largely free from the drug corruption that has penetrated much of the nation's federal police force. That same strategy has led to the placement of military officers in dozens of other sensitive law enforcement and administrative posts throughout Mexico in recent months.

    What is more, Gutierrez was handpicked by Zedillo's defense secretary, Gen. Enrique Cervantes Aguirre.

    Cervantes stated that he did not know until earlier this month that Gutierrez, the regional army commander based in Guadalajara since 1989, allegedly had been collaborating with the nation's largest drug cartel since 1993.

    Officials in Washington said they do not yet know the extent of the U.S. intelligence information that Gutierrez received, or how that might endanger intelligence sources or compromise efforts in Mexico. Exchanging information is a central part of the cooperation between the U.S. and Mexico.

    "Our concern is with not only sources, but also methods of investigation that could have been compromised," said Jim McGivney, spokesman for the DEA in Washington.

    "This was a tremendous intelligence lapse," concluded Roderic Camp, a Tulane University professor and author of a recent book on the Mexican military. "But also, it really places in doubt the feasibility of the broader strategy of presenting the [Mexican] military as a clean force in the counter-drug effort."

    Camp indicated that Gutierrez's appointment - and the U.S. reaction to it - also appeared to reflect an intelligence failure in Washington. There was ample evidence, he said, that drug corruption has existed for years within the officer corps of the Mexican military, and U.S. officials should have been more wary of Gutierrez's selection. "The military elements at the highest level have been contaminated by drug trafficking for years, and the officers in Guadalajara have been especially vulnerable to this," Camp said.

    He cited, for example, the 1990 dismissal of the admiral who headed the Mexican navy after he was linked to drug corruption.

    Although the Mexican army traditionally rotates its regional commanders annually or every two years, specifically to avoid corruption, Camp and other experts on the Mexican military noted that Gutierrez somehow remained in command for seven consecutive years in Guadalajara - a notorious drug trafficking hub.

    It was in that command post that Gutierrez won praise from military and civilian officials with the spectacular 1995 arrest of reputed Sinaloa drug cartel chief Hector Luis "El Guero" Palma.

    Palma was acquitted of drug charges last month. Gutierrez also staged other high-profile military operations that led to arrests of accused key gunmen and lieutenants of other drug mafias in recent years.

    But, in announcing the charges against Gutierrez this week, Cervantes indicated that not once did the former commander or his soldiers take action against the Juarez cartel or its alleged chieftain, Amado Carrillo Fuentes.

    Times staff writer Elizabeth Shogren in Washington contributed to this report.

    "Sonoran Chief Is Accused In Drug Trafficking"

    "U.S. investigators believe Manlio Fabio Beltrones is in league with drug traffickers. Beltrones denies U.S. allegations"

    The New York Times, Feb. 23, 1997

    Sonora Gov. Manlio Fabio Beltrones is collaborating with one of the world's most powerful drug traffickers, according to U.S. officials and intelligence. And in so doing, he is creating a haven for smugglers who transport vast quantities of narcotics into the United States.

    Officials said this conclusion was based on a wealth of evidence, including "highly reliable" informers' reports that Beltrones took part in meetings in which leading Mexican drug traffickers paid high-level politicians who were protecting their operations.

    According to the accounts, Raul Salinas de Gortari, the brother of former President Carlos Salinas de Gortari, received suitcases full of cash and was responsible for distributing the money to those attending.

    Present and former officials said the evidence of Beltrones' role was so detailed and compelling that the United States had included his name on a confidential document provided to the transition team of President Ernesto Zedillo listing more than a dozen officials suspected of corruption.

    And a former U.S. consul in Hermosillo, Sonora's capital, even spoke of bringing charges against Beltrones in the United States.

    Another governor, Jorge Carrillo Olea of the southern state of Morelos, was included on the U.S. blacklist because of reported entanglements with major drug dealers.

    Beltrones, in an interview, denied any links to drug traffickers. He also disputed U.S. law-enforcement officials' assertions that Amado Carrillo Fuentes, one of Mexico's most wanted drug kingpins, was operating with impunity in Sonora.

    Carrillo Olea also disputed charges that he had cooperated with traffickers.

    In a four-month investigation that draws on intelligence documents and interviews in the United States and Mexico, The New York Times examined how both governments handled the allegations.

    The result is a picture of official frustration on both sides of the border and, several officials asserted, a case study of why drug traffickers' political patrons often go unpunished.

    Despite the recent disclosures about official corruption, U.S. officials say the Clinton administration is planning to certify later this month that Mexico is cooperating with anti-drug efforts.

    Senior administration officials say that decision reflects a belief that Mexico's leadership is doing all it can against staggering odds.

    But many law-enforcement officials say it also shows that the Clinton administration considers the narcotics fight less important than fostering commerce with this country's third-largest trading partner.

    Thus, these officials assert, intelligence reports suggesting corruption among Mexican politicians receive little attention in Washington. Similarly, agents working in Mexico feel they will get little support if they scrutinize the activities of powerful Mexican officials.

    President Clinton praised Mexico last week for arresting the head of its anti-narcotics program on drug charges, citing the act as evidence that the country was not tolerating corruption, even "at the highest levels."

    Privately, however, U.S. officials acknowledge that Mexican traffickers' political patrons are seldom the targets of law-enforcement officials in either country, even though they play an important role in the drug trade.

    In a previously undisclosed draft analysis, intelligence officials assert that Mexican traffickers take in as much as $10 billion annually, then spend as much as 60 percent of that money on bribes for officials at all levels.

    Officials say much of the derogatory information about Beltrones and Carrillo Olea, a former director of Mexico's anti-narcotics program, came from informers, ranging from inside accounts to raw gossip. Their volume and persistence over time have persuaded many U.S. officials that the allegations against the governors are well founded.

    But officials said such material was of little use to prosecutors, who must build their cases around witnesses willing to testify in U.S. courts.

    In addition, U.S. law-enforcement officials acknowledge a reluctance to invest time and money in pursuing corrupt foreign officials.

    "In Mexico," said one U.S. prosecutor in a border state, "political protection is difficult to prove. If we could prove it, we'd have them all under indictment. There's a big difference between knowing something and proving it in a court of law.

    "You have extremely reliable intelligence sources, but unless you can prove it, why burn your sources? You'd have their body parts spread all over Sonora."

    Beltrones, for his part, says the reports collected by U.S. intelligence and drug agents were fabricated by political rivals. "This sounds like a novel, filled with horror and error," he said. "At what time of the day do I govern, if I'm spending my time on all these crimes?"

    Wilburn Sears took charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration's five-person office in Hermosillo in 1991. He soon came to the realization that the state was overrun by traffickers.

    Vast quantities of marijuana were pouring up the highways. Passenger cars were ferrying methamphetamines over the line into Arizona. And the traffickers were traveling in and out of Hermosillo and other Sonoran cities in long convoys or in private jets, under the noses of state and federal police officers.

    "The feds were protecting the airports," Sears said in a recent interview. "They were doing everything out there except kick-starting the narcos' airplanes."

    It was in those years that Carrillo Fuentes began the ascent that would make him one of Mexico's shrewdest and most influential drug smugglers. The nephew of one of the country's narcotics pioneers, he had been building his organization in the late 1980s, wooing marijuana farmers to the south in Sinaloa, the heroin clans of Durango and especially the cocaine barons of Cali, Colombia.

    Most of all, he had cultivated the skills of Mexican narcotics diplomacy and knew what it took to buy protection from powerful politicians.

    In a lengthy 1994 study, the Drug Enforcement Administration's analysts in El Paso painted a detailed picture of how Carrillo Fuentes cultivated Mexican police officials and political leaders, including Beltrones.

    According to the classified analysis, based on field reports from more than a dozen U.S. agencies, the trafficker has "purchased influence at various key levels in the Mexican government," giving him "powerful connections" that ensure safe passage of his drug loads through Mexico to the United States.

