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April 3, 1997


Heavy Long-Term Marijuana Use Does Not Impair Lung Function,
Says New Study

April 3, 1997, Los Angeles, CA:  Habitual marijuana smokers do not experience a greater annual rate of decline in lung function than nonsmokers, according to the latest findings by researchers at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Medicine.  The results of the eight-year study appear in Volume 155 of the American Journal of Respiratory & Critical Care Medicine.  Dr. Donald P. Tashkin, who headed the study, is one of America's foremost experts on marijuana smoking and lung function.
"Findings from the present long-term, follow-up study of heavy, habitual marijuana smokers argue against the concept that continuing heavy use of marijuana is a significant risk factor for the development of [chronic lung disease]," concluded the UCLA study.  "Neither the continuing nor the intermittent marijuana smokers exhibited any significantly different rates of decline in [lung function]" as compared with those individuals who never smoked marijuana.  Researchers added: "No differences were noted between even quite heavy marijuana smoking and nonsmoking of marijuana."  These findings starkly contrasted those experienced by tobacco-only smokers who suffered a significant rate of decline in lung function.
Researchers also failed to find any synergistic effect between marijuana and tobacco cigarettes.  According to the report, individuals who smoked both did not suffer any faster rate of decline in lung function than individuals who smoked marijuana alone.
"The long-term findings of this study clearly refute the prohibitionist argument that marijuana smoking poses a significant danger to lung function," stated NORML Deputy Director Allen St. Pierre.
A total of 394 young Caucasian men and women agreed to participate in the study.  Researchers classified 131 of the participants as heavy marijuana smokers who did not smoke tobacco cigarettes, while 112 smoked both tobacco and marijuana.  An additional 65 men regularly smoked tobacco only and the remaining 86 participants were nonsmokers.  All participants were screened for pre-existing chronic chest diseases and found to be healthy upon entering the study.
Each participant underwent pulmonary function testing at the start of the study, and again on multiple occasions over the course of the next eight years.  During that interval, a number of patients were lost to follow up, but 255 participants (65 percent) completed the study and were tested again at up to six additional sessions.
The results of this latest long-term study on marijuana and health echo findings reached by an Australian group of researchers at the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre just one month ago.  That study, which involved interviews with 268 marijuana smokers and 31 non-using partners and family members, concluded that the health of long-term marijuana users is virtually no different from that of the general population.
Researchers from both studies cautioned that their results do not imply that regular marijuana smoking is free of all potentially harmful pulmonary effects.  Both groups stated that regular marijuana smokers were more likely to suffer mild respiratory problems such as wheezing and bronchitis than nonsmokers.
For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre or Paul Armentano of NORML @ (202) 483-5500.  A summary of the UCLA study appears in the March 1997 edition of Forensic Drug Abuse Advisor.


American Medical Association Demands Clinical Trials To Determine
Marijuana's Medical Effectiveness

April 3, 1997, Boston, MA:  Well designed clinical trials are necessary to properly determine marijuana's medical effectiveness, states the April 7 editorial in American Medical News, a newspaper of the American Medical Association (AMA)
Citing interest from the medical establishment and majority support from the public regarding the use of marijuana as a medicine, the editorial calls on the federal government to permit and fund clinical tests on the subject.  "Current curiosity over [this issue] will not fade away, regardless of how much the administration may hope it might," states the AMA.  "Well-designed clinical tests ... are what's needed.  ...The sooner researchers start on this course the better."
"Ultimately, the federal government will have to sponsor the demonstration of marijuana's clinical efficacy," said NORML Board Member Dr. Lester Grinspoon of Harvard Medical School.  Grinspoon said that marijuana's safety is already well-established, but argued for clinical trials to determine more precisely which ailments could be best alleviated by the drug's use.
The AMA states that it has called for such medical marijuana trials "for years."


North Dakota To Conduct Year-Long Study On Industrial Hemp

April 3, 1997, Bismarck, ND:  Legislation requiring North Dakota State University to study the feasibility and durability of industrial hemp production was signed into law on March 23.
House Bill 1305, introduced by a coalition of both representatives and senators, mandates the study to include "an analysis of required soils and growing conditions, seed availability, harvest methods, market economies, environmental benefits, and law enforcement concerns."  It is undetermined whether test plots of hemp will be grown for the study.  Researchers will report their findings and recommendations to the state legislative council by Aug. 1, 1988.
"Thomas Jefferson and George Washington were both industrial hemp producers," Rep. David Monson (R-Osnabrock) told reporters.  "This is as American as baseball and apple pie."
North Dakota is the third state to commission a study on the economic viability of domestic hemp cultivation.  A prior study commissioned by the Hawaii state legislature was completed this past January and a second study is currently underway in Vermont.
For more information on industrial hemp or pending hemp legislation, please contact Paul Armentano or Allen St. Pierre of NORML @ (202) 483-5500.


Maryland Brewing Company Gets OK To Distribute Hemp Beer In 23 States

April 1, 1997, Frederick, MD:  Frederick Brewing Company (FBC) of Maryland announced that it has gained federal approval to distribute the first-ever U.S. craft beer brewed with hemp seeds.  The beer, which will be marketed under the name Hempen Ale, will be made available for distribution on April 28 in 23 states and Washington, D.C.
"American farmers and manufacturers are being denied the opportunity to grow and process a valuable crop that can replace many acres of clear-cut forest lands and relies much less heavily on petrochemicals than the crops and products it would replace," said Kevin Brannon, FBC's chairman and chief executive officer.  "We support those who are attempting to awaken policymakers to the vast potential of a renewed American hemp industry, and we're doing our part -- one beer at a time."
Hemp seeds do not contain psychoactive qualities and are sometimes used in cooking for their nutritional benefits.  Hemp seeds contain 25 percent high quality protein and 40 percent fat in the form of an excellent quality oil.  According to physician and best-selling author, Dr. Andrew Weil of the University of Arizona College of Medicine, many of the compounds found in hemp seed oil are exceptionally "beneficial to health."
Beer brewed with hemp seeds is already available in parts of Europe.
For more information on hemp seed nutrition, please contact NORML board member Don Wirthshafter of The Ohio Hempery @ (614) 662-4367.

-END-

MORE THAN 10 MILLION MARIJUANA ARRESTS SINCE 1965 . . . ANOTHER EVERY 54 SECONDS!


© copyright 1996, 1997 NORML NORML Home Page comments: norml@natlnorml.org

Regional and other news


Body Count

Three of the seven 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," April 3, 1997, p. 9, 3M-MP-NE). That makes the body count so far this year 55 out of 118, or 46.61 percent.


Pretrial Urine Tests Voided In Oregon

An important victory was achieved in a Multnomah County court Monday, March 24, which could potentially impact every defendant in Oregon who faces mandatory urine testing as a condition of pretrial release. (The case is not relevant for parole/probation/post-conviction cases.) As a result of a ruling by Circuit Judge Ellen F. Rosenblum, any defendant who meets all other conditions of pretrial release should be able to remain free until trial, no matter how displeasing his or her urine may be to authorities, so long as the defendant's use does not make it unlikely that the person will appear for Court.
Rosenblum issued her decision in a "show cause" hearing for Phil Smith, a medical-marijuana user charged with four felonies and a misdemeanor in connection with cultivating cannabis for himself and other medical-marijuana users. When arraigned in January, Smith was released without having to post bail until trial under several conditions. One of those conditions was that he not use cannabis - that is, not consume the only medicine that works for his medical condition. Smith is represented by Leland Berger, also of Portland.
The "show cause" hearing, which began the previous Thursday, March 20, was scheduled when Smith allegedly violated the terms of his pretrial release by continuing to consume cannabis. The pretrial release supervisor felt obliged to report Smith's continuing urinalysis results (positive for THC). As a result, the prosecutor in the case felt obliged to try to have Smith locked up until trial (probably in May). In defending against this effort, Smith admitted his use, but claimed medical necessity, relying on Oregon's 'Choice of Evils' statute, ORS 161.200. The wheels were thus set in motion for the "show cause" hearing. Such hearings happen every day in courts all around Oregon, and the people who crowd jails all over the state as a result aren't even counted as marijuana or controlled-substance offenders in the official statistics.
Scheduled to testify on Smith's behalf were Dr. Tod H. Mikuriya, a California psychiatrist who both prescribed Smith Marinol and referred him to the Oakland CBC for his condition, and Dr. Robert Julien, a Portland anesthesiologist and former pharmacology professor. Smith was prepared to open Monday's hearing with his own testimony and cross-examination.
However, the prosecutor opened the hearing with his witnesses - Smith's pretrial release supervisor and the psychiatrist who treated Smith for 10 years. (The defendant's right to doctor-patient confidentiality was voided because of the decision to call Dr. Mikuryia. Oregon evidence law deems the privilege waived where the patient calls another doctor to testify as to the same condition. As it turned out, however, Smith's former psychiatrist wasn't any help to the prosecution either.)
In the end, Smith won without having to call a single witness. Ironically, the defense won because of the testimony of the prosecutor's own first witness, the pretrial release supervisor. That witness ingenuously stated his opinion: that Smith would show up for his trial. The prosecutor argued against his own witness's testimony, but the judge found his testimony credible.
Judge Rosenblum's decision came unexpectedly on Monday, just as the hearing was scheduled to resume. After meeting in chambers with the prosecutor and defense attorney, Rosenblum made her ruling based on her reading of the applicable case law, particularly Sexson v. Merten, 291 OR 441, 631 P2d 1367 (1981).
In that case, Lane County Circuit Judge Maurice K. Merten had allowed Sexson, (a defendant in a criminal prosecution charged with rape) to be released pending trial by posting $500, with the additional conditions that he not consume any alcoholic beverages, that he report to Lane County Mental Health and participate in all recommended programs there, and that he report to a release assistance officer. When Judge Merten denied Sexson's request to delete the no alcohol and mental health conditions, Sexson sought relief from the Oregon Supreme Court though a procedure called Mandamus, asking them the order the judge to delete these conditions.
The Supreme Court reviewed the applicable statues (ORS 135.230-135.290) and reaffirmed the requirement that conditions of release be reasonably related to assure the defendant's later appearance in Court. Unlike Federal Court, in Oregon there is no preventative detention. (Ballot Measure 40's effort to change this was enjoined by Marion County Circuit Judge Pamela L. Abernathy, as a part of her ruling in the ACLU's challenge to that measure.) As to Sexson, the Court ruled that because there was some evidence in the record to show that he had an alcohol problem, and because 'the use of alcohol may result in forgetfulness or irresponsibility which, in turn, may result in defendant's failure to appear at trial,' it would deny that part of Sexson's appeal. The Court struck the mental health treatment condition, however, because it was not reasonably related to the likelihood that he would appear.
As regards Smith, Judge Rosenblum found him in technical violation of the terms of his pretrial release based on his admission that he had consumed cannabis. Though she did not actually rule he broke the law, Judge Rosenblum admonished Smith not to do so again. She also concluded that it was unnecessary to decide at this juncture whether his use was medically necessary or justified under the choice of evils doctrine. Finding that there was no reason to doubt that Smith would make future Court appearances, and that the existing release conditions requiring Drug Testing and Evaluation were not reasonably necessary to ensure the defendant's appearance at future court dates, she ordered Smith's conditional third party release to the Pre-Trial Release Supervision Program be continued; denied his alternative Motion for Release on Personal Recognizance and deleted the condition that required him to comply with the Drug Testing and Evaluation component of the program.
If enough other attorneys and defendants in Oregon spread the word about Judge Rosenblum's decision, many if not most defendants charged with violating laws against marijuana - and perhaps other controlled substances - should be able to avoid the dehumanizing and unscientific pretrial urine-testing requirement. However, a defendant and his or her attorney would probably need to rebut a prosecutor's claim that in a particular case, testing is a legitimate way of determining the likelihood of appearance at future court dates.

[Postscript: For reasons unknown to Portland NORML, the Oregon legislature changed the rules within weeks of Smith's costly courtroom victory. Henceforth, according to Smith's attorney, Leland Berger, testing positive for cannabis or any other illegal drug ipso facto constitutes grounds for marijuana defendants to be jailed prior to their trial in Oregon.].


Cascade Hemp Supply Opens Large Retail Store In Vancouver, Washington

Gretchen Harris writes:
Hello fellow hempsters,
I am writing to let all of you know about a venture that we have just completed. I lost my mom to environmental cancer when I was 19, my grandma and grandpa when I was 20, and my uncle and aunt when I was 21. We decided that we would pool our resources and my husband and I founded Cascade Hemp Supply. We figured the only way hemp would could catch on as a sustainable renewable resource was to bring it mainstream.
We just opened a 2,500 square-foot hemp store in Vancouver, Washington. It is in a 1,000,000 square-foot mall, right next door to Nordstroms. The response so far has been good. I just wanted to let all my fellow activists know that they now have a place to purchase almost anything made from hemp in the Portland Oregon area. Our grand opening is April 20th at 4:20. Please come if you can and show your support. By the way, this is my first posting to the net and if I screwed it up I am really sorry.

