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March 20, 1997

Long-Term Marijuana Users Suffer Few Health Problems, Australian Study Indicates

March 20, 1997, Sydney, Australia:  The health of long-term marijuana users is virtually no different than that of the general population, according to the latest findings by the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre in Australia.  The study, which involved interviews with 268 marijuana smokers and 31 non-using partners and family members, is one of the first ever conducted in Australia to determine the effects of long-term marijuana use.  Its findings were reported by the Sydney Morning Herald last month.
"We don't see evidence of high psychological disturbance among the [long-term users,]" said chief investigator David Reilly.  "The results seem unremarkable; the exceptional thing is that the respondents are unexceptional."
Reilly did note that regular marijuana users complained of mild respiratory problems such as wheezing at about twice the rate of non-users.  He warned that this result may be because nearly all of the marijuana users were also current or former tobacco smokers.
"The greatest danger to health posed by marijuana is prohibition," stated NORML's Deputy Director Allen St. Pierre.
The findings of the Australian study echo statements made approximately one-year ago by the premiere British medical journal, The Lancet, which proclaimed, "The smoking of cannabis, even long term, is not harmful to health."  The Lancet article further went on to recommend decriminalizing marijuana.
For more information, please contact either Allen St. Pierre of NORML @ (202) 483-5500 or Jamnes Danenberg of HEMP SA of Australia @ (+61) 8 297-9442 or via e-mail at:

AMA Revises Medical Marijuana Guidelines For Doctors

March 18, 1997, San Francisco, CA:  New guidelines issued by the American Medical Association (AMA) and its California affiliate (CMA) support a physician's right to freely discuss the use of marijuana as a therapeutic agent to his or her patient.  The guidelines were issued, in part, to encourage area physicians to settle a federal lawsuit against Clinton administration officials who have threatened to sanction doctors who recommend marijuana to their patients under California state law.  Many medical marijuana proponents feel the new guidelines represent a shift toward a growing acceptance of medical marijuana by America's leading medical establishment.
"For the AMA, this is a very, very strong position to take," said Dr. Marcus Conant of San Francisco, one of the nation's most prominent AIDS physicians and lead plaintiff in the complaint against the government.  "I don't think organized medicine can make it any clearer.  ... The AMA has articulated ... the position that the federal government should get out of the business of dictating doctor-patient relationships."
NORML Board Member Dr. Lester Grinspoon of Harvard Medical School was even more optimistic.  "These new guidelines are one more small step toward the AMA's inevitable, complete acceptance and support of cannabis as a remarkably useful, safe, and inexpensive medicine," he said.
Under the proposed guidelines, which would be the basis for the settlement, physicians would be able to:

* Freely conduct a good faith discussion with a patient about the "risks and benefits of any potential medical treatment," including marijuana;
* Document the discussion in the patient's medical record;
* Testify about that discussion in court.

"The guidelines address our fundamental concern that a physician be able to provide an honest, individualized opinion about the medical advisability of marijuana," stated Graham Boyd, attorney for the plaintiffs in the California suit.
NORML's Deputy Director Allen St. Pierre sees the guidelines as a step in the right direction, but cautioned that the language still fell well short of the provisions of Proposition 215.  He noted that doctors are still encouraged to avoid taking any "intentional" steps to help a patient obtain the drug, such as deliberately "cooperate[ing] with a cannabis buyers club" or "issuing a written 'recommendation' whose ostensible purpose is to provide the patient with a defense against state prosecution."
"Although the new guidelines provide support for the sanctity of the relationship between a physician and a patient, it fails to wholeheartedly endorse the needs of seriously ill patients in California who are relying on a doctor's 'recommendation' to legally possess medical marijuana," said St. Pierre.
For more information, please contact either Allen St. Pierre of NORML @ (202) 483-5500 or Dave Fratello of Americans for Medical Rights @ (310) 394-2952.

Connecticut Lawmakers Discuss Medical Marijuana Legislation

March 20, 1997, Hartford, CT:  Hearings took place today before the Joint Committee on Public Health to debate legislation (S.B. 1263) that would license physicians to possess and supply marijuana for the treatment of neurological disorders, AIDS wasting syndrome, glaucoma, or the side effects of chemotherapy.  State law in Connecticut already allows physicians to prescribe marijuana to seriously ill patients, but fails to provide guidelines regarding supply.
The legislation also permits seriously ill patients and/or their caregivers to possess and cultivate marijuana for medical use.  If an individual's marijuana is wrongly seized by law enforcement, the measure mandates that the marijuana or drug paraphernalia be returned to the owner.
S.B. 1263 also protects physicians under state law. Although issuing a prescription for marijuana remains in positive conflict with federal law, the measure exempts physicians licensed in Connecticut from any state criminal charges.  Currently, a federal lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia is challenging whether the federal government can legally sanction physicians who prescribe marijuana in compliance with state law.
NORML Board Member Dr. John P. Morgan of City University of New York (CUNY) Medical School testified on behalf of the bill.  Morgan testified in favor of similar legislation in both Maine and Virginia earlier this year.
The Joint Committee on Public Health is chaired by Sen. Tony Nathaniel Harp (10th District).
For more information, please contact either Paul Armentano or Allen St. Pierre of NORML @ (202) 483-5500 or visit NORML's website for an up-to-date listing of all pending state marijuana legislation at:  Sen. Tony Nathaniel Harp may be contacted by writing to the Connecticut Legislative Office Building, Room 3000, Hartford, CT 06106, or calling (860) 240-0560.
For more information on the federal lawsuit filed in Washington, D.C., please contact Attorney Rufus King of Berliner, Corcoran, & Rowe @ (202) 293-5555.

Colorado Hemp Bill Struck Down By Appropriations Committee

March 20, 1997, Denver, CO:  Legislation introduced by Rep. Kay Alexander (R-Montrose) to permit Colorado State University to cultivate test plots of industrial hemp for research purposes was struck down today by the House Appropriations Committee by a vote of 6-4.  The bill had previously passed the House Agriculture Committee and proponents had not expected to face significant opposition in Appropriations.  The vote was a major setback for local hemp advocates who have lobbied on behalf of the measure for the past three years.
Similar industrial hemp legislation is still pending in at least seven states.
For more information, please contact Laura Kriho of the Colorado Hemp Initiative Project @ (303) 784-5632 or via e-mail at: For information on pending hemp legislation in other states, please contact Paul Armentano of NORML @ (202) 483-5500 or visit NORML's website at:




© copyright 1997 NORML NORML Home Page comments:

Regional and other news

Body Count

Five of the eight 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," March 20, 1997, p. 7, 3M-MP-NE). That makes the body count so far this year 51 out of 107, or 47.66 percent.

Medical Journal Reports 50 Percent Of Portlanders Use Alternative Therapies

Medical marijuana patients in Portland aren't a minority anymore. Apparently half the people in Oregon's largest city make use of alternative therapies, according to an article in the March 19 Archives of Family Medicine, a publication of The Journal of the American Medical Association.

As reported by The Oregonian March 20 in a story titled "Doctors unaware patients using alternative medicine" (p. C4), the AFM article also showed that 53 percent of the respondents who admitted using alternative therapies also said they had not discussed their self-prescribed treatments with their doctor, "fearing a negative reaction."

These excerpts are from The Oregonian article:

Many family practice doctors don't know it, but a large percentage of their patients use alternative therapies, Portland researchers have found.

Fifty percent of the patients surveyed said they use some form of alternative medicine, but only 53 percent of those patients had told their family doctors, according to a study published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association's Archives of Family Medicine.

The study is one of the few done on the use of alternative medicine by patients who also see doctors in conventional practice.

The alternative treatments that patients reported using included acupuncture, chiropractic care, homeopathy, herbs, naturopathy and massage therapy. The study found that race, gender, education or choice of family doctor could not predict who would use alternative care.

Some physicians have assumed that the people most likely to use alternative medicine were poorly educated, ignorant, neurotic or gullible, the researchers said. However, the study found that the Portland patients were relatively well-educated and that they either did not completely trust traditional medicine or wanted to play a role in their own health care

"From this, physicians can learn that we can't assume that most people aren't using alternative health care," said Dr. Nancy C. Elder, associate professor of family medicine at Oregon Health Sciences University and principal investigator.

"The fact that 50 percent of our family practice patients use alternative health care is one of the highest reported rates in the medical literature."

A Harvard Medical School group's nationwide telephone survey of 1,539 adults in 1991 found that one in three adults said they had used at least one unconventional treatment in the previous year. However, that group included people who did not use the traditional health system.

Elder and her associates, Dr. Amy Gillcrist, a resident at Providence Portland Medical Center, and Dr. Rene Minz, in private practice in Portland, based their findings on questionnaires and conversations with 113 patients in four family practice waiting rooms in Portland. ...

Those who were using alternative treatment for the same condition their family doctor was treating were more likely to tell their doctor. ...

The patients who did not tell their doctors often said they had negative experiences talking to their doctor about alternative medicine or they were afraid they might have a bad experience, Elder said. ...

Portland NORML notes: It's not clear whether the AFM survey was designed to include medical-marijuana users. Possibly the proportion of Portlanders using alternative therapies is even greater than 50 percent.

While the Portland NORML Weekly News Release isn't particularly intended for cannabis consumers, medical or otherwise, the editor would like to urge medical-marijuana patients to inform their doctors of their use. Such patients should document their self-medication over time with signed and dated personal statements, if nothing else is possible. (Signed and dated statements from family members for your physician's file may also prove helpful.)

Take it from the editor, you never know when you'll need to document your medical necessity. If you can't persuade your doctor to at least start building a file, find another doctor. Repeat as necessary. Even if your doctor never endorses your medical use of cannabis, it would undoubtedly influence a judge or jury if you can show you have consistently consulted with him or her about your use. Educate your physician with whatever credible scientific reports you can find. A doctor works for the patient, and answers to him or her. If you are sincere, a good doctor will recognize that and act on it. Medical marijuana is a patient-driven issue. There are no doctors out there promoting marijuana use, and no medical schools where doctors can learn about the 5,000-year-old medical history of cannabis. The ball is in the patient's court, and probably always will be. That is especially the case in the Beaver State, where the Oregon Medical Association has terrorized state physicians into silence on the issue. (For instance, memory fails to recall when a single "letter to the editor" by an Oregon physician endorsing medical marijuana has ever been published by the state's largest newspaper.)