    In the early 1990s, Carrillo Fuentes was moving to make Hermosillo a strategic staging area, U.S. officials said. He was living in a pink stucco mansion down the street from the U.S. consul's residence. He had begun construction of a much more extravagant, onion-domed house - locals called it a Thousand and One Nights - a few blocks north. And among other properties he or his associates had acquired was a communications center across town.

    In August 1991 Beltrones was elected governor, and in October he moved into the colonial-style governor's palace in Hermosillo. He was a rising star in the governing Institutional Revolutionary Party, one of a handful of ambitious 40-something leaders sometimes called the "babysaurs," to distinguish them from the older, "dinosaurs" who have long ruled the party.

    During his early career, Beltrones had been the understudy to Fernando Gutierrez Barrios, Salinas' interior minister and one of the pioneers of Mexico's postwar secret police. Some have seen Beltrones as a possible presidential candidate.

    But about the time that he took the oath of office, U.S. officials began picking up reports from confidential informers documenting his ties to Carrillo Fuentes.

    In an interview, Beltrones raised his voice when reporters described DEA reports alleging that he had accepted payments from Carrillo Fuentes.

    "These reports are incredible in every sense, filled with fantasy and lies," Beltrones said. The DEA, he added, "is completely out of focus."

    As evidence of his hostility to drug trafficking, Beltrones asserted that he had virtually driven Carrillo Fuentes from Hermosillo.

    A high-ranking Mexican official said that as a result of evidence gathered by Beltrones,learned of Carrillo Fuentes' residences in Hermosillo shortly after he took office. Months later, the official said, Beltrones ordered aides to videotape Carrillo Fuentes' arrival at the local airport in a Lear jet, and his travels about the state capital in a convoy guarded by federal police vehicles. The governor delivered the videotape to President Carlos Salinas de Gortari, the official added, and federal authorities confiscated four of Carrillo Fuentes' properties.

    "How would the DEA explain that I'm the one who took away this man's houses?" Beltrones asked.

    U.S. officials and reports acknowledge that four of Carrillo Fuentes' Hermosillo houses were seized. But they said his organization continued to use at least eight other properties. The officials maintain that Sonora remains one of Carrillo Fuentes' most important operating bases.

    U.S. officials say that reports about Beltrones' drug activities have come from nearly two dozen sources inside the Mexican government and its law-enforcement agencies.

    The 1994 DEA study of Carrillo Fuentes described how his smuggling organization, identified by his initials, ACF, expanded "full force" into Sonora.

    "Manlio Fabio Beltrones Rivera is well documented as being associated with the ACF organization," the report reads. It quotes a commander of the federal judicial police as stating that Beltrones is "involved in protecting drug traffickers passing through Sonora."

    In 1994, Sears searched the DEA's computerized intelligence files and found numerous references to Beltrones and members of his family, according to a memo Sears wrote. "The governor," the document noted, is mentioned in cases "from San Diego to Tucson."

    Among the most persuasive intelligence reports, officials said, are accounts of regular meetings at a ranch in which Mexico's most notorious traffickers gave cash to Salinas, who in turn distributed it to the senior politicians present.

    Salinas, whose brother was president at the time, is awaiting trial in Mexico City on charges of murder and financial wrongdoing, and investigators found more than $100 million in his overseas bank accounts. He maintains that his fortune has legitimate sources.

    Beltrones was said to have attended three meetings at the ranch from 1990 to 1993, and the officials said Carrillo Fuentes was present for at least one.

    In August 1994, the State Department sent William Francisco, a former Army infantry officer, to serve as the senior diplomat at the U.S. Consulate in Hermosillo.

    Almost immediately he trained his sights on the governor, raising questions about the reports of corruption and misconduct, which were being ignored by other U.S. officials.

    Sears and his DEA staff in Hermosillo were busy trying to keep track of the five major mafias operating all across northwest Mexico. They spent much of their time traveling between Hermosillo and the distant border gateways of Tijuana or Juarez.

    "They gave me a new car," Sears said, "and I put 35,000 miles on it in seven months. We were just keeping our heads above water. There were so many reports of corruption about everybody that most of the time we didn't even write it up. We just had to accept the fact that corruption exists."

    Francisco felt otherwise.

    Shortly after his arrival, he received a briefing from Sears about the major Mexican traffickers and studied the intelligence report naming Beltrones as an associate of Carrillo Fuentes.

    Then, Sears recalled, Francisco traveled south to Sinaloa and came back with new reports about the pervasive influence of traffickers. At his request, Sears checked the DEA's computerized intelligence files and found extensive references to Beltrones.

    In an unusual step for a State Department official assigned to an obscure consulate, Francisco began recruiting his own sources about the drug trade and Beltrones' role in it.

    When Francisco heard a report that Beltrones was being considered for a post in President Zedillo's cabinet as head of Mexico's powerful Interior Ministry, he grew downright alarmed.

    On Nov. 15, 1994, after just 12 weeks as consul, he stalked into his office and fired off an urgent cable to the embassy in Mexico City.

    "Request for assistance to verify and further develop info of allegations of extensive criminal activities by Son. Gov. Manlio Fabio Beltrones Rivera, who may be under consideration to become the next secretary of Gobernacion," Francisco headlined his dispatch, using the Spanish term for Mexico's Interior Ministry.

    Francisco complained that the DEA and customs agents in Hermosillo were too preoccupied with minor traffickers and should instead pursue political figures like Beltrones, whom he termed "a truly major kingpin player."

    His cable - which mixed drug intelligence with lurid tales about the personal lives of Sonoran officials - stunned Sears and officials at the embassy in Mexico City. Although Francisco had no direct or specific evidence to document his allegations, he called for a criminal investigation that could lead to Beltrones' indictment in the United States.

    The cable reached the desk of the U.S. Ambassador, James Jones, and U.S. officials said he viewed it skeptically. Jones was instinctively cautious about the reliability of law-enforcement intelligence reports. In addition, several officials said, the criminal investigation of a foreign official poses daunting political and practical difficulties.

    Collecting intelligence on an official like Beltrones is one thing. But several officials said that building a criminal case against him - linking him to specific drug shipments or conspiracies that violate U.S. law - would be quite another.

    Informers willing to whisper an allegation under a cloak of confidentiality would have to be persuaded to travel to the United States to testify before a grand jury, and perhaps later at a public trial. That would endanger not only their careers but also their lives.

    Even if all these difficulties were overcome, the accused official would have to be extradited to the United States for trial. Mexico has never before extradited a Mexican citizen accused of narcotics trafficking.(Juan Garcia Abrego, a Mexican trafficker, was expelled to the United States a year ago, not extradited, and he holds U.S. citizenship.)

    "Indicting a public official of a foreign government is cumbersome to say the least," the official said. "And then getting them out of Mexico - it never happens."

    Francisco's recommendation was never seriously considered by the embassy's top officials. Virtually everyone there reportedly regarded it as quixotic, even "goofy," as one put it. In fact, officials said, the idea of launching an U.S. criminal inquiry into Beltrones' dealings was not raised with senior officials in Washington.

    As it happened, Zedillo and his advisers, preparing to take office on Dec. 1, 1994, had already given U.S. officials a less public means of dealing with allegations involving officials like Beltrones.

    "The Zedillo administration wanted names of people believed to be corrupt, or possibly in the pay of traffickers, whom the United States would not like to see in the new government," a former U.S. official said.

    Jones gave Zedillo's transition team a list of about 15 current and former Mexican officials. It included Beltrones and Carrillo Olea, three officials said.

    A senior Mexican official said in an interview that neither Beltrones nor any other of Mexico's 31 active governors was ever considered for a post in Zedillo's Cabinet. The Zedillo government apparently has never followed up on the U.S. warning by investigating either governor.

