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May 30, 1996

Marijuana Reform Debate In Full Force In Canadian Federal Government

May 1996, Ottawa, Canada: Debate over Canada's federal policies regarding both the widespread cultivation of industrial hemp and the legalization of small amounts of marijuana for recreational use are currently in full swing in the Canadian Senate.

Hearings have been ongoing regarding the future of proposed government bill C-8, a measure currently before the Senate that will effectively replace the Narcotic Control Act with the Controlled Substances and Abuse Act. Currently, the measure retains the existing penalties for marijuana: a potential $1,000 fine or six months in jail. However, a growing group of vocal senators from both major parties feel that the time for decriminalization of marijuana has come and the federal law must reflect that.

"I am in favor of decriminalizing marijuana," said Liberal Senator Rose-Marie Losier-Cool, one of five senators who sit on the Senate's Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee who have publicly endorsed decriminalization. "We must look at this very seriously. The approach we have now is criminal, it's punitive. Maybe it's a health approach we should be taking a serious look at. The punitive approach has not worked and the problem is still there."

"Cannabis is much less lethal than cigarettes and alcohol," added Quebec Progressive Conservative Senator Pierre-Claude Nolin. "Are we into prohibition because it's somewhat of a dogma that we don't question and [because] everybody else is doing it?"

"Senators [are] much more interested in a harm reduction model of drug control in this country than they [are] in a punishment model," confirmed Liberal Senator Sharon Carstairs, Chairwoman for the senate committee. "That is where almost all of the senators are coming from."

In addition to the growing movement regarding the use of recreational marijuana, support for policies legalizing the widescale growing of industrial hemp is also gathering support. According to a staff-member for Liberal Senator Lorna Milne, the senator will soon be introducing an amendment to C-8 that will make it legal to cultivate hemp by adding "mature hemp stock" to a list of approved substances. The staffer reports that Milne's office does not anticipate "any difficulty" regarding the passage of the amendment and adds that the proposal has the support of Health Minister David Dingwall.

"[Hemp cultivation] seems to me to be a sensible thing to do," Milne said recently.

Bill C-8 is currently undergoing its second committee review in the Senate and the overall bill is expected to be amended and returned to the House of Commons. Sources who have spoken to NORML anticipate that any measures regarding hemp cultivation should pass boththe Senate and House without complications, but warn that proposals regarding the decriminalization of recreational marijuana will most likely be opposed by the House.

To find out more about the Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs or to read the transcripts from testimony given to the Senate Committee, please browse the following Web site: For additional information regarding the status of bill C-8, please contact Dana Larsen of Cannabis Canada at (800) 330-HEMP or via the Internet at: Senator Lorna Milne's office may be reached at (613) 947-7695.

Black Motorists Subject To Stops And Searches On I-95 More Often Than Whites

May 1996, Perryville, MD: Black motorists are stopped and searched for drugs at least four times more often than whites by a special Maryland highway drug unit that patrols stretches of Interstate 95, according to a recent report from the Associated Press.

Although state police spokesmen have flatly denied using racial profiles, findings from an AP computer analysis of car searches indicate that more than 75 percent of all drivers whose cars were searched by the special drug squad through the first nine months of 1995 were black. In all, the Special Traffic Interdiction Force (STIF), whose six officers are white, searched 145 of the motorists it stopped along a 50 mile stretch of I-95 between the Delaware border and the Baltimore County line; of these, 110 motorists were listed as black, 24 white, six Hispanic, and five "other" minorities. Maryland police maintain that the findings are a coincidence.

Maryland state troopers, like those in many states, are forbidden to use racial profiles in traffic stops. In addition, Maryland troopers are mandated to provide records on highway searches to the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland under terms of a legal settlement reached in 1994.

According to at least one attorney from the ACLU who spoke with the AP, a future class-action lawsuit may be considered if the data eventually proves a pattern of discrimination. At least one private discrimination lawsuit has already been filed against three STIF troopers.

For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre of NORML at (202) 483-5500.

Repeat Felony Marijuana Possession Penalties Reduced In Missouri

May 1996, Jefferson City, MO: Thanks in large part to the efforts of Missouri NORML Coordinator Dan Viets, Gov. Mel Carnahan signed into law Senate Bill 830 which significantly reduces the range of punishment for second and third offense felony marijuana possession.

SB 830 was filed after Viets contacted Sen. Joe Moseley (D-Columbia) late last year and alerted him that under the Missouri prior and persistent drug offender statute, an individual who merely possessed more than one and one quarter ounces of marijuana on two occasions would be eligible for a punishment ranging from 10 years to life in prison. One who had committed three such offenses would be subject to 10 years to life in prison without the possibility of probation or parole.

The passage of SB 830 changes the law to specify that simple marijuana possession offenses will no longer be punishable under the prior and persistent drug offender statute. Therefore, a second offense of felony marijuana possession which formerly had a sentencing range of 10 years to life now has a sentencing range of zero to seven years. Furthermore, regardless of how many drug offenses of any nature one has, no simple possession offense will ever carry a punishment of more than seven years and the defendant will remain eligible for probation and parole.

"Senator Moseley ... [is] one of the most effective advocates for rational reform of the criminal laws generally with whom I have ever had the privilege of working," stated Viets.

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

Dennis Peron Leaves Cannabis Buyers Club

May 29, 1996, San Francisco, CA: Dennis Peron, founder of the San Francisco Cannabis Buyers Club - the nation's largest and most overt supplier of wholesale marijuana to the seriously ill - has stepped down from his post as director. Peron will now concentrate full-time on passing the California Medical Marijuana Initiative which is slated for the November ballot.

Taking over for Peron as director of the 10,000 member club is longtime AIDS and marijuana activist Beth Moore. Moore will continue to run the club as a not-for-profit organization.

"I intend to run the Club with as much love as Dennis founded it," stated Moore. "I know medical marijuana is saving lives. It is a moral imperative that our mission continue. It is with heavy heart that we say goodbye to Dennis, but we know that we must legalize [cannabis] and Dennis has been chosen for the task."

"I will continue to work for social justice and compassion for our sick," said Peron upon his retirement from the Club. "The initiative is just the first step towards a more loving and compassionate society."

For more information, please contact Beth Moore of Californians for Compassionate Use at (415) 621-3986.