Thanks for your support,

Gretchen Harris
Cascade Hemp Supply
Vancouver Mall
8700 NE Vancouver Mall Dr. #216
Vancouver, WA 98662
360-883-2587

[End quote]

Vancouver Mall is the only mall in Clark County, Washington. Cascade Hemp Supply was scheduled to be featured on the front page of the Leisure section of Vancouver's daily paper, The Columbian, on Friday, April 4. The store is upstairs on the west side of Nordstrom. According to T.D. Miller, director of Portland NORML, a recent visit found upscale women bypassing Nordstrom in order to buy fine hemp dresses, bedsheets and other high-quality products at Cascade Hemp. Miller reports the Harrises are determined to offer only the finest hemp goods, and their store is probably the largest such retailer in the country. (In a personal e-mail, Gretchen wrote that they opened with $200,000 in inventory. "I am pretty sure we are the only hemp store in a mainstream mall," she added.) At this point their biggest problem seems to be keeping goods in stock, since all raw hemp must be imported from other countries, and even hemp products processed in the United States can still take a relatively long time to restock. - ed.


Oregon Cannabis Tax Act Benefit April 20

The benefit concert takes place The Temple, Southeast 39th Avenue and Hawthorne Boulevard in Portland. For information call (503) 235-4606 or visit http://www.crrh.org/ on the Web.


AAPL Activist Calls For Blockbuster Video Boycott

On March 29 Paul Stone wrote:
I have been aware for some time that Blockbuster Video requires applicants to submit hair samples for drug testing. The test works like a hair analysis. Drugs can be detected for over a year. This in my opinion is Fascism. There are so many reasons this pharmacological McCarthyism must be opposed. What about someone who is in recovery? What if someone has one relapse? Are they not entitled to an income?
I heard about the hair testing at Blockbuster a few years ago on television. I purchased a CD at one of their audio stores. I asked the clerk if they had to give hair samples. He stated, " yes we do." I found the same CD down the street for less. I then returned to Blockbuster and told them I wanted my money returned. The clerk said "no problem you were just here." Well, on the return form it asked the reason for the return. I wrote in "against hair testing."
I am asking my fellow anti-prohibitionists to do the same. Go to a Blockbuster video or audio and purchase an item. Then return it in a short period of time. Write in reason for return "against hair testing."

Paul Stone

American Anti-Prohibition League, Portland, Oregon


Scope Of Intolerance In Oregon Raises Eyebrows In New Jersey

"Scope of tolerance"

The Star-Ledger (Newark, NJ), March 29, 1997, Opinion section
No Scope The recent trend of schools establishing a "zero tolerance" towards drugs and alcohol is admirable and makes sense.
But there is a point where it goes too far.
In Portland, Ore., a 13-year-old kid was suspended from school because he took a swig of Scope mouthwash to get the bad taste of the school lunch out of his mouth.
A security guard at Parkrose Middle School saw Adam McMakin take the bottle from his locker, swig and swallow. The next thing you know, he was suspended for a week.
But school officials say the mouthwash violated their zero-tolerance policy for alcohol and they're just trying to make sure things don't get out of hand.
The poor kid said the lunch that day tasted kind of bad, and since he didn't have a place to spit, he simply swallowed after squishing it around a little. "They could have just warned me and I wouldn't have used it any more," he said.
The boy's mother, who found the punishment a little excessive, said she was aware that Scope contained some alcohol, but was unaware that amount was 18.9 percent. At that level, she said, it should be regulated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms instead of the Food and Drug Administration.
This is not the first time common drugstore items have gotten students in trouble. Students around the country have been suspended for sharing such items as Alka Seltzer and Tylenol under these stricter rules.
Drugs are a serious concern and measures must be taken to address the problem. But let's give it a break, huh?


Interpol Admits Drug War Being Lost

"Head Of Interpol Calls For Drugs Decriminalisation - Admits War Being Lost"

Agence France Presse, March 22, 1997
The head of Interpol, the international police force, on Saturday called for the decriminalisation of drugs and admitted police were "losing the battle" against illegal drug taking and dealing.
"We are losing the battle but we have not lost it. I'm a realist but not a defeatist," Raymond Kendall, Interpol secretary general, said on BBC television's Newsnight programme. "Clearly, in relation to the policies that are being applied, there is an imbalance between a totally prohibitive approach and the necessary complement in terms of reducing demand and dealing with educational prevention, rehabilitation and treatment measures.
"When we say decriminalisation, we do not mean legalisation."
He added: "I believe that politicians and governments do have a responsibility for seeing that harmful substances are not freely available on the streets and where they have a responsibility also is providing the right sort of budgetary measures to deal with demand reduction."


'When Newt Gingrich Spoke Out For Medical Pot'

The San Francisco Examiner, March 28, 1997, p. A23
By Steve Heilig
SF Newt The history of our nation's recurrent "war" on drugs is full of irony. Consider the following quote:
"We believe licensed physicians are competent to employ marijuana, and patients have a right to employ marijuana legally, under medical supervision from a regulated source.
"The medical prohibition does not prevent seriously ill patients from employing marijuana; it simply deprives them of medical supervision and access to a regulated medical substance.
"Physicians are often forced to choose between their ethical responsibilities to the patient and their legal liabilities to federal bureaucrats."
True words, and wisely put. But who is the source? An activist spokesman from a cannabis buyers' club? A committed physician angry when threatened because he believes some patients benefit from marijuana? A liberal academic or columnist?
None of the above. The author is House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
He wrote about pot in the Journal of the American Medical Association in March of 1982.
At that point, the Republican from Georgia was embarking on his rise and fall as King of the Hill, but he had a way with words and seemingly a good grip on the true conservative's creed of minimal governmental interference in private lives.
Republicans since have been deafeningly silent on this issue. Isn't it ironic, then, that our "liberal" Democratic administration has taken a hard-line prohibitive stance on medical marijuana following California voters' strong approval of Proposition 215 and the enactment of a similar initiative in Arizona?
The public understands the difference between the issue of medical use and the broader debate over drug decriminalization, but some of our elected officials cannot seem to grasp that distinction.
That bureaucratic inability to draw lines leads to another irony in the medical marijuana debate: Since medical use of marijuana became "legal" in California, doctors who had for decades been quietly supervising a few patients' use of marijuana where other remedies failed are now afraid to do so.
So far, regarding Prop. 215, nothing fails like success. Washington's drug warriors have intimidated doctors, and some sick patients' needs are held hostage. A few good doctors are so angry that they are suing their own government for the right to practice medicine as they see fit. Something seems wrong here.
Our legal drugs - tobacco and alcohol - harm and kill far more people than illegal ones. High-level government health panels have endorsed needle exchange as a means to fight AIDS without worsening drug problems, but the feds refuse to approve such programs.
Another example of our confused policies is seen in the fiasco regarding the Mexican government's leading narcotics bureaucrat, hailed as a true anti-drug hero by our own drug warriors and promptly exposed as a corrupt figure one step removed from cocaine-smuggling kingpins.
The widespread belief among Americans that shadowy figures in our own government have been involved in drug dealings in Central America and elsewhere indicates how bankrupt our policies are perceived to be.
Our kids are pretty skeptical, too. President Clinton's new drug-control strategy contains some encouraging words about being honest with children and not demonizing all drug users. But if we "follow the money," the same old story prevails: Law enforcement takes precedence over health and medical needs.
We'll build more prisons, where drugs are rampant and few prisoners are rehabilitated.
The school-based DARE program, wherein police officers visit schools and attempt to scare kids away from drugs, has been shown to be less than effective - but will continue to be fully funded anyway.
And tobacco and alcohol merchants largely will escape being targeted by the government's new anti-drug media campaign.
What can be done? The conviction that drug abuse is more a public health issue than a legal one is shared by an increasing number of experts from all walks of life.
So to start, we might consider making treatment for addiction available to everyone who needs it, instead of expecting them to wait for so long that they get frustrated and disappear. We might pay for that by increasing the taxes on legal drugs like alcohol and tobacco to levels found in other civilized nations.
We could further restrict or even ban tobacco and alcohol advertising altogether.
We might repeal mandatory sentencing of drug users and instead have mandatory addiction treatment for criminals. Money saved on prisons could be spent instead on drug treatment and education.
We might focus the drug education of our children on the dangers of legal drugs and the truth about illegal ones, rather than hysterical scaremongering.
The issues are complicated, yes, and there's much work to be done. But if I can be in full agreement with Newt Gingrich on such an issue as medical marijuana, anything is possible, and perhaps some of these other drug war ironies can be resolved at last.

Examiner contributor Steve Heilig, a Join Together National Fellow focusing on drug policy, is director of public health and education for the San Francisco Medical Society.


ABC's 'March Against Drugs' Post-Mortem

"ABC Does Drugs"

By Frank Rich
The New York Times, April 3, 1997
Peter Jennings In the no-good-deed-goes-unpunished sweepstakes, pity poor ABC. Unable to win Nielsen rating points, the number-3 network spent all of March in search of Brownie points by staging a "March Against Drugs," in which everyone from its soap-opera stars to its news anchors enlisted in the drug war by participating in public-service commercials and special drug-oriented programming. The payoff? ABC's efforts have been sniped at by journalists and drug-war reformers like Common Sense for Drug Policy and ignored by most everyone else. The heavily publicized grand finale of ABC's long March - a town meeting with kids and parents conducted by Peter Jennings on Sunday night - drew a pitiful 6 percent of the TV audience, the smallest of the network's season. Billed by ABC as the "D-Day" of its anti-drug offensive, it was more reminiscent of Tet.
On the phone last week, Mr. Jennings described the month as a good-faith effort and a learning experience for him and his colleagues. True, true. But the entire drug war, America's most costly defeat since Vietnam, has been in good faith. The only hope for fixing it is to learn from its failures - as exemplified by ABC's. The network's good deeds in its March offensive, and there were some, were defeated by hypocrisy, fatuous sloganeering and a reluctance to ask more than sporadic questions about the premises that have made the drug war a quagmire swallowing up lives, money and hope. Teen-age drug use has doubled since 1992.
ABC's mantra for the month was not "Just Say No" but, more or less, "Just Talk About It." Over and over the network hectored parents to talk - or, more voguishly, "communicate" - with their kids about drugs. Who would disagree? But ABC, in its own parental role, showed just why such conversations often fail: Adults lose credibility with teen-agers when they talk one game and play another. By running beer commercials all March on programming that reaches as many teen-agers as its anti-drug pitches, if not more, ABC promoted the sex appeal of a legal drug, alcohol, that causes more death and destruction than marijuana. Is its owner, Disney, so straitened by Michael Ovitz's settlement that it couldn't kick its addiction to alcohol ad dollars for even 31 days? Had it done so, that would have impressed some teen-agers I know far more than any sitcom stars delivering sermons.
ABC News's preference for propaganda over journalism during "March Against Drugs" was also a lost opportunity. The network did put a few drug-war critics on the air - including one who briefly raised questions about the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, a participant in "March Against Drugs" - but such initiative was rare. Though the network began and ended the month by highlighting the scary story of those Woburn, Mass., teen-agers who almost died by overdosing on prescription muscle relaxants, it didn't follow up its own initial report's most telling detail: One victim's mother said her child had been through D.A.R.E., the country's most prevalent drug-education program. Had ABC been reporting instead of preaching, that revelation would have prompted a sustained look into recent studies arguing that D.A.R.E. is as ineffectual as it is costly ($600 million in public funds). Why raise the question only to beg it?
Nor did ABC News want to question the current Administration's inconsistent and losing prosecution of the drug war (typified by President Clinton's condemnation on Tuesday of hard-liquor but not beer ads on TV). Instead Mr. Clinton became an ABC on-air personality, guest-starring in anti-drug spots and granting "Good Morning America" an "exclusive" interview in which he praised ABC profusely and fielded only softball questions about his drug conversations with Chelsea. This isn't journalism so much as a mutually self-serving exercise in image enhancement at a time when both a floundering network and a scandal-scarred Administration need it badly.
Back during Vietnam, the joke was that the fastest way to end the war was to put it on ABC - then also number 3 - because it would be canceled as quickly as its doomed programs. This time ABC seems determined to prolong an ill-fought war against drugs, not in the least by sending some bored viewers in search of more potent stimulants.


Partnership For A Drug-Free America Goes For The Cheap Shot

On March 30 Scott Dykstra e-mailed the Partnership For A Drug-Free America from its Web site at http://www.drugfreeamerica.org/, asking why the PDFA focuses on marijuana, as opposed to alcohol and tobacco, which are much more habit-forming and popular with youth, and which kill about 100,000 and 400,000 Americans a year, respectively.
The PDFA (webmail@drugfree.org) responded:
Scott -

Overkill >Our focus is on illegal drugs. You may not agree with that, but that's
>where we're at...
>
>We're well aware of the tremendous impact alcohol and tobacco have on
>public health in the United States. But we don't target these
>substances in our national campaign because we simply can't compete
>with the billions spent to promote alcohol/tobacco. If we could, we
>would. From a sheer marketing perspective, we can't compete with this
>type of marketing muscle. That's the fact; that's market reality. The
>tobacco industry alone spends $6 billion annually on marketing and
>promotion. To compete, you'd have to spend more than that to impact
>the target audiences. (Anyone got $7 billion lying around the house?)...
>
>Thanks for your note. We appreciate your taking the time to share your
>views with us....

To which Art Sobey responded:
This is a remarkable admission. What they're saying is that in order to earn a living they have targeted a politically weak minority that hasn't got much in the way of firepower to fight back with. They're just looking for an easy way to make a living.
The immorality of PDFA is now apparent for all to see. We knew it all along and now they've confirmed it. This letter is damning.

Sickle-Cell Medical Marijuana Patient-Activist Arrested

Guarded Conditions - Photo by Lorna Simpson 12021 Wilshire Blvd. #356
Los Angeles, CA 90025

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

DATE: March 27, 1997
CONTACT: Richard M. Davis
TEL: (310) 442-9073

Cannabis Freedom Fund cites violation of constitutional right to privacy in arrest of sickle cell patient by LAPD.

