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June 27, 1996

American Medical Association Shelves Report Drafted By NORML Board Member - 'Harm Reduction' Placed On Back Burner For Now

June 24, 1996, Washington, D.C.: A report drafted by NORML board member and New York Medical School Professor John P. Morgan, M.D. for the American Medical Association has been put on hold after objections were raised by several prominent medical groups regarding the paper's content. Specifically, certain doctors were uncomfortable with Morgan's recommendations that marijuana be legalized and that "use, possession and low-level sales of all psychoactive drugs should be a subject of police action only when these activities are associated with a disruption of public order."

Dr. John Ambre, director of the AMA's Office of Medical Information Services, told reporters that he recruited Morgan to draft a report for the AMA, but would not divulge any information regarding the paper's contents or prospects.

Morgan said that he was contacted by the AMA's House of Delegates requesting a report on the subject of "harm reduction" - a policy commonly defined as helping drug users minimize the dangers to themselves without mandating that they stop using drugs. "It struck most of us that the biggest harm reduction we could see would be to stop putting people in jail [for drug use,]" Morgan explained. Morgan was assisted by fellow NORML board member Lynn Zimmer, Ph.D. of Queens College in New York, and Ethan Nadelmann, Ph.D. of the Lindesmith Center.

Although Morgan maintains that the reaction within the AMA to his proposals was largely favorable, the issue of harm reduction was absent from the association's agenda during its annual meeting in Chicago.

Mark Stuart, a spokesman for the AMA told reporters that he expected a revised version of the report to be submitted at the organization's interim meeting in December.

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

Canadian Marijuana Reform Debate Yields Few Results

June 24, 1996, Ottawa, Canada: Ongoing debates regarding the possibility of marijuana decriminalization in Canada yielded few tangible results as the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs recommended no significant changes be made to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (bill C-8). This legislation is intended to replace the Narcotic Control Act and, according to many Canadian activists, will greatly expand the reach of Canada's illicit drug laws. Bill C-8 will become law when an Order in Council is passed later this year.

The Senate Committee's recommendation shocked many who noted that several of its members had publicly stated that they supported the decriminalization of marijuana. In an attempt to explain the Senate's last minute flip-flop, Committee Chair Senator Sharon Carstairs told the Montreal Gazette that the committee members were serious about decriminalization, but felt that such a recommendation would be politically futile at this point. "The majority of the Senators - and I was with them - felt all the evidence indicated decriminalization for simple possession [of marijuana] is the way we should be going," she reaffirmed. However, Carstairs said that many committee members believed such a proposal would violate several international treaties that Canada has signed and would have been struck down by the House of Commons.

If there is to be any relief for the cannabis community after the latest round of political debate, it may come by way of an approved amendment by Liberal Senator Lorna Milne that exempts "mature hemp stock" from the definition of marijuana. Although hemp industry proponents note that the passage of the amendment does little to open the door to allow for the widespread cultivation of hemp for commercial purposes, it does remove some of the regulatory restraints (e.g., licensing) that are currently in place regarding hemp fiber and products. "For Canada to develop hemp as an agricultural crop, the mature hemp stalk and the valuable fibre (sic) acquired from it must be free from over-regulation," Milne explained. "Without the amendment, the stalks, fibre and fibre products derived from them such as paper, would continue to be treated as though they were narcotic substances, simply due to the definition of the bill."

A staff member for Senator Milne informed NORML that he believes the Canadian government intends to draft a proposal to allow farmers to grow hemp for commercial purposes, but many Canadian activists feel that such legislation is still a long way off. Currently, tests plots of industrial hemp are grown in Canada under strict regulation for research purposes.

For more information on bill C-8, please contact Dana Larsen of Cannabis Canada at (800) 330-HEMP or visit the Web site of the Canadian Foundation for Drug Policy at: For more information regarding the status of industrial hemp in Canada, please contact the office of Senator Lorna Milne at (613) 947-7695 or Ruth Shamai of The Natural Order at (416) 656-2067. Shamai may be contacted via e-mail at:

Supreme Court Upholds Civil Forfeiture In Drug Cases

June 24, 1996, Washington, D.C.: The United States Supreme Court ruled that the government may both prosecute individuals on drug charges for criminal violations and seize their property without violating constitutional protections against double jeopardy.

Writing the decision for the court, Justice William Rehnquist wrote that, "We hold that these ... civil forfeitures are neither punishment nor criminal for the purposes of double jeopardy." Rather, Rehnquist defined forfeitures as remedial civil sanctions. Ironically, the high court has ruled in earlier cases that fines and tax stamps on illicit drugs may, in some circumstances, constitute punishment under the law and are applicable to double jeopardy.