City Commission Urges Citizens To Just say No To NORML Ballot Proposal

May 20, 1996, Traverse City, MI: The Traverse City Commission has unanimously passed a resolution urging city residents to vote against an initiative put forth by the Traverse City NORML chapter to reduce marijuana penalties. The measure - which will appear on the ballot August 6 - seeks to make possession, use, or sale of less than one ounce of marijuana in Traverse City punishable by a maximum penalty of $100 and up to ten hours of community service for a first-time offender. Earlier this year, the City Commission unanimously passed a resolution encouraging residents to not sign the NORML petition.

Bill Bustance, president of the Traverse City NORML chapter, denounced the Commission's latest action and remarked that it "discounts the intelligence of the worthy citizens that signed the petition." However, Bustance still remains confident that there is ample voter support for the measure. "We're not asking: 'Are you for marijuana or are you against marijuana? or 'If you're for NORML or against NORML?' ... We're asking: 'Do you want to throw people in prison at a cost of $30,000 per year or do you want to enact fines and community service that will go directly to the community?"

Bustance challenged opposing groups to a televised debate.

For more information, please contact Bill Bustance of Traverse City NORML at (616) 264-9565.



Regional and other news

Body Count

Six of the 11 felons Multnomah County courts sentenced to jail or prison in the most recent week were controlled-substance offenders according to the "Portland" zoned edition in Thursday's
Oregonian, delivered to subscribers in the central metropolitan area. (May 30, 1996, p. 11, 3M-MP-SE). That brings the total so far this year to 153 out of 268, or 57.08 percent.

Australian Forensic Expert Says Cannabis 'Could Be Good for Driving'

By Krista Hughes of AAP

MELBOURNE, May 9, 1996 (AAP) - The combination of drugs and alcohol provided the greatest risk to drivers, but cannabis alone could even be good for driving, a forensic scientist said today.

Professor Olaf Drummer said that although one-fifth of people who died on Victorian roads tested positive for drugs, drugs alone did not necessarily cause fatal accidents.

Marijuana in particular had a positive effect on driving, he told the annual scientific congress of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons.

"Cannabis is good for driving skills, as people tend to overcompensate for a perceived impairment," Prof Drummer said.

Compared with alcohol, which made people take more risks on the road, marijuana made drivers slow down and drive more carefully, he said.

Prof. Drummer said random drug testing by police was not the way to stop drug use, as not all marijuana users were a risk on the roads.

He said it would be better if police could be trained to spot drivers under the excessive influence of drugs, and take them to be properly examined by a doctor.

"The risk of culpability increases as drivers use more than one drug, or mix it with alcohol," he said, and added that multiple-drug users were "almost all" culpable.

A Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine study showed that 36 per cent of fatally-injured drivers had used alcohol, and 22 per cent had used drugs inlcuding marijuana, amphetamines, stimulants and opiates.

Marijuana was the most common drug, but as it stayed in the bloodstream it was impossible to tell when it had been taken, and therefore calculate the actual impact on fatalities, Prof. Drummer said.

Nine percent of fatally-injured drivers had combined drugs and alcohol. AAP kmh/tfh/pmu

[Note - NORML's official policy statements agree that drivers intoxicated on marijuana should not be excused from sanctions any more than drunken drivers should be. The purpose of quoting this article is to debunk unfounded claims that cannabis affects people as a disinhibitor like alcohol, or otherwise poses a particular traffic-safety threat.]

Cigarette Prohibition And Increased Use - Correlation Or Causation?

According to a KATU Channel 2 News report at 5 pm Thursday, May 23, reported by Jeff Gianola: 25 percent of 11th graders have smoked cigarettes in the past month.

It's not clear what KATU's source was, but nationwide, an Oregonian article May 24 reported that "the overall percentage of of teen-agers 17 or younger who reported smoking in the month before the survey last spring was 34.8 percent," according to "More teens than ever begin puffing cigarettes, study finds" (p. A29), based on a new federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report.

According to state figures, however, the adult cigarette-use rate in Oregon is 22 percent. Federal figures state the percentage nationwide is 29 percent. This would seem to support the claim that prohibition increases use, whether because of the forbidden-fruit factor and/or other effects.

Documentation: The recent Oregon state figure of 22 percent comes from a Dec. 11, 1995 article in The Oregonian on 1993 statistics, the most recent available. The article, "Report says half Oregon '93 deaths premature" (p. B4,, based on an unspecified report from the Oregon Health Division, states that "Tobacco is the leading contributor to early death, claiming 16 Oregonians every day. In 1993, 6,000 Oregon deaths were linked to smoking, yet at least 22 percent of adult Oregonians continue to smoke." (The same article reports that, next to tobacco use, the leading killer was poor diet and sedentary lifestyle, which killed 4,000 Oregonians. Alcohol was next, having killed 1,000 Oregonians in 1993. Portland NORML recently posted the complete text of this article at its "All Politics is Local" page,, linked to another article which shows the death toll the same year in Oregon from pot was 0, and 138 for all other illegal drugs.) However, according to the most recent, preliminary 1994 federal National Household Survey on Drug Abuse at, nationwide, "An estimated 60 million Americans were current smokers in 1994. This represents a smoking rate of 29 percent for the population age 12 and older."

DARE Officer With Stolen Meth Gets Probation

James Trimble
The Des Moines Register
Friday, May 17, 1996, Page 1A

'One-Time Incident' - Judge says probation, not prison, for Trimble
Prosecutors say the police officer fired by Ubandale after his drug arrest deserved harsher measures.

By Dan Eggen
Register Staff Writer

James Trimble, the fired Urbandale police officer who stole $20,000 worth of methamphetamine from his department, was spared prison Thursday for his felony drug conviction.

Judge Leo Oxberger sentenced Trimble to two years' probation, a $1,000 fine and 100 hours of community service.

"I'm convinced this is a one-time incident for you," the judge said. The sentence angered prosecutors, who along with presentence investigators recommended up to 10 years in prison for the crime.

Trimble, 44, is required to spend his community-service time giving anti-drug speeches to students. He conducted such talks as a police officer in Urbandale schools.

.... Jamie Bowers, an assistant Polk County attorney, pointed out that Trimble admitted taking drugs from an evidence locker at the Urbandale Police Department.