Sickle-cell medical marijuana patient-activist, Sister Somayah Kambui, was arrested and charged with possession of marijuana for sale.
The US Air Force Veteran was being treated by the V.A. and was in compliance with Prop. 215 when arrested.
The Cannabis Co-Op for the Crescent Alliance Self Help for Sickle Cell Project Hemp, in South Central Los Angeles, was raided Thursday morning March 20, 1997 after Los Angeles Police Department officers chased a young black man suspected of petty theft of an alcoholic beverage into the co-op headquarters. The young man, burst through the back door of the home of Sister Somayah Kambui, the Director of both the Alliance and its Cannabis Co-op, seeking refuge. During the 2-hour siege, Kambui was physically thrown out the front door of her house by the suspect.
But instead of leaving after apprehending the suspect, the LAPD raided Sister Somayah's home, invaded her privacy and seized her sanctioned and legal hemp products, and arrested her for possession of marijuana for sale. About a pound and one half of green leaf bagged for tea, tincture, breads, etc., and about 40 pounds of sterile hemp seeds, were taken as evidence. Sister Somayah was charged with possession of marijuana for sale and is expected to appear in court for arraignment April 18, 1997 at 9:00 A.M. in the Los Angeles Municipal Court on Temple Street, downtown L.A. Everyone concerned is encouraged to attend. Sister Somayah is seeking legal assistance and will pursue financial restitution for this unlawful invasion by the LAPD.

Contact:

Sister Somayah Kambui, Director
Crescent Alliance Self Help for Sickle Cell,
Project Hemp is Hep 213/234-8701

Richard M. Davis, President
Cannabis Freedom Fund 310/442-9073
FAX: 310/442-9072
E-mail: edna@gte.net


'How Marijuana Causes Insanity' In 'The Atlantic Monthly'

The cover of the April Atlantic Monthly brandishes the headline, "How Marijuana Causes Insanity." By the time you slap your forehead and find the article, you can heave a sigh of relief. The title of the article is "More Reefer Madness," and the subhead begins, "Marijuana gives rise to insanity - not in its users but in the policies directed against it." The article focuses on the impact fanatical enforcement is having on criminal justice and corrections in both state and federal systems.
"How Marijuana Causes Insanity" is a continuation of a two-part series by Eric Schlosser that appeared in the August and September 1994 Atlantic Monthly. Schlosser won a National Magazine Award for the series. Titled, respectively, "Reefer Madness" and "Marijuana and the Law," the articles can be found in Portland NORML's World Wide Web pages at
http://www.pdxnorml.org/Atlantic_Monthly_Reefer_Madness.html and http://www.pdxnorml.org/Atlantic_Marijuana_and_the_Law.html. The new article can be found, with graphics, in the magazine's Web pages at http://www.theatlantic.com/atlantic/issues/97apr/reef.htm.
Some excerpts:
Marijuana gives rise to insanity - not in its users but in the policies directed against it. A nation that sentences the possessor of a single joint to life imprisonment without parole but sets a murderer free after perhaps six years is, the author writes, "in the grip of a deep psychosis"...
The rise in marijuana use among American teenagers became a prominent issue during last year's presidential campaign, fueled by Republican accusations that President Bill Clinton was "soft on drugs." Teenage marijuana use has indeed grown considerably since 1992; by one measure it has doubled. But that increase cannot be attributed to any slackening in the enforcement of the nation's marijuana laws. In fact, the number of Americans arrested each year for marijuana offenses has increased by 43 percent since Clinton took office. There were roughly 600,000 marijuana-related arrests nationwide in 1995 - an all-time record. More Americans were arrested for marijuana offenses during the first three years of Clinton's presidency than during any other three-year period in the nation's history. More Americans are in prison today for marijuana offenses than at any other time in our history. And yet teenage marijuana use continues to grow.
The war on drugs, launched by President Ronald Reagan in 1982, began as an assault on marijuana. Its effects are now felt throughout America's criminal-justice system. In 1980 there were almost twice as many violent offenders in federal prison as drug offenders. Today there are far more people in federal prison for marijuana crimes than for violent crimes. More people are now incarcerated in the nation's prisons for marijuana than for manslaughter or rape.
In an era when the fear of violence pervades the United States, small-time pot dealers are being given life sentences while violent offenders are being released early, only to commit more crimes. The federal prison system and thirty-eight state prison systems are now operating above their rated capacity. Attempts to reduce dangerous prison overcrowding have been hampered by the nation's drug laws. Prison cells across the country are filled with nonviolent drug offenders whose mandatory-minimum sentences do not allow for parole. At the same time, violent offenders are routinely being granted early release. A recent study by the Justice Department found that in 1992 violent offenders on average were released after serving less than half of their sentences. A person convicted of murder in the United States could expect a punishment of less than six years in prison. A person convicted of kidnapping could expect about four years. Another Justice Department study revealed that almost a third of all violent offenders who are released from prison will be arrested for another violent crime within three years. No one knows how many violent crimes these released inmates commit without ever being caught. In 1992 the average punishment for a violent offender in the United States was forty-three months in prison. The average punishment, under federal law, for a marijuana offender that same year was about fifty months in prison.
An interview with Schlosser from Salon magazine is included in this news release, below.


He Works For You

On April 1 A.H. Clements wrote:
Hey hey people,
In calling ONDCP today I got the drug czar's e-mail address from a friendly secretary. I was given MCCAFFREY_B@a1.eop.gov which seems to work, as my e-mail hasn't bounced (yet). The phone number I called is (202) 395-6701 and his private secretary is "Wanda."
Let's see if he responds :-)

take care -- peace -- ashley in atlanta


Dog

Man Bites Dogs

A student in Sacramento has designed a nice Web page about his lawsuit to stop random, warrantless searches of students and teachers at his high school by drug-sniffing dogs. Check it out at http://www.softcom.net/users/kareed.







Second-Hand Smoke Kills 40,000, Cannabis 0

Superman experiments













On April 1 "Philliz@aol.com" wrote:
In the December 1996 issue of Consumer Reports magazine, there is a survey of ranking risks to cause of death. Listed below are the top ten causes of death, the deaths/year from each cause, and how the people surveyed ranked the risk:
Cause of death		Deaths/year	 Survey rank

Tobacco use		419,000			1
Alcohol-related		108,000			4
Motor-vehicle accidents	42,000			2
Secondhand smoke	40,000			7
AIDS			30,000			3
Drunk driving		17,000			6
Radon (lung cancer)	13,600			17
Food poisoning		9,000			10
Falls in home		7,100			8
Drowning		4,800			9

** figures are based on most recent years available.
Clifford A. Schaffer responded:
Take a look at the study under the tobacco section on my Web site, http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/tobacco/
It is a study by the state of California which indicates that second-hand tobacco smoke kills more infants than the total number of deaths caused by illegal drugs.
[So if prohibitionists were consistent, how many cigarette smokers should they lock up to get the best results? - ed.]


Cannabinoids Protect Brain

On April 2 Robert Melamede wrote:
Brain
Only those who have already lost too many neurons from not smoking pot would be incapable of recognizing the potential health benefits suggested by the following article.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 93 (9): 3984-3989 (1996)

The Aliamide palmitoylethanolamide and cannabinoids, but not anandamide, are protective in a delayed postglutamate paradigm of excitotoxic death in cerebellar granule neurons.

Skaper SD, Buriani A, Dal Toso R, Petrelli L, Romanello S, Facci L, Leon A

Researchlife S.c.p.A., Centro di Ricerca Biomedica-Ospedale Civile, Veneto, TV, Italy.

The amino acid L-glutamate is a neurotransmitter that mediates fast neuronal excitation in a majority of synapses in the central nervous system. Glutamate stimulates both N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) and non-NMDA receptors. While activation of NMDA receptors has been implicated in a variety of neurophysiologic processes, excessive NMDA receptor stimulation (excitotoxicity) is thought to be primarily responsible for neuronal injury in a wide variety of acute neurological disorders including hypoxia-ischemia, seizures, and trauma. Very little is known about endogenous molecules and mechanisms capable of modulating excitotoxic neuronal death. Saturated N-acylethanolamides like palmitoylethanolamide accumulate in ischemic tissues and are synthesized by neurons upon excitatory amino acid receptor activation. Here we report that palmitoylethanolamide, but not the cognate N-acylamide anandamide (the ethanolamide of arachidonic acid), protects cultured mouse cerebellar granule cells against glutamate toxicity in a delayed postagonist paradigm. Palmitoylethanolamide reduced this injury in a concentration-dependent manner and was maximally effective when added 15-min postglutamate. Cannabinoids, which like palmitoylethanolamide are functionally active at the peripheral cannabinoid receptor CB2 on mast cells, also prevented neuron loss in this delayed postglutamate model. Furthermore, the neuroprotective effects of palmitoylethanolamide, as well as that of the active cannabinoids, were efficiently antagonized by the candidate central cannabinoid receptor (CB1) agonist anandamide. Analogous pharmacological behaviors have been observed for palmitoylethanolamide (ALI-Amides) in downmodulating mast cell activation. Cerebellar granule cells expressed mRNA for CB1 and CB2 by in situ hybridization, while two cannabinoid binding sites were detected in cerebellar membranes. The results suggest that (i) non-CB1 cannabinoid receptors control, upon agonist binding, the downstream consequences of an excitotoxic stimulus; (ii) palmitoylethanolamide, unlike anandamide, behaves as an endogenous agonist for CB2-like receptors on granule cells; and (iii) activation of such receptors may serve to downmodulate deleterious cellular processes following pathological events or noxious stimuli in both the nervous and immune systems.

Bob Melamede, Ph.D. Assistant Professor
Dept. of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics
University of Vermont
Burlington, VT 05405
802 656-8501
http://www.uvm.edu/~rmelamed/

ACLU Targets War On Some Drugs

The American Civil Liberties Union's "Workplan for 1997" includes a section on drug policy, one out of five items of major concern for 1997. It is encouraging that drug policy has made their list, thanks in large part to Propositions 200 and 215. Not everyone will agree with their stances on many issues, but they have a rational approach on drug policy, and are willing to commit some resources to the fight. - ed.
Contact: Ira Glasser
American Civil Liberties Union
132 West 43rd Street
New York, NY 10036-6599
http://www.aclu.org/
e-mail: aclu@aclu.org

Threat #5: The Federal Backlash Against The Movement For Saner Drug Policies

Drug scares are a recurring theme in American history, and they have always been racially tinged. But the truth is prohibition didn't work for alcohol, and it hasn't worked for other drugs. In our battle to restore constitutional principles to this nation's unrealistic drug policy, the ACLU is concentrating on three major areas of concern:

1. Medical Use of Marijuana
Even though voters in California and Arizona approved measures aimed at making it legal for residents of those states with serious medical conditions to use marijuana if recommended by a physician . . . the "empire" already has struck back.
The Clinton Administration has now warned doctors in both states that if they so much as recommend marijuana for any patients, they risk government sanctions as well as possible criminal prosecution.

  • Already the ACLU's Northern California affiliate has joined in a lawsuit to enjoin that federal threat as a violation of doctors' First Amendment rights to speak about and recommend what seems to work for their patients.

    2. Clean Needles
    The National Academy of Sciences, the Centers for Disease Control and the General Accounting Office of the U.S. Congress have all concluded that making sterile syringes available to drug users significantly reduces the spread of HIV infection while in no way encouraging drug use.

  • Because most law enforcement continues to destructively oppose providing clean needles to drug users, the ACLU will continue to defend people prosecuted for distributing clean needles and will work to pass laws decriminalizing the distribution of clean needles.

    3. Mandatory Sentences for First-Time Drug Offenders
    Mandatory long-term incarceration for drug law violations - including possession of small amounts for personal use - has swelled America's prisons to the point where the U.S. has the highest rate of incarceration in the world. In 1980, 25 percent of federal inmates were there for drug law violations; by 1994 it was over 60 percent!
    Even more unconscionable, studies show that minorities convicted of drug offenses are far more likely to go to prison than whites, and to receive much longer sentences.

  • The ACLU is dedicated to restoring common sense to this nation's drug policies - and to restoring the Fourteenth Amendment promise of "equal protection before the law" to all persons accused and convicted of violating this nation's drug laws.