The court further maintained that Congress had intended forfeiture to be a civil act and noted that, "Requiring the forfeiture of property ... ensures that [owners] will not permit that property to be used for illegal purposes." The opinion added that the court has a long history of upholding forfeiture as constitutional, although many of the cases cited involved either contraband (e.g., unlicensed firearms, pirated goods, etc.) or property that was integrally involved in the commission of a crime. This latter point led lone dissenting Justice John Paul Stevens to write, "There is simply no rational basis for characterizing the seizure of [a] ... home as anything other than punishment for [a] crime. The house was neither proceeds nor contraband and its value had no relation to the government's authority to seize it."

"During oral arguments [during which I was present,] several justices found the government's argument intellectually incoherent," explained NORML Legal Committee Member Jeffrey Steinborn. "In the opinion, they accept the government's theory. [Therefore,] we can expect the Supreme Court to continue to indulge the government and we can expect the government to indulge in runaway forfeiture."

According to government statistics, the Justice Department collected nearly $550 million in assets from civil forfeiture in 1994. Approximately $235 million went directly to state and local law enforcement agencies.

For more information, please contact either Allen St. Pierre of NORML at (202) 483-5500 or F.E.A.R. (Forfeiture Endangers American Rights) at (415) 388-8128. F.E.A.R. may be contacted on the Internet at

Federal Government Unveils New Plan To Target Drug Use Among Adolescents

June 24, 1996, Washington, D.C.: The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), in cooperation with the National Parent-Teacher Association (PTA), unveiled a new campaign to warn adolescents of the dangers of tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drugs. Entitled "Reality Check," the campaign is being launched primarily in response to recent evidence of rising teen marijuana use.

"Today, too many teenagers think marijuana won't harm their health or ruin their lives," HHS Secretary Donna Shalala told the crowd at the 100th Annual National PTA Convention in Washington, D.C.. "We want to help [parents] send a clear message to their children that drugs are illegal, dangerous and wrong."

At the focus of the campaign are two publications that explain to parents the best way to speak with their children about illicit substances and encourage them to remain drug free. One section of the booklet Keeping Youth Drug Free even advises parents how to answer questions from their children regarding their past use of marijuana. "Many people my age ... tried marijuana, ... but we didn't know as much about it as we do now," the pamphlet recommends parents explain. "I tried it [a] couple times because friends of mine were doing it. And then I stopped because I decided it just wasn't a good thing to do."

"As long as the federal government continues to lump the alleged dangers of marijuana alongside the harm caused by other illicit drugs such as crack and heroin, any campaign hoping to 'educate' children about the risks of using marijuana will be only minimally effective," stated NORML Deputy Director Allen St. Pierre. NORML maintains that cannabis consumption should be limited to adults only.

For a free copy of the "Reality Check" kit, please call SAMHSA Center for Substance Abuse Prevention at (800) 767-0117.

California High Court Rules That Judges Are Not Mandated To Impose 'Three Strikes' Law

June 20, 1996, San Francisco, CA: In a ruling that may affect an estimated 16,000 inmates, the California Supreme Court decided that judges are not required to impose mandatory prison sentences of 25 years to life on repeat offenders if they feel such a sentence is overly cruel. The unanimous decision, which has drawn praise from many civil libertarians and harsh criticism from Governor Pete Wilson, is retroactive and could potentially reduce the sentences of individuals who were given stiffer prison terms under the 1994 "three strikes" law.

"The mindless and inexorable demand for a life sentence for minor offenses has become a bit more mindful," said Vincent Schiraldi, executive director of the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice.

"Because this decision was unanimous and from a conservative court, other courts [across the nation] may look to this opinion as challenges arise to their own laws," added Eric Sterling of the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation.

The court's decision stemmed from a San Diego case in which a repeat offender was charged with possessing a small amount of cocaine. Feeling that the mandatory sentence was an unfit punishment for the crime, the judge moved to strike the defendant's previous convictions so he could plea bargain. The prosecutor in the case objected, maintaining that under the "three strikes" legislation, the judge lacked the right.

The ruling maintained that denying judges their traditional discretion over sentencing violates the separation of powers guaranteed in the state Constitution. The court asserted that their decision did not spell the end of "three strikes" law, but merely returned the customary power of judicial discretion back to the judges.

Following the court's decision, Gov. Wilson - an ardent proponent of mandatory sentencing - pledged to find a way to bypass the court's ruling with either a referendum or by introducing similar legislation. However, legal scholars believe that the court will strike these measures down as well.