Medical-Marijuana Defendants Line Up In Portland

T.D. Miller, director of Portland NORML, wrote the ensuing release, distributed by Arthur Livermore:

5:00 pm March 20, 1997
Portland, Oregon

Smith, Peron & the Barretts (from left)Phil Smith left today's hearing still a free man. However, he will have to go back to court on Monday, March 24, at 1:30 pm to continue what has to be one of the longest "show cause" hearings in Multnomah County history.

Phil's case is the first to have a hearing of the seven people who have been identified by Portland NORML as bona fide medical marijuana users. The others are Robert Hodge, Gary and Anna Barrett, Gregg Straw, Todd Meszaros and Jack Owenbey. Charges against Gregg Straw have been dropped, but Robert Hodge, an AIDS patient, was indicted on Tuesday, March 18.

Lining up (in San Francisco)
at the Cannabis Cultivators Club Feb. 8
are, from left, Phil Smith, Dennis Peron,
Anna and Gary Barrett - all under indictment.

Phil knows that he has the support of the community for his actions. Nearly fifty people showed up for his hearing (probably the largest crowd for a "show cause" hearing) to show their support for his right to medical marijuana. After lengthy testimony from Phil's psychiatrist, who has treated Phil for 10 years for major depression and an eating disorder, court was postponed until Monday. At that time testimony will be heard on Phil's behalf from Dr. Tod H. Mikuriya, a Berkeley psychiatrist, and Dr. Robert Julien, a Portland pharmacologist.

The local news, KATU Channel 2 and KGW Channel 8, covered the first day of the hearing and featured the story in their Thursday 5 o'clock newscasts. Portland NORML Director T.D. Miller said he was pleased with the show of support and the interest on the local level.

Miller said, "We want to see the charges against Phil and the other patients who have been busted dropped." He added, "Let doctors decide who needs marijuana as medicine and who does not."

Monday's hearing will again be monitored by the media with on the spot reports on the Phil Stanford radio show, noon-2 pm on KKEY 1150 AM in Portland. For more information, please contact T.D. Miller at (503) 777-9088.

"WSU High On Marijuana As Medicine
But Only In Synthetic Form, Study Concludes"

The Spokesman-Review (Spokane, Wash.), March 14, 1997, p. A1
By Andrea Vogt, Staff Writer

It is strictly politics that they don't want it smoked. -- David L. Edwards, Washington Hemp Education Network

PULLMAN - The state should expand availability and research of medical marijuana, according to a Washington State University study commissioned by the Legislature.

The report is drawing fire in some circles because it backs medical use of marijuana and in other circles because it recommends supplying only synthetic forms of THC, the drug's active ingredient.

Critics, including a senator who requested the study, said a political haze hangs over the report. WSU maintains it just did what was asked - and then some.

We should be exploring the use of the active ingredient, but we can use synthetic THC and don't have to be growing marijuana," said College of Pharmacy Dean Mahmoud M. Abdel-Monem, who directed the effort.

He noted that WSU, as requested, studied how the state could grow marijuana "in a tamper-free fashion. However, as a scientist, I felt it was our responsibility to provide a scientific assessment of whether pursuing such an activity is appropriate."

The report found "no compelling reasons" to endorse supplying marijuana cigarettes to people who suffer chronic pain. But it also found that "hundreds or even thousands of patients may benefit if an appropriate delivery form of THC is made available."

The $70,000 state-commissioned study, "Tamper-Free Production of Marijuana for Medicinal Uses," was requested by two senators. One is conservative Spokane Valley Republican Bob McCaslin, 70, whose wife died of cancer in l995.

McCaslin was unavailable for comment Thursday. But the study's other advocate, Sen. Jeanne Kohl, D-Seattle, called WSU's effort misdirected, biased and flawed.

"What we directed WSU to do was research a tamper-free means of cultivating effective and safe THC - not evaluate whether marijuana should be used for patients," Kohl said in Olympia.

Growing or possessing marijuana is illegal under federal law. As a Schedule I drug, it's classified as having no medical use and high abuse potential.

Synthetic pills of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are manufactured by pharmaceutical companies. Taken orally, the synthetic THC, or Marinol, is filtered by the liver, making it less effective than options such as chewing gum, lozenges, nasal spray, inhalers, atomizers, patches and even rectal suppositories, the study reported.

Because Marinol is available only in pill form, research into other synthetic forms of THC is needed, the study said.

"It is strongly recommended that efforts be focused on clinical studies of appropriate delivery forms of THC and to expand their use to all patients who may benefit from this drug," the study said.

WSU's study sheds light on one clear disadvantage of manufacturing marijuana cigarettes: It takes dough to grow.

The report contains cost estimates for growing marijuana indoors and outdoors as well as buying it from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Cost estimates per cigarette are 50 cents for indoor growing, 54 cents for outdoor growing and $1.22 for buying it from the institute.

Patients are expected to need 10 cigarettes a day, the report said.

Supplying marijuana to 200 patients a year would cost from $362,600 to $892,000, the report estimated.

David L. Edwards, a retired pathologist and medical coordinator for the Olympia-based Washington Hemp Education Network, lobbied to fund the study last year: He criticized its rejection of marijuana cigarettes as a viable therapy option.

"It is strictly politics that they don't want it smoked," Edwards said.

Smoked marijuana bypasses the stomach, Edwards said, which is helpful for a nauseated person. Smoking also activates the THC more quickly so a patient knows when to stop medicating, he added.

Edwards isn't the only member of Washington's medical community taking a controversial stand in the debate. Tacoma physician Rob Killian filed a petition earlier this year to ease restrictions on prescribing Schedule 1 drugs, a move opponents worry may be a first step toward total legalization of drugs.

Resolution of the issue may hinge on the outcome of a Washington Supreme Court case, Seeley vs. state of Washington. Tacoma attorney Ralph Seeley sued the state in 1994, arguing marijuana's classification as a Schedule 1 drug violates state uniform drug laws. Pierce County Superior Court ruled in his favor. A state Supreme Court decision is expected this spring.

Seeley, who suffers from chordoma, a rare form of spinal bone cancer, claims smoking marijuana cigarettes eases his pain and nausea. Reached at his home Thursday, he blasted WSU's rejection of marijuana cigarettes for medicinal use.

"It's typical academia - they are not known for their courage," Seeley said.

"I've had dozens and dozens of pills that cost $10 and $15 each disappear down the toilet because I can't keep them down more than a few minutes," said Seeley, who is on his third round of chemotherapy. "Marinol makes me too high. By the two hours it takes to kick in, I'm completely dysfunctional."

But University of Washington researchers, who reviewed and endorsed the study's findings, echo WSU's argument that synthetic THC is more effective because of its consistency.

"By 'effective,' they are referring to something that can be monitored and measured in quantitative doses," said UW School of Pharmacy Dean Sidney Nelson.

Drug Policy Reform Event Calendar

David Borden of the Drug Reform Coordination Network writes:

We are working on the next edition of our Reformer's Calendar, and are seeking submissions of event listings. Conferences, lectures, small group meetings, etc., are all fair game. We are interested not only in drug policy events but also in topics that may relate in some way -- AIDS, violence, justice, human rights, civil liberties, etc. When in doubt, send us the information. It can be sent to or

We are also looking for suggestions of specific issues or events that will be newsworthy during the next several weeks.

Last but not least, we would appreciate being updated of current legislation in your state, and how the rapid response team might be able to help.

Thanks in advance.

David Borden
Director, DRCNet

"Human Rights Group Faults New York On Drug Laws"

NEW YORK (Reuter, March 15, 1997) - A human rights group charged on Saturday that New York state was violating international law by sentencing low-level drug dealers to long, mandatory jail terms similar to those handed out to murderers or rapists.

A report by Human Rights Watch said, "(Mandatory) long sentences may be appropriate for major drug kingpins. They are cruel punishment for minor, non-violent drug offenders. It is unconscionable to punish such people with the same sentences given to murderers and rapists."

The report said that a person convicted of selling two ounces (57 gms) of cocaine received a mandatory sentence of 15 years to life in New York state - the same penalty meted out to a murderer.

Jamie Fellner, author of the report entitled "Cruel and Unusual: Disproportionate Sentences for New York Drug offenders," said the sentences violated the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other conventions or treaties on inhumane punishment.

The report said 10,000 people a year, 95 percent of them black or Hispanic, go to prison in New York state each year on drug charges - the vast majority of them low-level street dealers.

The report urged the state to eliminate mandatory minimum sentences for those who do not have major roles in drug distribution.

"Mexico Blasts US Drug Use As Corrupting Influence"

By Timna Tanners

MEXICO CITY (Reuter, March 15, 1997) - Mexico sought to bolster its claim that the United States is largely to blame for drug trafficking in the Americas by presenting statistics Friday showing U.S. drug consumption is mammoth compared to Mexico's.

Only one Mexican has tried an illegal drug for every nine Americans who have done so at some time, Health Minister Juan Ramon de la Fuente said, citing a 1996 Mexican-U.S. study.

He spoke at a news conference one day after the House voted to "decertify" Mexico as a fully cooperating partner in the war on drugs. The House vote seeks to overturn President Clinton's certification of Mexico as a trustworthy ally.

"No country has the right to assume the drug threat is external if they do not recognize the demand, meaning consumption, is internal and is a determining factor in the international chain of drug trafficking," he said.

"Those that judge do so from the principal illegal drug consuming country," he said of the United States.

In a measure of drug use, the study said, 14 U.S. citizens for every one Mexican used drugs in the previous month. Instances of marijuana use were 23 times more common in the United States and cocaine use was seven times more frequent than in Mexico.

The bad influence of its northern neighbor has encouraged Mexico's growing drug problem, especially in states along the U.S. border, De la Fuente said.

"The growth of cannabis, the illegal elaboration of methamphetamines and the traffic of cocaine and other drugs are problems that are importantly connected to U.S. drug abuse," he said, citing a 1996 United Nations report.