  • San Francisco Considers Legal Defense For Doctors Recommending Cannabis

    "A Homegrown Defense"

    The Recorder, American Lawyer Media, L.P., March 25, 1997, p. 1
    By Mike McKee
    San Francisco Signaling an escalation in the medical pot wars, the city of San Francisco is considering picking up the legal defense tab of city-employed doctors if they are busted for recommending marijuana.
    But doctors might face restrictions on which illnesses they may suggest pot be used for if the city adopts a measure "approving" select ailments for marijuana treatment.
    The two proposals are the latest in a raft of recommendations from the city's Department of Public Health for implementing Proposition 215, the state initiative approved by voters in November that allows doctors to recommend pot as a treatment for some illnesses.
    The city has long supported medicinal marijuana legislation. A pot package, including both the legal defense and approved ailments measures, is expected to go before the Board of Supervisors on April 10.
    The resolution to protect the approximately 315 city-employed doctors is an especially bold move because it would directly challenge the federal government's plans to prosecute or terminate the prescription power of doctors caught recommending pot.
    But the proposal to identify officially treatable diseases could create stricter controls than envisioned under Prop 215.
    "We're interested in defending those physicians who make good clinical judgments in line with Health Department guidelines and who are trying to provide the best care for their patients," Deputy City Attorney Jean Fraser said Friday. "It's not 100 percent protection, and we're trying to make sure doctors know that." Specifically, the resolution, already backed by Supervisors Sue Bierman, Leslie Katz and Susan Leal, states that licensed physicians with the city's Health Department "shall have their legal defense provided at city expense in a federal criminal or administrative proceeding."
    That defense will be provided by the city attorney's office as long as the doctor's marijuana recommendation was made in the course of his or her employment with the city; met Health Department guidelines; and was not made in exchange for monetary gain.
    Fraser said the city bases its vow to defend on Government Code 995.6 and 995.8, which, according to the resolution, allow counties to defend employees in administrative or criminal proceedings that result from an act taken in the course of the employees' work.
    Neither Bierman nor Katz could be reached for comment, but Leal said the proposal is aimed at protecting city-employed physicians if "in their best judgment" marijuana was appropriate treatment for a particular patient. The city employs doctors at places such as Laguna Honda Hospital and neighborhood community health clinics. Spokesmen for the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Washington, D.C.- based Office of National Drug Control Policy didn't return telephone calls.
    But the city's idea was greeted skeptically over the weekend at the California Medical Association's annual conference in San Francisco. In particular, some doctors criticized the San Francisco Health Department's plan to identify marijuana-treatable diseases.
    "Clinical guidelines are best set up by a larger body," said Dr. Toni Brayer, immediate past president of the San Francisco Medical Society. "When smaller factions tackle an issue like this, it doesn't do us much good."

    Approved Illnesses

    The guidelines, which would apply only to doctors employed by the city of San Francisco, could rein in Prop 215, which OK'd marijuana use for "cancer, anorexia, AIDS, chronic pain, spasticity, glaucoma, arthritis, migraines and any other illness for which marijuana provides relief."
    Jan Gurley, medical director of the Health Department's AIDS office, said last week that the guidelines for treatable diseases haven't been finished, but that they will clearly identify illnesses for which there is some proof of marijuana efficacy and others where there is no proof at all.
    The implementation guidelines, which refer to buyers' clubs as " medicinal marijuana distribution centers," provide standards for the collection and dissemination of marijuana; records keeping and file maintenance (which includes the mandate that clubs "should not pay employees, staff or volunteers with cannabis"); and operating procedures, which likely will lead to the licensing of marijuana clubs.
    Dennis Peron, founder of San Francisco's Cannabis Cultivators' Club, took part in the sessions aimed at coming up with guidelines. But he wasn't aware of the illness identification proposal, and he wasn't happy with it.
    "I don't know how they are going to do that," he said Friday. "It's like second-guessing a doctor-patient relationship. Anybody who tries to do that is going to screw it up."
    Peron, who has fought for pot legalization for decades, said he has counted 105 ailments treatable by marijuana - "from alcoholism to tendinitis and a lot of things in between, including manic depressiveness." "They're going to end up with a list of hundreds," he said. "Why not let the doctors decide?"


    Bill To Modify Proposition 215 Passes California Senate Committee

    "State's Medical Marijuana Bill Passes 1st Test"

    The Los Angeles Times, April 3, 1997
    By Jenifer Warren, Times Staff Writer
    SACRAMENTO - A bill aiming to make it easier for sick people to buy marijuana for medical use passed its first test in the state Legislature on Wednesday.
    After a hearing featuring passionate testimony on the perils and health benefits of marijuana, the Senate Health and Human Services Committee sent the bill onward with a 5-2 vote.
    The bill seeks to guarantee safe and affordable marijuana for the bill as allowed under Proposition 215, passed by 56% of the voters in November. It would create a 12-member task force to design a distribution network making marijuana available to those in need.
    Now, cancer patients and others seeking relief through marijuana must grow their own or turn to back-alley dealers and buyers' clubs that have sprouted in several cities. Prices vary wildly, and the quest for marijuana can be taxing on the ill.
    The legislation also would create a Medical Marijuana Research Center at the University of California and allocate $6 million over three years for research on the health risks and merits of marijuana.
    Scientists testifying Wednesday said such research is vital to resolve lingering questions about marijuana's effectiveness and how best to administer it for ailments ranging from glaucoma to cancer and chronic pain. Such questions were at the heart of the debate over Proposition 215, with advocates touting medical marijuana as a proven tonic and opponents disputing its worth.
    Dr. Igor Grant, professor of psychiatry at UC San Diego, urged approval of the bill to resolve that disagreement once and for all. "My concern is that the pyrotechnics of the marijuana debate not leave behind two unintended victims - the patients who are suffering and the truth," Grant said. With more research, "California can lead the way from opinion to fact," he said.
    Sen. John Vasconcellos (D-Santa Clara), the bill's author, echoed that argument, saying his goal is to "clear the air on all the controversy."
    "It's a very simple bill," he said. "The way people are reacting, you'd think it was the end of Western civilization if a sick person smokes a joint."
    Vasconcellos was referring to the passionate testimony by opponents who predicted that making medical marijuana available is the first step down the road to legalizing other drugs. One of those foes, Art Croney, testified Wednesday that marijuana is "quack medicine" and a "cruel hoax on the suffering people of California."
    "Marijuana is not a medicine," said Croney, a lobbyist for the Committee on Moral Concerns. "It is a drug that makes people think they feel better."
    Joni Commons, a mother of four from San Jose, acknowledged that marijuana has indeed made her feel better, dramatically reducing the nausea associated with the chemotherapy she receives for breast cancer.
    "I was about ready to give up on my treatment because the quality of life just wasn't there," Commons told the committee. Now, she can take three small puffs of marijuana and "suddenly the nausea is gone. You can even eat a little something," she said.
    The legislation has been endorsed by a wide variety of groups, from AIDS Project Los Angeles to the California Nurses Assn. and the Berkeley City Council. Opponents include the California Narcotics Officers Assn., the California State Sheriffs Assn. and Atty. Gen. Dan Lungren.
    A representative for Lungren, who campaigned vigorously against Proposition 215, testified against the bill - but not for the reasons voiced by other opponents. Senior Assistant Atty. Gen. John Gordnier said the legislation goes beyond what was permitted by voters.
    Vasconcellos called such criticism "blatantly dishonest," noting that Lungren had fought Proposition 215 on other grounds from the start. "First he opposes 215 and now he wants to protect it? the senator said.


    Cannabis Club Signs Contracts With Growers

    "Club cuts deals with pot growers"

    SAN FRANCISCO (United Press International, April 3, 1997) - San Francisco's Cannabis Cultivators Club has signed contracts with nearly 200 marijuana growers in northern California's so-called Emerald Triangle to produce high-quality pot for medicinal use.
    John Entwistle, legislative advocate for the club, says today (Thursday) that hundreds of pounds of pot are needed to provide for the nearly 4,000 members who have joined the club since it reopened in January.
    Entwistle says the club has contracted specialists in Mendocino and Humboldt counties who will not sell their marijuana to anyone else, in an effort to comply entirely with Proposition 215, a statewide measure approved by voters last November that legalized marijuana for medical purposes.
    "(Growers) are an industry coming out of the closet," Entwistle says. "They're small now, but the future of marijuana cultivation is large, so we're teaching them to focus on production rather than hiding."
    The Emerald Triangle produces potent pot in operations that are heavily guarded and moved often. There have been several incidents of violence - both between rival growers and the growers and the cops.
    Club officials believes the contracts give legal protection to growers because they have been assigned "caregiver rights" as outlined in the state measure, and recognized two months ago by a Superior Court judge.
    But state authorities, regional prosecutors and local law enforcement agencies say they are ready to crack down on the pot growers.
    Before the club was temporarily shut down last year by state Attorney General Dan Lungren, it was reportedly serving an estimated 12,000 pot smokers who had permission from their doctors to use marijuana to ease pain, curb nausea, increase appetite and treat glaucoma.
    The club reopened in January when a judge allowed it to dispense pot as long as it doesn't make a profit and provides marijuana for medical purposes only.


    California Drug War Continues For Non-Medical Users

    [Press release from California NORML]

    "Placer County Man Faces 25 Years to Life for 2 Ounces of Pot in '3 Strikes' Case"
    March 28, 1997

    Auburn, CA: A Placer county man, Mike Hodges, 37, is facing 25 years to life under California's "Three Strikes" law for being found in possession of less than two ounces of pot in his home. The marijuana was discovered when county sheriffs searched his house after his ten-year-old son was found with marijuana at school.
    Although such cases are typically treated as a minor misdemeanor in California, Hodges was charged with felony possession with intent to sell by deputy district attorney Scott Owens. This makes Hodges liable for 25 years to life under "Three Strikes," since he was convicted on two "strikes" of lewd and lascivious conduct in a 1988 Nevada county case, for which he served 50 months in prison. Hodges is married, has two children, and is employed as a tow truck operator.
    "This is the most outrageous abuse of 'Three Strikes' we have seen," says California NORML coordinator Dale Gieringer, "There is absolutely no excuse for destroying a man's life, tearing him apart from his family and gainful employment and imprisoning him for 25 years at taxpayers' expense for a personal use quantity of pot." The minimum cost of imprisoning a third strike offender for 25 years is estimated at $575,000, not including possible costs of public support for the family.
    Hodges' attorney, public defender Steve Plesser (phone: 916-885-2422), expressed astonishment at the charges, saying he would normally expect them to be dismissed with probation. Hodges served 90 days in jail in 1986 for supplying marijuana to an informant in a bar, but sources say police reports show no evidence of distribution in this case. Hodges says that the marijuana was for his own use, and believes that the marijuana his son brought to school came from elsewhere.
    California NORML has repeatedly called for the modification of "Three Strikes" so as not to apply to marijuana or similar non-violent offenses. A bill to limit "Three-Strikes" to serious felonies, S.B. 1317, is being sponsored by State Sen. Barbara Lee.

    Dale Gieringer
    (415) 563-5858
    canorml@igc.apc.org
    2215-R Market St. #278
    San Francisco CA 94114


    Second Initiative To Circulate In Washington State

    On March 29 Tom Rohan wrote:
    Recently I have had several people tell me they did not even know that there will be a 1997 Washington State Hemp Initiative so I felt I should post something here. There will be one indeed! We filed the initial draft of the initiative with the Secretary of State on March 12th. The final copy will be filed next Tuesday or Wednesday.
    Anyone interested in getting involved in the initiative drive should subscribe to the hipws e-mail group so you will know how you can help, what we need, when and where! To subscribe just send e-mail to majordomo@hemp.net and in the body of the letter just put "subscribe hipws" (of course without the quotes). You can "unsubscribe" at any time by doing the same thing except substituting "unsubscribe hipws" for "subscribe hipws". You can also check out our Web site at http://www.hemp.net.
    There are going to be two initiatives this year in Washington State concerning the hemp issue. Our initiative is a Comprehensive Hemp Initiative that will make hemp available for Medical, Industrial, and Recreational use. This is an "Initiative To The Legislature" so we have from now until Jan. 2, 1998 to get 180,000 signatures from registered Washington State voters in order to get it on the ballot. If you do an "Initiative To The PEOPLE" you can file your initiative Jan. 2nd and then you have until the first week of July to get the sigs. If you do an "Initiative To The LEGISLATURE" you file on March 12th and have until Jan. 2, 1998 to get the sigs. That's nine months!!! Plus it encompasses the entire summer so we can catch Bumbershoot AND HempFest! If that's not enough we also can gather sigs during Labor Day Weekend, Thanksgiving, Christmas, AND New Years Day!!!
    And in case you are worried about the fact that we are sending the initiative to the Legislature instead of "The People" don't worry. The Legislature can't kill the initiative. Their choices are:
    (1) Pass it (fat chance), or
    (2) Send it on to the People to vote on in the November 1998 election.
    We will basically be starting our signature gathering this year about the same time we started last year. Last year we got about 62,000 sigs in 3 months. We have 9 months this time. (Do the math!) But actually we need to get about 250,000 sigs to account for invalid sigs so we can't just lay back. So everyone who can help in this effort be sure to sign up to the hipws e-mail list. You can find out more information about our organization, The Hemp Initiative Projects of Washington State (HIP-WS) at http://www.hemp.net/ or call the Washington State Hemp Initiative HOTLINE at (206) 548-8043.
    The other initiative that will affect the medical hemp issue is an "Initiative To The People" that will effectively move all Schedule One drugs (i.e. heroin, LSD, marijuana, etc.) to Schedule Two so doctors can prescribe them. This initiative is not a "Medical Marijuana" initiative although that is the way it is being billed in the press. The initiative was submitted by Dr. Rob Killian, M.D. If you want more information about that initiative you can visit their Web site at http://eventure.com/drrob/.
    So don't get these two initiatives confused with each other! We will start gathering signatures for our Comprehensive Hemp Initiative about the second or third week of April. Be sure to look for us! And help out if you can!

    Thanks!

    Sincerely,

    Thomas A. Rohan
    (HIP-WS State Coordinator)


    San Marcos, Texas, Chamber Of Commerce Lobbies Against May 3 Referendum

    "Chamber says vote no on medicinal marijuana"

    The Dallas Morning News, March 30, 1997, p. 17A
    SAN MARCOS, Texas - The city's Chamber of Commerce has come out against a referendum to help patients get marijuana for prescribed treatment. The proposal on the May 3 ballot in the central Texas city would not legalize marijuana but would declare it city policy to "minimize the impact of drug laws" on people using the drug to treat serious medical conditions. Tom Brooks, the chamber's board chairman, said Friday the measure "sends a confusing message to our youth" about marijuana use. The initiative was placed on the ballot after more than 10 percent of San Marcos' registered voters signed petitions for it.