About 4 a.m. on New Year's Day, Trimble was arrested driving his mother's van in an inner-city Des Moines neighborhood. Police say they found about 7 ounces - $20,000 worth - of methamphetamine, in addition to marijuana, LSD and cocaine.

.... Authorities said numerous sexually explicit videotapes and pictures were found in the van, including photos of Trimble. He had a battery-operated sexual device inserted in his body when arrested, police said.

.... The 18-year veteran headed Urbandale's Drug Abuse Resistance Education program and acted as liaison officer between police and the suburb's schools. He was fired shortly after his arrest.

.... He was charged with five drug crimes, but prosecutors agreed to let him plead guilty April 8 to one: possession with intent to deliver methamphetamine. ....

.... Authorities considered charging Trimble with theft but decided it would have been "overkill," given the five drug charges against him at the time, Hamlin said. ....

(End excerpts - full text at:

Marijuana Task Force 1995 Annual Report - A Critical Review

The Portland Police Drugs and Vice Division just released its 1995 Annual Report. Portland NORML is indebted to the DVD for being so forthcoming with a copy. The parts that deal with the multijurisdictional Marijuana Task Force contain some remarkable statements, but what the 1995 Annual Report does not mention is just as interesting and important.

To begin with, the ensuing statement from the 1995 Annual Report is quite surprising:

The task force has developed an extraordinary level of skill in detecting marijuana grows. They are utilizing techniques which are still a mystery to the drug criminals. Growers in this region present a target rich environment and are there for the taking as fast as the task force can get to them. That marijuana production is being conducted by such a cross section of supposedly respectable citizens is an indication that marijuana enforcement has been too long neglected and requires constant attention over time. (p. 12)
Politicians and reporters should note: When the police themselves observe that "marijuana production is being conducted by ... a cross section of supposedly respectable citizens," it is not "an indication that marijuana enforcement has been too long neglected and requires constant attention over time." It means that pot cultivators are just ordinary people who pose no threat to public safety, and there is no legitimate reason to waste limited public-safety resources on them.

Otherwise, the editor is grateful to the DVD for confirming what has been stated here several times - that police can round up all the marijuana offenders they want at any time, but will never have enough money to do so, and it wouldn't serve any useful purpose if they did.

Unlike car thieves, burglars, uninsured drunk drivers and wife-beaters, marijuana cultivators have never been "neglected" by the police. Enforcement efforts have steadily increased for decades, and the task force is just the latest organization to spearhead that effort.

Given that the price of marijuana has fallen slightly in Portland since the Marijuana Task Force set up shop, and that the task force is probably interdicting well less than 5 percent of all grow operations (see below), the assertion that the task force's detection techniques are a mystery to most marijuana cultivators is unsupported by the evidence. Since the task force made 302 arrests using the same detection techniques, one would expect the better-connected growers to compare notes and to find the common denominator that each busted cultivator shared. Accordingly, one would expect the better-connected growers not to make that common mistake, leaving isolated small-time "lone wolf" cultivators most likely to be snared.

Indeed, that seems to be the case. As detailed in a Willamette Week story about the task force, "Reefer Madness: Portland Wages a New War on Pot" (March 29, 1995, posted in full at In addition, as noted in Portland NORML Director T.D. Miller's letter of March 11, 1996 to Portland Mayor Vera Katz (posted at, the vast majority of marijuana cultivators arrested by the task force grow small amounts in their own homes for personal consumption. According to Miller, fully one fourth of those he was able to interview had grown for medicinal purposes.

One conclusion that marijuana cultivators could make is that the police are much more sympathetic towards large commercial grow operations compared to small personal-use cultivators. The 1995 Annual Report does not say so, but the Marijuana Task Force seems to focus exclusively on residential buildings. The last time a marijuana-cultivation operation was reportedly uncovered at a commercial building in Portland was years ago, and that case came to light only after a burglar left a window or door open so the operation was in plain view. Since there are myriad small-business buildings out there with a seemingly legitimate need for large amounts of electrical power, one would assume that many if not most intelligent professional indoor farmers have set up their operations in commercial buildings or hidden parts thereof.

How many cultivators are there among the 1 million to 2 million people covered by the task force? Most educated estimates seem to put the number of cultivators at about 7 percent to 10 percent of all marijuana consumers. Nationwide, the U.S. government has cited the figure 500,000 in the past. A more credible article by Eric Schlosser in the August 1994 Atlantic Monthly (see suggests that "Estimates of how many Americans grow marijuana range from one to three million, of which anywhere from 100,000 to 200,000 are commercial growers."

At this point, one needs to know what is the jurisdiction of the task force. The report mentions the five-member team includes three DVD officers, an Oregon State Police trooper and an investigator from the Clark-Skamania Drug Task Force division of the Washington State Police. If the task force's jurisdiction includes just Portland and Clark County, that would mean it's riding herd on a population of at least 1 million. If it includes all of Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties, the base population would be well more than 1.5 million people.

The 1995 Annual Report states the total take in marijuana plants, dried marijuana, and arrests by both the Marijuana Task Force and the Drugs and Vice Division as a whole. On Page 13, the harvest by the Marijuana Task Force since its Feb. 28, 1995 inception is listed as 57,931 grams of dried marijuana worth $579,310, exactly $10 per gram. The task force also made 302 arrests and shut down 216 grow operations which yielded 13,960 plants valued at $27,920,000 - $2,000 each.

However, the 1995 Annual Report also lists significant confiscations by the Drugs and Vice Division as a whole. According to the "1995 DVD Activity Report" chart on Page 4, as well as the "Marijuana Plants" chart on Page 12, the Drugs and Vice Division confiscated 17,067 marijuana plants in 1995, about 4,000 plants on top of the task force's yield. The chart on Page 4 also states the Drugs and Vice Division as a whole confiscated 90,660 grams of dried marijuana worth $906,600, or $10 a gram, so the Marijuana Task Force only confiscated 81.79 percent of the total DVD harvest. The 17,067 marijuana plants nipped in the bud by the Drugs and Vice Division as a whole are also valued separately on Page 4 at $34,134,000. Again, this comes to exactly $2,000 per plant regardless of maturity or quality - a remarkably arbitrary assessment that grossly inflated the "value" of all marijuana confiscated in 1995 to a total $35,040,600. At the bottom of the 1995 DVD Activity Report on Page 4 is the statement: "Total value of drugs seized - $37,575,240." In other words, marijuana made up 93.25 percent of the value of all drugs seized by Portland police in 1995, but most of that value was apparently immature plants worth little or nothing on the street.