    But embassy officials felt that delivery of the list had shifted all responsibility onto Mexican authorities, where it belonged.

    Early in 1995 the embassy's No. 2 official, David Beall, telephoned Francisco and lectured him about the cables he had written, U.S. officials said. Francisco interpreted the call in subsequent conversations with associates as an order to stop reporting on the governor.

    A senior U.S. official denied that. "He may have been told, `For your own safety and for the integrity of what law enforcement is trying to do, don't be a cowboy,' " the official said. "But he was not muzzled."

    Still, if he stopped filing cables, Francisco continued to voice suspicions about Beltrones' activities. He even shared his opinions of the governor with Nicolas Escalante Barrett, Mexico's consul general in Phoenix, who reported the incident to Mexico's Foreign Ministry. U.S. officials and Beltrones said they believed that the Foreign Ministry complained to the U.S. government about Francisco's conduct.

    In September 1995, Francisco was transferred to Frankfurt, Germany. He declined to be interviewed for this article.

    One senior U.S. official insisted that Francisco's transfer was a "routine rotation."

    Others disagreed. "He was a loose cannon," an official said. "He was probably going to get himself killed if we didn't get him out of there."

    Carrillo Fuentes has continued to consolidate power. His success at sending cocaine-laden aircraft undetected into Mexican airspace and his largess have led Mexicans to nickname him Lord of the Heavens.

    In January, Mexican troops stormed a ranch in the western state of Sinaloa during a wedding reception for Carrillo Fuentes' sister, hoping to capture him. But word leaked, and he slipped away.

    The commander of January's failed wedding raid was Gen. Jesus Gutierrez Rebollo, then the national anti-narcotics coordinator. He was arrested last week and accused of having accepted payments from Carrillo Fuentes for seven years, ever since he was put in a command post in the anti-drug program.

    Carrillo Fuentes' capture was intended as a dramatic symbol of progress in the drug war weeks before March 1. By that deadline annually, Clinton certifies that drug transiting or producing nations are pursuing serious anti-drug efforts. Instead, the trafficker is still at large and still spending his billions.

    "Money corrupts," said Doug Wankel, who just retired as DEA operations chief, "and in Mexico it's getting to the point where the traffickers can corrupt absolutely."

    "Federal Funds For Clean Needles"

    The New York Times staff editorial, Feb. 22, 1997

    Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala says in a new report to the Senate that needle-exchange programs are an effective way to combat the spread of H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS. But the Secretary does not go far enough. It is time the Clinton Administration lifted the ban on Federal funding for needle-exchange programs.

    Such programs now exist in more than 50 American cities, including New York. They provide intravenous-drug users with sterile needles, thus reducing the likelihood that addicts will share needles contaminated with H.I.V. The programs typically have very small budgets, often are run by volunteers and are plagued with unstable funding from year to year. Yet even these modest programs have been effective.

    Secretary Shalala's report reviews the research on the issue. Earlier studies done by the National Academy of Sciences, the General Accounting Office, the Centers for Disease Control and the University of California at Berkeley found that providing addicts with sterile needles could help slow the spread of the virus. Equally important, those studies found no evidence that needle-exchange programs increased the amount of drug use by addicts or attracted new users.

    More recent studies done for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and in Baltimore by the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health confirmed those observations. Federally funded studies conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse also report no increase in the frequency of drug injection associated with needle-exchange programs. A conference of scientists convened by the National Institutes of Health on AIDS prevention stated unequivocally last week that there is no doubt that needle-exchange programs work.

    The consistency of these findings justifies Federal support to help pay for needle-exchange programs in communities that need and want them. Unfortunately, the debate continues to focus on politics and morality rather than public health needs. Opponents argue that providing addicts with needles implies approval of drug abuse. They forget that addicts can infect their spouses and offspring who do not abuse drugs and yet must live with the consequences of dirty needles.

    Congress imposed the ban on Federal funding for needle exchanges in 1992. But the Administration can lift the ban if the Surgeon General declares that the programs can reduce H.I.V. spread and do not increase drug use. Secretary Shalala's report offers ample evidence that both requirements have been met. The Administration no doubt wants to avoid giving its opponents any reason to bash President Clinton for being soft on drugs. But lives can be saved with needle-exchange programs. The President should show some courage on this issue.

    Mexican National Allowed To Sue US For Torture

    LOS ANGELES (Agence France-Presse, Feb. 21, 1997) - An appeals court ruling allowing a Mexican national to sue the US government for torture will serve as a warning to law enforcement officials, an attorney for the Mexican said Friday.

    The Ninth Court of Appeals upheld Thursday the right to sue for Dr. Humberto Alvarez-Machain who was kidnapped from Guadalajara in 1990 by Mexican nationals working for the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).

    Alvarez-Machain said after he was brought to the United States, he was tortured while waiting to stand trial for the 1985 murder of DEA agent Enrique Camarena.

    The torture and killing of Camarena, who had been working undercover, shook the DEA at the time and the ensuing capture of Alvarez-Machain sparked a legal debate over the DEA's tactics.

    "The Ninth Circuit has correctly held that Dr. Alvarez-Machain's claim under the Torture Victims Protection Act represents a valid claim," said American Civil Liberties Union attorney Silvia Argueta.

    "This sends a powerful message that our own officials are not impervious to the law of the land and its protections, even those who are working outside of our border," she added.

    Alvarez-Machain said that DEA agents threatened him during interrogation, denied him food and adequate medical treatment and forced him to stand naked to be photographed.

    After three years of trial and imprisonment, he was acquitted of all charges after the government failed to produce credible evidence linking him to Camarena's death.

    The court ruled that his acquittal allowed him to sue the government for false arrest, false imprisonment and negligent infliction of emotional distress, Argueta said.

    Liberty's Educational Advocacy Forum, Indiana-FIJA, Inc. URL:

    "Indictments - Coke Smugglers Used Submerged Boats"

    ROANOKE, Va. (AP, Feb. 26, 1997) - Cocaine smugglers evaded radar by using a fleet of boats that remain partially submerged, authorities said in announcing dozens of indictments.

    A four-year $46 million money laundering sting yielded indictments against alleged members of the Cali cartel and revealed the use of the two-person sub-like boats to ferry cocaine from Colombia.

    Forty-one indictments were unsealed Tuesday and more are expected within the coming months, prosecutors said.

    Information from the until-now secret investigation, code-named Operation El Cid, already has helped convict 136 other traffickers nationwide since 1992, U.S. Attorney Bob Crouch said at a news conference Tuesday.

    Prosecutors and Drug Enforcement Administration officials said they revealed details of the long-term operation because their informants had to be returned from Colombia and go into hiding.

    Two of those indicted Tuesday, Louis Gomez Bustamante and Javier Baena Valez, were identified by DEA officials as major figures in Colombia's Cali cartel.

    Officials said they did not expect to be able to arrest the two, since they live in Colombia, which has no extradition agreement with the United States. Prosecutors said they expect to arrest only about 12 of the 41 people indicted Tuesday.

    The DEA's undercover operation laundered $46 million from cocaine sales and converted the dollars into Colombian pesos for the Cali cartel, which supplies much of the cocaine smuggled into the United States, Crouch said.

    The DEA kept $4 million as its "fee," which it used in turn for the sting operation.

    In return, the DEA obtained details about the cartel's operations, including its use of a fleet of 20 specialized boats that ride mostly submerged, evading radar, said Peter Gruden, a regional DEA director.

    Each of the vessels, which resemble submarines and were made by a boat builder in Colombia, could carry two people and up to a ton of cocaine, authorities said. The only part of the 26- to 30-foot boats that stay above water is an air-intake pipe.

    "This was the first confirmation of the existence of this fleet," Gruden said. Some of the boats have been seized or scuttled since the discovery; others may have sunk on their own.

    The DEA also seized $49 million worth of drugs, cash and other assets linked to smuggling operations uncovered by the operation, Gruden said.