    Lawsuit Targeting Prohibition Cites Alaskan Precedent

    Cannabis Freedom Fund
    12021 Wilshire Blvd #356
    Los Angeles CA 90025

    For Immediate Release

    DATE: March 27, 1997
    CONTACT: Richard M. Davis
    TEL: (310) 442-9073

    Alaska Supreme Court Decision On Constitutional Right To Privacy
    May Allow All U.S. Citizens To Smoke And Grow Marijuana

    The Cannabis Freedom Fund (CFF), a new California political action committee, plans a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the nation's cannabis (marijuana) prohibition laws. The suit will be based on the Alaska Supreme Court decision in Ravin vs State of Alaska, 537 P2d 494, 1975. The Alaska decision gave all adults in Alaska over the age of 19 the right to both grow and smoke marijuana in the privacy of the home, based on each citizen's fundamental right to privacy in the home. This means that the United States Government has known since 1975 that the prohibition of cannabis in the other 49 states of the nation is unconstitutional.
    The CFF points out that Section 2, Article 4 of the U.S. Constitution reads: The citizens of each state shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several states.
    As the government must be held to obey the law and adhere to the Constitution, what is not clear is whether or not all Americans already possess the fundamental right to smoke and grow marijuana in the privacy of their homes, without further court action. The CFF is encouraging the public to follow this case on the World Wide Web at: http://www.cannabisfund.org.
    Alaska has also rescheduled cannabis to Schedule IVA, which allows licensed physicians to recommend its use without interference from the federal government. In light of the controversy over Proposition 215 in California and Proposition 200 in Arizona, the Alaskan Supreme Court decision takes on new importance.
    The CFF mission is to end Cannabis Prohibition and insure a speedy return to personal freedom in all uses of Cannabis. The group was formed by California cannabis activists who recognize the tremendous potential benefit to the American economy and environment represented by the industrial use of cannabis hemp for paper, fiber, fuel, plastics, food, medicine, and building materials. These uses are presently prohibited to farmers in the U.S., while Canadian farmers are free to grow hemp in 1997. Non- deductible donations to the CFF will help to speed the process of bringing this vital issue to court.

    Richard M. Davis
    CANNABIS FREEDOM FUND
    12021 Wilshire Blvd Ste. 366
    Los Angeles, CA 90025
    (310) 442-9073
    FAX: (310) 442-9072
    E-mail: edna@gte.net
    http://www.cannabisfund.org


    On Hempseed Products And Urine Tests

    On March 30 Don Wirtshafter of the Ohio Hempery responded to this question:
    >Hello,
    >Will I test Postive if I use Hemp Seed Oil in my diet? I feel that
    >I will with a urine test. Drug testing has nothing to do with safety, just
    >surveillance.

    As the re-creator of commercial hemp seed oil, I feel that I have a special responsibility to keep an eye on this issue. At this point I have documented nine cases where it is claimed that consumption of hemp seeds or hemp seed oil have caused positive urine tests for marijuana. The best documented case comes from a supervisor in a NIDA approved drug testing lab who regularly used his own urine as a control when calibrating his machines. He was pretty amazed to find THC in his own urine until he put it together that the Hemp Seed Oil that he was consuming for health purposes was giving him slight traces of THC.
    The problem has been studied for about the past six months after the issue first came up. Previously, it had been often reported that no traces of THC could be found in HSO. The quantities are so minimal that it would take consumption of almost one's body weight in oil to have a psychoactive effect. The problem is that the testing procedures are so sensitive that even this quantity can show up in testing. Dr. Jace Calloway has been doing testing to determine what amount of HSO is enough to trigger the 15 nanogram limits in the testing procedures, but his results are not ready yet.
    Recent research shows that THC does not come from the seeds, but from the traces of leaves and seed coats that inevitably end up with the seeds. The THC from the adherents gets dissolved into the oil in the pressing process. Now that this is understood, the better producers of Hemp Seed Oil have taken steps to better clean their seeds prior to pressing so this problem will go away soon.
    In the meantime, buy your hemp seed oil from a reliable source and don't consume that much of it. Switzerland has enacted regulations that limit the amount of THC that can be in HSO. Germany is soon to follow. The U.S. regulators probably can't get their heads out of the sand long enough to see the issue is an issue. No problem they think, fire or jail them anyway.
    One doctor accused the hempsters of putting a defective product on the market. I counter that it is the drug testing industry that puts a defective product on the market. The current standards for drug testing cannot differentiate between legal consumption of hemp seed products and illegal consumption of pot. To use these tests to deny employment or parole is therefore actionable. I hope somebody affected has the balls to sue the giants of the testing industry. When consumption of poppy seeds was found to cause positive readings for heroin, the testing industry had to develop better tests and a procedure that required a doctor's consultation for anybody who claimed to have failed a test because of legal seed consumption. We need to pressure the testing industry and government regulators to take similar steps for THC immediately. Many hempsters like it that the hemp seed resurgence is throwing such a wrench in the testing industry but I am concerned about our responsibility to protect the employment or freedom of those who are subject to such testing. We do not need any more victims in this war. This is why our company has been so vocal about this issue, we do not want our customers to be unaware of the issue.
    I urge anybody who knows of anybody who has had trouble with this to contact me. I will keep assembling this info until we bring it to some positive resolution.
    By the way, the volume of hemp seed oil we are selling has caused us to be able to offer another massive price decrease in the price of the edible and cosmetic grades of hemp seed oil. If interested in this, please write.

    Don Wirtshafter

    Ohio Hempery Inc.
    Products the Earth Can Afford
    Call or write for our free catalog:
    Order Line 1-800-BUY-HEMP
    7002 S.R. 329
    Guysville, OH 45735
    shop on line:
    (614) 662-4367
    fax (614) 662-6446
    http://www.hempery.com/


    Government Covers Tracks With Public-Records Fees

    Society of Professional Journalists
    E-mail:
    spj@LINK2000.NET

    SPJ FOIA alert - Public vs. privatized records
    VOLUME 2 Issue 11 (1996-97)
    To: Project Sunshine Chairs/FOI Activists
    From: Kyle E. Niederpruem, FOI Chairwoman
    nkyle@aol.com
    1-800-669-7827

    Public vs. privatized records, who's winning this war?
    Elected officials have found a new pot of gold: public records.

    Pumping up the price for every-day documents is, after all, less controversial than raising taxes. And most of those affected will begrudgingly pay higher prices.
    Why? Because their livelihoods depend on current and accurate information maintained by government.
    Those who rely on this information to make a living, like paralegals, detectives, those who provide bonds to get people out of jail, even employers who do criminal history checks, are finding their fees have increased - or will increase dramatically.
    Media groups were caught napping when Ameritech hit the Indiana statehouse and passed enhanced access legislation. In 1993, such a law was passed in Indianapolis allowing "reasonable" fees to be charged for records gained through systems providing enhanced access - but often higher than direct costs.
    Direct costs are what most would prefer to pay.
    Enhanced access usually means data is available off site and online.
    These loaded little words are usually inserted quietly into legislation by lobbyists and little noticed by the press.
    So be aware of what is happening in the Statehouse.
    These are stories that also aren't well reported. Most have a Golly/Gomer Pyle attitude about government database. These "gee whiz" stories about what nifty stuff comes out of a computer these days rarely examine the public records side - Do these systems comply with existing state laws? Will fees increase? Are users satisfied with these new systems? Do private contractors with government have to comply with state laws for releasing documents - the same as government does?
    The National Newspaper Association and American Court & Commercial Newspapers is currently conducting a joint research project examining public-private data partnerships. Concerns over "user fees" split between government and private access providers is driving the debate.
    With the creation of CivicLink by Ameritech, some fees for popular government records increased from $1 per copy to $5 for the add-on cost of "enhanced access."
    In late December, a federal court judge in Indianapolis dismissed a class action lawsuit challenging the contract between Marion County and Ameritech that gave the company the exclusive right to provide offsite electronic access to various records.
    A paralegal company, one of the plaintiffs, said the monthly cost for records under CivicLink would cost her $4,000 - a phenomenal increase from $261 a month she had previously been charged. In an unfortunate decision, Judge Larry McKinney ruled: "It is not the role of this court to determine whether the amount charged for use of this service is 'reasonably related to reasonable and just rates and charges' for the service."
    The ruling is not clear as to who should arbitrate the issue of reasonable fees if the courts decline.
    McKinney's ruling also runs contrary to the preamble of the state's public records act: "Providing persons with (government) information is an essential function of a representative government and an integral part of the routine duties of public officials and employees, whose duty it is to provide information ..."
    Ameritech now has contracts with Illinois and California giving it exclusive rights to distribute court records on-line and is pursuing enhanced access legislation in a number of states.
    Legislation is pending, or has been passed in many states, to pave the way for Ameritech contracts including Missouri, Washington state and Michigan. Legislation may also have been introduced in Colorado.
    Another word to be wary of in legislation - privatization.
    When a government agency delegates a public function to a private contractor, records created through the performance of a public duty that would have been subject to public disclosure can become private records - solely by the virtue of the contractor's non-government status.
    Private enterprises serve managers, owners and shareholders - not taxpayers. And according to fundamental democratic principles, governmental services conducted by private operators should be just as accountable as services provided by public agencies.
    That's a key conclusion to a research paper published last year by assistant professors Matthew D. Bunker and Charles N. Davis.
    Sheila Ashcraft, executive director for the American Court and Commercial Newspapers, said it is partly her job - as well as NNA's - to "shake people by the shoulders" when legislation endangering access is introduced.
    Ashcraft's group, which consists of 100 niche-market papers, have been buying government data for years.
    While no one can disagree that "enhanced access" comes with a cost, no one should be granted exclusive rights to hold, manage, or sell what is already public property.
    (To get a copy of the NNA report, which is due to be published in March, call David Mendes at 1-800-829-4662)


    GAO Report - Drug War Fails To Slow Imports

    "Drug War Appears to Make Little Dent in Supply"

    Narcotics: Illegal crop production still exceeds demand, 2 studies contend.
    But others dispute findings.

    The Los Angeles Times, March 29, 1997
    By Juanita Darling, Times Staff Writer
    SAN JOSE DEL GUAVIARE, Colombia - For Oscar Sena, the difference between growing the coca used to make cocaine and stopping production of the illegal crop is clear: "My son is second in his eighth-grade class," he said. "If it weren't for coca, he would be the second-best shoeshine boy in Miraflores," Colombia's coca capital.
    For thousands of South American farmers like Sena, growing the raw material for cocaine is the only way they can give their children a better life. So, even when crop-dusters spray their coca bushes with herbicide, the farmers replant them.
    According to a recent U.S. General Accounting Office study, over the seven years that began in 1988, "farmers planted new coca faster than existing crops were eradicated."
    That U.S. report, along with a study by a Colombian government drug advisor, supports with numbers what farmers like Sena have been saying for years.
    Despite costing billions of dollars and half a dozen lives - including that of one American pilot - over seven years, international drug eradication efforts have not reduced the supply of narcotics, according to the reports.
    "Illegal drugs still flood the United States," the GAO found.
    "In fact," according to the U.S. government report, "between 1988 and 1995, illegal drug cultivation and drug-related activities have increased throughout South America, Mexico, the Caribbean, Southeast Asia and other countries."
    Further, the reports found that interdiction - stopping drugs before they reach U.S. ports and borders - the other half of Washington's international drug control strategy, has not worked either. Still, $1.8 billion has been budgeted this year to curb foreign drug production and to prevent narcotics from entering the U.S.
    "The report is not well-balanced," U.S. Assistant Atty. Gen. Stephen R. Colgate stated in a written reply to the GAO study, adding that the work "does not provide an accurate or complete overview of the international counter-narcotics strategy."
    At the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, which oversees U.S. anti-narcotics programs, Chief of Staff Janet Christ criticized the report because "the discussion of source country efforts does not fully reflect the many successful accomplishments achieved despite the political difficulties which remain."
    The GAO report said that "although these efforts have resulted in some successes, including the arrest of drug traffickers and the eradication, seizure and disruption in the transport of illegal drugs, they have not materially reduced the availability of drugs."
    A report by Sergio Uribe, planning director at a Colombian drug eradication agency, agreed.
    Both reports are based on U.S. government statistics. Those numbers, the GAO found, show that the area under coca cultivation rose 15% from 1988 to 1995, while poppy acreage increased by one-fourth.
    Crops eradicated in one country are quickly substituted by production in another. For example, while Laos cut poppy production in half, Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, more than took up the slack.
    For that reason, it remains to be seen whether the world cocaine market was affected by early indications that Peru's coca acreage shrank in 1996.
    Uribe suggested that the situation may be even more dire than the GAO report indicated.
    Despite the admitted increase in acreage, he said, coca production has dropped 25% since 1988, according to U.S. government figures. By his calculations, based on U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration data, that would mean that yields have dropped by as much as one-third.
    But Uribe noted that the price and purity of cocaine sold in U.S. cities have remained stable - an indication that production has not dropped. "We must either reconsider the law of supply and demand . . . question the numbers and reevaluate the current state of the industry or look for another explanation for such strange market behavior," he said.
    Even if the U.S. government is right and total potential cocaine production was 780 tons in 1995, that is still far more than is needed to keep U.S. users supplied with narcotics - even after law enforcement confiscates a share, the GAO reported. In 1995, about 280 tons of cocaine were seized worldwide.
    "The remaining amount was more than enough to meet U.S. demand, which is estimated at about 300 metric tons per year," the report stated. It also found that even after 32 tons of heroin were seized, production was still 17 times more than U.S. demand.