"Those who repeatedly assault our citizens ... must pay a sever price for their crimes," Wilson said. "I intend to keep faith with the people of California who have every right to demand protection against career criminals and predators."

For more information, please contact Julie Stewart of Families Against Mandatory Minimums at (202) 457-5790 or Eric Sterling of the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation at (202) 835-9075.

Florida To Adopt Standards Regarding Hair Testing

June 1996, Tallahassee, FL: A bill (SB 518) amending drug testing laws to specifically establish standards and procedures regarding the use of hair specimens in drug testing has become law in Florida. The measure passed without the governor's signature and makes Florida the first state in the nation to explicitly address and endorse the use of hair samples to test for illegal drug use.

Proponents of the measure argue that the testing procedure offers significant advantages over urinalysis. Specifically, backers of the procedure maintain that hair testing gives employers a longer window of detection - commonly allowing employers to determine drug use that took place several months earlier. Proponents also maintain that hair tests are much more difficult to beat than is urinalysis.

However, critics of the use of hair specimens in drug testing assert that the procedure has major flaws. For one, recent studies indicate that the hair of African-American males may collect nearly eight times as much drugs as either female African-Americans or Caucasians. These findings indicate the potential for racial and sexual bias in hair testing, critics warn. In addition, hair testing remains a new technology that many feel is still in need of further scientific evaluation. "Hair analysis for the presence of drugs is unproven [and] unsupported by scientific literature or controlled trials," said Food and Drug Administration (FDA) spokeswoman Sharon Snider in a 1995 Providence Journal interview.

Despite the procedures recent recognition in Florida, hair testing on a national basis has yet to receive the same level of technical and legal acceptance that has been accorded to urinalysis drug testing and many courts will not accept the findings of hair testing alone as a positive indication of drug use.

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

Canadians Nationwide Set To Celebrate Cannabis Day On July 1

June 19, 1996, Vancouver, Canada: Canadian marijuana reform activists across the nation will be celebrating Cannabis Day on July 1. In Vancouver, rally organizers are promoting a parade and will be setting up a variety of exhibits about marijuana and industrial hemp. There will also be live music and speakers including Dr. Alexander Sumach, Canadian author Chris Bennet, and Elvy Musikka, one of the eight American patients who legally receives marijuana as a medicine from the federal government.

Coinciding rallies will also be held in other cities across Canada, including Victoria, Nanaimo, Edmonton, and Thunder Bay. A "virtual rally" is also scheduled to take place on the Internet at the Hemp BC Web site located at:

For more information, please contact David Malmo-Levine of Hemp BC at (604) 669-9069.



Regional and other news

Body Count

Five of the seven felons sentenced by Multnomah County courts in the most recent week received jail or prison terms for controlled-substance violations, according to the "Portland" zoned section of
The Oregonian, delivered to subscribers in the central metropolitan area. (June 27, 1996, p. 9, 3M-MP-SE). That brings the total so far this year to 180 out of 326, or 55.21 percent.

Portland Hemp Fest Report

The second annual festival June 22 at Holladay Park was a qualified success, not without significant problems. The temperature was cool and the sky was cloudy most of the day. According to Lt. Cliff Madison of the Portland police public information office, who spoke with Portland NORML, attendance at the festival was about 2,500 to 3,000. Portland NORML Director T.D. Miller concurred in that estimate. (Last year's attendance, in Waterfront Park, was about 15,000.)

Probably the highlight of the festival were the speeches by Elvy Musikka, one of eight Americans who still receive marijuana leaf for medicinal purposes from the federal government's ditchweed pot farm at the University of Mississippi. After being arrested for growing her own medicine, Musikka in 1988 proved conclusively in several trials that marijuana was the only thing that keeps her from going blind from glaucoma. Even the police in attendance listened intently as Musikka described numerous failed operations and medications, and then how her doctor urged her to use cannabis because it was the only thing that would save her eyesight. At first terrified of "drugs," Musikka eventually found that marijuana not only preserved her remaining eyesight, it restored some vision to one eye that had gone completely blind.

Musikka and the seven other patients who still receive federal leaf (four of them suffering from glaucoma) each obliged the government to send them marijuana instead of to jail under the Compassionate Investigational New Drug (IND) program. Only a dozen or so patients were able to complete the complex paperwork required by the program between 1976 and 1989. Then the much-publicized case of AIDS patients Kenneth & Barbra Jenks led to thousands of AIDS patients applying for federal marijuana beginning in 1989. In response, the Bush administration shut down the Compassionate IND program in June 1991, asserting that saving people's eyesight and so forth undercut the administration's opposition to the use of illegal drugs. Irrationally and unfairly, the government and prohibitionists continue to ignore legal precedent and maintain there is "no accepted evidence" that marijuana is a valid medicine.