If one assumes the taxpayers pay about $100,000 a year for the care and feeding of each of the five officers on the task force, that would mean the public paid about $500,000 to remove $579,310 of actual pot from the market, and that doesn't even include the costs of prosecuting offenders.

Given the same assumptions about the cost of the 42-member Drugs and Vice Division team, the taxpayers paid about $4,200,000 to eliminate a total of $906,600 in marketable marijuana.

The Oregonian weighed in on May 23 with a report titled "Arrests increase in Portland, as do illegal-drug seizures" (p. B6). According to the daily paper, "Portland police arrested 765 in 1995 on drug charges. The figure is up from 437 drug arrests the previous year. [The Oregonian got it wrong. According to the 1995 DVD Activity Report on Page 4, there were only 730 arrests on drug charges in 1995. The 765 figure used by the daily paper erroneously included the 35 people arrested on "Vice" charges not related to "Drugs."]

The Oregonian report continues: "The amount of heroin, methamphetamine and dried marijuana seized by police was up considerably in 1995 from 1994, according to figures released by police.

"A marijuana task force, formed in February 1995 to focus on indoor growing operations, seized more than 13,000 marijuana plants worth almost $28 million last year, police said this week. That is more than twice the number of plants seized in 1994."

Those paragraphs, at least, are accurate.

What the 1995 Annual Report Doesn't Say

According to the 1995 Annual Report on Page 13, the Marijuana Task Force made 302 of the DVD's 730 total drug arrests. How many of these arrests led to felony convictions? As the weekly "Body Count" above notes, so far in 1996, Multnomah County Courts have sentenced only 153 felons to jail or prison terms for the entire range of controlled-substance violations. By the end of 1996, at that rate the total will reach about 330. Assuming the 1996 arrest rate is more or less the same as that in 1995, it looks like a substantial portion of 1995 arrests did not lead to convictions. A report on how effectively law-enforcement resources are being allocated should have included that information.

If 95 percent or more of all marijuana growers went unmolested, that makes the police about 20 times less effective at weeding out incompetent entrepreneurs than the free market. For the Drugs and Vice Division's annual report to be meaningful, it should make a credible attempt to estimate the number of marijuana cultivators in its jurisdiction.

The 1995 Annual Report states on Page 4 that while 206 search warrants were issued, 523 "consent searches" took place. As Director T.D. Miller's letter suggests, Portland NORML has received countless complaints that so-called "consent searches" are basically just home invasions where police threaten or bodily force their way into suspects' homes. It is simply not credible that so many cultivators would be stupid enough to let police search their homes without a warrant. How can the official opprobrium of society mean anything to drug offenders if law-enforcement officials break the law themselves in order to enforce such sanctions? The mayor, district attorney and police officials themselves should ensure that when task force members knock on suspected cultivators' doors, they tape record or videotape their ensuing conversations.

Even if police doubled or quadrupled their efforts, most growers would not feel the heat. Those that did could just move outside the task force's jurisdiction. Indeed, even if the 4th Amendment didn't exist and indoor marijuana growing could somehow be stamped out in Portland, there would still be plenty of marijuana. Cannabis first became popular in the 1960s and 1970s, when virtually all marijuana was imported. So eliminating the local supply would still leave Portlanders with marijuana imported from Mexico, Hawaii, Thailand, British Columbia and other American sources, including outdoor growers all around the remote areas of Oregon and 49 other states.

(A follow-up item in the next week's news release provides more details.)

'Marijuana Merits Medical Use'

A staff editorial from the Contra Costa Times, California [a Knight-Ridder affiliate], May 28, 1996

Last year Gov. Pete Wilson made a mistake when he vetoed a bill that would have allowed doctors to prescribe marijuana for patients suffering from cancer, AIDS, glaucoma and a few other diseases. This year the Assembly erred in failing to pass the same measure.

Fortunately, voters will have a say on the matter because an inititative is likely to be on the November ballot.

The initiative does not legalize marijuana. It simply allows medical doctors to use it to relieve suffering. Increasingly, physicians are speaking out in favor of marijuana for numberous conditions. The drug helps AIDS patients avoid weight loss and eases vomiting and paid associated with chemotherapy.

The California Medical Association has expressed support for the use of marijuana if controlled studies prove it works. However, such studies can take place only if the law allows them.

Opponents of medical use of marijuana say it puts out a message that the drug is harmless. That's nonsense, not worth of consideration by anyone interested in helping sick people. that's like concluding morphine is considered harmless because it is prescribed by physicians.

But the argument sounded good enough to Assemblyman Richard Rainey, who changed his vote from yes to no on the marijuana bill. Let's hope the voters have more sense and allow doctors to use the drug where and when it can do some good.

'Push To Put Pot On Ballot'

The San Francisco Examiner, May 28, 1996, front page
by George Raine of the Examiner staff

All the props and costumes and dialogue of 1960s flower power are present at the Cannabis Buyers' Club, where Melody Gannon is relaxing with a pipe of over-the-counter marijuana without fear. She says she's here on her doctor's recommendation. "It puts me in a different head space where I don't feel the pain," said Gannon, who is recovering from a fractured pelvis and hip.

All around her, in the third-floor smoking lounge of an old hardwere emporium on Market Street, 200 or more people this day are escaping pain. Some of them are cheating death. And each one is a poster child for a California ballot initiative that would legalize the medical use of marijuana.

"I'm walking a month before they said I would and I really believe it's due to the marijuana," said Gannon, who rejected the more traditional Percocet and Vicodin.

It was with an identical faith in the healing power of cannabis, and a never-say-never political agenda, that the club's founder, Dennis Peron, led the campaign to collect signatures to place the initiative on the November ballot.

"We know a medicine helps people and we deny it to them because some teenager in Milpitas may get marijuana - when in fact the teenager is the one who can easily get it and dying people can't," Peron said.

Under the initiative, patients or caregivers who possess or cultivate marijuana for medical treatment recommended by a physician would be immune from prosecution. It also would protect doctors for recommending marijuana for medical purposes.