    [End of article]

    M. Simon commented:
    I believe the total US cocaine consumption of 300 metric tons a year is wildly inaccurate.
    A few years ago there was a twenty ton warehouse bust of cocaine in LA. The price of the drug didn't move. That suggests that the twenty tons represented less than 1% of the market. If it is counted as the national market, then the national market must be on the order of 30,000 tons a year. If it was only counted as part of the local market the national market would be several times larger at least.
    Please note from economic experience: a 10% shortfall in supply for a relatively inelastic demand can double prices in short order. Disturbances of less than 1% in supply tend to affect prices mildly if at all.
    There is a lot more money being made in this trade than anyone in power is letting on. Use of the drug must be more pervasive than is being let on. The total take may not be billions, it may be trillions.
    300 tons X 1000 kilos/ton X $10,000 per kilo = $3 billion (Wholesale)
    Yet the coke market in this country is routinely estimated in the 100 to 300 billion a year range (retail).
    300 tons is way too small.
    It is quoted this way to make law enforcement look better. Busting 6 tons a year against a 300 ton supply looks like 5% effectiveness. If the actual volume is 3,000 tons it is only 0.5% effectiveness. That represents a 99.5% failure rate. Or suppose the actual volume is 30,000 tons - 0.05% effectiveness.
    The government numbers don't add up.

    Simon


    'Colombia Heroin Reaching US'

    By Christopher Torchia
    Poppy field SAN JOSE DE LAS HERMOSAS, Colombia (Associated Press, March 30, 1997) - Standing waist-high in red, pink and violet poppy flowers, a peasant delicately slits a plant bulb with a razor. Milky-white opium gum, the key ingredient in heroin, oozes from the gash.
    "This work is innocent because I'm just making a few pesos," says Chucho, who sells the opium in San Jose de las Hermosas, a ramshackle village an hour's walk down the valley.
    It is stage one in the making of high-purity Colombian heroin that in the last few years has grabbed a big chunk of the U.S. East Coast market for the drug. Some Colombian heroin is also reaching Europe.
    On Feb. 28, the United States cited the growing threat of Colombian heroin among reasons for decertifying Colombia, the world's biggest producer of cocaine, as an ally in the war on drugs.
    Dwarfed by decades-old Asian heroin trafficking networks, Colombia produces only 1.5 percent of the world's opium, which is refined through a chemical process into morphine, and then heroin.
    But Colombians have promoted the drug with the same entrepreneurial agility they applied to cocaine, making strong inroads in the biggest U.S. heroin market - the Northeast. American officials say they account for at least 80 percent of heroin sales in the New York area.
    The key is simple: marked-down prices for white-powder heroin so pure that it can be smoked or snorted instead of injected, avoiding the use of needles and the danger of AIDS.
    The price of a kilo of Colombian heroin in the United States is as low as $85,000; a kilo from Southeast Asia might cost twice as much.
    Unlike their counterparts in Asia and the Middle East, Colombian heroin traffickers employ few middlemen who must share in the profits, enabling them to keep prices down, said Anthony Senneca, acting chief of the New York office of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
    Thousands of miles from New York, the production chain begins in remote places like San Jose in Colombia's Tolima province.
    There is no police station. Army patrols rarely venture here. Leftist rebels who tax opium buyers rule the hills.
    An Associated Press reporter and photographer reached San Jose on horseback, riding for five hours into a canyon of dense forest. A traditional, brightly painted bus called a "chiva" offered another way out: five more bone-crunching hours on a winding mountain road to a nearby town.
    Armed guerrillas in civilian clothing who belong to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, the country's biggest rebel band, monitor traffic and make sure opium traders do not get mugged.
    At a roadside kiosk where travelers buy food and drink, a visitor asked to talk to the local guerrilla commander. "Did you come to buy?" replied the young vendor, signaling how deeply rebels are involved in the business.
    Colombians started growing poppy in the late 1980s, and heroin cooks were brought in from Asia to teach them how to make heroin. High prices encouraged a planting boom in the early 1990s, which in turn produced a big supply that has pushed down prices despite periodic crop-poisoning raids by police planes.
    In San Jose, a kilo of opium gum costs 500,000 pesos ($500) or less, well under half the price five years ago. Many poppy harvesters are paid just $8 a day with free food.
    Still, that is enough in this impoverished land to keep farmers growing poppy, and the DEA warns of a growing Colombian plague. Sixty-two percent of the heroin seized at U.S. airports in 1995 was from Colombia. Five years ago, the percentage was negligible.
    The statistic, however, reflects in part that Colombians usually smuggle heroin by sending it in with more easily detected couriers on commercial flights to Miami and New York.
    Asian traffickers usually smuggle heroin in greater bulk into the United States by sea, which is harder to detect and therefore seized less often.
    The Colombians' use of "mules" who hide one or two kilograms of heroin in suitcases or swallow rubber packets filled with the drug is an indication that it is still a business for small-time operators.
    By contrast, Colombia's cocaine cartels smuggle their product by the ton on jets, boats and even small submarines.
    So far, the cartels seem unwilling to branch into heroin, said an official at DEA headquarters in Arlington, Va.
    "They're making so much money in the cocaine business, they may not at this moment see a need to diversify," he said in a telephone interview. He asked that his name not be used for security reasons because his work brings him to Colombia.
    The DEA, however, worries that major cocaine groups will eventually try to exert control over the heroin trade, possibly expanding the business and making it harder to disrupt.
    In Tolima province, the government is trying to wean peasants off poppy-growing by offering aid to grow legal crops. But money is short and many farmers fail to qualify for loans.
    "This will never end," says Chucho, the peasant on the hill above San Jose. "As long as the (heroin) business continues, who's going to stop growing poppy?"


    'US Asks Mexico to Extradite Alleged Drug Lord'

    Reuters Wire Service, March 27, 1997
    The U.S. government has asked Mexico to extradite alleged Gulf drug cartel leader Oscar Malherbe de Leon, who was captured last month, the Justice Department said Thursday.
    Department spokesman John Russell confirmed the extradition request had been formally made.
    Malherbe was arrested Feb. 26 in Mexico City. He is alleged to have been a top lieutenant in the Gulf cartel, who replaced Juan Garcia Abrego as its leader when the drug lord was captured in the city of Monterrey in January 1996. Russell also said the United States has asked Mexico for the provisional arrest of 60 other accused drug traffickers, both Mexican and U.S. citizens in Mexico, as a first step in their eventual extradition.
    In Mexico City, officials at Mexico's Foreign Ministry and the U.S. Embassy were unavailable for comment.
    The United States has made it clear that it considers the Malherbe extradition case a test of Mexico's willingness to cooperate in the drug war. The case arose as the Clinton administration sought Congress to support its recent decision to "certify" Mexico as a reliable anti-drug ally.
    Mexico has traditionally refused to extradite its citizens to other countries to stand trial for crimes, preferring instead to try them there.
    Asked at her weekly news briefing if a list was available of those people the United States wants extradited from Mexico, Attorney General Janet Reno replied, "We just work with the government of Mexico trying to provide appropriate information."


    How Prosecutors Stack Juries And Deny Justice

    "To win, limit black jurors, McMahon said"

    The Philadelphia Inquirer, April 1, 1997
    By L. Stuart Ditzen, Linda Loyd and Mark Fazlollah
    Inquirer Staff Writers
    Goya's 'Inquisition' Jack McMahon, the Republican candidate for Philadelphia district attorney, made a training tape while working as a prosecutor 10 years ago in which he advised young prosecutors to try to keep "blacks from low-income areas" off juries.
    "The blacks from the low-income areas are less likely to convict," McMahon said on the videotape. "I understand it. It's an understandable proposition. There's a resentment for law enforcement. There's a resentment for authority. And as a result, you don't want those people on your jury.
    "And it may appear as if you're being racist, but again, you're just being realistic. You're just trying to win the case. The other side is doing the same thing."
    McMahon, then a homicide prosecutor, also cautioned colleagues against accepting teachers, doctors, liberals, social workers or anyone "smart" on a jury. And he told the rookie prosecutors that their mission was not to "get a competent, fair and impartial jury," but to win.
    "The only way you're going to do your best is to get jurors that are unfair, and more likely to convict than anybody else in that room," he said. "Because the defense is doing the exact same thing."
    McMahon, now a prominent defense lawyer who recently won the acquittal of a defendant in the Center City jogger case, made the comments in a videotaped session in which he instructed assistant district attorneys on jury-selection techniques.
    In an interview yesterday, McMahon said he did not intend to make racially insensitive remarks on the tape.
    "My actions in my career have displayed complete sensitivity to blacks," he said. "I've been representing individuals for the last seven years, and seen their mothers cry. I've been in their homes. No one understands the injustices to minorities done in the legal system better than me."
    The hour-long tape was made after the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling in April 1986 barring prosecutors from striking blacks from juries solely on the basis of race.
    On the tape, McMahon said that:
    "In selecting blacks, you don't want the real educated ones. This goes across the board. All races. You don't want smart people. If you're sitting down and you're going to take blacks, you want older black men and women, particularly men. Older black men are very good."
    "Blacks from the South. Excellent . . . If they are from South Carolina and places like that, I tell you, I don't think you can ever lose a jury with blacks from South Carolina. They are dynamite."
    "My experience, young black women are very bad. There's an antagonism. I guess maybe because they're downtrodden in two respects. They are women and they're black . . . so they somehow want to take it out on somebody and you don't want it to be you."
    McMahon did not advocate keeping blacks off juries altogether. Rather, he said that the best juries consist of a racial mix - four blacks and eight whites, or "three and nine."
    On the tape, he also said he was opposed to all-white juries because they are susceptible to "reverse racism." With a mixed-race jury, he said, "you're not going to get any of that racist type of attitude because a white guy is not going to sit on that jury and say, `Oh, these people live like this and that' with three other blacks sitting there in the room."
    McMahon said yesterday that he recalled making the tape, but never watched it. And he accused District Attorney Lynne Abraham, whom he is expected to oppose in the November election, of playing politics by putting the tape in circulation.
    Abraham, in a statement, said: "The sentiments and practices discussed on that videotape are repugnant to me, and they are in direct contradiction to my beliefs and to the policies of this office."
    Several defense lawyers said yesterday that the tape might provide grounds for seeking new trials for their convicted clients.
    Attorney Ross Begelman said he would immediately file a request for a new trial for Anthony Lewis, who was convicted in 1984 of murdering James Brown outside a North Philadelphia bar.
    Begelman, a former prosecutor in New Jersey, characterized McMahon's statements on the videotape as "the most disgraceful thing I've ever seen. . . . I find it revolting."
    Another lawyer, Jules Epstein, who represents Thaddeus Ford, serving life in prison for the 1980 murder of Reginald Short in South Philadelphia, said he would review the case to determine if any young black women were excluded from the jury at Ford's 1983 trial.
    "My duty, and the duty of every other lawyer who has had a case prosecuted in these circumstances, is to go back and check the jury pool," Epstein said. "If there were young black females . . . who were challenged by the district attorney, then we have to petition for evidentiary hearings and seek to win a new trial."
    William Davol, spokesman for Abraham, said McMahon successfully prosecuted 36 murder defendants in jury trials before leaving the District Attorney's Office in 1990. Davol said the office was notifying the lawyers for those defendants about the tape.
    One of Abraham's top deputies, Raymond J. Harley, sent a copy of the videotape last week to 19 defense attorneys whose clients were successfully prosecuted by McMahon in the 1980s.
    McMahon, clearly angry at the district attorney's actions, said: "I find it reprehensible that the D.A.'s Office would attempt to come to the aid of convicted murderers, to assist them in some political fashion."
    "I stand on my record both as a prosecutor and defense attorney for being fair and one who understands the minority issues probably a lot better than Lynne Abraham," he said.
    Officials in the D.A.'s Office denied a political motive in circulating the tape to defense lawyers. Abraham has been accused by some black politicians, including City Council President John F. Street, of insensitivity to racial bias in the justice system. The controversy has been seen as a potential liability in her reelection bid.
    The decade-old tape surfaced in February. Harley, in his letter, said that when McMahon announced his candidacy for district attorney in mid-February, he was quoted in the media "regarding his sensitivity to the concerns of minorities."
    McMahon's comments, Harley wrote, triggered an unnamed assistant district attorney's memory of the videotape, which was made between 1986 and 1988 when Ronald Castille, now a state Supreme Court justice, was district attorney.
    Harley said the unnamed prosecutor told his supervisors about the tape, and it was retrieved from storage in City Hall. After viewing it, Harley wrote the lawyers, "we have determined, that disclosure to you is the ethically appropriate course."
    Officials in the D.A.'s Office said it was unclear whether McMahon's views, as expressed on the tape, could result in new trials in any of the murder cases he prosecuted.
    The 1986 Supreme Court ruling on jury selection struck down a traditional court practice in which lawyers were allowed to eliminate a certain number of jurors without any explanation.
    Some prosecutors had used those "peremptory challenges" to keep blacks off juries, particularly in cases involving black defendants.
    The Supreme Court concluded that the practice was widespread and had to be stopped. As a result of the court's ruling, prosecutors are required to explain their reasons for keeping blacks off a jury.
    In McMahon's videotape - one of many such tapes the D.A.'s Office has produced over the years for training young prosecutors - he is forthright about his objectives in picking a jury.
    "The case law says the object of getting a jury . . . is to get a competent, fair and impartial jury," McMahon said on the tape. "Well, that's ridiculous. You're not trying to get that. Both sides are trying to get the jury most likely to do whatever they want them to do."
    "You are there to win," he said. ". . . If you think that it's some noble thing, some esoteric game, you're wrong and you'll lose."
    He said the best jurors, from the prosecutor's standpoint, were stable, conservative individuals.
    "If you take middle-class people, that are well dressed, you're going to do well," he said. "It's that simple sometimes."
    But he cautioned against picking intelligent people.
    "You do not want smart people. I wish we could ask everyone's IQ. If you could know their IQ, you could pick a great jury all the time. You don't want smart people because smart people will analyze the hell out of your case. They have a higher standard. They hold you up to a higher standard. They hold the courts up to a higher standard . . . They take those words `reasonable doubt,' and they actually try to think about them."
    He continued:
    "You don't want social workers. . . . Teachers, you don't like. Teachers are bad, especially young teachers. . . . If you get like a white teacher teaching in a black school that's sick of these guys, maybe that may be one you accept. . . . Bad luck with teachers, bad luck with social workers. Bad luck with intelligent doctors."
    McMahon said yesterday that he did not recall details of the tape. "It's hard for me to comment on specific points in it without seeing it," he said. "Obviously, back then there were certain ways that people went about picking a jury."
    He was instructed to explain on the tape "how it's really done," he said, and that's what he did.
    Some of McMahon's tips for rookie prosecutors
    Here are excerpts from a training videotape in which Jack McMahon, then an assistant district attorney, offers advice on picking a jury:
    You always want to ask what section of the city they live in . . . . Let's be honest: People who live in North Philadelphia have a different perspective on law enforcement and the government than people who live in . . . Somerton or Chestnut Hill. People from Mayfair are good, and people from 33d and Diamond stink. . . . You don't want any jurors from 33d and Diamond. . . .
    The case law says the object of getting a jury . . . is to get a competent, fair and impartial jury. Well, that's ridiculous. You're not trying to get that. Both sides are trying to get the jury most likely to do whatever they want them to do. If you go in there, any one of you, and think you are going to be some noble civil libertarian . . . that's ridiculous. You'll lose. You'll be out of the office.
    You are there to win. . . . The defense is there to win, too. The only way you're going to do your best is to get jurors that are unfair, and more likely to convict than anybody else in that room. Because the defense is doing the exact same thing . . .
    You want stable, conservative people. That's what you want. What do you do to get those types of people? You look at their married life, their background, how long they have been married, how long they have been employed . . .
    Let's face it. . . . The blacks from the low-income areas are less likely to convict. I understand it. . . . There's a resentment for law enforcement. There's a resentment for authority. And as a result, you don't want those people on your jury. And it may appear as if you're being racist, but again, you're just being realistic. . . .
    In my experience, you look for how prospective jurors are dressed. . . . If you take middle-class people, that are well dressed, you're going to do well. . . . Another thing I've learned over the years to look at . . . Most jurors bring to court a book. Look at that book. If they're reading Karl Marx, you know you don't want this person. . . .
    My opinion is you don't want smart people. . . . Because smart people will analyze the hell out of your case. They have a higher standard. They hold you up to a higher standard. They hold the courts up to a higher standard because they're intelligent people. They take those words `reasonable doubt' and they actually try to think about them. (Audience laughter.) You don't want those people. You don't want people who are going to think it out.
    Another factor, in selecting blacks, you don't want the real educated ones. This goes across the board. All races . . . If you're sitting down and you're going to take blacks, you want older black men and women, particularly men. Older black men are very good, guys 70, 75 years old are very good jurors generally speaking. . . . They are from a different era, and a different time. And they have a different respect for the law. . . .
    Older black women, on the other hand - when you have a black defendant who is a young boy and they can identify, a motherly type thing - are a little different. The men don't have that same kind of maternal instinct towards them. They are a little bit more demanding, a little bit more law and order.
    The other thing is, blacks from the South. Excellent. Ask where they are from. If they say I've lived in Philadelphia five years, if they are from South Carolina and places like that, I tell you, I don't think you can ever lose a jury with blacks from South Carolina. They are dynamite. They just have a different way of living down there, a different philosophy. They are law and order. They are on the cops' side. Those people are good.
    Again, my experience, young black women are very bad. There's an antagonism. I guess maybe because they're downtrodden in two respects. They are women, and they're black. So they are downtrodden in two areas, so they somehow want to take it out on somebody and you don't want it to be you. . . .
    You want people of all the same intellectual capabilities, all middle class, same economic backgrounds. That's the ideal jury because . . . they are cohesive. You don't want a person that's real smart, and you don't want the real dumb ones because the dynamics are not there. You're not going to have some brain surgeon from Chestnut Hill with some nitwit from 33d and Diamond. . . .
    Again, some people say well, the best jury is an all-white jury. I don't buy that. Particularly with a black defendant . . . You don't want this all-white jury to go back there and say to themselves, `Who gives a expletive?'
    You don't want that attitude at all. And you may get that kind of reverse racism in your case. I've always felt that a jury of eight whites and four blacks is a great jury, nine and three. . . . You're not going to get any of that racist type of attitude because a white guy is not going to sit on that jury and say, `Oh, these people live like this and that' with three other blacks sitting there in the room. . . .
    You don't want social workers. That's obvious. They got intelligence, sensitivity, all this stuff. You don't want them. . . . Teachers are bad, especially young teachers. Like teachers who teach in the grade-school level. Sometimes, you get teachers. I've had good luck with teachers who teach in the public school system. . . . They may be so fed up with the garbage that they've had in their school. They may say, `I know this kind of kid. He's a pain in the ass.' If you get like a white teacher teaching in a black school that's sick of these guys maybe, that may be one you accept.