Although The Oregonian received two press releases well before deadline, on May 16 and May 30, with characteristic bias it failed to mention the festival. Even the Friday, June 21, "A&E" arts and entertainment tab completely omitted any mention of the event in its music listings and "Fairs and Festivals" calendar. Willamette Week also received at least the two press releases but, despite its membership in the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies, omitted all mention of the festival in its June 19 news and arts coverage. How can the editors justify the practice of withholding news? Portland-area radio and television stations also decided to choose for their audiences whether they might be interested in attending. Thanks to PDXS and other media who respected their audiences enough to let them decide for themselves. This all serves to illustrate the point that when the mass media begin to behave professionally, prohibition will be done for.

Many uniformed and plainclothes police were on hand, but according to Lt. Madison, only two arrests took place. Nine people were also excluded from the park without being arrested. The two people busted included a juvenile charged with disorderly conduct and the Eugene proprietor of a cannabis-food booth. The food-booth dude was initially popped in mid-afternoon for a live hemp plant he had at his stand. A crowd gathered as the police arrested him, and his shouting and commotion threatened the peace. Police subsequently found cocaine on "Danbo," who later admitted the cocaine was indeed his. He was charged for the illegal plant, cocaine, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. Still, the overall tone at the festival was peaceful. By way of contrast, "Police excluded 350 people from the Rose Festival Pepsi Festival Center at Tom McCall Waterfront Park during its 10-day run. The number was up from 201 last year," according to "Police exclude more people at festival center this year," in the June 12 Oregonian (p. B3). Lt. Madison confirmed rather explicitly that he did not see why Hemp Fest organizers should have any problem coming back next year.

That is good news, because the police went through a lot of trouble and expense in an attempt to prevent and then control this year's festival. At a meeting just days before the event, according to festival organizer Siouxsie Crawford, police came up with a variety of arbitrary and unprecedented demands designed to prevent the festival from happening. After three different lawyers went to work defending the civil rights of festival-goers against the police and park bureau, the festival was allowed to take place. On the day of the event, however, police blocked off a parking lot at Lloyd Center and set up a temporary cop shop in the nearby Red Lion Inn lobby. Uniformed police, mounted patrols and plainclothes officers were all over the place, and lots of official types with videocameras taped the proceedings from various vantage points all around the park. Another problem developed when Portland parks personnel required organizers to set up the stage at one particular site, and then did not have that site ready as promised at 6 a.m. on the day of the festival, but dragged things out until noon, delaying the start of the festival for two hours. It's hard to understand how police and city officials expect to promote responsible behavior when they engage in such childish and unconstitutional attempts to deny the people they are supposed to serve their right to assemble peaceably. Organizers are willing to meet any reasonable conditions, but it's only fair to state those conditions well in advance of the event.

Multnomah County Deletes Drug Prosecutor

According to "Small-time drug users can avoid felony rap" in the June 25 Oregonian (pp. A1 and A9), as of May 1, people charged in Multnomah County for small amounts of cocaine or methamphetamine no longer have to face felony charges if they plead guilty. Although the impact on cannabis consumers is nil, the story has some interesting details. For example, the district attorney's office made the change because of Measure 11, the 1994 initiative that set mandatory minimum sentences for violent crimes. Already, one deputy district attorney has left the drug unit to work on Measure 11 crimes, leaving 10 prosecutors to handle about 4,500 drug cases a year. According to Norm Frink, chief deputy district attorney, "Even after the new policies, we are being more aggressive and more wide-ranging than other jurisdictions we were able to find." Last year, the 4,500 drug cases brought by Multnomah County contrasted with 2,500 cases brought in much more populous King County (Seattle).

Oregon Launches $1 Billion Prison-Building Campaign

Now that the May 21 election is over and Multnomah County voters have been safely suckered out of $297.5 million for jails, while laying off hundreds of public-school employees, the mass media are falling all over themselves reporting the consequences from similar decisions at the state level. KATU Channel 2 News, KGW Northwest NewsChannel 8 and The Oregonian have all done stories recently on what's in store.