The California Narcotic Officers' Association opposes the measure, believing its true ingtent is legalization of marijuana. "There will be no way to enforce cultivation or possession laws because it (the initiative) is so nebulous," spokesman Tom Gorman said. "They really pulled a fast one. It's a great scam."

The secretary of state looks certain to qualify the measure next month for the ballot. the initiatve needed 433,269 signatures of registered voters; proponents gathered 800,000.

Advocates will try to raise $1 million and register 500,000 voters, a very adult, sophisticated political exercies far removed from the Summer of Love.

"That's our toughest row to hoe, the image of marijuana as a protest drug the 60s," Peron said. "The real image of marijuana in the 90s is medicine for the sick and dying. We're trying to change the fact of marijuana from one that is threatening and angrey to one that is kind and compassionate."

Since its founding in 1990, the 10,000 member Cannabis Buyers' Club at 1444 Market St. has served as an oasis for many sick people, the majority of them HIV-positive or with AIDS-related conditions. San Francisco authorities look the other way.

'Drug Courts' - The New Trend

By Michael J. Sniffen
Associated Press Writer May 10, 1996

WASHINGTON (AP) - Nonviolent drug offenders are much less likely to commit new crimes if they are given treatment through special drug courts rather than just being sent to prison, an academic study found.

The American University study was released Thursday by Attorney General Janet Reno, as she announced $8.5 million in federal grants to set up nine new drug courts and expand seven existing ones around the nation.

"These courts can and are making a difference," said Reno, who helped set up the first drug court when she was a state prosecutor in Miami. "Drug courts give nonviolent offenders charged with possession of small amounts of drugs a choice: Either comply with the conditions of treatment and supervision or face punishment."

Fewer than 4 percent of drug offenders who complete drug court treatment programs return to crime, the American University study found in a review of results from 11 existing drug courts. Among all participants, including those who do not finish the treatment, rates of return to crime ranged from 5 percent to 28 percent, the researchers said.

By comparison, at least 45 percent of defendants convicted in regular courts of drug possession and given no treatment commit a similar offense within two or three years, according to the federally funded "Summary Assessment of the Drug Court Experience."

Joining Reno at her weekly news conference, National Drug Control Policy Director Barry McCaffrey added, "If you don't like paying for jails, if you don't like waste of tax dollars, then you'll like the concept of drug courts. This is an initiative that's been working."

Per offender, the drug court treatment and supervision program costs "$1,000 a year to run ... versus $15,000 a year to simply lock up a nonviolent, first-time drug offender," McCaffrey said.

Eighty drug courts are operating in 29 states and the District of Columbia, and 90 more are planned in an additional 14 states.

Drug courts refer offenders for daily counseling, therapy and education. They require drug testing, often weekly, and at least biweekly reports to the judge. They also provide vocational, educational, family and medical support.

But offenders who fail the drug tests or fail to report wind up behind bars. Those who show only limited progress are put under stricter supervision.

"The 2.7 million chronic drug addicts of America are causing enormous damage, not only to themselves, but to their families, their communities, and the United States," McCaffrey said, noting research that suggests some drug addicts commit 170 crimes a year.

"So simple incarceration and then putting these poor creatures back out on the streets of America, without some notion of treatment, isn't going to work," he said.

The localities receiving grants for new drug courts were: Tuscaloosa County, Ala., $500,000; Riverside, Calif., $300,000; Hillsborough County, Fla., $250,000; Fulton County, Ga., $750,000; Kankakee County, Ill., $300,000; Douglas County, Neb., $450,000; Puerto Rico, $650,000; Virginia, $200,000; and Spokane County, Wash., $300,000.

The areas receiving grants to expand drug courts were: Los Angeles County, Calif., $800,000; District of Columbia, $800,000; Duval County, Fla., $750,000; Dade County, Fla., $300,000; Kalamazoo County, Mich., $750,000; Clark County, Nev., $700,000; and Pierce County, Wash., $650,000.

[Portland NORML notes: The reason drug courts cost only $1,000 per client to operate may be that most clients - the vast majority gainfully employed - are obligated to pay the operating costs, plus fines. Most clients, particularly marijuana offenders who make up the primary clientele of drug courts, probably learn how to fool the bladder cops and go about their lives. The "rehabilitation" programs tend to be moralistic and misrepresent the facts, but, as with other "re-education" programs, clients universally pretend to go along with them because doing otherwise would put them in jail. Basically, drug courts are just a big tax on a small percentage of illegal-drug users with bad luck but not necessarily real substance-abuse problems. Even at $1,000 per offender, sending all the government-estimated minimum 159,445 illegal-drug users in Oregon (See through drug courts would cost Oregon taxpayers $159,445,000, or almost $160 million, and the detection, apprehension and court infrastructure costs to the public would be even more immense.]

Piecework Peace Officers

According to the Contra Costa Times, California, circa May 29, 1996:

Washington - Police departments may use their share of funds from confiscated property to pay salaries of replacements for officers assigned to federal task forces, the Treasury Department said Tuesday.

Deputy Treasure Secretary Lawrence Summers said the change, effective immediately, could provide an estimated $75 million a year.

The funds are the result of seizure and forfeiture of property acquired by criminals through illegal activities. They are shared equally by the federal, state and local law enforcement agencies participating in the task forces.

Re-Evaluating The US Drug War

Stanford, CA - An expert panel will discuss U.S. drug policy and its effects on American society in a program titled, "Re-evaluating the Drug War" from 4 to 6 pm on Wednesday, June 5. It will be held at Stanford University's Oak East Room in Tressider Memorial Union and coincides with a six-day showing of the powerful photo exhibit, "Human Rights '95: Atrocities of the Drug War." The exhibit is free for public viewing, and open from June 2 to 7 in the Upstairs Lounge in the same location.

Joseph McNamara, former police chief of San Jose and a Hoover Institute fellow, will participate in the stimulating discussion, along with Chris Conrad, noted author and director of Family Council on Drug Awareness; Virginia Resner, California Coordinator of Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM); and Steven Faulkner, activist and former prisoner. A 10-minute slide show on drug war facts and figures will be presented by Oakland attorney, Robert Raich.

"Human Rights '95: Atrocities of the Drug War" views American drug policy through the lens of the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the U.S. Bill of Rights. Photo portraits eloquently communicate the painful reality of ordinary people and families who got caught up in the wide net of zero tolerance, in which homes and property are seized without trial. Many have lost their children, freedom and future dreams due to long, mandatory prison terms for minor offenses.