    Operation El Cid began in 1991 after the arrests of two Colombians in Roanoke, which turned out to be a major transportation hub for cocaine smuggling.

    Pot Clubs Go Mainstream

    "Pot Clubs Go Mainstream, Except S.F.
    Group won't file taxes or seek business license"
    The San Francisco Chronicle, Feb. 27, 1997
    Yumi Wilson, Chronicle Staff Writer

    While cannabis clubs throughout California hustle to join the commercial mainstream created by the passage of Proposition 215, San Francisco's club has never filed for a business license or paid taxes - and it never intends to do so, its leaders said yesterday.

    "We operate within a doctrine of civil disobedience and a vow of poverty, very much like the sisters of St. Francis," said John Entwistle, legislative advocate of the San Francisco Cannabis Cultivators Club. "We buy low, sell high, pay bills. That's it."

    Since voters approved Proposition 215 - which decriminalized marijuana for the sick and dying - clubs in Los Angeles and Santa Cruz are among those taking a by- the-book approach to running their businesses. Just this week, founders of the Santa Clara County Cannabis Club, which will open next month, paid a business tax.

    Although possession of marijuana remains a federal crime, a Santa Cruz group, the Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana, recently obtained official status as a nonprofit corporation. The group grows and distributes marijuana to more than 100 sick and disabled people.

    The Los Angeles Cannabis Buyers Club also has applied for nonprofit status, said director Scott Imler. Earlier, the club had applied for a business license, but was turned down because "we didn't qualify under any of their existing categories," Imler said.

    In Santa Clara County, club director Robert Niswonger walked into San Jose's Department of Finance and paid $154.50 in city business taxes - the minimum allowed. The payment was largely symbolic because it does not grant the club any rights. The directors, however, have asked the San Jose City Council for an endorsement.

    "We're doing it publicly so everyone knows we're on the up-and- up," said founder Peter Baez.

    But in San Francisco, the cannabis club has no intention of ever becoming part of the mainstream, Entwistle said.

    "Our job was to enable (other clubs) to go further and to perfect the business aspects of this," Entwistle said. "But we're not going to do that."

    Although San Francisco's club defines itself as a nonprofit, it has never filed for tax-exempt status - which means it would have to file income tax reports, said Jim Shepherd of the state Franchise Tax Board.

    "If they're running a business, and they have income going in and out, then they would have to file. Would they have to pay a tax? That would depend on the bottom line," Shepherd said, referring to the possibility that the group's income would fall below the taxable minimum.

    Director Dennis Peron, however, insists that his club is more like a hospice than a business.

    "There is no tax on medicine in California, and rightfully so," he said.

    Peron added that filing for tax- exempt status has never been an option because it "precludes you from doing political work." Charitable organizations with tax-exempt status cannot engage in political activity, he said.

    Peron has been lobbying for the legalization of medicinal marijuana for years. Most recently, he co-authored Proposition 215, which decriminalized the use and cultivation of marijuana for patients who have recommendations from their doctors. It was approved by voters last November.

    Last August, state drug agents raided the club, alleging among other things that marijuana was being sold to youngsters who weren't sick. The club resumed business in January when a judge ruled that it could reopen under the tenets of Proposition 215.

    State Attorney General Dan Lungren, who led the charge against the cannabis club and Proposition 215, is now taking a wait-and-see approach.

    McCaffrey's Slip Puts Narcs In Jeopardy

    Joe Horman writes:

    It was reported in the Mexico City News that the DEA recalled 51 of its agents from Mexico in connection with McCaffrey's blowing of the family jewels. It seems that these agents are in serious jeopardy and it is likely they will not return. Story follows.

    "DEA Recalls Agents In Mexico"
    The News Staff and Wire Services
    Mexico City, Feb. 22, 1997

    The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) recalled 51 operatives from Mexico Friday to find out just how much former Mexican drug czar Gen. Jesus Gutierrez Rebollo may have known about U.S. anti-drug operations.

    As speculation continued to circulate about the extent of "exchange of information" between the DEA agents and the former head of the National Institute to Combat Drugs (INCD), arrested late Tuesday, Washington began a damage assessment while Mexico cried no foul.

    Mexico Foreign Relations Secretary Jose Angel Gurria said Gen. Gutierrez Rebollo had only been privy to the Mexican situation and assured Washington that its secrets in the war against drugs were safe.

    "This man (Gutierrez Rebollo) conducted our anti-drug operations for 10 weeks and if he leaked important information, it was information from Mexico and about Mexico," Gurria said in a Washington visit to the White House, the State Department and the National Security Council.

    According to reports in Mexico City afternoon newspapers, the agents were recalled because they had extensive contacts with the fallen Mexican general, who is accused of collaborating with and aiding members of Amado Carrillo Fuentes' powerful drug cartel.

    In particular, officials to the north fear that U.S. anti-drug trafficking intelligence may have been compromised by Gen. Gutierrez Rebollo before his arrest this week. According to New York Times reports Thursday, the former drug czar was given detailed briefings on U.S. information about Mexican cocaine cartels just before he was arrested.

    In Washington, U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno confirmed Thursday that the administration is trying to determine if secret information was compromised or if U.S. drug informants have been placed in danger. She said the administration was unaware of any problems with Rebollo Gutierrez until after the arrest was made.

    "I am very disappointed in what happened, but I am impressed that the Mexican government responded so quickly and indicated so affirmatively that it was not going to put up with corruption," an Associated Press (AP) report cited Reno as saying.

    Mexico Federal Attorney General Jorge Madrazo Cuellar said after the arrest that his offices will review the efficiency of a recently implemented policy to increase the role of the military in the war against drugs.

    "Mexican Drug Czar And Ex-President Tied To Drug Trade"

    Weekly News Update on the Americas
    Issue #369, February 23, 1997
    Nicaragua Solidarity Network of Greater New York
    339 Lafayette St., New York, NY 10012 (212) 674-9499

    On Feb. 16 the left-leaning Mexican weekly magazine Proceso published what it said were Spanish translations of secret US government documents linking much of Mexico's ruling elite - including some of the US government's closest allies - with the country's most notorious drug traffickers. The documents are related to the US government's charge that former Mexico special prosecutor Mario Ruiz Massieu, now in custody in New Jersey, stashed $9 million in payoffs from drug traffickers in two US banks, Texas Commerce Bank and Bank One. The US is scheduled to bring its evidence to a federal grand jury in Houston on Mar. 10.

    The documents, which include two heavily censored witness reports from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), charge that an astonishing array of Mexican officials and leaders of the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) were paid off by or socialized with leaders of the drug cartels: former president Carlos Salinas de Gortari (1988-1994), now living in Ireland; his brother, Raul Salinas de Gortari, currently in the Almoloya maximum security prison facing murder and corruption charges; their sister, Adriana Salinas de Gortari, and their father, Raul Salinas Lozano; Mario Ruiz Massieu's brother, Jose Francisco Ruiz Massieu, a PRI general secretary assassinated in September 1994; former PRI presidential candidate Luis Donaldo Colosio Murrieta, assassinated in March 1994; Ruben Figueroa Alcocer, who resigned last year as governor of Guerrero in the aftermath of the June 1995 Aguas Blancas massacre of 17 campesinos by state police; and Gen. Mario Arturo Acosta Chaparro, said to have led counterinsurgency efforts in Guerrero during the 1970s and accused of involvement in the Aguas Blancas incident. There is no indication that the US has plans to prosecute anyone other than Mario Ruiz Massieu. [Proceso 2/16/97; La Jornada (Mexico) 2/16/97]