For example, State plans huge prison expansion (The Oregonian, June 19, 1996, pp. A1 & A12) reported the Oregon Department of Corrections plans to build 10 prisons at eight new sites and expand four existing prisons by 2005 to deal with the state's rapid increase in prisoners. "The new prison plan calls for a 265-bed women's minimum-security facility; a 600-bed women's medium-security facility; a 470-bed intake facility; two 400-bed minimum-security men's facilities; and five 1,536-bed medium-security men's facilities. Each 1,536-bed medium-security prison will also have a 100-bed minimum-security support facility. ... Opening the beds will require the department to hire another 346 workers. About another 75 positions are required to handle the extra prisoners. ... The department has nearly 1,000 male inmates housed out of state and expects to have 1,779 in out-of-state prisons by year's end. The department .... is requesting about $25 million from the Emergency Board to deal with the prison population increases through July 1997." Another story June 12 on KATU Channel 2 News disclosed that the state is also planning to build four new juvenile prisons.

"Prisons become growth industry in Oregon" (The Oregonian, June 20, pp. A1 and A10) hinted at information previously reported fully in the April 4 Portland NORML news release: "Oregon has 8,278 prisoners but by 2005 will be custodian of more than 19,000." [That would be about a 136 percent increase, but the actual state report, "Oregon Prison Population Forecast," says that the inmate population "is expected to reach 19,592 by July 2005. This would represent a 158 percent increase over the actual July 1995 count" (p. 2). Portland NORML deduces that must have been 7,594.] With tougher prison sentences, the Oregon Department of Corrections is emerging as the fastest-growing arm of state government. ... Its $481 million, two-year budget occupies only 6 percent of the state's $8.2 billion budget [more than higher education, which received only $593 million in the 1991 biennium]. ... But corrections spending will at least double in the next seven years.... 'You're going to be approaching a billion eventually,' John Lattimer, a state legislative fiscal officer, said."

The news reports invariably attribute the growth in prison population to new mandatory-minimum laws such as Measure 11, but the largest block of offenders is almost certainly marijuana violators. The state refuses to break down the numbers, lumping pot offenders in with other controlled-substance felons (29 percent currently according to a second-hand source). The practice of differentiating parole violators who are sent back to prison for urine tests suggesting pot use is similarly deceptive. In addition, when media show up to do a story on prison overcrowding, corrections officials tend to trot out black inmates sentenced for violent crimes, which effectively shifts public perception of the problem. Given the ease with which police can round up drug offenders, all 10 new prisons will likely be packed with pot outlaws and other drug-law violators long before the 9,000 anticipated Measure 11 prisoners materialize. With at least 159,445 illegal-drug users in the state of Oregon according to federal statistics, however, only the most careless would seem to need to worry about a personal encounter with the modern prison state.

Oregon Parks Plundered For Drug War

As recounted in such media reports as "State closes 65 parks, eroding beach access" (The Oregonian, June 20, 1996), the state continues to defund what Oregon residents once thought were basic services in order to build a billion dollars worth of new prisons in the next decade. Still no one in high places dares ask the public, "would you rather have parks or would you rather spend hundreds of million of dollars a year busting an insignificant percentage of all pot offenders?"

Average Sentences 3.5 Years For Manslaughter, 6.5 Years For Drugs

According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics Sourcebook 1992, p. 49:
Average Lengths of Federal Sentences:

Offense                    Sentence

Assault                    3.2 years
Manslaughter               3.5 years
Racketeering               5.0 years
Extortion                  5.0 years
Sex Offenses               5.8 years
Drug Offenses              6.5 years

Wormscan Files Posted

David P Beiter of Kentucky is a geologist who has spent the last few years collecting information about the breadth and depth of police and government corruption attributable to the war on some drugs. The result is the "Wormscan Files," a mind-boggling 2.6 megabytes of news and magazine articles, interviews, transcripts and other referenced documentation, most of it recent history.

Occasionally, Beiter has popped up on Usenet and elsewhere with a few choice selections from the Wormscan files. In response to an e-mail query, he graciously agreed to provide Portland NORML with a complete set for our World Wide Web site. Beiter's unrivaled compendium of venality and hypocrisy has now been posted in its entirety for the first time on the Web at It effectively doubles the amount of data posted at Portland NORML's already-large Web site.

The URL above takes researchers to a brief directory linking 32 files, some of them as long as 300,000 bytes (readers can check before downloading if it matters). Please take a spin through the directory page sometime soon. Probably most people can only tolerate a little at a time before getting sick, but few will be able to turn away from the Wormscan files without realizing how systemic the malignancy has become. Beiter has little or no interest in big conspiracy theories or unproven assertions; his compendium is better characterized as somewhere between a laundry list and a comprehensive national overview of a phenomenon that the mass media generally report on only in its local manifestations.