A Mexican study showed that 3.9 percent of Mexico's urban population between 12 and 65 years old had tried an illegal drug once in their lives. This figure jumped to 5.3 percent in states along the U.S. border, where the cities of Mexicali, Tijuana and Ciudad Juarez are the country's largest consumers of cocaine.

De la Fuente called on both governments to discuss the bilateral drug problem in high-level meetings without political guises, "to recover our capacity for dialogue and true international cooperation."

[End of article] responded:
During Senator Biden's Committee Hearings on NAFTA, which were carried live on C-Span, Mr. Christopher Whalen, a Washington based financial expert on Mexico, testified as follows:

1. $100 billion worth of illegal drugs cross the Mex/Tex border every year.

2. Mexico cut a deal with the drugs cartels. In return for depositing Cartel monies in cash strapped Mexican banks, cartels were given free use of Mexican states along the Mex/Tex border.

3. Mexico nets $15 billion a year from this drug trafficking arrangement.

Now, this damning testimony simply means that drug trafficking is Mexico's largest and most profitable industry. Indeed, were drugs legalized, Mexico might even go broke.

Interestingly, after hearing this testimony, the Senators on the committee neither acknowledged Mr. Whalen's testimony nor asked him any questions. Indeed, Mr. Whalen and the entire panel of witnesses were dismissed, forthwith.

"Urine Test Finds 424 Mexican Officials On Drugs"

MEXICO CITY (Reuter, March 18, 1997) - Drug tests on personnel in Mexico's Attorney General's office found 424 people, including 241 law-enforcement agents, had illegal drugs in their systems, officials said on Tuesday.

"Of the 424 public servants, 195 work as agents of the Federal Judicial Police, 38 as agents of the Public Ministry, eight as evidence technicians and 183 as administrative personnel,'' the Attorney General's Office said in a statement.

Of the positive urine tests for drugs, 204 showed cocaine, 130 sedatives, 85 amphetamines and 17 marijuana, the statement said. Eleven workers tested positive for more than one drug.

The statement did not say how many workers were tested, nor did it say whether disciplinary action would be taken.

"Mexican Cartels Taking Charge In World Drug Trade"

The Miami Herald, March 15, 1997
By Andres Oppenheimer
Herald Staff Writer

BOGOTA, Colombia - In a reversal of roles, Mexican drug cartels are quietly taking over Colombia's drug-trafficking rings and are becoming the world's largest criminal enterprises.

According to Colombian intelligence documents obtained by The Herald and interviews with top U.S. law enforcement officials, Mexico's drug cartels have begun financing Colombian drug shipments, taking over some smuggling routes between Colombia and the United States, and managing cocaine distribution rings in major U.S. cities.

Until recently, Colombia's drug cartels controlled cocaine exports from their country to Mexico, and paid Mexican smugglers to introduce the drugs into the United States. After the drugs arrived in U.S. territory, Colombia's cartels would recover them and control their distribution throughout the country.

"Mexican traffickers today are the premier organized drug crime group in the world," James Milford, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration deputy director, said in a Herald interview Thursday. "What we've seen recently is the Mexicans moving into markets that have been traditionally Colombian markets, for example New York City."

Colombian rings downsizing

About a dozen well-placed Colombian, Mexican and U.S. anti-narcotics officials agreed in separate interviews that, since the 1993 killing of Medellin Cartel leader Pablo Escobar and the 1995 arrest of Cali Cartel boss Miguel Rodriguez Orejuela, Colombia's biggest drug cartels have split into several smaller organizations.

While the new Colombian drug rings continue to ship massive amounts of cocaine to the U.S. market, their smaller size and their desire to maintain a low profile have led them to operate under the direction of the big Mexican drug cartels, officials say.

"We no longer have big cartels," said Colombia's police chief, Gen. Rosso Jose Serrano, whom DEA officials describe as his country's most reliable anti-drug official. "Since we caught the biggest drug lords, they have split into cartelitos, or little cartels."

The new Colombian drug rings don't have the cash, connections or know-how to control the entire chain of the drug-smuggling business, from Colombian laboratories to the streets of major U.S. cities like Miami or New York. They increasingly rely on Mexican cartels to supervise shipments and distribution networks, officials say.

Following the capture of Colombia's high-profile drug lords in recent years, the leaders of the new Colombian cartels are perfectly happy to remain anonymous, and to allow Mexico's drug barons to take the biggest risks.

"They learned that it doesn't pay to be a well-known drug lord and have your picture appear in all the newsmagazines," one Colombian investigator said. "They prefer to work for [Mexican drug cartel leader] Amado Carrillo."

Bankrolling shipments

Colombian narcotics investigators have found evidence that Amado Carrillo Fuentes, known as "The Lord of the Skies," is bankrolling shipments from Colombian drug rings.

In October or November of last year, Cali cartel boss Miguel Rodriguez Orejuela sent one of his most trusted aides, Orlando Sanchez, to meet with Carrillo Fuentes in Mexico and request a $50 million loan to finance cocaine shipments, according to testimony by captured Colombian drug traffickers. It is not clear whether the loan went through, but witnesses have confirmed the meeting and the loan request, Colombian investigators say.

Rodriguez Orejuela was already in a Colombian jail, and what was left of his organization was short of cash to finance the shipments and start a terrorist campaign it was planning as a way to fight new proposals to legalize extradition of drug traffickers to the United States.

On another occasion, last August, Carrillo Fuentes loaned $20 million through Sanchez to a group of former Medellin Cartel traffickers, according to a letter seized by Colombian authorities from an imprisoned drug dealer.

A Colombian law enforcement official directly involved in the investigation said there is evidence that the $20 million loan went through. Members of Sanchez's group who have since been captured have admitted witnessing the transaction, the official said.

"When you have one drug lord asking a favor to another, and when that favor is a $20 million loan, that indicates a clear subordination," the Colombian official said. "The Mexicans are now clearly in charge."

Documents seized

One of the documents obtained by The Herald is a 17-page instruction manual seized by Colombian authorities in a recent raid on La Picota prison, following U.S. charges that Colombian drug lords were still running their business from jail.

The document details at least 16 "safe landing" areas throughout Mexico, including comments about which military or civilian agencies are taking payoffs.

In addition, there is evidence that Colombian drug traffickers have bought property in Mexico, perhaps to use as hideaways.

According to documents found in a Cali apartment belonging to Rodriguez Orejuela during a police raid two weeks before his capture, he kept records of at least one piece of property in the northern Mexico state of Baja California.

The documents, copies of which were obtained by The Herald, include a notarized property tax receipt from the state government of Baja California showing that a 62-acre property in Valle de Camalu, near the city of Ensenada, was current on its real estate taxes.

The document, found in an attache case that contained records of several real estate holdings of Rodriguez Orejuela in Colombia, was signed on Oct. 23, 1986.

Herald staff writer David Lyons contributed to this report.

"Jury Ties Mexican To Drug Funds -
Former Official Found To Have Taken Millions"

The Boston Globe, March 16, 1997, p. A2
From Staff and Wire Services, Globe Staff

HOUSTON - Mexico's former top drug prosecutor, Mario Ruiz Massieu, took millions of dollars in bribes from drug traffickers, a civil court jury ruled yesterday. The ruling authorized a US seizure of $7.9 million.

The jury said Ruiz Massieu legally obtained the other $1.1 million in a $9 million account and thus may keep it.

Ruiz Massieu, 46, was not charged with a crime. He was asked in the civil trial to prove that the money had been earned legally. To determine which side got the money, jurors decided whose evidence was more credible.

Federal prosecutors had said the money in the Texas Commerce Bank account in Houston was payoffs from drug traffickers trying to avoid prosecution.

Ruiz Massieu, a former Mexican deputy attorney general, denied ever taking a bribe as a prosecutor and said he was not working to protect drug traffickers.

He testified he obtained the money legally - from bonuses from former Mexican President Carlos Salinas de Gortari, his government salary and his family. Ruiz Massieu said he contributed $5 million to the account, and his father added another $2 million. He said he put in $600,000 and another brother, Arturo, contributed $1 million.

Ruiz Massieu's father testified that $1.1 million had come from the sale of a house in Mexico.

The key witness was a bodyguard who testified he placed two suitcases filled with money - thought to be drug proceeds - in the trunk of a navy blue Grand Marquis in front of Mexico's attorney general's offices in August 1994.

Raul Macias testified that in the 10 seconds it took him to unload the suitcases, he spotted Ruiz Massieu in the passenger seat. Ruiz Massieu denied owning a navy Grand Marquis or riding in such a vehicle in August 1994. When a lawyer produced documents showing he owned a 1995 black Grand Marquis, Ruiz Massieu said: "The color blue is different."

Last week, a US antinarcotics agent testified that on a summer evening in 1994, dozens of Mexican police unloaded 10 tons of cocaine from a hollowed-out jetliner, sold the drugs to narcotics traffickers, then used part of the money to pay off a deputy attorney general.

The testimony represented a turn in Mexico's drug problem. It meant that Mexican authorities were not only protecting the traffickers who have turned the country into the conduit for narcotics entering the United States, but also were trafficking themselves.

In the civil trial, the US government had wanted to seize the $9 million on grounds that it had come from drug payoffs. The trial has been watched because of expectations that witnesses would link family members of Salinas with narcotics.

Such revelations did not surface. Instead, the trial has given a sense not of the height of Mexico's corruption but of its depth. Witnesses described how cops and quasi-cops tortured prisoners, how they burned fake cocaine to keep the real stuff for themselves, how they airlifted bribes to officials to ensure the transport of tons of narcotics.

"The government's strategy is to show us that everyone in Mexico is corrupt," said a Ruiz Massieu lawyer, Cathy Fleming.

The stories were so outrageous that they sometimes had to be repeated. As Robert Rutt, a special investigator with the US Customs Service, was explaining how Mexican highway patrolmen had driven off with two tons of cocaine, only to have the drugs taken back by the Federal Judicial Police, US District Judge Nancy F. Atlas interrupted:

"I'm confused," she said. "You're saying members of the highway patrol stole cocaine?"

"Yes, Judge," Rutt said.

"And then," members of the Mexican Federal Judicial Police "stole the cocaine from the highway patrol?"

"Yes, Judge."