For more information, please contact Virginia Resner of Human Rights '95 in El Cerrito, California, at 1 (415) 753-6602.

Hemp Education Day August 5 In Olympia

Admission is free at "Hemp Education Day" on Monday, Aug. 5, at the Capitol Dome in Olympia, Washington.

Confirmed guest speakers include Jack Herer, Steven Hager, Chris Conrad, Jeffrey Steinborn, Don Wirtshafter, Ralph Seeley, Ken Friedman, Bob Owen, Tom Crawford, Vivian McPeak, Gideon Israel, Barry Adams, Sue Bradford, Marc Emery, Ian Hunter, JoAnna McKee, "Fat Freddy" Williams, Ron Kicsenski, Richard Davis, Chris Bennett, Tracy Chester, "Mr. Jones," "Amy Sorrell," the Herbivores and Destiny.

Organizers' main purpose is to bring about an end to the U.S. government's marijuana/hemp war.

The Earth Restoration Faire August 1-4 at Rainbow Valley will be organizers' staging area for all the volunteer crew-staff, guest speakers and hemp information booths for Hemp Education Day. A "peace-walk" will leave Rainbow Valley at noon on Sunday, August 4th, and walk to the Capitol Dome for an all night family-style Peace Vigil and Drum Circle.

For information, contributions or to volunteer call Peace Movement Northwest at (360) 459-9107, or write P.O. Box 242, Little Rock WA 98556, or e-mail, home page

Actuarial Thoughts On A Ton Of Cocaine

By Helen R. MacLeod
The Journal of Commerce
Knight-Ridder/Tribune Business News

April 29, 1996 - Just the other day I and a ton of cocaine were sitting in the same room. A ton of cocaine packed in bricks, in case you wanted to know, stands about 15 feet long, 4 1/2 feet high and 4 feet wide.

It had been seized by U.S. Customs in February on its way from Puerto Rico to Brooklyn, and was now on display at the World Trade Center.

Plenty more where that came from.

Colombian police announced in December they had seized more than 50,200 pounds of cocaine last year. The same month, President Alberto Fujimori said Peruvian authorities had burned a record 30 tons of cocaine, coca paste and other drugs in 1995.

This is the iceberg's tip, but how big is the iceberg? Of course, the official answer is that no one knows. But Customs likes to play on the uncertainty. With all the appearance of frankness, they say they can't tell what proportion of the total volume of drugs they're catching, but it's somewhere between 30 percent and 70 percent.

This is a lamentable fiction.

Altogether, in 1994, 282,000 pounds of cocaine were seized in the United States. If that were 30 percent of the total coming in, that translates into 1.17 million users at one gram a day each. In other words, the stash in front of me would have kept America's coke heads high for under 10 hours.

However, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration says an estimated 1.3 million Americans reported using cocaine in 1993. The figure for 1994 was 1.4 million. I imagine it's gone up to 1.5 million now. The stash in front of me would have kept America's coke heads high for over seven hours. In 1993, the FBI reported an estimated 334,500 arrests for the sale or manufacture of illegal drugs. Cocaine seizures represent around a quarter of all drugs seized in this country by weight (marijuana is almost three-quarters), so suppose that a quarter of those arrests, or 83,625, were for selling or cutting cocaine.

Also suppose each caught dealer had 20 customers - a modest estimate. The figure of buyers from sellers who were caught is nearly 1.7 million. Then, suppose you apply the same figure to the catching of dealers as Customs uses for catching cocaine. Say the police catch 30 percent of the dealers. That puts regular coke users in the United States at 5.7 million men, women and children.

The mountain of coke in front of me would, by that figure, keep America's coke heads high for just under two hours.

The 5.7 million addicts would need at least 4.5 million pounds of cocaine a year to satisfy a fairly modest intake. That's 20 times the amount hauled in by the combined forces of the Drug Enforcement Agency, the FBI and U.S. Customs last year. So the truth is that we're losing the drug war. No news there. I challenge anyone to cite a time when we were winning it.

However, George Weise, Customs commissioner, stood beside a ton of coke trying to convince us that his agency was stopping coke from blowing like a blizzard over the border. He held his hands out, palms upward, in a gesture of inescapable logic. "Obviously we can't make it impossible," he lamented. "We live in a free society."

A survey conducted this year by the American Management Association showed just how much of a free society we live in. AMA estimated that major U.S. firms spent nearly $250 million on drug testing employees and job applicants in 1995. That's more than 7 million drug tests, at $35 each.

Free, perhaps, but not free from drugs or paranoia.

Helen MacLeod covers insurance for The Journal of Commerce in New York.

News Of The World - Fiji (1)

Over One Billion Stoned By Stan Ritova, through AAP

SUVA, AAP - May 16, 1996 Severe tough jail terms for drugs are proving no deterrent to Fiji islanders who realise that growing marijuana can buy them "the good things of life."

It is not just the Pacific nation's young unemployed, or hardened criminals, who are prepared to risk the wrath of the law to cultivate dope.

Fiji police now admit that entire rural villages in this devoutly religious country have been getting in on the act, and have made big money from drugs.

Fertile tropical soils and the rugged, remote interiors of its many islands make Fiji an ideal place for growing marijuana.

A stagnant economy and high unemployment is further encouragement. Marijuana is more lucractive than growing vegetables.

"Younger Fijians, including primary and secondary school students, have begun to smoke it," said police Assistant Superintendent Aisake Rabuku.

"But the older people, especially in villages in the interior of the main island, Viti Levu, plant it by the hectare because they appreciate the big money they can earn."

It is estimated that one kilogram of dried marijuana can earn a grower between $F5,000 and $AF7,000 ($A5,500 and $A6,300): more than most Fiji wage earners would take home in a year.

However, even a first offender caught with a small amount of marijuana faces a mandatory minimum three-month prison sentence. The maximum jail term for possession is 10 years. There areno fines.

Regular public warnings are issued about the evils and dangers of the drug.

But drug growers are not just lawless desperates. Some would appear to be otherwise law-abiding citizens of the sort who regard working on Sundays as a sin.