More News On Forfeiture Decisions

By Karyn Hunt, Associated Press, June 6, 1996

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- A federal appeals court ruled Thursday that the government cannot seize an innocent person's assets to pay a guilty spouse's debts for drug offenses.

The ruling by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals was issued in the case of Richard Lester, who was convicted in September 1992 of dealing marijuana.

In December 1993, the government sought to take a three-eighths interest he and his wife held in property in Eureka, Calif., to satisfy Lester's $2.5 million debt to the United States for his crimes.

Under federal drug forfeiture laws, the government can take property used to commit crimes or acquired with profits from drug deals, and when that property is unavailable, the government can take "substitute property."

Lester's wife, Sheila, complained that she owned half of their share under California community property laws and that the government had no right to her portion. A district court upheld the seizure.

The appeals court overruled that decision, saying federal drug forfeiture laws state that only substitute property of the defendant may be forfeited.

Neither Sheila Lester's attorney nor the U.S. Attorney's office representing the government returned calls from The Associated Press for comment Thursday.

[End quote]

["Too Far on Forfeitures," an editorial in the June 26
New York Times, makes an important point about the U.S. Supreme Court decision reported above by NORML:]
"Skipping past recent precedents and ignoring common sense, the Supreme Court went overboard this week in affirming the Government's authority to prosecute narcotics dealers and seize their property. A majority of eight justices was so anxious to avoid tampering with this cornerstone of the Government's anti-drug strategy that they ignored an important fact. Not all civil forfeitures are alike.

Properly targeted, asset-seizure laws are a valuable weapon against affluent drug dealers, some of whom fear losing their wealth more than prison. Prosecutors favor the civil forfeiture approach because it requires a lower standard of proof than the "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard needed for a criminal conviction. Indeed, the Government can seize a drug suspect's property even in the absence of a criminal conviction.

The intriguing task presented by the two cases before the Court was to determine how the strategy of civil forfeitures squares with the Fifth Amendment's prohibition of double jeopardy. This has been a hot topic of legal debate, animated of late by a string of lower court rulings that have forced prosecutors to make a choice between criminal prosecution and civil forfeiture. Unfortunately, the thinly reasoned ruling written by Chief Justice William Rehnquist fails to draw meaningful distinctions between different types of property.

One case was an easy call. It involved hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash proceeds from a major methamphetamine and money-laundering operation. All nine justices could agree that the forfeiture of these proceeds from illegal activity did not amount to double jeopardy. Forfeiture did not truly punish the defendants since they had no right to keep the property.

The second case was quite different. It involved a Michigan man who forfeited the value of his house because he had processed marijuana there. The Court's majority saw no problem in seizing the house because it had been used to "facilitate" a drug crime. Justice John Paul Steven pierced that logic in a lone, well-argued dissent.

This second forfeiture was plainly punitive, Justice Stevens said, because "there is no evidence that the house had been purchased with the proceeds of unlawful activity, and the house itself was surely not contraband." The majority's theory, Justice Stevens aptly noted, might have justified "the forfeiture of every home in which alcoholic beverages were consumed" during Prohibition.

Just three months ago, in another major forfeiture case, the Court approved the seizure of an automobile half-owned by an innocent woman whose husband had been caught in the vehicle having sex with a prostitute. The new decision once again reveals a Court that is determined not to let a reasonable reading of the Constitution or basic fairness limit a potentially abusive law enforcement practice.

More On California's Three-Strikes Decision

Writing about a Los Angeles Times article of June 21st on Page A on the California Supreme Court's loosening of the state's "three-strikes-you're-out" law, Joe Zychik comments in the Zychik Chronicle ( that "this sane remedy to the insanity of the three strikes law, will not work because it is fixing the wrong problem. ...The problem is a brain dead war on drugs.For instance, the case on which the Court based its decision involved 34-year-old Jesus Romero. Mr. Romero 'has 24 previous criminal convictions and used 14 aliases over his criminal career.' The Superior Court judge hearing the case, William Mudd, refused to give Romero 25 years to life for his latest conviction. Instead Judge Mudd 'gave him 6 years.' Mr. Romero's crime was 'possession of 13 grams of cocaine.' That's it. No violent offense. No theft. Nothing more than possessing a substance less dangerous than alcohol. This is leniency? This is treating criminals with kid gloves? .... (Los Angeles Times June 22nd, pg A18) The first case to benefit from the Court's 3 strikes ruling was reported on. It concerned Johnny Houston Holman 'robber, burglar, drug user.' Holman is 52 years old. The prosecutors asked for a 29 years to life sentence. Holman's crime: 'possession of six rocks of crack cocaine.' In a stroke of what only a sadist could call leniency, the judge sentenced Holman 'to 10 years, opting to disregard one of Holman's prior convictions.' With leniency like this, the jails will still be overcrowded, and the courts will still be clogged."