The government left unexplained why it had decided not to detonate its biggest potential bombshell: witnesses whose pretrial statements about the Salinas family had created headlines in the United States and Mexico and had packed the trial with reporters from both countries.

Without an explanation, speculation grew around several theories.

One was that the government did not want to use the witnesses in a civil trial in which it was going after Ruiz Massieu's money, but not after Ruiz Massieu himself. Another was that the government did not want to risk the disclosures while Congress was trying to overturn the Clinton administration's decision to certify Mexico as an ally in the drug war.

Regardless, the government instead relied upon a strategy of demonstrating the extent to which drug-related corruption has contaminated Mexico's justice system. As an example, it used a seminal event in the evolution of Mexican drug trafficking: the 1994 landing of a French-made Caravelle jet at a rural airstrip in the northern Mexican state of Zacatecas.

The plane contained 10 tons of cocaine, worth about $200 million, and was part of traffickers' strategy of using old Boeing 727s and Caravelle jets to transport the drug from Colombia. US officials traced the jet to the reputed drug baron Amado Carrillo Fuentes, who is known in Mexico as the "Lord of the Heavens" for the cocaine flights he has engineered.

It had been known, largely through a New York Times reporter, Tim Golden, that agents helped to unload the cargo. But the trial elicited testimony from Macias that police guarded and delivered the suitcases to Ruiz Massieu.

Material from Steve Fainaru of the Globe staff, Reuters and the Associated Press was used for this report.

"Mexico Is Often AWOL In Drug War -
US Can't Count On Neighbors To Help Stem Flow, Officials Say"

The Miami Herald, March 16, 1997

Double Vigil: In a remote area along the border outside El Paso, Texas, a Border Patrol agent watches for illegal Mexican immigrants - and possible drug smugglers.

By Peter Slevin
Herald Washington Bureau

CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico - Alfredo Garcia decided that he couldn't be a Juarez policeman any longer. After four years and too much ugliness, much of it the fault of the police themselves, he quit to drive an ambulance, figuring the peace of mind was worth the pay cut.

"The commanders are the ones who start the corruption," Garcia, 25, said late one night when the Red Cross sirens were silent. "If they give you a patrol car, they say, `I want 300 pesos at the end of the shift.' If you don't give them the money, they take away the car."

Garcia's experience in Juarez, the battered and benumbed border town that is the staging area for Mexico's most powerful drug lord, helps explain why Mike Wilczewski is chasing the wind a few miles away.

Wilczewski is a senior agent with the U.S. Customs Service in El Paso, where he spends his days searching for patterns or quirks that signal which of the 40,000 cars out there are carrying dope. Some days, quicksilver seems easier to catch.

"The Mexicans are very good. They've beaten the United States for many years, no matter what we've thrown at them," Wilczewski said. "Just when you think you've got 'em cold, they switch it up on you."

If there is a drug war going on, the United States is losing it.

Mexico's cocaine traffickers are more powerful than ever, the Mexican counternarcotics institutions are corrupt, and the 1,933-mile U.S.-Mexican border is a sieve. Nowhere is the evidence clearer than in El Paso and its gritty border cousin, Ciudad Juarez, headquarters of drug baron Amado Carrillo Fuentes.

It was Carrillo Fuentes who bought the protection of Mexico's most senior drug fighter, Gen. Jesus Gutierrez Rebollo. The spectacular fall of Gutierrez Rebollo, in turn, triggered anger in Congress over President Clinton's decision Feb. 28 to certify that Mexico is a full ally in the American drug fight.

On Thursday, the U.S. House voted 251-175 to give Mexico 90 days to fully cooperate in the anti-drug war or lose its certification. Also on Thursday, James Milford, the No. 2 man in the Drug Enforcement Administration, said corruption is so pervasive among Mexico's law enforcement officials that they are not to be trusted in joint investigations.

The public quarrel comes as Clinton is highlighting his most recent national drug strategy and preparing for an April summit in Mexico with President Ernesto Zedillo, who has called narcotics trafficking the country's No. 1 national security problem.

Question of trust

U.S. agents say they cannot do battle against the drug traffickers without more help from Mexico. It means the extradition of Mexicans charged with serious drug crimes in U.S. courts. It means sharing intelligence without assuming that Mexican police will quickly relay word to the traffickers.

"The corruption issue is a real issue," El Paso District Attorney Jaime Esparza said. "We're not going to see any progress unless we get some cooperation from Mexico. Everything we do stops at the border."

On the U.S. side of the border, where Mexican supply arrives to meet American demand at the rate of hundreds of tons a year, U.S. agents have seen frustration outweigh considerable success. They are deeply skeptical of their own ability to stanch the flow.

Customs alone reported seizing 33,000 pounds of cocaine and 459 pounds of heroin at the border last year, along with 545,000 pounds of marijuana. Yet at least 250 tons of cocaine - 500,000 pounds - are believed to pass through every year.

"It's kind of like a tidal wave," Wilczewski said. "You know you're going to get wet. You just try to get as much water as you can."

Bustle at border

One look at the traffic snaking across the Rio Grande into El Paso makes Wilczewski's point. On an average day, more than 40,000 cars cross El Paso's border bridges, plus 1,500 trucks and 12,000 pedestrians. Overall, more than 85 million cars and trucks crossed into the United States from Mexico in the last fiscal year.

That means an almost endless variety of hiding places for drugs.

On a recent day, Customs agents found 117 pounds of marijuana packed tightly into the dashboard of a car carrying a family with a toddler. Close by, agents found another 41 pounds stashed in a secret compartment in a car's gas tank.

Smugglers will build false floors in pickup trucks, shifting to smaller tires to make the proportions seem the same to inquiring eyes. Sometimes a car's wheel rims will have special compartments, or a plastic pipe packed with drugs will be sealed into the chassis.

"They've made the loads smaller. It's hidden better," said a senior Customs officer who described electronic compartments worthy of James Bond. "You may have to flip three or four switches and turn the air conditioning on high or put the car in a certain gear and put down the electric window."

El Paso is awaiting a pair of expensive X-ray machines that will scan trucks. But with the sheer volume of traffic and the need to keep freight moving - particularly since the advent of the North American Free Trade Agreement - U.S. authorities have no illusions.

"If you stop the trucks, they'll go to light airplanes. If you stop the light airplanes, they'll go to bigger airplanes or back to trucks. They'll dig a tunnel. They'll shift it to the Port of Miami," said Stephen Green, former deputy administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration. "Pumping more money into interdiction is fruitless unless you can immobilize those who produce and traffic the drugs."

Seeking cooperation

Agents agree that the greatest need is improved intelligence and cooperation on the Mexican side. But that's where things get complicated, because of corruption and Mexico's longstanding opposition to anything perceived as American intervention.

The United States currently stations several dozen drug agents in Mexico, not as many as the Clinton administration would like. Nor, given the close ties between Mexican police and violent drug traffickers, are U.S. enforcement agencies comfortable about working across the border.

Just last week, a senior Mexican official declared that the Zedillo government would continue refusing to permit American agents to carry guns when they work in Mexico. The announcement came despite high-level U.S. efforts to change the policy, one of several ongoing discussions between the two sides.

In case after case, Mexican police and prosecutors up to the highest levels have been revealed to be in the camps of traffickers who pay handsomely for such loyalty. The case of Gutierrez Rebollo showed again that the commanders of the drug war are sometimes the dirtiest.

"There is not one single civilian law enforcement institution in Mexico with whom the DEA has a really trusting relationship," DEA Administrator Thomas Constantine told Congress last month.

President Zedillo appears to be trying. A few days ago, he dispatched the Mexican military to Juarez to replace discredited federal police, betting against long odds that soldiers will succeed where their corrupt compatriots failed.

Bloody turf battles

Things could hardly get worse in a city where rival police squads traded shots last year, apparently over drug turf, leaving one federal officer dead and two wounded.

"We've known for decades that law enforcement in Mexico is about as corrupt as you can get," El Paso Sheriff Leo Samaniego said, "but they kept saying that there was hope in the army, that the army was not bought yet by the drug cartels. Lo and behold, the No. 1 guy has been on the payroll."

One U.S. drug agent with long experience in Mexico remembers working with Mexican agents to seize cocaine in the late 1980s. But twice, while on their way to a drug bust, they were stopped by Mexican soldiers and detained until the loads were safely gone.

"Things aren't getting any better down there," said the agent, who wonders when things will change. "You have some people down there in Mexico, individual cops you work with, who actually want to make a difference. They see that drugs are tearing the country apart, but it seems like they're out there by themselves."

As the Zedillo government scrambles to rebuild its disgraced counternarcotics forces, the drugs continue to flow north.

And as long as the comandantes are corrupt, and poorly paid minions with guns and badges are prepared to do their bidding, the limits of U.S. ambitions are clear, according to state and federal lawmen.

"We've taken tons of cocaine off this year, and it didn't make a difference," one said. "We've got to put these guys on the other side of the border out of business, and the fact is we can't do it alone."

"Justices Blast Minimum Sentences"

By Laurie Asseo

WASHINGTON (AP, March 14, 1997) - Mandatory minimum sentences for federal crimes can promote injustice in U.S. courts, two Supreme Court justices told a congressional panel Thursday.

"I do not think judges should have their sentencing discretion controlled by a mandatory sentence," Justice Anthony M. Kennedy said as he and Justice David H. Souter presented the high court's budget request to a House Appropriations subcommittee.

Federal laws set mandatory minimum sentences for many offenses, including drug crimes or using a gun in relation to various drug or violent crimes.

Judges also must follow federal sentencing guidelines that limit their discretion in imposing sentences, but Kennedy limited his objections to the separate laws that mandate minimum sentences for some crimes.

"I do not like mandatory sentences," he said. "I think they can lead to injustice."

Agreeing, Souter said many federal judges "simply believe that ultimately they become instruments of injustice."

He said that as a state court judge in New Hampshire he followed his own general rule for sentencing. In one case, Souter said, he had to make an exception because to follow his rule "would have been unconscionable."

With mandatory minimum sentences, Souter said, at times "a sentencing judge would have to do the wrong thing."

He also said he hasn't changed his mind since last year, when he told panel members that the day a television camera comes into the Supreme Court chamber "it's going to roll over my dead body."

