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August 15, 1996

Law Enforcement Bust Cannabis Buyers' Club In Key West - Florida Founder, One Other Arrested On Felony Marijuana Charges

August 14, 1996, Key West, FL: For the second time in two weeks, law enforcement officials have raided and shut down operations of a cannabis buyers' club.

Police sparked a wave of citizen outrage when Special Operations detectives raided a cannabis buyers' club in Key West and arrested two people, including club founder Zvi Baranoff. Both individuals were charged with possession of felony amounts of marijuana with intent to distribute and possession of drug paraphernalia. The Key West club serviced approximately 90 patients and has existed for one year. It is one of an estimated 30 underground clubs throughout the United States that distributes marijuana as a medicine to seriously ill patients who possess a doctor's recommendation.

"It seems like shabby treatment of someone who's trying to do something good," said a former Key West city commissioner who spoke anonymously with the Key West Citizen. "Where's the compassion? These people were dispensing medicine to people who can't eat, sleep, or hold food in their stomachs. [The raid is nothing more than an] inhumane witch hunt."

Detective John Elmore defended the raid by saying that police have no choice but to enforce the law. Elmore further alleged that marijuana was sold to some individuals who did not suffer from valid medical illnesses.

Local citizens appeared to be strongly supportive of the club and many club members voiced their discontent to the local media. "We're just trying to extend our lives a little bit," said one HIV-positive club member. "Maybe these officers should attend every funeral, or read the newspaper which would be stuffed with obituaries" if we didn't have underground access to medical marijuana.

The Key West bust comes on the heels of a raid by California state narcotics agents last Sunday on the 11,000 member San Francisco Cannabis Buyers' Club. No arrests have yet to be made in connection with the raid, but a temporary injunction has been granted to keep the club closed. The decision by state Attorney General Dan Lungren to order the bust has outraged many members of the San Francisco community - including Mayor Willie Brown, Sheriff Michael Hennessey, District Attorney Terence Hallinan, former Police Commissioner Jo Daly, and several members of the city's Board of Supervisors - and cast harsh criticism upon state politicians and law enforcement.

"With the recent raids of cannabis buyers' clubs in Cincinnati, San Francisco, and now Key West, the message is clear: law enforcement is targeting the sick and dying," said NORML Deputy Director Allen St. Pierre. "Our sympathy goes out to the individuals and patients affected by these unfortunate incidents."

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

Two State Medical Associations Endorse Proposition 215

August 8, 1996, San Francisco, CA: Two statewide medical societies, representing a combined total of almost 10,000 physicians, have endorsed a California ballot initiative to legalize marijuana for medical use (Proposition 215).

The San Francisco Medical Society (SFMS), which represents about 2,200 doctors in San Francisco, announced its support for Proposition 215 just four days after state law enforcement officers raided and closed down San Francisco's Cannabis Buyers' Club. They were joined in their endorsement by the California Academy of Family Physicians (CAFP), which represents approximately 7,500 physicians statewide.

San Francisco Medical Society President Dr. Toni J. Brayer said that the society based its decision on the results of an opinion poll of doctors who treat AIDS and cancer patients as well as drug addicts. The doctors surveyed reportedly told the society that they believed legalizing marijuana for medical purposes was a good idea because it has therapeutic value to many seriously ill patients.

"This initiative is an important one. ... It will protect our patients," Bayer said. "What we want to do as physicians is to relieve pain and suffering."

The society also recommends clinical testing of marijuana as a medicine so that scientific data may be generated on its effectiveness in treating patients.

For more information, please contact Mark Capitolo of Californians for Medical Rights at (916) 457-5546 or Allen St. Pierre of NORML at (202) 483-5500.

(Meanwhile) Judge Orders Changes In 'Misleading' Ballot Argument Against Proposition 215

August 9, 1996, Sacramento, CA: Organizers of a campaign against a California ballot proposal to legalize marijuana for medical use (Proposition 215) took one on the chin as Sacramento Superior Court Judge William Ridgeway called part of the campaign's prohibitionist argument "misleading" and ordered changes. Advocates for the medical marijuana initiative applauded Ridgeway's ruling and remarked that the statements in question were "yet another in a series of deceptions" waged by opponents of Proposition 215.

The judge's action was sparked by an American Cancer Society (ACS) petition. The ACS asked to have two references to the organization by opponents, collectively known as "No on 215," dropped or changed before publication in the ballot pamphlet distributed by the secretary of state. The pamphlets went to press this week.

The original "No on 215" rebuttal argument portrayed the ACS as vocal opponents of the medical marijuana initiative. In truth, ACS attorney George Waters maintained that the organization neither supports nor opposes the measure. Therefore, Judge Ridgeway ordered that "No on 215" alter their chief rebuttal argument: "American Cancer Society says no." In addition, the judge ordered that a second reference to the Society's opinion on marijuana be removed entirely.