Federal Judges Affirm Mandatory Minimums

[While everyone was taking comfort in reports that California judges had restored a measure of justice to "three-strikes" cases, this report circa June 18 shows the U.S. Supreme Court ruled exactly the opposite in a similar case:]

WASHINGTON (Reuter) - The Supreme Court ruled Monday that federal sentencing judges in drug cases cannot hand down a punishment below the minimum set by law without a specific request from prosecutors.

The high court, by a 7-2 vote, ruled that the judge does not have the power to depart from the minimum under the law without a prosecution request in cases involving federal sentencing guidelines.

The case involved Juan Melendez, who had entered into an agreement to plead guilty to cocaine distribution charges.

At sentencing, prosecutors moved for a lesser sentence under the guidelines in recognition of Melendez's cooperation, but urged that the judge not give a sentence below the statutory minimum of 10 years in prison.

The judge held that he could not go below the minimum without a request from prosecutors and gave Melendez 10 years in prison. A federal appeals court confirmed the sentence.

The Supreme Court, in an opinion by Justice Clarence Thomas, ruled the judge in the case had been correct. The court agreed to decide the case after conflicting lower-court rulings on whether judges can give less than the minimum sentence.

In other action, the justices agreed to decide whether the right of a police officer in making a lawful traffic stop to order the driver to leave the car also extended to the passengers.

The Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal by the state of Maryland that the passengers on a routine traffic stop can be asked by the police to leave the vehicle.

Twenty-five other states supported Maryland's appeal, arguing that it did not violate the constitutional protections against unreasonable searches and seizures to ask the passengers to get out.

The justices will hear arguments in the case during its 1996-97 term that begins in October, with a decision likely early next year.

The Economist Reports On America's Drug War

The Economist, Britain's widely respected newsweekly, has an article in the June 8th - June 14th edition about crime and punishment. In short, it says that getting tough on crime isn't working. Subtopics include three-strikes laws, inequity in drug laws for blacks, and the lobbying strength of NRA and prison guards. It also has some good graphs on U.S. prison population increases and the rate of incarcerations per 100,000 residents in America and other countries. In the lead editorial, The Economist reminds the readers that it has been editorializing against the War on Drugs for years.

China Marks International Day Against Drug Abuse With 222 Executions

[According to the News of the Day from ADCA, the Alcohol and Other Drugs Council of Australia:]

The Courier Mail (Australia)
Friday 28th June, 1996, p. 23

Figures compiled by China's official press reveal that at least 222 people were executed in China on Wednesday, United Nations International Day Against Drug Abuse, in a massive one day crackdown on drug trafficking. A further 547 people received death sentences, or sentences to life imprisonment, as part of the crackdown. ... According to police figures, 575 kg of heroin and 234 kg of opium were seized during the first four months of this year. These seizures represent an increase of 73% and 10% respectively on the previous year.

'Drug Warriors And Their Prey'

Richard Lawrence Miller has published a new book titled, "Drug Warriors and Their Prey - From Police Power to Police State." Miller has written about drugs before, but in "Drug Warriors" (and this gives one pause), he compares what happened in Nazi Germany a and their 'justice system' with what is happening in this country regarding drugs. The publisher is Praeger and the ISBN number is 0-275-05942-5. Miller has another book out (from 1991) called "The Case for Legalizing Drugs." This week's contributor says he peeked at the preface, which says Miller lives in the Kansas City, Mo. area, and "Drug Warriors" has a lot of Missouri references.

Prisoners Switch From Cannabis To Beat Urine Tests

Inside story, from New Scientist, June 15, 1996

A REPORT from Britain's Prison Service appears to confirm fears that prisoners are switching from cannabis to harder drugs to beat drugs tests (see "Welcome to Cell Block Heroin", 21 October 1995, p 14).

When prison inspectors visited the low-security Wayland jail in Norfolk, they were told by inmates that the use of opiates and crack cocaine was rising. Prisoners say this is because cannabis users may test positive 30 days after using the drug, whereas opiate users would pass an equivalent test within three days.

The Home Office says that this conclusion is unreliable because the study was based on what prisoners said. But the Prison Service has called for more research to find out whether a desire to beat drug tests is driving inmates to use crack cocaine and heroin.