    Juan Collado, one of Ruiz Massieu's lawyers, denounced the charges as a "monstrosity," noting that similar witness reports were used in the US case against Humberto Alvarez Machain, who was abducted from Mexico in 1990 and brought to the US to face charges in the 1985 murder of US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent Enrique Camarena Salazar. [Proceso 2/16/97] [In December 1992 a federal judge dismissed the charges against Alvarez Machain as "hunches" and "the wildest speculation"; see Update #151. Alvarez Machain has filed a suit against the US government over his treatment; the federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled during the week of Feb. 17 that he had the right to sue the US. [New York Times 2/23/97]]

    The Salinas brothers have also denied the accusations. But most Mexicans seem willing to believe anything about their former president and his family. The cartoonist "El Fisgon" showed Mexico's leading drug traffickers denouncing the "campaign of defamation" that "wounds our reputation" by alleging that they are linked to the "Salinas clan." [LJ 2/18/97] Former president Salinas, the architect of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), was strongly backed by the last three US presidents. After his term ended, he became a member of the board of directors of Dow Jones & Co., which publishes the Wall Street Journal. On Feb. 10, right before the new scandal broke, Dow Jones announced that Salinas was leaving his position there to dedicate himself to academic activities. [Excelsior (Mexico) 2/10/97 from AP]

    On Feb. 18, just two days after the Proceso revelations appeared, Mexican attorney general Jorge Madrazo Cuellar and National Defense Secretary Enrique Cervantes Aguirre announced that Brig. Gen. Jesus Gutierrez Rebollo, Mexico's "drug czar," had been in detention since Feb. 6 on charges of receiving payoffs from Amado Carrillo Fuentes, alleged head of the "Juarez Cartel," a major drug trafficking operation. Gen. Gutierrez, a 42-year veteran who was named head of the National Institute to Combat Drugs (INCD) ten weeks earlier, is said to be under suicide watch in the Almoloya. He may be tried for treason by a military court, which could sentence him to death; unlike the civil code, Mexican military law permits the death penalty, although it is rarely applied. The general headed Military Zone XV, centered in Guadalajara, during the early 1990s; the military under his command participated in the official investigation of the May 1993 assassination of Cardinal Juan Jesus Posadas Ocampo in the Guadalajara airport, supposedly during a shootout between rival drug cartels. [LJ 2/19/97, 2/20/97, 2/22/97]

    The revelations about Gen. Gutierrez and the Salinas family could hardly have come at a worse time for the government of US president Bill Clinton, who is to visit Mexico in April [see Update #368]. The administration has until Mar. 1 to "certify" nations it feels are making serious efforts to fight drug trafficking; "decertification" commits the US to voting against international loans for the "decertified" country. The White House was expected to impose the sanction on Colombia while putting its seal of approval on Mexico, whose military is to receive $28 million from the US this year for its anti-drug efforts. During the week of Feb. 17 the State Department sent Congress a report saying that the US "has national security concerns of the highest level in Mexico's economic and political stability" and that the recent improvement in relations between the Mexican and US military establishments "has opened up possibilities for a military cooperation without precedent." [LJ 2/22/97, quotations retranslated from Spanish]

    Just weeks before Gen. Gutierrez' arrest, US "drug czar" Gen. Barry McCaffrey his Mexican counterpart as "a guy of absolute unquestioned integrity." [NYT 2/19/97] Under a 1992 agreement, the US shares drug operation intelligence with Mexico's INCD, including information on US agents. The Mexican government is now reportedly studying ways to protect the lives of the 51 DEA agents stationed in Mexico. [LJ 2/20/97]

    Weekly News Update on the Americas * Nicaragua Solidarity Network of New York
    339 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012 * 212-674-9499 * fax: 212-674-9139 *

    "Colombians Up Quality, Lower Price of Heroin"

    Los Angeles Times, Feb. 24, 1997
    By Juanita Darling, Times Staff Writer

    SAN JORGE DE LAS HERMOSAS, Colombia - Every Friday afternoon, caravans of Toyota Land Cruisers and Ford Broncos raise a dust storm along the dirt road that leads to this village in the Colombian mountains.

    Passengers in blue jeans and boots stop at El Porvenir, the village store, to sip soda and make discreet inquiries before continuing to the guerrilla roadblock that lies somewhere outside of town.

    They are on their way to guerrilla-held territory to buy mancha, the sticky white liquid that flows from the poppies planted along the mountain ridge. Their purchases are the first link in a marketing chain that is changing U.S. heroin consumption.

    Colombians are doing to the international heroin market what they did with cocaine: lowering the price and raising the quality to capture a broad customer base. They also are targeting a specific market: people who are afraid of becoming infected with the human immunodeficiency virus, which causes AIDS, from dirty needles. Colombian heroin is so pure that it can be smoked or sniffed instead of injected.

    Colombians have already captured an estimated two-thirds of the East Coast heroin market, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, and the quality of their product is putting pressure on drug dealers throughout the United States.

    Colombians have been reluctant to sell heroin on the West Coast because Mexican cartels control that market. Mexican traffickers have taken over much of the distribution of Colombian cocaine, and the Colombians do not want to share heroin profits with them or irk them by competing head-on, narcotics experts said.

    * * *

    Because the heroin trade is illegal, production figures are sketchy and estimates vary. Colombia's anti-narcotics police estimate that the country produced 5,000 tons of heroin last year - about as much as Mexico and barely 1.6% of total estimated world production. Most of the world's heroin comes from Southeast Asia, from what is known as the Golden Triangle - Myanmar, Thailand and Laos.

    But the DEA says that half the heroin seized at U.S. airports last year was from Colombia. At East Coast airports, the figure was 91%.

    Further, since the Colombians entered the heroin market in full force, the wholesale price of heroin in New York has dropped from $230,000 a kilo (2.2 pounds) in 1992 to $80,000 a kilo last year, according to one of the Colombian government's drug policy advisors, who asked not to be named.

    That indicates that Colombia is producing enough heroin to drive down prices, the advisor said. "Colombian traffickers have read Adam Smith," he explained, referring to the 18th century economist who helped develop free-market theory. "If you are able to put a product in the market at a reasonable price, the market will expand."

    When the Colombians began trafficking cocaine in the early 1970s, it was the "rich man's drug" that actor Peter Fonda's character sold in the film "Easy Rider." Back then, cocaine cost $230,000 a kilo, according to a report prepared recently for Colombian police. In 1993, the report stated, cocaine sold for one-tenth that price.

    "That market has expanded horribly, and they are still making huge amounts of money," the advisor said. "I predict that the same thing will happen in the heroin trade."

    While U.S. drug enforcement officials have expressed alarm at the growth in Colombia's heroin production, they have advised the Colombian government to focus its drug eradication program on cocaine, according to informed sources.

    Dusting heroin poppies with defoliant is dangerous for pilots - more so than flying over the bushes that produce cocaine - because the poppies are in the mountains. It is also less effective, because the flowers grow back in three to six months. Coca bushes take about twice as long to produce a new crop, which makes them more expensive to replace than poppies.

    Only one Colombian airplane is designated for poppy eradication, the sources said.

    But that plane is enough to wreak havoc on the peasants whose fields of poppy - their main cash crop - are sprayed. "Do you see that poppy field on the ridge?" asked one farmer, pointing across the valley. "Every time it starts to flower, the plane comes along and sprays. They lose everything. Those people [poppy farmers] are just stubborn."

    Poppy growers reply that their decision to replant repeatedly rather than find another lucrative crop is a matter of simple economics. A one-acre poppy field requires an investment of about $81 in fertilizer and fumigation, and at the end of six months yields about five kilos of mancha, worth about $3,000. Planted with corn, the same field would produce a crop worth about $30 after seven months.

    "It is 100 times more profitable to plant poppies than corn," said Naum, a local farmer, who asked that his last name not be published. "People who grow poppies can have some class. Those who don't will always be poor."

    * * *

    Poppies yield the most heroin when grown at very high altitudes, and peasants here are cutting down mountaintop forests and clearing fields ever higher. The government can do little to stop them because guerrillas who have waged civil war against the Colombian government for three decades control the area.