The "entertainment value" would not be worth the risk that television coverage could affect lawyers' behavior or inhibit questioning from the bench, he said.

Kennedy told the members that "we ought to look very hard" at dividing the 9th judicial circuit, which covers nine western states including California. Kennedy formerly served on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

He said the circuit "is larger than it ought to be" but noted many judges in the circuit oppose dissecting it, as has been proposed periodically by members of Congress.

Kennedy and Souter also urged Congress to approve pay raises for federal judges, who have not had cost-of-living adjustments since 1993.

"This is demoralizing to the judges" to see their pay eroded, Kennedy said.

He and Souter outlined a $29.2 million proposed operating budget for the high court in the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1, a 7.8 percent increase over the current budget. The proposal includes funds for six additional police officers for the court's security team and an improved police radio system.

Also proposed by the architect of the Capitol was a five-year, $26.8 million plan to improve the court building, which opened in 1935.

ABC's 'March Against Drugs' - The Second Week

[The ensuing news release shows that ABC's so-called "anti-drug" propaganda blitz has turned off even the mainstream treatment-and-prevention community - ed.]
Center on Alcohol Policy
March 18, 1997
Contact: Laurie Leiber
510/649-8942, Fax: 510/649-8970

Network Anti-Drug Campaign Silent on Teen Alcohol Use

Berkeley, CA - Center on Alcohol Policy Director, Laurie Leiber challenged ABC Television Network President, David Westin to address underage alcohol use in the network's March Against Drugs. In a letter to Westin, Leiber noted, "The campaign theme is Silence is Acceptance. But I couldn't help noticing that the campaign is silent on the subject of underage alcohol use." "The young people who are supposed to be the target of this campaign will see the hypocrisy," says Leiber, who directs a national advocacy project to reduce alcohol promotion to children. "Kids know that alcohol is a drug; they drink it to get high." Research shows that alcohol is the most used drug among American youth, is a leading cause of death and disability for young people, and causes more deaths than all of the illicit drugs combined. A recent national survey showed that four out of five high school seniors drink; one in four drank five or more drinks at a time within the past two weeks. "If ABC wants to make a difference," suggests Leiber, "they could broadcast information every day for a month about the negative health effects of drinking. That would be a change from the steady diet of cute animals and young, hard-bodies used to sell beer."

David Westin, President
ABC Television Network
77 West 66th Street
New York, NY 10023

Dear Mr. Westin:

I am writing to acknowledge your invitation to participate in ABC's March Against Drugs. Your theme is Silence is Acceptance, but I cannot help noticing that the campaign is silent on the subject of underage alcohol use.

Alcohol is a drug. It is, in fact, the most used drug among American youth. Alcohol use causes more deaths than all of the illicit drugs combined. Alcohol, principally beer, is a leading cause of death and disability for young people. Four out five high school seniors drink. One in four high school seniors drank heavily within the past two weeks. And, the preferred beverage among young binge drinkers is beer.

In your letter, you suggest that a month of public service announcements and special programming on illicit drugs can "make a positive difference." We challenge you to balance the negative impact of the beer commercials that children see on your network all year long by addressing underage alcohol use in the March Against Drugs. Your failure to do so is worse than acceptance, it is complicity.

Laurie Leiber
Center on Alcohol Policy

"Just Say No...To Reality"

Salon, March 19, 1997

Media Circus: ABC thinks it's doing the world a favor. But has the network committed itself to a month of worse-than-useless anti-drug propaganda?

By Jennifer Nix

You may have noticed that everyone on ABC seems obsessed with drugs these days - from Peter Jennings to Drew Carey. This isn't a coincidence: In conjunction with the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, ABC has launched what it calls its "March Against Drugs" - an unprecedented monthlong anti-drug media blitz drawing in "every corner of the network: news, entertainment, sports and advertising."

During the campaign, at least one anti-drug ad - produced either by the Partnership or by ABC - will air every network hour of every day throughout the entire month. All regular ABC news programs will air drug-crisis reports, and the network has scheduled a number of news specials as well. Drug-related story lines are being incorporated into all daytime and evening television programs, from sitcoms to soaps, and even "Wide World of Sports" announcers are citing the problems wrought by illegal drugs. PDFA's toll-free telephone number beckons viewers to call its office for further information and ABC's Web site links viewers straight to the Partnership's home page.

ABC considers this media blitz to be essentially a public service announcement writ large. But critics charge that the network has effectively put its weight behind a bankrupt anti-drug approach by choosing to join forces only with the increasingly controversial PDFA. Rather than making a real difference, they say, ABC will accomplish little more than pushing useless, feel-good propaganda into the homes of some 142 million viewers.

"There is no credible scientific evidence that 'zero-tolerance' drug education works, and that is what the PDFA ads are based on," says Dr. Joel Brown, director of Educational Research Consultants in Berkeley, Calif. Brown and his team conducted the four-year Drug, Alcohol and Tobacco Education, or "DATE," evaluation for the California Department of Education. His research leads Brown to believe that kids don't take the PDFA ads seriously.

"In the absence of any real evidence, as even the government's own General Accounting Office report concluded in 1991, it's wrong-headed to continue pouring millions of dollars into only zero-tolerance approaches for kids," Brown says.

The PDFA, of course, disagrees. "We know advertising works. It can convince you to buy a new car, or a certain brand," PDFA public relations director Stephen Dnistrian said last month in his well-ordered Chrysler Building office. "It can convince kids that drugs are dangerous." From PDFA's hefty press kit, Dnistrian pulls favorable statistics from a Johns Hopkins study on the impact of anti-drug advertising. "A majority" of the 837 students included in the study were found to have felt "they gained stronger beliefs about the dangers of drugs."

It's not clear what effect these "stronger beliefs" have in the real world. Over the last 10 years, more than 250 advertising agencies have created over 600 anti-drug ads for the PDFA. Those commercials have aired on all three networks, reaching what Dnistrian calls a "peak media saturation level" in 1991 at $365 million in pro-bono support. Figures show that by 1996, support had dropped-- but was still providing some $260 million a year. Despite this campaign, teen drug use remains on the rise, and many drug abuse experts have begun to question the zero-tolerance approach.

Don't try telling that to the folks at ABC, though, which is itself pouring the equivalent of many tens of millions of dollars into the March campaign. "If we were just going to sell the time allotted to the public service announcements we'll be running," ABC spokesperson Janice Gretemeyer estimates, "those spots would go for in excess of $15 million."

The March campaign had its origins last summer - between the government's release of a report showing teen drug use on the rise and the November votes in California and Arizona to legalize marijuana for medicinal use. All the influence and money poured into "Just Say No" and eggs in frying pans was proving to have little to no lasting, or attributable, effect. Nearly $3 billion in pro-bono services and prime media placement has been at PDFA's disposal since 1987, and these elite information officers in the War on Drugs didn't want to admit they'd failed in their mission. So they circled the wagons.

"You see, drug use among teens has doubled since 1991 and that's when we, here at the Partnership, started to see a drop-off in commitment from the media. We just weren't getting the saturation we needed for our ads to work," the PDFA's Dnistrian says.

And so, last summer, PDFA Chairman James Burke and his well-heeled team paid visits to all the networks. Burke's message found particularly fertile soil the day he hit up ABC - the network that has consistently run more PDFA ads than all other networks combined. Most important was the reaction from then-ABC President David Westin, who said he was "startled" to learn that kids are doing drugs. (In a press release, Westin said he had believed "we were past that problem.") He decided then and there to heed the PDFA battle call, and has become a vocal supporter of the campaign.

Indeed, just last week, moments before he was named the new president of ABC News, the usually dashing Westin was unleashing a torrent of rage on visitors to his office. Red-faced and with eyes bulging, Westin was defending the "March Against Drugs" against criticisms from those visitors, members of the group Partnership for Responsible Drug Information, who were there to express their dismay at being denied participation in the campaign.

"The ads put out by PDFA have done nothing but interest more kids in trying drugs. Their scare tactics are worse than ineffective - they're dangerous," says PRDI Chairman Thomas Haines, who also heads the biochemistry department at the City University of New York's medical school.

He and his wife, Mary "Polly" Cleveland, research director for the Schalkenbach Foundation, are at the center of PRDI's loose-knit group of roughly 100 academics, doctors and past and present political and law enforcement officials. Their mission, members say, is to promote open and honest discussion about drugs, and they deny accusations that they are for drug legalization.

"Fair, balanced and responsible programming," Haines wrote in a February letter to ABC, "would devote equal time to other views." He says his overtures were "politely and lightly dismissed" until the 40-minute session with Westin last week - when the "March" was well under way.

Another coalition - including the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Black Police Association and Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting - has also joined in the anti-ABC fray with its own letter to Westin. No. 1 on its list of concerns was the fact that, in following the PDFA's policy, ABC will not air any anti-tobacco or anti-alcohol messages as part of the campaign. The PDFA has received criticism in the past for accepting alcohol money.

"Five hundred thousand people die each year from alcohol and tobacco ... 35 times the number of deaths from all illegal drugs combined," the letter reads. "The implicit message sent to kids ... is that legal drugs are not as harmful as illegal drugs - a message compounded by the massive advertising campaigns of the alcohol and tobacco industries."

ABC staff seem to be unaware that they've stepped right into the middle of the war over controlling the drug policy debate. To Leslee Spoor, a news division staffer now coordinating much of the "March Against Drugs" effort, this is about parents talking to their kids about drugs.

"I don't see how anyone could be against it. We're just trying to get people talking," she says.

She should know better than that. While folks on all sides of the drug policy debate are quick to spew wildly spun scientific evidence, the fact remains that there is a debate raging in this country over what to do about illegal drugs. What PRDI et. al. are trying to make ABC realize is that in joining forces only with the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, the network has now come down on just one side of a very fragmented issue.

And ABC has also committed its news department to something other than free and fair reporting on the controversy. All of the ABC News programs, from "Good Morning America" to "World News Tonight" will air drug-abuse specials, and Peter Jennings and network correspondents are starring in several of the anti-drug ads. On March 30, "ABC D-Day," the network will even fade to black for a period during a town hall meeting.