    'Casualties Of The Marijuana War' In 'Salon' Magazine

    "Casualties Of The Marijuana War"

    It isn't just cancer and AIDS patients who are suffering because of America's anti-pot hysteria.
    Hundreds of small-time users are in jail - for life.

    By Lowell Weiss
    Notes of sanity have begun appearing in the great marijuana debate. In the last election, Arizona and California voters passed, by wide margins, referendums allowing for the medical use of marijuana if recommended by a medical doctor. The Clinton administration, which had set its face firmly against any form of legalization, even for medical purposes, convened an expert panel under the auspices of the National Institute of Health to study the matter further. The prestigious New England Journal of Medicine has editorialized for a change of policy.
    If these moves signal a cooling of the war on marijuana, they could not have come at a more crucial time. As Eric Schlosser argues in a lengthy article in the April Atlantic, the war has caused enormous collateral damage - not only to those in pain, but throughout the nation's courts and prisons. Violent criminals, Schlosser writes, are being released early from the nation's prisons to make room for the swelling masses of marijuana and other petty drug offenders locked up with mandatory-minimum sentences that carry no possibility of parole. Nonviolent marijuana offenders, especially those sentenced in federal courts, often spend far more time behind bars than murderers. Some are serving life sentences.
    Schlosser won a National Magazine Award for his two-part series on marijuana that ran in the Atlantic in 1994. Salon talked with Schlosser about his recent findings, which he says suggests America is "caught in the grip of a deep psychosis."
    In some states, you write, the rate of incarceration for drug offenders has increased so rapidly that new prisons would have to be opened every 90 days to keep up - at a cost of more than $100,000 per cell. With government budget-cutting so in vogue, how did these huge costs escape politicians' notice?
    It's simple: Policy is not being driven by reason, it's driven by political expediency. It's very similar to anti-Communism crusades of the 1950s. The only politicians who feel secure enough to question our policies are those who are out of office.
    And, you say, liberals seem to be just as cowed by the hysteria as conservatives.
    Yes. As I point out in my piece, last year even liberals like (Sen.) Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Sen. Paul Wellstone (D-Minn.) lined up behind (Sen.) Phil Gramm's (R-Texas) proposal to revoke federal welfare and food stamps from anyone convicted of a drug crime, even a misdemeanor. Politicians of both parties insist on dealing with this issue almost exclusively through the criminal justice system - not through the public health system. If you're an alcoholic, there are hundreds of rehab programs available; if you're a drug abuser, the government would just as soon lock you up and throw away the key.
    How many marijuana offenders are serving life sentences?
    The figures don't exist. None of the usual federal data sources keep track of nonviolent marijuana cases as separate from other nonviolent drug cases. But we know it's in the hundreds.
    But they would be for the big dealers, not your average user.
    Not necessarily. For example, Jim Montgomery, a paraplegic immobilized from the waist down who used marijuana to relieve pain, was busted in Sayre, Okla., with two ounces of marijuana in a pouch in the back of his wheelchair. It was a first offense. He got life plus 16 years.
    So, don't ever get busted in Oklahoma. Are there wide variations from state to state?
    Oklahoma is by far the worst in terms of length of sentence. New Mexico is the most lenient. For less than 100 pounds, the maximum penalty is 18 months. For more than 100 pounds, the maximum penalty is three years.
    When do the feds get involved?
    Federal prosecutors have the right to press federal charges for any amount of marijuana. But guidelines vary from region to region. In some districts, a federal prosecutor will not press charges unless there are more than 100 plants involved, for example.
    How has the Clinton administration performed in the marijuana wars?
    Under Clinton, the number of marijuana arrests has gone up by more than 40 percent. In 1995, the most recent year we have data on, authorities arrested 600,000 people for marijuana offenses - more than ever before. Next year's budget for the war on drugs is the largest in American history.
    Yet he's being attacked because drug use has gone up during his presidency. Should he be feeling defensive?
    Yes, he does have reason to feel defensive. His law-and-order approach to marijuana is destroying thousands of lives without demonstrably reducing marijuana use. It is a failed policy. Arrests have reached an all-time peak at the same time that use has tripled. People accuse junkies of behaving self-destructively, but in the case of marijuana, the government is even more wedded to such behavior.
    You write that a lot of the trouble is being caused by the mandatory minimum sentence laws. How did they come about with respect to drugs?
    In some states, these statutes have been on the books for more than 20 years. But the real turning point was 1986. And one high-profile case was all it took. Two days after signing a lucrative rookie deal with the Boston Celtics, star basketball player Len Bias suddenly died, allegedly after smoking crack. The story became the nation's topic No. 1. Mid-term elections were around the corner, and (former House Speaker) Tip O'Neill knew he had to do something, so he assembled his troops and in about six weeks wrote and passed the most sweeping drug-control legislation in a generation. There was no careful deliberation. There were no public hearings on the mandatory minimum provisions. The result was devastating to the criminal justice system.
    How does the law work?
    At the state and federal level, a mandatory minimum sentence is triggered by the amount of drugs involved in a case - not by a person's role in the crime. Whether you're the guy driving the truck for $1,000 or you own a fleet of trucks and are making tens of millions, you are subject to the same strict penalties.
    How much discretion do prosecutors have?
    A lot. In many respects they now have more power to determine sentencing than judges. It's up to the prosecutor to decide how much of the drug to include in the indictment, and whether to file under a mandatory minimum statute at all. They often use these statutes to plea bargain; the ability to pile one mandatory minimum charge on top of another gives enormous leverage to the prosecutor.
    In my article I give a great example of just how much discretion prosecutors have. Indiana Congressman Dan Burton, the Republican heading up the House's investigation of campaign-finance improprieties, and a supporter of life sentences for some marijuana crimes, has a son who has gotten himself into a mess of trouble. Danny Burton II was busted for driving about eight pounds of pot from Louisiana to Indiana. Six months later, police raided his apartment and found 30 marijuana plants and a shotgun. The feds did not press charges. Indiana prosecutors got his charges dismissed. In Louisiana, he got off with community service, probation and house arrest. Under federal drug laws, just for the gun alone Burton could have faced a mandatory sentence of five years in prison. Suffice it to say that most offenders don't have this kind of luck with prosecutors.
    Where do you stand on the debate about the health effects of marijuana?
    The Lancet, one of the most influential medical journals in the world, recently concluded - and these are the exact words - "the smoking of cannabis, even long-term, is not harmful to health." I'm not quite that categorical. It's clear that inhaling smoke is bad for your lungs. I also believe that people who smoke marijuana on a daily basis put themselves at risk of reversible short-term memory problems. It's also clear that young people shouldn't smoke pot. It's bad for athletic and academic performance, and it can exacerbate emotional problems, too.
    So can other substances, which are legal. Why is marijuana still such a target?
    I think it has everything to do with who those users are. This society does not scorn all drugs. Alcohol is very respectable. We even allow beer ads on MTV, a network aimed at people 12-24 years old. But pot is different. In America, pot has been associated with the wrong elements: Mexicans, blacks and nonconformists of all stripes. The war on marijuana has little to do with health. It has everything to do with culture. It's a moral crusade. And moral crusades often have perverse results. In this case, we're giving life sentences without parole to first offenders for small amounts of a relatively harmless substance.
    Besides the successful medicinal-marijuana ballot measures, are there other encouraging signs on the horizon?
    At the state level, legislators are getting fed up with mandatory minimums. As prisons get more and more overstuffed, they're starting to look at alternative sentencing - like boot camps - along with expanded drug treatment. Last year in Ohio they decriminalized the growing of small amounts of marijuana for personal use. The provision was tucked into a larger bill, but nonetheless the bill received the support of the state's conservative governor, George Voinovich.
    At the national level, there's just extraordinary cowardice. Unfortunately, I don't think we'll have any constructive changes in federal marijuana policy in the foreseeable future.