    The growers have no compunction about breaking the law. "People [grow poppies] to find a better life because the government has abandoned us," said Bernardo, another farmer.

    The village of San Jorge de las Hermosas has no electricity, running water or school. This region is also coffee country, and the dirt road was built and is maintained not by the government but by the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation.

    The guerrillas of the Colombia Revolutionary Armed Forces, the oldest and largest of the country's many fighting factions, come down the mountain every Friday to provide protection from bandits for mancha buyers carrying bundles of cash.

    They organize the weekly mancha market in nearby San Jose de las Hermosas. They decide who enters the area and how far up the mountain such people may go.

    * * *

    Colombia's heroin trade grew from the serendipity of the cocaine traffickers trying to diversify at a time when international coffee prices had plummeted and the guerrillas had begun a strategy of expanding the territory under their control, experts said.

    When the traffickers saw the crackdown on U.S. marijuana production a decade ago, said Colombian drug and guerrilla expert Alfredo Molano, they realized that a similar crackdown on cocaine could cost them their main market.

    "They already had everything they needed [to trade in heroin]: money, a U.S. distribution network and, undoubtedly, contacts with the Sicilian Mafia that runs the heroin business," Molano said.

    Molano first heard about the Colombian foray into heroin in 1989, when he was conducting research in the Macarena mountains, in the most eastern of Colombia's three mountain ranges. "They [the cartels] brought technicians from Asia, from the Golden Triangle, to introduce morphine and heroin production methods."

    They brought high-yield seeds, he said, and chose four optimal regions: Cauca, where coca leaves were already growing in the lowlands; the Perija mountains; Huila province; and - most productive - this area in the mountains above coffee country and near the cartels' headquarters in Medellin and Cali.

    Police estimate that 60% of Colombia's heroin production comes from here, in Tolima province.

    The cocaine cartels' search for diversification coincided with the coffee crisis. International prices had plunged, and Colombia's coffee federation no longer could completely buffer the effects of the worldwide market.

    Small growers such as Pompilio, a 28-year-old father of three, could not rely on the coffee crop to solve their family financial crises. "My wife got sick," he said, explaining why he began growing poppies. "I had bills to pay, and coffee was not going to pay them."

    * * *

    When farmers began climbing the mountains to plant poppies, they ran into the guerrillas. The rebels offered to provide them with protection from the government in exchange for a tax - a system similar to the one already in place in coca-growing areas.

    At first, the Colombians distributed heroin through Italy, Molano said, but they soon developed direct routes to the United States. Police believe that most Colombian heroin now flows through Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic to Miami or through Central America.

    Central American police said the Colombian heroin they have found - identifiable by DNA testing - has been in airports, carried by people who swallow capsules filled with heroin or smuggle small quantities in their luggage.

    Large quantities, like the ton-size cocaine shipments that are regularly confiscated, have not been found. "It is a higher-value product, so they take more care with it," said one law enforcement official.

    Colombians are continuing their efforts to produce higher-quality heroin in larger volumes. Poppy farmers here debate the relative yields of flowers that bloom in four or six months and a new variety that takes just three months.

    They also note that farther up the mountain, growers are processing mancha into more lucrative opium and even morphine.

    Asked what would persuade them to stop growing poppies, Naum had a ready answer: "Losing money. They would have to spray and spray and spray, until all we had were losses."

    Lesson From The High Seas

    Letters to the Editor, Skagit Valley Herald [Mount Vernon, WA], Feb. 24, 1997

    "Drugs - Lives would be safe"

    Is it time to legalize drugs? The Washington Post tells us that a high proportion of drugs are sold by young people, many of whom do not use drugs. They sell them to make a living.

    This reminds me of prohibition of alcohol during the Great Depression. I had two male cousins who, coming of age, needed jobs. A third cousin lost his job in Chicago. To have a place to sleep, he slept with me, giving me athlete's foot, but where he got his meals I do not know. Finally my cousins got together and bootlegged. They hid their product in my dad's lumberyard. We kept silent so they could make a living.

    William Buckley, on the PBS program "Firing Line," speaks for the legalization of drugs. Maybe I understand, for, like Buckley, I too have sailed the same waters he sails where it is dangerous. In a dozen crossings of the Gulf Stream, I twice ran into drug ships. In 1973, in the middle of the night, a ship turned 90 degrees to come alongside us. They tried to sell us drugs. It was scary, for we knew there were 40-odd yachts and their crews missing, all pirated by drug ships needing small boats to haul drugs to shore. We were lucky - they let us keep our boat and lives.

    Sixteen years later, in 1989, I crossed the Gulf Stream again, and again ran into a drug ship in the night. Two months later, when our boat was being loaded on the trailer to return to Anacortes, I told the marina manager about it. His reply was that boats were coming into his marina every day with drugs but he dare say nothing.

    Lives would be safe (and wouldn't there be fewer drug users if there were no drug pushers on the streets?) if drugs, like alcohol, were legal.

    Everett Oman

    "Dutch City Searches For Entrepreneurs To Open Marijuana Shops"

    By Jenifer Chao

    AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (AP, Feb. 25, 1997) - Wanted: marijuana merchants to open new drug cafes. Restaurant experience and respect for the law required. Discretion a plus. Apply to City Hall.

    Officials in Purmerend are seeking entrepreneurs to run the city's two new drug shops, and said Tuesday they will run newspaper advertisements to find them.

    Unlike the nearby Dutch capital of Amsterdam, where nearly 400 privately owned coffee shops openly sell marijuana and hashish, Purmerend has an underground drug network in which a telephone hot line dispatches a courier to make pickups.

    "We want to put a halt to that kind of trading," said City Hall spokesman Fred Beijert. The aim of the new shops, he said, is to tighten control and prevent sales to minors.

    In the Netherlands, soft drugs such as hashish and marijuana are technically illegal, but authorities allow privately owned "coffee shops" to sell small amounts for personal use without fear of prosecution.

    Authorities claim such coffee shops keep drug sales out in the open where police can better monitor and control the trade.

    Beijert wouldn't say where the drugs will come from, and he stressed that the city will not get involved with the supply side of the business.

    He said ads announcing the application process for the shops in Purmerend, nine miles north of Amsterdam, would be placed in regional and local newspapers on Thursday.

    Applicants must have a "plan of action" to minimize the noise and nuisance that usually comes with coffee shops, Beijert said.

    They also must specify what kind of information they will provide customers on the health hazards of drug use, and restaurant experience is required.

    Beijert said a special selection committee will be established and the chosen entrepreneurs will receive an official letter from the mayor permitting them to set up shop.

    Other than the two stores, the city will not authorize any other drug outlets.

    Known for its tolerant drug policy, the Netherlands has been experimenting with unorthodox ways to keep users off the streets and away from dealers peddling hard drugs like heroin and cocaine.

    Several other Dutch towns gained notoriety recently by opening City Hall-sponsored marijuana cafes.

    "Wider US Intervention Seen In Colombia Drug War"

    BOGOTA (Reuter, Feb. 25, 1997) - The United States appears to be getting sucked ever deeper into Colombia's drug war, where the lines between counternarcotics and counterinsurgency are increasingly blurred, political analysts say.

    U.S. officials, who will announce this week whether to "certify" Colombia as a trustworthy ally in the anti-drug fight, are publicly critical of its failure to crack down hard enough on the twin scourges of cocaine and heroin.

    But Western diplomats and analysts say it is not Colombians but a "massive" contingent of U.S. advisers, both military and civilian, who have dictated counternarcotics strategy behind the scenes since the early 1970s.

    Those advisers have long known they were battling an elusive enemy of peasant farmers who tend illicit plantations, money-laundering bankers and corrupt politicians as well as the drug kingpins themselves.