"I don't want a network to ram a particular point of view down my throat," Donna Leff, professor at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism, complains. "A network's public service responsibility should be about giving time to different points of view and letting the public decide.

"I'm also concerned about the way ABC plans to infuse drug themes into their news coverage in much the same way as they will their soaps. There doesn't seem to be a clear separation in this campaign between the news and the network's message," says Leff.

Obviously, the drugs debate is a contentious one, and all sides feel their answers will solve the drug crisis. Nevertheless, despite the fact that groups like the Partnership for Responsible Drug Information are trying to change the tone of drug education and media messages, the country is likely to see more of the same.

Two weeks ago, when unveiling his Drug Control Strategy, President Clinton announced that he had earmarked $175 million in government funds for combating drugs through TV advertising.

The White House's "unofficial" partner? The Partnership for a Drug-Free America.

March 12, 1997

Jennifer Nix is a writer in the New York area. Her work has appeared on National Public Radio and in New York, the New York Observer and The Nation.

"Study Questions Drug Programs"

By Robert Greene

WASHINGTON (AP, March 18, 1997) - Most children decide on their own whether to use drugs with little concern for strong anti-drug messages they get from health teachers or others at school, a study of California youngsters suggests.

In fact, the programs may breed confusion and mistrust in youngsters who hear the message condemning alcohol, illegal drugs and tobacco yet see their parents or others use those substances, the research says.

The study, published last week in the journal Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, adds to research already critical of programs such as D.A.R.E., or Drug Abuse Resistance Education, that have received billions of dollars in federal help.

Last month, the Education Department released a study showing the failure of most programs to halt the rise in drug use. Still, the department says workable programs can be developed and wants to spend $620 million next year on drug education, up from $558 million this year and $438 million in 1996.

The newly published research dealt with a California program called Drug, Alcohol and Tobacco Education, or DATE, that California officials say was abandoned in 1994. But the article said that DATE resembled programs being used across the nation.

"Given the similarity of many U.S. drug education programs, student rejection of DATE programs is significant," the article said.

The study suggests a basic problem in programs that use fear and rewards such as T-shirts to get children to shun alcohol, illegal drugs and tobacco, said lead researcher Joel H. Brown.

Brown said a key problem is the absolute, "no-substance-use" message of federally approved anti-drug programs, when adults can legally use substances like alcohol and tobacco that are banned for children.

Children "resolve that people are either lying to them or not providing them with the whole picture," Brown said by telephone from Berkeley, where he runs Educational Research Consultants, a private firm.

Jane Henderson, a deputy superintendent with the California Department of Education, said the department has made program changes based on the research, much of which has been published in various forms.

She said local districts still may spend some federal money on programs such as D.A.R.E., but the schools must show real results.

Brown's study relied on random surveys and on in-depth interviews conducted in 1993. Some 5,000 students, grades 7-12, were surveyed. Of those students, 43 percent said they were "not at all" affected by drug classes and activities.

Only 15 percent said drug decisions were affected "a lot" or "completely."

Nearly 59 percent said they made their substance use decisions "a lot" or "completely" on their own.

Brown said the answers cannot be explained away as adolescent rebellion because the focus groups with children showed the responses were well thought out.

Rather than hearing from teachers, police or even parents, students would rather get factual information from drug users and abusers about their experiences. Although some programs include talks by addicts about the harmful consequences of drugs, students want more than that.

"It is reasonable to believe them when they say they want complete drug information without fear appeal, delivered by someone from outside the school who is, or was, a substance user or abuser," the study said.

Henderson agreed in part. "That's probably one strategy that will work." But she said such an approach has not been proven effective.

The U.S. Education Department had no immediate comment on the report.

Henderson denied a contention by Brown publicists that the state had tried to discredit his research. However, Ralph Lochridge, a spokesman for D.A.R.E., based in Los Angeles, argued that the research in fact had been discredited by the state.

"It was an invalid study," he said.

The journal is published by the American Educational Research Association, based in Washington.

Hearsay But Interesting

On March 18 Dr. Kathy Galbraith wrote:
Dear folks,

A midwife friend has written that she met a 70-year-old man in a dentist's waiting room. He worked for a major drug company for many years. He told her they used to put THC in "almost everything" (!?!?) and found it to combat nausea and have a sedative effect, but had to stop. Anyone ever heard of this?

Dr. K

Kathy Galbraith
Public Access Internet
The University of Lethbridge

Proposition 215 Comes To Los Angeles

"Medical Marijuana Case Dismissed"

By Paula Story
Associated Press Writer

LOS ANGELES (AP, March 18, 1997) In a key challenge to California's new medical marijuana law, city prosecutors were persuaded Monday to dismiss the case of an AIDS patient charged with possessing the drug.

Defense attorney John Duran had argued that criminal charges against Willie Perkins, 35, should be dropped because the man possessed a doctor's written diagnosis that recognized the benefits of marijuana in his treatment.

"We just left the courtroom and we just had something phenomenal happen," said Duran. "The city attorney had a change of heart."

While the doctor's letter did not specifically prescribe marijuana, it did not object to its use, Duran said.

Some doctors believe marijuana can relieve eye pressure from glaucoma, control nausea in cancer patients and combat the severe weight loss seen in AIDS patients.

California voters in November approved Proposition 215, which legalized possession and cultivation of marijuana for medical purposes with a doctor's prescription.

Marijuana is still an illegal drug under federal law.

Perkins was arrested Dec. 8 while walking downtown with a plastic bag of marijuana.

Although he produced a letter from a doctor at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, it was not until Monday that prosecutors made calls to verify the authenticity of the letter, Duran said.

"Reviewing the spirit of the law ... we decide to dismiss this case," Deputy City Attorney Jerry Baik said.

While supporters are lauding the dismissal as a victory, both sides remain skeptical about future cases.

"I don't think you can make an overall generalization of how these types of cases can be determined," Baik said.

"AMA Steps Into Legal Marijuana Dispute -
Says US Should Settle With Bay Area Doctors"

The San Francisco Examiner, March 17, 1997, p. A1
By Eric Brazil
of The Examiner staff

The nation's medical establishment urged settlement Monday of a Bay Area physicians' lawsuit challenging the Clinton administration's hard-line policy against medical marijuana.

In a letter to the Justice Department, American Medical Association President Dr. Daniel H. Johnson Jr. and California Medical Association President Dr. Jack E. McCleary offered a three-point basis for settlement. The suit seeks to upend a policy which would prevent doctors from recommending marijuana to patients.

The federal policy was declared after California voter-approved Proposition 215 - and a similar measure in Arizona - effectively legalized the medicinal use of marijuana.

Further litigation, Johnson and McCleary wrote, "will serve no productive purpose. Indeed, prolonged litigation may actually disserve the interests of patients and their physicians by creating an intolerable period of uncertainty."

On Dec. 30, U.S. drug czar Barry McCaffrey enunciated a policy under which physicians recommending or prescribing marijuana could lose their federal authority to write drug prescriptions. They could also be excluded from Medicare and Medicaid programs and face criminal charges, McCaffrey said.

A group of prominent Bay Area physicians filed a lawsuit to enjoin the government from enforcing that policy. The government's motion to dismiss the complaint is scheduled to be heard by U.S. District Court Judge Fern Smith next month.

The Justice Department has rejected previous settlement requests by attorneys for the plaintiffs. Arthur Goldberg, the Justice Department attorney who is supervising the handling of the case, declined to comment on the letter by Johnson and McCleary.

Under guidelines proposed by the CMA, which would be the basis for the settlement, physicians would be able to:

  • State the possible balance of risks and benefits of marijuana use in a patient's particular case;

  • Document the discussion in the patient's medical record;

  • Testify about that discussion in court.

    "I don't think organized medicine can make it any clearer. The government has overstepped its bounds in this case," said Dr. Marcus Conant of San Francisco, one of the nation's most prominent AIDS physicians and lead plaintiff in the complaint against the government. "It's not only a violation of the First Amendment, it also seriously impairs the physician-patient relationship," Conant said. "For the AMA, this is a very, very strong position to take."

    Graham Boyd, attorney for the physicians who have sued the government, in a letter to the Justice Department, renewed their settlement offer. "The (CMA) guidelines address our fundamental concern that a physician be able to provide an honest, individualized opinion about the medical advisability of marijuana," he wrote.

    Ohio Initiative Gathers 30,000 Signatures

    Dave Fratello writes:
    FYI --

    This is the verbatim text of the proposed Ohio initiative. Advocates say they have collected 30,000 signatures so far, of the 100,000 needed to get a legislative hearing. To go to the ballot, another 100,000 would be needed.

    I would be interested in feedback from anyone who has the time to read and analyze the text. Thanks.

    -- dave fratello


    Filed by Ken Schweickart, For A Better Ohio, (614) 258-4367



    To enact Section 2926 of the Revised Code to repeal the prohibition of the farming of Cannabis hemp in the State of Ohio for industrial, nutritional and medical use. Repeal ORC 3719.41(C)(17) and 3719.43. ORC 3719.44 becomes inapplicable to marihuana provisions. Add the rescheduled marihuana to ORC 3719.14.


    The proposed law defines true hemp and medicinal cannabis (marihuana) as well as their uses while distinguishing them from the recreational use of marihuana; authorizes the Ohio Department of Agriculture to license and regulated the production of true hemp industrial products and to provide contracts to universities to cultivate medical marihuana. The Ohio State Board of Pharmacy is authorized to regulate the pharmacist's distribution of medical marihuana. The present laws against the possession, sale and distribution of marihuana products are left intact.

    The proposed law authorizes the Ohio Department of Agriculture oversight of true hemp seed and fibers for food and industrial applications. Cannabis hemp seed is deemed analogous to the soybean. The Ohio Department of Agriculture shall regulate true hemp commodities that do not interfere with controlled substance laws in the state.

    Medicinal marihuana is rescheduled as a Schedule II controlled substance and a source for a prescription is provided. The required license from the Federal Drug Enforcement Administration might be denied regardless of the Federal Food and Drug Administration's approval to allow a source for prescription. Pharmacists may acquire medical marihuana from other countries. A person, upon a written recommendation by a licensed practitioner, may cultivate an amount to meet his/her recommended needs. Weight assessment of cultivated marihuana, which is different from industrial hemp, is rationalized to prosecute accused offenders fairly.