    March 27, 1997

    Lowell Weiss is a writer who lives in Boston. He was formerly a speech writer for Vice President Al Gore and a staff editor at the Atlantic.


    Families And Friends For Drug Law Reform Model New Approach

    The ensuing is the abstract of a presentation to the 8th International Conference on Drug Related Harm that took place from March 23rd to 27th, 1997, in Paris.

    Families and Friends Raising Awareness - Reducing Harm

    By Brian McConnell
    of Families and Friends for Drug Law Reform

    I will talk about the formation of an Australian group, FFDLR, why I am involved and my views on the stages that a person who has lost someone to illicit drugs experiences. I will also outline some of FFDLR's activities and future plans. Implicit in my presentation will be the theme that we need changes to our prohibition laws.
    Families and Friends for Drug Law Reform began in the Australian Capital Territory which is located in the southern tablelands of Australia and its population is about 300,000. It is an important territory because it is the seat of the federal government of Australia. The major employer has been the federal government. The population generally is more educated and average income is higher than in state capital cities.

    Why FFDLR was formed

    FFDLR began early in 1995. By the end of the Easter break that year, eight people had died as a result of heroin related overdose. Unlike the previous deaths, these attracted a lot of media attention in the ACT.
    For one father, the death of his son caused him to question the laws and wonder why the current 'system' had allowed a very potent drug - believed to be 70% pure - to be sold to his son with no controls whatsoever. As a result, this father met with Independent Member of the Legislative Assembly in the ACT and then President of the Australian Parliamentary Group for Drug Law Reform, Michael Moore and what was to be the first meeting of the Families and Friends for Drug Law Reform was held.
    In 1995 over 500 young people in Australia lost their lives to opioids. This represents an unthinkable level of grief and pain for the families and friends of those young people, especially when the harm associated with heroin use is not caused by the drug itself but by other factors. Many dependent heroin users are in poor health and financial position because of the high cost of the drug. Others are forced resort to crime or have serious illnesses from sharing needles and many have overdosed and died because of a lack of quality control on heroin and its use.
    One of our members whose child died from heroin has put the position very succinctly "there is no good reason to have a dead child"; especially when that death could have been prevented by better harm reduction policies.

    Personal story

    I am a founding member of the group and my story is not unlike the one that caused our group to form.
    The first my family knew of my son's heroin use was just two weeks before he died. He was with a friend and he had overdosed on a sporting oval just near our home. His friend woke us and my daughter called the ambulance.
    The ambulance arrived and administered Narcan and took him to the hospital. Unfortunately the police also arrived at the scene and followed the ambulance to the hospital. His mother, sister and I sat in the waiting room where we had been told to wait but we watched a parade of police go back and forth to the room where my son was.
    My son awoke to find the police at the end of his bed. He was frightened. He was confused.
    He discharged himself from the hospital and for the next two weeks we saw very little of him. He was fearful that the police would call.
    We sought assistance and advice. We now know that advice was deficient and inadequate. There was no advice that we could have discussed with him that would have helped keep him alive such as don't use with alcohol, don't use alone.
    My son took a hurriedly arranged holiday because he was afraid of the police. He could not find any friends to go with him on such short notice. While on holidays he overdosed and he was dead at 24 years of age. He was alone at the time.
    I asked the policewoman responsible for the small town where my son died why they could not prevent such a dangerous drug being sold. Her reply was honest - that it was virtually impossible.
    It was to be two years later before I felt that I was beginning to emerge from a black depression. I was not able to deal with my son's death in anything but very small bites. There were questions, there were recriminations. How had this happened? What had I done to cause this? Why was there so little help? Why was there no practical advice while he was alive?
    At first I was angry with his friends who let him use heroin. Then I was angry with those who sold him the drugs and those who brought them into the country. Then I was angry with the police for not preventing this tragedy. I am now angry with governments that are blind to the fact that prohibition laws are the source of so much tragedy.
    For me the realisation about prohibition at first emerged slowly. I read the various press reports of the "Mr Bigs" being tracked down, "the biggest drug bust ever" and so on. The stories of any who died were virtually non existent. No one talked about the victims, those who had died or their families. Neither did families talk about it. The strangeness of this situation did not strike me until some time after the group formed.
    The memories are still painful and there are still unexpected triggers to memories over which I have little control. For example when my son died it was spring and the wattle was in full bloom. The blooming wattle brings back sad memories. My personal experience has provided a clarity. It is easy to see why there are so few families who speak out about the issues, or if they do, why they seem to support the status quo, that is prohibition.

    Never heard from parents

    Families almost never speak out if a loved one is currently using illegal drugs. The reason is obvious - fear of repercussions. A recent member who lost a son in the last month suspects foul play in his death because while he was alive she spoke out.
    For those who have lost a loved one to illegal drugs it seems to me that there are stages through which they progress. Many never progress beyond anger and blame. It seems to me that all too often the voice of the parent that is heard is that of one who, affected by grief, demands more law enforcement - a futile call.
    The issue for us is how to get all affected parents to move to the last stage of emerging awareness and action. However great courage is needed to overcome years of conditioning.
    Socialisation plays a large part in society's attitudes. A simple illustration: A story in the press entitled 'Drug sale: schoolboy expelled' ('Canberra Times,' 29/6/96, p. 2) illustrates how the school was quick to cover its reputation by dismissing it as a 'very minor incident' which was 'nipped in the bud' and yet for this 'minor incident' the 13 year old child had to suffer the ultimate rejection of expulsion. This story is re-enacted many times.
    Do you see the extension to wider society? If you are caught with drugs you are expelled from society. Not always, but often sent to gaol.
    Prejudice and ignorance plays a significant part. Both factors emerged in the debate about the proposed heroin trial in the ACT. (Most people here will know the detail of the proposed trial.)
    The decision to proceed with the trial was in the hands of the Ministerial Council on Drug Strategy: Health ministers from each Australian state and territory and the Commonwealth government. At the meeting in July 1996 two states and the ACT supported the trial, the remaining five opposed. Fortunately the federal health minister kept the issue alive to be considered again this year.
    The Health Ministers on the MCDS who opposed the trial, did not oppose it on health grounds, they did so on economic and moral grounds. Two areas where they obviously have no expertise.
    The heroin trial, if fully implemented, would save the Australian economy about $4 billion.
    The death toll from opiates is rising each year. Where is the morality of any Health Minister, when he has the opportunity but does not take action to save lives?

    Development of group

    I will now outline the formation of our group as a preface to a call to other countries to establish similar groups and the establishment of a network of such groups throughout the world.

    Enthusiasm & commitment

    In the early developmental stages of the group there was a great deal of enthusiasm and commitment but there was also a great deal of inexperience. We lacked knowledge of our subject area, we did not know all the issues, we did not know who the main players were.

    Need to be informed

    Our first priority was to inform ourselves. Our second was to develop a plan of action. Our third was to let others know that we existed. Our fourth was to do something to make a difference.
    The early formation of this group was rather delicate. Like any group such as this great care is needed to make sure that the enthusiasm is not lost, that good ideas are not dismissed.

    Keep focus

    We confined our attention initially to heroin because it was the prime reason why the group formed. This proved to be a very good decision because it did provide a very clear focus.

    Help and encouragement

    The help and encouragement from other groups, notably the Aust- ralian Drug Law Reform Foundation and the Australian Parliamentary Group for Drug Law Reform was vital and valuable. They provided suggestions and guidance at the early formative meetings. At a later time attendance at the 7th International Conference on the Reduction of Drug Related Harm also proved extremely valuable.

    Take the high moral ground

    As much as possible we try to not to offend. Our public image is good. We command respect because we present a rational first hand experience of the tragic consequences of current policies and practices.
    The words of our ACT Chief Minister illustrate why we command that respect: "I think [FFDLR] have really made a difference quite sig- nificantly because they've mainstreamed the debate. ....I think it was an enormous change. I mean particularly Calder and Green [two of our members] and others who are so middle Australia...People who live next door to you or down the road could lose a child so tragically ... those kids weren't unloved or neglected, they were just normal everyday young people and I think that changed a lot of people's attitudes."

    Money

    Our funding is limited and we have deliberately set a policy of keeping subscriptions within easy reach. Our aim is to grow our membership not grow our bank account. Membership is just $5 per year (about 15 francs or 2.50). We will of course gratefully accept donations.
    The key is committed people. However with such large distances to travel between capital cities it will not be long before we need additional funding.

    Action

    We are an action group and that action keeps both members and the public interested. The slide shows some of our activities last year.
    Our essential thrust at this time is to promote a groundswell movement of parents and friends who are aware of the consequences of the current drug policies either because they have suffered the tragedy or because they recognise the wrongs and injustices of the present policies.

    Measuring Success

    Have we been successful? We believe that we have: Our first public meeting entitled "Why Prohibition?" exceeded our expectations.
    Our submissions supporting the proposed heroin trial obviously had an influence. We presented orally on the third hearing day of the inquiry into a possible heroin trial. The first two days of hearings were received in relative silence. Our presentation received the first round of applause. The committee inquiring into drugs in Victoria changed direction after they received both written and oral submissions from FFDLR and other families affected by drugs. It was reported in the Age newspaper that the chairman of the council said that what touched him most was "the expressions of anguish by mothers who had lost their children or who had children affected by heroin dependency." As I understand it the council's direction turned 180 degrees after these submissions.
    Influence from FFDLR has meant that police in the ACT now do not attend drug overdoses unless a death has occurred. Police presence was a major factor in my son's death.
    Police invited us to join them in a joint exercise.
    Friends and acquaintances who have never referred to drug laws before have offered help and encouragement.
    Our latest activity - a tree dedication and remembrance ceremony - had a significant influence. I would like to detail this a little more so you will see its impact.

    Remembrance Tree

    It came as a sad realisation to members of Families and Friends for Drug Law Reform that there was no public focus of the worth of the many who have died from the use of illicit drugs but who remain loved as friends and family members.
    We established through a public ceremony a memorial for those who met their death not so much from any inherent danger of the drugs involved but from policies and practices surrounding the drug.
    Our purpose was: to acknowledge our loved ones lives and publicly mourn their deaths; to raise awareness and bring attention to the number of deaths; to signify that the deaths do cause pain for families and friends and that they are not alone; to provide a means whereby others may feel that it is easier to speak out; to provide a lasting memorial.
    Locust tree, Robinia pseudoacacia The memorial grew from an idea of a member of the group, Bronwyn Barnard, who lost a brother to a heroin overdose in July last year. Here are her recollections: The idea for this tree came to me some time after his death, when I was standing talking to my mother in the kitchen. I looked out of the window at our home and became conscious of the old locust tree under which Dean would often sit. And my eyes were drawn to the large vicious thorns which cover this tree. It was still winter and the tree was bare, and I thought how symbolic the thorns were of his drug use. They are sharp, cruel and dangerous reminding me of the harsh reality of Dean's efforts to get control of his life, and the way in which the community treats people who become dependant on drugs.
    However, my mind wandered further from these difficult memories, and I was compelled to remember the true beauty of the tree. Every year I have looked with admiration at the tree when in spring it is covered in blossoms. Large clumps of sweet smelling, white flowers cascade from its branches. The flowers attract numerous varieties of parrots which eat the nectar then drop the petals forming a magnificent white carpet beneath the tree. It is a beautiful sight. I was moved to think, yes look at this wonderful tree and remember it in its entirety. Remember Dean in his entirety, all the good things about Dean, all his good points for he was an individual with many assets and we loved him, as you will have loved your family member or friend.
    Locust tree, Robinia pseudoacaciaThe ceremony was most moving and incorporated the reading out of the names of 80 young people who had lost their life to illicit drugs (the youngest was 16 years of age).
    We would have been pleased with an attendance of 50 people but we were very much encouraged by attendance of almost 200. Attending the ceremony were senior church dignitaries, representatives of many levels of government and political parties, including members of Federal, ACT and NSW parliaments.
    All the local media attended and reported the event in the news. Press, radio, TV. The lot.
    The residual image left with any who witnessed either in person or through the media reports was that these people who die are loved and wanted in our society.
    I posted a press release on the Internet and one response was: "In the thousands of articles and e-mails that pass through my 3 dozen lists, I don't think I have seen any article having the effect of the 'Remembrance Tree' post from the Families and Friends for Drug Law Reform group from Australia.
    "The dedication of their locust tree makes me think of the family and friends that we hold close and dear to our hearts that are not with us today because of this insane war on drugs.
    "The Australians have a good idea and we should consider it's possible applications in America. We need a 'war' memorial too!"

    Plans

    FFDLR has plans for future activities that will further our aims and reduce the harm caused by illicit drugs. These include: broaden the membership base to a network throughout Australia and the world; get the issue firmly on the political agenda and make drug law reform an electoral issue; influence police to make further changes; more awareness raising such as publishing a book of personal stories; repeat the tree ceremony with thousands attending.

    Conclusion

    In conclusion I ask that you remember the human side of drug use during the remainder of the conference and in your professional lives when you return home. Drug users are family members and parents should also feature in any harm reduction solution. Perhaps they can make the difference.
    Parents, through groups such as Families and Friends for Drug Law Reform can have a significant influence on the future course of history on drug laws. In Australia parent groups such as FFDLR have been a powerful force in promoting the message about the harm caused by prohibition.
    Broadening the membership base both within Australia and beyond its shores could be the next major step forward toward raising awareness.
    Finally, therefore, let me call for the establishment of a network of Families and Friends for Drug Law Reform in all countries represented here today - working together, sharing resources, raising awareness and reducing the harm.

    [End]

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