    Now for the first time Washington appears to be taking seriously claims by Colombian authorities that leftist guerrillas have become major drug traffickers. The guerrillas deny the allegation and say it is being used as a pretext for increasingly direct U.S. intervention on Colombian soil.

    "We must recognize the decisive role played by some elements of Colombia's insurgent guerrilla groups," Assistant Secretary of State Robert Gelbard told the U.S. Congress Feb. 14. "Those groups constitute a real threat to Colombian anti-drug forces deployed to eradicate (drug) fields and the American personnel who support them."

    Allegations of rebel ties to the drug trade date back to the late 1980s, when then U.S. envoy Lewis Tambs coined the phrase "narco-guerrillas." It may be no coincidence that U.S. officials are reviving the issue at a time when the Colombian military faces growing criticism over its human rights record.

    In an annual report, President Clinton will announce this week whether Colombia should remain on a list of countries subject to possible economic sanctions because of their perceived failure to fight drugs hard enough.

    If Colombia is decertified again diplomats say the move will be directed more at President Ernesto Samper and his allegedly drug-financed election than at Colombia's police and military - the natural U.S. allies on the frontlines of the drug war. And with or without certification, American counternarcotics aid will not be affected, U.S. officials say.

    Gelbard's department has already doubled anti-drug funding for Colombia to $44 million for 1997 and another $37.5 million has been allocated from a separate discretionary fund. In addition Washington has pledged a multimillion-dollar package of material aid including upgraded cropduster aircraft and 24 UH-1 helicopters to spearhead the next phase of the drug war.

    Some experts compare the situation in Colombia to Vietnam in the 1960s when the United States became progressively bogged down in a faraway conflict as it shifted from covert involvement to frontline operations.

    "To insert the U.S. into this kind of complex conflict is like putting the U.S. into Vietnam. If the U.S. provides aid for the drug war then it is essentially for counterinsurgency purposes too," Florida-based analyst Eduardo Gamarra said.

    U.S. officials refuse to say how many advisers and agents are now working in Colombia and are coy about revealing the exact nature of their involvement. But a Western diplomat said 44 U.S. military were stationed at one of three ground-based radar stations manned by U.S. personnel carrying out "essentially frontline intelligence gathering and monitoring."

    It is also known that U.S. spy-in-the-sky satellites chart the spread of illicit coca leaf or opium poppy plantations and that shadowy U.S. reconnaissance planes buzz suspicious light aircraft in Colombian airspace. Just last month the first U.S. pilot died in action when his plane crashed during a crop eradication mission over guerrilla-infested jungles.

    Bogota-based political analyst Juan TokatliDan believes the prospects of successful U.S. intervention in the drug war are bleak. "The idea of Vietnam creates the idea of a single territory and a single combat. This is much more complex since the drug war is being waged throughout the region. It could be much more dramatic in its effects in the long term than Vietnam," he said.

    "Polling Congress About Medical Marijuana"

    Reason magazine, April 1997
    By Nick Gillespie

    Last fall, when voters in Arizona and California passed ballot initiatives allowing doctors to prescribe currently illegal drugs, it seemed like one small step for a more humane drug policy. But in the wake of fierce - and continuing - denunciations by representatives of the federal government, the implications of the initiatives seem to keep getting broader and broader. They raise, most notably, serious issues of federalism. Contravening federal drug laws, Arizona's Prop. 200 and California's Prop. 215 implicitly assert that drug policy is the province of state governments. That assertion provides a potential model for devolution of power in all sorts of policy areas.

    In January, REASON polled the U.S. congressional delegations of Arizona and California to gauge their reactions to the initiatives - and to the Clinton administration's repeated threats to prosecute doctors and patients alike who exercise their rights under the new laws. Senators and representatives in the two states occupy an interesting middle ground in the debate for at least a couple of reasons: Though part of the federal government, they represent the same voters who supported the state-level initiatives; while many members of Congress openly favor "devolving" power to the states, they rarely discuss drug policy in such a context; and the old liberal/conservative split is no longer a significant predictor when it comes to prosecuting the drug war.

    We asked the states' four senators and 58 congressmen and women the following questions:

    1) Do you support the Clinton administration's threats to crack down on physicians and other citizens of your state who exercise their rights under Prop. 200 (Ariz.) and Prop. 215 (Calif.)?

    2) Opponents of the measures such as Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey and Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl have claimed that voters were "asleep at the switch" and "hoodwinked." Do you think voters of your state were incompetent in passing this law?

    3) Do you believe that physicians who prescribe or recommend marijuana to relieve a specific medical condition should be subject to criminal prosecution?

    Because politicians typically employ the linguistic specificity of psychics and rarely give simple, meaningful yes or no replies, we interpolated their answers based on the overall content of their responses.

    One of the most interesting results was also one of the most predictable: an unwillingness to discuss the topic at all. Out of 62 possible responses, fully 36 members refused to comment on the matter. Several congressional staffers expressed surprise and relief that the initiatives had not played a larger role during the last campaign. As Will Dwyer, a spokesman for Rep George Radanovich (R-Calif.), explained with a laugh, "I don't think we took a position on it. We took a position for re-election." In a slightly different but popular vein, a staffer for Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.), said the congressman had "decided not to get involved" in the Prop. 215 imbroglio. Even many of the 26 senators and representatives who did respond seemed uncomfortable with the topic and unwilling to speak plainly about their positions. A notable exception was Rep. Bob Stump (R-Ariz.). Stump, who has little use for the Clinton administration in general, said he is "adamantly opposed to Prop. 200" and fully supports federal efforts to prosecute patients and doctors who use or prescribe marijuana and other substances illegal under federal law. As to whether Arizonans acted incompetently in passing Prop. 200, Stump replied in the affirmative, explaining, "The opening paragraph of the ballot initiative argument - which is all most people read - had a very misleading statement. People thought they were making it tougher on drug criminals. I don't think the voters knew what they were voting on."

    On the other hand, a number of respondents signaled relatively uncomplicated opposition to the federal response. Rep. Chris Cox (R-Calif.) said, "I don't support the prosecution of physicians who prescribe marijuana for specific medical conditions." A spokeswoman for Rep. Fortney "Pete" Stark (D-Calif.) told us the congressman supports Prop. 215 "definitely" and considers it a "genuine step toward relieving suffering." Rep. Ronald Dellums (R-Calif.), usually no great fan of decentralized government, has written the president urging a different response; Dellums, says a spokesman, believes this is an issue in which the "states have jurisdiction."

    Such candor was rare. Interestingly, though, the responses show that even ostensible supporters of the Clinton administration policy were uneasy with publicly pledging their allegiance to this particular drug war battle - and it is certainly worth noting that the congressional delegations consistently disagreed with the Clinton line by an almost two-to-one margin. A spokesman for Rep. Howard "Buck" McKeon (D-Calif.) simultaneously voiced his boss's support for a get-tough policy and the possibility for revising that policy: McKeon, said Armando Azarloza, sees "no need to liberalize existing laws," but recognizes a need to "understand exactly what illnesses marijuana is good for."

    In a written response, Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.), eschewed giving a yes or no to our first and third questions. "We must find a way to reconcile the wishes of the people of Arizona with our federal efforts to fight the scourge of illegal drugs," notes Salmon, who describes himself as a "strong proponent of reducing taxes, expanding trade, and promoting free-market health care reforms like Medical Savings Accounts." "As long as the medical community does not recognize the efficacy of illegal drugs, it is appropriate to enforce laws against their distribution," he said. If the medical community does recognize their efficacy, goes the implication, then Salmon would sign on to Prop. 200.

    Indeed, some members supporting the Clinton administration openly embraced that implication. Speaking for Rep. Frank Riggs (R- Calif.), Beau Phillips cited Riggs's opposition to Prop. 200 and said, "there is no credible medical research [as to] whether marijuana use is legitimate." However, according to Phillips, Riggs would like to see that research conducted, because the "door is not closed to any procedure that would reduce human suffering." When it comes to specific issue of shackling cancer patients and their doctors, there seems to be little stomach for the sort of total war that has characterized federal drug policy.