In March, a team from the Fiji Times newspaper was taken to a thriving community marijuana farm in Ra province on Viti Levu. The farm had been in existence for more than 10 years.

The newspaper reported that many in the unidentified village had for many years benefited financially from their own drug farms, producing marijuana worth potentially millions of dollars.

"We have been able to provide our families with all the good things of life from the sale of the weed," said one Fijian farmer, who asked not to be named.

Money from drugs had enabled the village to buy a generator to provide lighting and to pipe water from a nearby dam.

"Before we went into marijuana, family life for us for many generations was very bleak because up in the hills we don't have the resources to make big money and all we had survived on was subsistence farming, selling root crops to the markets in towns many miles away," the farmer said.

Another farmer, who also asked not to be named, added: "The returns from this were meagre, taking into consideration the back-breaking work involved in getting the produce from our village by pack horses and on our backs.

"Planting marijuana is much easier work because only buyers we trust come to the village to buy the plants."

The newspaper report proved a particular blow to the provincial pride of Police Commissioner Isikia Savua, who comes from Ra.

He wasted no time in arranging meetings with villages to persuade them to give up their plantations.

Police searches in the area also produced a number of arrests and convictions.

Further evidence of the wealth flowing to villagers from the drugs trade was provided by one Fiji government minister.

The minister, who did not want to be named, was visited one night by a shabbily-dressed villager from the marijuana growing area of Ra, who was carrying a bag.

"I discovered later that in the bag was $F100,000 ($A95,000) in cash and he told me he wanted to spend it on buying a sawmill," the minister said.

"I had never seen so much cash before, especially with a Fijian, and my first concern was to get the man to put it in a bank account.

"He wasn't particularly interested in doing this because the money could be traced."

Home Affairs Minister Paul Manueli also told the story of a Ra villager who shocked the staff of a car dealership in the province's main commercial centre by producing $F27,000 ($A24,300) in cash from a bag and asking to buy a three-tonne truck.

It is virtually unheard of to find indigenous Fijians carrying such large amounts of cash, in part because traditional community obligations make it very hard for such individuals to accumulate money.

Although they now appear to gain little from it, Fiji's large Indian community is believed responsible for introducing marijuana to Fiji.

Agriculturalists say Indian indentured labourers shipped to Fiji late last century to work in the sugar cane fields planted marijuana seeds alongside their domestic crops.

They smoked dope as a relaxant after a day's work, untroubled by white overseers who knew it was part of Indian tradition.

It has only been in the last 10 or 20 years that marijuana has grown in popularity, cultivated first by Indian farmers but more recently by members of the indigenous Fijian community.

Three highly-publicised homicide cases in the late 1980s pushed marijuana firmly into the public eye as authorities tried to link use of the drug to homicidal violence.

Since then marijuana has been elevated to the status of a public menace in the minds of the Fiji public, and is blamed for a whole range of crimes, according to University of the South Pacific criminologist Dr Mensah Adinkrah.

Stringent anti-drug laws were introduced in 1990, including mandatory imprisonment for possession of drugs.

Even so, total drug offences in this small island nation of 700,000 people climbed from 137 in 1990 to 401 in 1994, according to police statistics.

"Today there is evidence that marijuana use has increased to such a level that it has diffused into the nation's secondary and primary schools, with youths as young as 14 years found in possession of the drug," Dr Adinkrah wrote last year in a book, "Crime, Deviance and Delinquency in Fiji."

The highest number of offences are committed by young men of between 17 and 24.

Figures show that 67 per cent of offenders between 1990 and 1994 were indigenous Fijians, who make up 50 per cent of the total population.

Indians, who make up 45 per cent of the population, represented 21.5 per cent of offenders, while foreign tourists helped make up the rest.

"Marijuana is here to stay and all the police can do is try to control it because we certainly cannot eradicate it immediately," admitted Asst Supt Rabuku.

AAP js/sr/sp

News Of The World - Cambodia (2)

Mit Island, Cambodia, April 27, 1996 (AFP) - To the chagrin of the Cambodian government a growing number of farmers are abandoning their traditional crops and turning their ploughshares toward a new cash crop - marijuana.

Here on this small island in the Mekong River, about a two-hour drive from Phnom Penh in the east-central province of Kampong Cham, at least five farmers have given up on vegetables and tobacco to concentrate their energy on growing marijuana.

"We can sell one kilo of ganja for three dollars, which is much better than the 80 cents we were getting for a kilo of tobacco," said M.K., a marijuana farmer who did not want his full name used as he is also an employee of the provincial government.

"And it's much easier to grow because there is very little work involved, we just plant the seeds and wait," he said, looking down from his balcony as children played between large bales of the weed drying in the sun.

Since January, M.K. said his brother, another ganja farmer, had sold more than 300 kilograms (660 pounds) of marijuana which he said he believed was destined for Phnom Penh and points beyond.

Pot farms, like those on this little island, are sprouting up all over Cambodia, causing authorities much grief as they attempt to explain to western donor countries like France and the United States that their country is not a drug trafficking center.

Cambodia's two co-prime ministers slammed as unfair a decision earlier this year by US President Bill Clinton to place their country on a list of drug production and transit centers.

"We realize that marijuana cultivation is on the increase, but we are not in favor of it," said Kith Seng, a senior official at the Ministry of Agriculture. "It takes time to educate the farmers about laws concerning this weed though.

"We are working with the Ministry of Interior to decide upon steps to deal with the problem," he said.

Some steps have been taken already. On another little island in the Mekong, just 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) outside Phnom Penh, authorities destroyed 900 kilgrams (1,980 pounds) of marijuana last month.

Similar eradication efforts have taken place in the southwestern province of Koh Kong but they have made only a little dent in the province's notorious reputation for smuggling, corruption and lawlessness.

In fact, according to marijuana farmers like M.K., the measures taken thus far are token and have simply increased the price of marijuana and made it harder to catch the traffickers who are less brazen in their work.

News Of The World - South Africa (3)

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) - As a new constitution was approved in Parliament on Wednesday, protesters smoking marijuana and beating drums outside called for their "indigenous herb" to be legalized.

Dozens of demonstrators complained they had been ignored in the constitution-writing process. Some were from Green Earth Trading, which wants marijuana to be a cash crop because of its traditional role in some African societies.

"We call on (the government) to bring back our indigenous herb," a statement from the group said.