    TEXT OF PROPOSED LAW (all sections are amendments/additions to Ohio law):

    Be it enacted by the people of the State of Ohio:

    Section 1. That Section 2926 of the Revised Code be enacted to read as follows:

    Sec. 2926.01. The people of Ohio repeal the prohibition of the farming of cannabis hemp for industrial, nutritional and medical use. We recognize that persons cannot get "high" from any part of the industrial hemp (true hemp) plant and hemp of this sort has many commercial applications and is definitely not limited to dense construction board, better paper, safe plastic, ink, ethanol fuel, and quality textiles. True hemp will stop certain types of land erosion, pollution and economic decline. The hemp seed contains an average of 25% protein, all of the essential amino acids and has better applications than a soybean. We further recognize that medical marihuana requires a different type of cultivation than true hemp and that federal D.E.A. law judge Francis Young wrote as a finding of fact in 1988 that marihuana in its natural form is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man (Docket No. 86-22).

    Sec. 2926.02. Anything that is contrary to this act is notwithstanding. Everything in this act shall be considered an adjunct to relating material in Sec. 2925. Nothing in this act changes penalties for recreational use of marihuana.

    (A) Definition of terms: Cannabis hemp means Cannabis sativa L., true hemp, medical (medicinal marihuana), and all varieties of cannabis species.

    1. True hemp means all parts and varieties of the plant Cannabis sativa L., whether growing or not, that contain less than 1.2 concentration of THC and a content of cannabidiol (CBD), the precursor to THC, in sufficient concentration to equal or exceed the THC content. For purpose of this division, true hemp shall not be considered a controlled substance.

    2. Medicinal marihuana is used for the treatment of appetite loss, chronic pain, spasticity, glaucoma, arthritis, migraine, asthma or any other intractable illness for which marihuana provides relief. Marinol, synthetic THC established in 1986, is difficult for patients who are suffering from nausea to ingest. Marinol fails to replace the therapeutic benefits of marihuana.

    Sec. 2926.03. The Ohio State Board of Pharmacy is authorized to oversee the contracted University cultivation and the pharmacists distribution of medical marihuana according to a prescription by a licensed practitioner.

    Sec. 2926.04. Industrial hemp farmers, manufacturers, and distributors or vendors shall not be subject to any zoning requirement or non-ordinary tax as long as industrial true hemp is being grown or distributed. A license is required. The license fee shall not exceed 15 dollars.

    (A) The production and commerce of true hemp and true hemp products should be promoted as a means of economic recovery and expansion of agricultural markets. We further recognize that the federal government has made a distinction between medicinal marihuana as a drug and industrial true hemp fiber and seed products aaeY`?@ommodities wiPthe adoption of an international treaty entitled, "Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs" (Article 28, Sec. 2, 1967), with exception to stems pursuant to European Economic Community (EEC) Commission Regulation No. 1164/89 dated April 28, 1989, as well as Executive Order 12919 which was signed by the President of the United States on June 3, 1994.

    1. True hemp and medicinal marihuana products are distinguished from the recreational use of marihuana.

    Sec. 2926.05. The Ohio Department of Agriculture should promote and shall regulate the farming of true hemp commodities and true hemp shall be regulated in a manner that does not interfere with controlled substance laws in the state.

    (A) Any true hemp plants found to contain more than 1.2 percent concentration of THC or a CBD concentration less than the percentage content of THC shall be confiscated and destroyed. Two concentration violations in one year shall be grounds for license revocation.

    (B) Any cultivation that is intended for anything other than purposes approved in this initiative remains punishable by guidelines that are established in Sec. 2925 of the Ohio Revised Code.

    1. The nutrient-rich foliage which persons cannot achieve a "high" from should be treated as a by-product used for compost or livestock feed.

    Sec. 2926.06. Cannabis hemp being grown for food or industrial applications of seed shall be regulated analogous to the soybean by the Ohio Department of Agriculture. Nothing in this section changes any seed or food requirements previously established.

    (A) Seed producers must adhere to the true hemp status.

    (B) Sterile hemp seeds, stalks, oils and fibers are specifically not controlled substances under Federal law entitled Public Law 91-513. Sec. 102(15).

    Sec. 2926.07. Cannabis hemp medicinal preparations are hereby restored to the list of available medicines in Ohio. Marihuana is currently listed as a Schedule I Controlled Substance. Drugs are listed in Schedule I if they do not have any medicinal properties. This is not true of marihuana. Marihuana has been therapeutically used for centuries.

    (A) Medical marihuana shall be rescheduled as a Schedule II(E) Controlled Substance, the same as Marinol, and will also be listed in ORC 3719.14. Repeal ORC 3719.41(C)(17) and 3719.43. ORC 3719.44 is inapplicable to marihuana provisions.

    1. Criminal penalties for recreational marihuana will not change.

    2. The Ohio Department of Agriculture is authorized to regulate, require annual permit fees for $1,000 to contracted Universities, transport, and administer zoning requirements to ensure the strict regulation of medicinal cannabis cultivation.

    3. The Universities under contract of the O.D.A. must transport the product to the Ohio Mental Health Central Pharmacy where it is then inspected, packaged and distributed to pharmacists.

    4. All medicinal marihuana products may only be distributed in the State of Ohio.

    5. If the required license from the Federal Drug Enforcement Administration or the National Institute for Drug Abuse is denied, regardless of the current federal Food and Drug Administration's approval, pharmacists may acquire medicinal marihuana from other countries.

    Sec. 2926.08. No criminal or civil penalties shall apply to any person for the act of possessing or cultivating medicinal marihuana, provided that such person has a written prescription or recommendation from a practitioner authorized to prescribe Schedule II controlled substances for human use and can certify in writing that the person is under professional care of the practitioner for a duly diagnosed condition. No person who is a spouse or family member can be punished for aiding or assisting a patient by obtaining marihuana if such patient is disabled by the nature of the illness.

    (A) A person, upon written recommendation from an authorized practitioner, may cultivate an amount to meet his/her needs. Cultivation of this sort must be in the privacy of the patient's domain and be rebuttably for personal medicinal use.

    (B) To ensure that the recommended needs for medicinal use can be met, and to prosecute accused offenders fairly who are indicted for cultivating an amount of marihuana that is more than his/her recommended needs, and to prosecute accused offenders who do not have a medical defense claim, the courts in the State of Ohio shall standardize and interpret the assessed weight of the controlled substance in a fair and realistic manner compared to the manner of weight assessment established by federal guidelines.

    (C) It is an affirmative defense that any non-flowering plants or any material or product thereof that is not derived from a flowering plant may not be calculated as a weight assessment. Only the flowers of the cannabis hemp plant (marihuana) may be used in determining weight. Potential estimates for the permitted weight assessment must be rational, not mandatory. The confiscated marihuana flowers must be dried in order to determine the estimated illegal street value.

    (D) No person who has a medical necessity may smoke marihuana in a place that restricts public smoking.

    (E) Nothing in this act shall be construed to override legislation prohibiting persons under the influence of marihuana from engaging in conduct that endangers others, including driving under the influence of marihuana.

    (F) Nothing in this act shall be construed as condoning the diversion or use of controlled substances for non-medical purposes.

    Sec. 2926.09. Pursuant to the Ninth and Tenth Articles to the Amendments of the Constitution of the United States, and to uphold the integrity of this act, the People of Ohio hereby repudiate and challenge Federal cannabis prohibitions which conflict with this act.

    Sec. 2926.10. Severability: If any portion of this measure is overturned in a court of law, all other provisions of this act are severable and shall not be affected thereby.


    "Spann - The Bad Peanut"

    By Rick Hampson

    SAN FRANCISCO (AP, circa March 16, 1997) - It was just before dawn when Francisco Noyola saw the thin man staggering up Market Street. Despite the chill, he was trying to sell his leather jacket for $5. He said he'd been drinking all night, and he wanted to keep going.

    They pooled their change, split a half-pint of cheap vodka and decided to go to Noyola's place. The thin man was tired. He had AIDS - dirty needles, he explained.

    "I felt comfortable with him," Noyola recalls. "He said that his name was William."

    He did not say that his middle name was Carter, that he was raised in Plains, Ga., or that his uncle was the 39th president of the United States.

    The thin man was William Carter Spann, a tragicomic footnote to Jimmy Carter's presidency. By the time he was 30, he'd been arrested so often his mother stopped counting; he spent two-thirds of the next 20 years in prison for everything from armed robbery to drunk driving.

    He called himself The Bad Peanut.

    "My uncle's in the White House," he said on Inauguration Day 1977, "and I'm in the big house." He made the most of it, selling articles to Hustler and Good Housekeeping and firing off pithy jailhouse observations on the American scene.

    When he got married in prison, The Washington Post wrote a big story. When he got out, a limousine picked him up at the gate.

    In prison or out, Willie Spann was perpetually turning over a new leaf. He seemed to believe his vows until he broke them; incredibly, given his record, others did too, including his Uncle Jimmy.

    The nephew always had hope: If he could just get into this detox facility, or that training program ...

    Or just lie down. That's what he wanted now, Feb. 2, on his way home with Francisco Noyola. He tried to stretch out on a bus stop bench, but his companion would not let him. He had the feeling William might not get up.

    It took them almost an hour to walk the half-mile from the subway to Francisco's house, an old bungalow sagging around its stout stone chimney.

    Noyola mixed them some cocktails - vodka and 7-Up - and steered his guest to a hammock strung between two trees in front. William smiled, as if he'd met something familiar. He snuggled into the hammock.

    His skin was pale and his eyes seemed to be clouding over. "Don't worry," he said, "I'm just tired. Tomorrow, I'll get my check, and we'll keep the party going."' Then he closed his eyes. He was still smiling.

    "There was nothing about me," William Carter Spann once said of Plains' first family, "that was like them."

    He was born in 1946 on an Air Force base in Texas. His father was "Soapy" Hardy, a former soda jerk who looked good in the uniform he wore home from the war; his mother was Gloria Carter, whose affluent, prominent family did not approve of their impulsive union.

    It did not survive Soapy's drinking. Gloria and her son, whom she called Toady, retreated to Plains in 1949. Four years later she married a local farmer, Walter Spann.