    When we asked whether voters were "incompetent" to pass the initiatives, we knew few politicians would be so impolitic as to answer with a simple "yea" vote. Among opponents of the initiatives, there was a fairly standard tap dance around the offensive word. "The congressman never believes voters are stupid," said a press secretary for Rep. Robert Matsui (R-Calif.). "But we're not sure what kind of awareness of the proposition there was." Along similar lines, a spokesperson for Rep. Matthew Martinez (D-Calif.) claimed "voters were not asleep at the switch, but they were hoodwinked. They let compassion override better judgment." A source close to Sen Jon. Kyl, one of the most outspoken opponents of the new laws, even supplied a psychological mechanism to explain continued support for the "misguided" legislation: "Nobody likes to be tricked. So now [voters] are defending their mistake more and more defensively."

    Regardless of the voter competency issue, however, most respondents generally embraced the voters' will, even when it differed from a member's prediliction. Rep. Sonny Bono (R-Calif.) "voted against Prop. 215 and doesn't believe in the medical marijuana approach," said spokesman Frank Cullen. "But [Bono thinks] it is wrong for the feds to step in." Similarly, a spokesman for Rep. Gary Condit (D-Calif.), said Condit is "opposed to legalizing drugs in any way. But he's a firm believer in state's rights and may oppose the federal efforts to crack down on doctors." The press secretary for Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-Ariz.) said that Kolbe was against Prop. 200 and went so far as to suggest, "Perhaps voters didn't fully understand." More important was the second part of his response: "What else is new? To single out [the voters' decision] on this issue is wrong. Rep. Kolbe won't come riding in on a white horse with all the power of Washington behind him. The voters of Arizona have voted and [the federal government] will have to deal with that in some legal framework that makes sense."

    Such reasoning reflects some of the great benefits of the initiative process: the ability to force a discussion of topics politicians would rather leave alone and the ability of citizens to demand accountability of their representatives. Even two years ago, the medical marijuana issue was not simply flying below the political radar screen - it was grounded. In the wake of Prop. 200 and Prop. 215, even the nation's drug czar is calling for research into a matter that the feds had more or less considered closed. The conversation raised by the initiatives may even lead to more general questions about drug policy and its costs and benefits. Certainly, it seems likely that if one or two more states pass medical marijuana - and the Massachusetts legislature is currently considering such a measure - than the federal government will have to completely rethink its position.

    In that broad sense, the initiatives could well become the tails that wagged the big dog in Washington. If that happens, they may ultimately be more responsible for shifting power away from the federal government than any number of Beltway-based visions of a new federalism.

    Poll Results

    62 possible respondents; 36 either had no comment or did not respond; 26 respondents

    Question 1: Do you support the Clinton administration's threats to crack down on physicians and other citizens of your state who exercise their rights under Prop. 200 (Ariz.) or Prop. 215 (Calif.)?

    Yes: 9
    No: 15

    Question 2: Opponents of the measures such as Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey and Arizona Sen. John Kyl have claimed that voters were "asleep at the switch" and "hoodwinked." Do you think voters were incompetent in passing this law?

    Yes: 9
    No: 16

    Question 3: Do you believe that physicians who prescribe or recommend marijuana to relieve a specific medical condition should be subject to criminal prosecution?

    Yes: 8
    No: 15

    Note: Totals do not add up to 26 because some respondents did not answer all questions.

    Nick Gillespie is a senior editor of REASON.

    The survey was also conducted by Managing Editor Rick Henderson, Assistant Editor Brian Doherty, and Staff Writer Ed Carson.

    (A full report on the poll is available in the Reason News section of Reason Magazine's web site,

    Juror To Be Sentenced For Contempt

    Jury Rights Project
    For immediate release
    February 25, 1997
    Contact: Judd Ptak
    (303) 258-3457

    GILPIN COUNTY, Colo. - On March 7, former juror Laura Kriho will be sentenced for contempt of court for failing to volunteer information about her political beliefs and knowledge during jury selection. Kriho is the first victim of a new crime - failure to volunteer answers to questions that weren't asked of her during jury selection.

    Kriho faces fines and up to six months in jail. Kriho's case is the most severe attack on jury rights in over 300 years. The last juror jailed for a 'not guilty' vote was Edward Bushell in the trial of William Penn in 1670 in London.

    Last May, Kriho was the lone holdout for acquittal on a jury in a drug case in Gilpin County that ended in a mistrial. The court inquired who the holdout juror was and had Kriho investigated. Detectives uncovered the fact that she was an active proponent of industrial hemp as an alternative fiber crop, that she had a drug arrest 12 years ago that was supposed to be wiped from her record, that she was familiar with the doctrine of jury nullification, and that she had questioned the efficacy of laws and sentences related to illegal drugs in the jury room.

    Based on these findings, Kriho was charged with contempt of court in August. Six weeks later, at her bench trial, nine other jurors testified about their deliberation processes and what Kriho had said. The court violated the sanctity of the jury room in order to punish one juror.

    First Judicial District Chief Judge Henry Nieto took more than four months to issue a verdict in what he had earlier referred to as a "simple" case. In a complicated nine-page ruling issued on Feb. 10, he cleared Kriho of two aspects of the contempt charge: violating a court order and perjury. But he convicted her of the most ill-defined aspect of the contempt charge: "obstructing the administration of justice." According to the ruling, Kriho obstructed justice by failing to volunteer answers to questions that she wasn't specifically asked. During jury selection, over 350 questions were asked of potential jurors in the jury box, hours before Kriho was selected as a potential juror, while she was in the audience. According to Judge Nieto, Kriho's failure to volunteer answers to some of these questions led to a jury "doomed to mistrial from the start."

    "This ruling creates a new legal duty in which a juror is obliged to volunteer confessions of any beliefs or experiences they have any thought the court might want to know," says Paul Grant, Kriho's attorney. "The court is trying to intimidate anyone with an independent mind. We should all be very concerned about this case," he adds.

    "This is clearly a malicious prosecution of a juror who refused to vote guilty," says Judd Ptak, local Libertarian. "It is revenge by an angry prosecutor who got sloppy during jury selection. You didn't see any of the O.J. jurors get prosecuted."

    The ruling is seen by some as an unprecedented assault on jury rights and the independence of juries from judges. It has national ramifications for potential jurors and for defendants and plaintiffs seeking a fair and impartial jury. Jurors will now be reluctant to deliberate freely and will fear to vote against the majority lest they be investigated and prosecuted later. A fair trial is impossible if the jurors are serving under the threat of prosecution.

    "These judges want to throw our jury system back to Medieval times," Ptak says.

    Kriho's sentencing has been set for March 7 at 3:00 pm at the Gilpin County Justice Center. The Libertarian Party of Colorado and the Colorado Legal Eagles, vocal proponents of jury rights, have called for a demonstration at the Justice Center at 2:00 pm.

    Where is Gilpin County?

    Gilpin County, the smallest county in the state, is located in the mountains about 20 miles west of Denver. The Gilpin County Justice Center is located on Colo. Hwy. 46 (Golden Gate Canyon State Park Road) about a half a mile east of Colo. Hwy. 119.

    To apply for expanded courtroom media coverage, contact the: Gilpin County Justice Center (303) 582-5522.

    Court TV covered Kriho's trial and plans to be present at her sentencing.

    Paul Grant, Kriho's attorney, can be contacted at: (303) 841-9649.

    Re-distributed by the:
    Jury Rights Project (
    To be added to or removed from the JRP mailing list, send email.
    Background info.:
    Donations to support Laura's defense can be made to:
    -- Laura Kriho Legal Defense Fund --
    c/o Paul Grant (defense attorney)
    Box 1272, Parker, CO 80134
    Phone: (303) 841-9649



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