Despite a heavy police presence on hand for ceremonies marking ratification of the new constitution, no arrests were made.

News Of The World - United Kingdom (4)

By Maxine Frith, PA News May 8, 1996

Nearly half of young people have tried drugs before the age of 20 and a quarter use them on a monthly basis, says a report published today.

The most used drug is cannabis, with around seven million people in the UK having experimented with it, according to the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST).

And the report reveals that one in 10 people who have tried cannabis develop "some form of pyschological dependence syndrome."

Director of POST Dr. Michael Norton said: "We are not saying that people develop a physical addiction to cannabis, or that it becomes the most important thing in their life, like those hooked on heroin.

"But one in 10 do seem to become in some way dependent on the drug, in the same way some people may have a psychological dependence on alcohol."

Overall, at least 6% of the population would have used cannabis in the last 12 months, with 9% using it daily and one in five dabbling on a monthly basis.

The report concluded that the physical effects of using cannabis were similar to those caused by smoking.

Dr. Norton added: "There are some suggestions that the drug could trigger conditions such as schizophrenia and other pyschoses, but it seems to depend very much on the individual."

The report claimed that increased availability and the affordability of soft drugs had led to an increase in their usage.

It added: "Equally important may be the integration of drugs into whole areas of youth culture.

"Thus where their parents smoked cigarettes or drank beer to demonstrate their growing independence, now cannabis or LSD feature, in many cases alongside alcohol."

The report stopped short of recommending the legalisation of cannabis.

"The evidence does support the intuitive conclusion that other things being equal, more cannabis is consumed under a `liberal' regime than a 'repressive' one," it said.

Rob Christopher, director of the Cannabis Hemp Information Club, which promotes the drug's use, agreed with the report.

He said: "I hope there would be an increase in use, because at least it might wean some people off this country's biggest drug, which is alcohol.

"That is far more detrimental to health and society than cannabis."

News Of The World - Australia (5)

SYDNEY, AAP, May 4, 1996 - States moving to decriminalise marijuana would get the backing of Federal Health Minister Michael Wooldridge, it was reported today.

Dr. Wooldridge said he would support any state if it moved to decriminalise the drug, saying the South Australian model had shown no increase in usage.

"I would support a state if they did that, but it's their decision to do so," Dr. Wooldridge told the Sunday Telegraph.

"South Australia and the ACT have decriminalised already (and) the evidence from those two places would suggest that decriminalisation does not lead to increased usage.

"If it did lead to an increase in usage it would be undesirable."

Dr. Wooldridge added that there was good evidence showing that heavy marijuana use was linked to psychiatric disorders.

The Council of Civil Liberties and New South Wales Law Society both have stated their support for decriminalisation, while Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett has suggested reform, the paper said.

AAP psm/lw/de

News Of The World - Columbia (6)

BOGOTA, Colombia (Reuter), May 25, 1996 - A Colombian legislator Saturday lashed out at Washington after the United States criticized his panel's recommendation to absolve President Ernesto Samper of any wrongdoing in a drug scandal.

"(It's) disrespectful ... of Colombian justice. We can't allow the United States to interfere like that," Deputy Heyne Mogollon, the head of a special committee investigating charges against Samper, told the local radio network RCN.

A majority of the members of Mogollon's Committee of Accusations voted Thursday to recommend Samper be cleared of criminal charges that the president knew his 1994 election campaign received huge contributions from drug traffickers. The panel said there was a lack of evidence.

The committee, most of whose members including Mogollon belong to Samper's Liberal Party, made its decision after four months of studying new charges against Samper.

A day after the vote, a U.S. official said his government was deeply concerned by the committee's recommendation and that there was widespread doubt about the panel's credibility.

The Colombian government described the official's comments as unacceptable.

Colombia's relations with the United States have been strained since last year when Samper was accused of knowing that his campaign took more than $6 million from the Cali cartel.

Conservative Deputy Rodrigo Arcila, whose proposal to recommend that the lower house try Samper on the charges was rejected by the committee, said the United States had every right to do what it did.

"Countries that have economic interests in (Colombia) can voice their opinion," he told RCN, saying neither the committee nor the lower house had the public credibility to try Samper.

The United States is Colombia's biggest trader and investor.

The House of Representatives is to debate the committee's recommendation early next month.

News Of The World - Russia (7)

by Marina Koreneva
SAINT PETERSBURG, April 29, 1996 (AFP) - Hard drugs have become the latest craze for the young people of Saint Petersburg where the number of officially registered addicts has reached 300,000 for this city of five million.

"The situation is serious. Taking drugs has become the fashion," Maya Russakova, a sociologist said.

One third of drug addicts in the city say they take cocaine, heroin or LSD simply to be "in the swing", according to a survey carried out by the Academy of Sciences Sociology Institute.

London-style "rave parties" where hallucinogenic drugs are passed round to the accompanyment of raucous techno music, are enjoying growing popularity. They are held at landmark sites like the Manege - a large 19th century exhibition hall - the Young Spectator's Theatre, the Lenfilm cinema studios or at the Artillery Museum.

Some night-clubs even include LSD on their menus, albeit in the form of a coded signal for those in the know.

Sociologists said young people patronising such clubs were generally aged between 18 and 25 and came from well-to-do families.

Denis, 20 is a regular at the "Candy Man" night club where the drug "ecstasy" is a "must" for patrons. The clientele is between 18 and 25 and generally rolling in money.

"Shooting drugs is the 'in thing' to do. Just look at those super cars, " he added, pointing to the row of gleaming Mercedes which line up outside the club every night.

Viktor said that for him, drug-taking was a way of feeling more like the rich.

Alexander Polyakov, a doctor in a drug treatment centre said "drugs know no social barriers," although each group has its preference.

"The mafia boys go for cocaine at 150 dollars a gram, the lesser criminals choose between several kinds of opium and in the fashionable night-clubs where the youngsters gather, Ecstasy is all the rage at 10 dollars the tablet," he said.

In town all these drugs are readily available. All the novice junkie has to do is to to the Pravoberezhny market on the right bank of the Neva, said Viktor who has been on drugs for two years.

"He tells a trader what he wants, who of course will deny he has any. But by then he will have been spotted by the pushers and after a few minutes, someone will come up and discreetly offer him what he has asked for," Viktor said.



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