Full Text Of The New York Times Article, 'AMA Shelves Report Urging Decriminalization Of Drugs'

By Christopher S. Wren
The New York Times, June 23, 1996

AMA Shelves Report Urging Decriminalization of Drugs

A report commissioned by an influential committee of the American Medical Association has been shelved after some medical experts who reviewed a draft copy expressed outrage at its recommendation that marijuana be legalized and criminal penalties removed from other illegal drugs.

As a result, the volatile issue will be absent from the association's agenda when its annual meeting begins Sunday in Chicago.

The draft report, which was commissioned to look at ways to reduce the harm drugs cause to those who use them, said that neither criminal penalties nor treatment programs have substantially deterred drug use. It also suggests allowing addicts to refuse treatment, dropping criminal penalties for using illegal drugs, devising a way to sell marijuana over the counter and preventing undercover law-enforcement officers from buying drugs and arresting dealers.

The report did not specify which drugs its recommendations would affect, but it did not exclude harder drugs like heroin and cocaine.

The report was prepared for the association's Council on Scientific Affairs, which examines scientific and public-health issues for discussion by the House of Delegates, the group's policy-making body. The report was shelved after objections were raised by prominent medical groups that were asked to comment on the draft, and by doctors within the AMA, one of whom provided The New York Times with a copy.

Several of those doctors said in interviews that a national organization representing nearly 300,000 doctors should not be endorsing the greater availability of hazardous substances.

Dr. John Morgan, a professor of pharmacology at the City University of New York Medical School, said AMA officials had asked him to write a report on "harm reduction," which he defined as helping drug abusers minimize the dangers to themselves without demanding that they stop using drugs. He said the House of Delegates had requested such a report.

Morgan, who has spoken out for the liberalization of drug laws, said that in some resolutions by the house he had found much of the language on harm reduction that he then used in the report. "To my amazement," he said, "the House of Delegates wanted to explore the issues of drug legalization."

Morgan said in a telephone interview that he was assisted by Lynn Zimmer, a sociologist at Queens College in New York, and Ethan A. Nadelmann, the director of the Lindesmith Center, an institute based in New York that promotes more liberal drug policies.

"The AMA has not been quick to own important issues in drug policy," said Nadelmann, who has expressed views that coincide with those in the report. In other countries, he said, doctors have taken more of a lead in changing attitudes about drugs.

Dr. John J. Ambre, the director of the AMA's Office of Medical Information Services, said he had recruited Morgan to prepare the report, which he described as a draft. "It's not a document until it's approved by the council," said Ambre. He was unwilling to discuss the report's contents or prospects.

Calls to other AMA officials were referred to Mark Stuart, a spokesman for the organization, who said he expected that a revised version of the report would be submitted at the group's interim meeting in December. "The council decided it wasn't ready for the House yet," he explained. Stuart said it was not uncommon to hold back a report for revision and submit it later.

Dr. Herbert D. Kleber, a psychiatrist who is medical director of the Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, said he had heard that the report was put aside after association officials realized what it recommended.

"It is my understanding that the AMA was not aware this was being put together by someone whose writings were clearly in favor of drug legalization," Kleber said.

The draft report was circulated to the American Psychiatric Association, the American Society of Addiction Medicine and the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry, all of which urged that it be reconsidered. In a joint letter to the AMA, officials of the three groups said that the report raised serious policy concerns and that many of its recommendations were based on ideology rather than scientific data.

Morgan said he was told that reaction within the AMA was largely favorable. "The fact that there's been some criticism is OK," he said.

In one assertion that has upset some doctors aware of the report, it declared that "overall, abstinence-based treatment has a high failure rate." It also argued that "under all circumstances, participation in drug treatment should be voluntary." Currently, some drug users arrested on criminal charges are offered treatment as an alternative to jail.

The report also recommends that "moderate steps toward drug decriminalization be taken" in order to counter what they called "the clearly negative consequences of the present prohibition status."

The report emphasized the need to lift criminal sanctions against drugs, Morgan said, because "it struck most of us that the biggest harm reduction we could see would be to stop putting people in jail."

Other medical specialists disagree. Dr. Sally Satel, an addiction psychiatrist with Yale University who said she was aware of the report, said it seemed to be a plea to enable addicts to keep using drugs. "I think it has no understanding of how people even begin to recover," Satel said in a telephone interview. "The whole motivation for recovery is to come up against the consequences of your use."

The report suggested that marijuana "should be decriminalized, and a mechanism created for retail sales to those 18 years of age and older"; that the "use, possession and low-level sales of all psycho-active drugs should be a subject of police action only when these activities are associated with a disruption of public order," and that "all 'buy-and-bust' police actions should cease."

In the past, the AMA has pressed for more money to treat addicts. But it has also opposed legalization of drugs.



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