    By the time he was 11, Toady was smoking and drinking and running away. He got drunk and stole his uncle Billy's car. He broke into a store. He was expelled in the seventh grade.

    Toady created almost unbearable embarrassment for a mother who had had enough already. Neither she nor the psychiatrists could do anything, so one night Gloria prayed: "Dear God, if you're there, take my son for 10 seconds and let me have some peace." Suddenly, "I looked around and the whole world seemed different. For the first time in two years, beauty came into my mind."

    But Toady got worse. Finally, his Uncle Jimmy, who had taught him in Sunday school and persuaded him to get baptized, took him in.

    "When Jimmy says grace, he gives a sermon," his nephew recalled. "I'd sit there and be hungry. ... When there were prayer meetings, I'd go out behind the house and smoke cigarettes." Jimmy just didn't understand.

    But he gave Toady a job in the family peanut warehouse. It was, he later said, "the nicest thing Jimmy ever did for me. He had faith that I would straighten up."

    But, he added, "He shouldn't have, 'cause all I wanted to be was different from anybody in that family." He liked his uncle, he said, but living with him was "a lesson in being square."

    When Toady was 14 Gloria sent him to a school for troubled boys. She went to work as a secretary just to pay the bills. When he left four years later, Gloria wrote, "His life became more complex.

    By 1969, he had washed up in Los Angeles, where he imprisoned for stealing a car. When his uncle was elected governor of Georgia, he recalled, "I was in the hole."

    Next, he headed to San Francisco, where people called him Willie. "I was a 24-hour-a-day speed freak, heroin addict, armed robber, burglar, pimp, dealer - and escort to old people, so they could leave their hotel rooms without being mugged. Life was like nothing else I can explain."

    In 1976, as his uncle was winning Democratic primaries, he was pleading guilty to robbing two rooming house employees. Gloria got an anonymous phone call in Plains: "If you don't send money, I will let the world know that Jimmy Carter's nephew is in jail."

    The story broke during the convention. Reporters found Willie in protective custody at Soledad.

    He complained that his family had turned its back on him, that he was so broke he had to borrow stamps from cult murderer Charles Manson. "Charlie's crazy," he allowed, "but he's got a sense of humor that can't be beat."

    Jimmy Carter said his nephew had been "in constant trouble all his adult life." He didn't denounce him, however, or seem embarrassed. "You are part of our family," he assured him in a note.

    Willie cashed in on his celebrity, and settled some scores in the process. In an article for Hustler, he described Gloria as a neurotic, indifferent parent; he said his adoptive father had threatened to kill him; he called his uncle Billy Carter "a red-necked bigot and bona fide fool."

    Uncle Jimmy, who had tried to help him, was "a phony," whose "Christianity has never extended to his pocketbook."

    Even before the piece appeared, Willie wrote Carter to apologize: "There is no excuse for my part in the article. At the time, I was confused, angry, broke and frustrated."

    Today, Carter says he wasn't hurt: "We always LIKED Willie. He would go through cycles; there were times when he was a charming and attractive young man, and times when he was fearsome. But he always hoped to do better."

    As Willie wrote in Good Housekeeping: "My mother says God lives in us all. I agree that God is love and we all have some in us. Whether we learn to use it or not is the question. I learned to use mine too late to save myself, and others, a lot of trouble. But not too late to save myself."

    The pen seemed his salvation. He made dozens of pen pals and wrote furiously to newspapers. He complained about inmates' Christmas gifts ("bags of peanuts ... You can imagine what that reminded me of.") He demanded that if his uncle pardoned Patty Hearst, he pardon him, too. He apologized to the nation for Billy Carter's antics.

    He traded shamelessly on his White House connection, seeking prison transfers and privileges. The guards, he said, "are happy to have at least one aristocrat in their midst."

    In 1979 he married Jane Frey, a San Francisco businesswoman who helped him place an article. It was his third marriage - his first in prison - and came only a year after he acknowledged having a homosexual lover at Soledad.

    Today, Jane says she was won over by his Southern charm, his wit and warmth. He seemed vulnerable and needy, and "I had this Florence Nightingale attitude."

    With parole six months away, Willie wrote to his uncle: "I have said many things that I wish I hadn't. All I can do is offer an apology, and admit I was wrong and ignorant. Given an opportunity, I could be an asset to you. ... I will serve you because I love you."'

    Carter wrote back to offer best wishes "for the productive and satisfying new life ahead of you."

    Willie had 30 solid job offers, and there was talk of him accompanying the First Lady on a national tour of schools. The National Enquirer had bought the rights to his first interview as a free man. He was booked to appear on "Donahue."

    "If ever there was a chance for him to go straight," Jane says, "that was it."

    He was paroled Christmas Eve. Jane and an Enquirer reporter were waiting in a limousine with a bar in back. He poured himself a double Wild Turkey, then a triple.

    "I realized this was going to be trouble," Jane remembers.

    They flew to Key West, where Willie kept drinking and got too wild to interview. Jane flew home alone and called the president. "I'm sorry, but I can't help," Carter said. "Willie will have to work this out for himself."

    When Willie arrived in San Francisco, the couple settled into her apartment in a bay-windowed townhouse at the foot of Pacific Heights. He spent his nights buying rounds in bars, putting it on a tab he could not cover.

    One night, he came home in a fury; the bartender had cut him off. He and Jane argued, and he slammed her into the wall.

    "He said I rejected him, just like his mother did," she recalls.

    The police came. Seven weeks after his release, Willie was back in jail.

    Jane never saw him again. She remembers him not with malice, but pity. "Willie was born on the wrong day," she said. "Nothing was of value to him, including his own life. He would have been better off if he had just floated off the face of the earth."

    He moved north of the city and married again. Life followed a chaotic rhythm: He was arrested for drunk driving, and urinalysis showed amphetamines; he went back to jail, where he was caught using Valium; he escaped from jail, calling in hours later to explain he wanted to visit his pregnant wife.

    When his son Drew was born a few months later, Willie was in jail.

    In 1990, Gloria Carter Spann died of cancer. She was remembered as the president's sister who rode motorcycles. It was a hobby she took up after losing Toady, whom she had not seen since he left Plains 21 years earlier.

    "Everything happens for a purpose," she used to say. Toady's troubles led her to God, and God, she wrote, "lives in my son." When Willie was arrested, she'd say, "God has my son in his hands. That is God's business, and he is working on it."

    Willie turned more and more to the relative who never gave up on him, the uncle he'd once called "too square and too cold."

    Jimmy Carter sent his nephew clothes, helped him find places to stay, paid for his methadone. When Carter was in the Bay Area, he'd track Willie down through a parole officer and arrange a visit. He also reached out to Drew, who lived with his mother. Carter always remembered his birthday.

    The Spann-Carter correspondence fills a file drawer in Carter's office. After an arrest, "I'd get a long, eloquent letter saying he'd been tempted by others," Carter recalls. "But what struck me was that he was constantly trying to correct himself."

    Even AIDS didn't reform him. In October 1994, he wrote Carter to say he was "clean and sober," and off to join Drew for his 10th birthday. The next month, he was caught with a hunting knife in his pocket. So when Carter visited the Bay Area three months later, his nephew was in San Quentin for violating parole.

    By the beginning of last year, Willie had wasted from 172 to 125 pounds. When he was released from prison in March, he discovered the San Francisco Cannabis Club, where AIDS patients with medical permission could buy marijuana.

    Willie would smoke cheap Mexican pot in the club's cafe, saying how it had helped him kick heroin and booze. He had joined a program to help other AIDS patients. But Dennis Peron, the club's founder, remembers the man's loneliness: "When he hugged you, he didn't want to let go."

    In December, Jimmy Carter came to San Francisco and found Willie in the hospital, his face cut and bruised. He said he'd been beaten up while walking past a bar.

    "He had all the nurses charmed," Carter recalls. Carter asked if he needed money, and Willie took $20 for cab fare home.

    On Dec. 16, after a record nine months of no violations, the California Department of Corrections finally discharged William Carter Spann from parole. He was 50 years old.

    Six weeks later, he stood in the pre-dawn chill, trying to turn his jacket into a drink.

    Francisco Noyola had gone inside the house for something to eat when he heard screaming outside.


    Noyola found a woman standing on the sidewalk, pointing at William through the chain-link fence. "He's turning blue!"

    Noyola's head was pounding. "He's just drunk," he assured her. But when he went over and grabbed William's wrist, he felt no pulse.

    "He could have died on the street, but I didn't let him lay down," Noyola would say a few weeks later. "He had his last cigarette, his last drink. At least he died in somebody's yard."

    The coroner notified Jimmy Carter. Since leaving office, he had negotiated peace in Haiti, brokered fair elections in Nicaragua, fought to eradicate the guinea worm from Africa. But he could not save his nephew from himself.

    The autopsy found a toxic level of alcohol, but no drugs. Drew's mother had the body cremated and collected the ashes; even in death, The Bad Peanut did not go back to Plains.

    Deadliest Drug Yields No Profit To Lebanese Farmers

    BAALBEK, Lebanon (UPI, March 12, 1997) - Lebanese farmers are threatening to replant hashish and opium in eastern Lebanon to protest government prices for their tobacco crop.

    The angry farmers demonstrated for a third consecutive day Wednesday in the ancient city of Baalbek, about 52 miles (83 km) east of Beirut.

    They set fire to piles of tobacco and shouted anti-government slogans.

    They were protesting a government decision to buy a mere 880 pounds (400 kg) of their crop at full price. The rest would fetch half-price.

    A syndicate for the tobacco farmers says in practice, only a quarter of the crop would be bought at full price.

    The government's encouragement for farmers to substitute tobacco for hashish and opium had resulted in a twofold increase in the tobacco harvest this year.

    Mayez Shamas, a farmer, says unless the government reverses its decision, the strike would continue and cultivators would replant hashish and opium in their Bekaa Valley plantations.

    Lebanon signed an agreement with the United Nations in 1994 setting up a $4.2 million project giving farmers loans and training to wean them from drug crops. But farmers have protested that the $1,100 loans do not cover what it costs to grow a substitute crop, let alone make up for lost drug income.



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