Ballot initiative proponents also note that the rebuttal falsely claims that "no major doctor's organization supports Proposition 215" when, in fact, both the San Francisco Medical Society (SFMS) and the California Academy of Family Physicians (CAFP) - together representing nearly 10,000 physicians - have already endorsed the initiative.

"Perhaps the reason 'No on 215' keeps stretching the truth is [because] the campaign has no choice," suggested Dave Fratello of Californians for Medical Rights. "The entire campaign is predicated on a falsehood - the notion that marijuana has no medical value. This is proved wrong by the experience[s] of tens of thousands of patients, nurses, and doctors across California, many of whom support Proposition 215."

For more information, please contact Mark Capitolo of Californians for Medical Rights at (916) 457-5546 or Allen St. Pierre of NORML at (202) 483-5500.

Michigan City Residents Vote 'No' To Local Measure To Decriminalize Marijuana

August 7, 1996: Traverse City, MI: Local residents rejected a city ballot proposal that would have made 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 community service for a first-time offender by a 58 to 42 percent vote. The measure had been introduced by the local chapter of NORML.

Despite the outcome, Traverse City NORML President Bill Bustance remained optimistic. "The 42 percent [in favor of decriminalization] was better than anyone ever expected us to do," explained Bustance. "Forty two percent of Traverse City residents were ready to repent for the sins of America's drug war."

Bustance further added that he believes the city government used federal funds to sway Traverse City voters' decisions on the initiative, a felony offense in Michigan. Bustance told NORML that he will file a complaint with the secretary of state in hopes of getting the initiative back on the city ballot.

Prior to the August 6 primary, the Traverse City Commission had unanimously passed a resolution encouraging residents to vote against the initiative.

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

Scottish Senior Judge Says Cannabis Decriminalization Should Be Considered

August 1996, Scotland: One of Scotland's most senior judges, Lord McLuskey, has sharply criticized a federal "white paper" calling for enhanced anti-drug penalties. In addition, the former solicitor general stated that there needs to be an open debate on the issue of decriminalizing cannabis.

"The people who advocate the decriminalization of cannabis need to be listened to and not condemned," he said. "Open debate is not only healthy, it is essential."

In a nine page response to the June "white paper," McLuskey maintained that current prohibition ostracizes a large percentage of the younger generation and encourages disrespect for the law overall. "A particular problem for the criminal justice system is that, if the law continues to treat all use of scheduled drugs [other than on prescription] as criminal abuse, it will further alienate and criminalize large numbers of younger people who regard the use of certain drugs in sensible quantities and settings as providing enjoyment without significantly threatening their health," McLuskey wrote. "Alienating large numbers of people by making them into undetected offenders against criminal law greatly weakens the criminal justice system."

McLuskey also argued that marijuana has medicinal value and contested the prohibitionist belief that any use of an illicit substance "must be an abuse."

"The sentiments and concerns of Lord McLuskey greatly echo those of NORML and the testimony we presented this year before Congress," stated NORML Deputy Director Allen St. Pierre.

McLuskey has sat in the House of Lords for 20 years.

Small Town Mayor Indicted On Marijuana Charges After Allegedly Growing Marijuana For 'Educational' Purposes

August, 1996, Copperhill, TN: Copperhill Mayor Janelle Kimsey has been indicted by a grand jury on marijuana possession charges after police discovered 10 marijuana plants growing on the deck of her home. Kimsey turned herself in to authorities following her arraignment and was later released on $500 cash bond.

Kimsey's legal problems began last June when 10 marijuana plants were found growing on her front porch. At the time, Kimsey alleged that she was growing the marijuana for "educational" purposes. "We made a drug bust a couple of month's ago, and citizens wanted to know what [marijuana] looked like," she explained shortly after the incident. "Dumb me, I didn't know I couldn't do it. I know ignorance is no excuse, but in my case, it was ignorance."

Authorities are not buying the mayor's claim and have set a trial date for September 20. However, some citizens are critical that Kimsey is only being charged with simple possession - a misdemeanor - rather than cultivation.

According to Shari Taylor, assistant district attorney for the 10th Judicial District, the 10 plants possessed by Kimsey "came to less than one-half ounce" (14 grams) when weighed all together and did not merit felony charges. However, according to federal sentencing guidelines, one marijuana plant is presumed to weigh 100 grams. "Apparently, there exists one set of marijuana plant-weight ratios for politicians and another set for the rest of America," commented NORML Deputy Director Allen St. Pierre.

Kimsey is due back in court on September 16 for a status hearing.



Regional and other news

Body Count

Only five of the 14 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. (Aug. 15, 1996, p. 7, 3M-MP-SE). That makes the body count so far this year 229 out of 428, or 53.5 percent. As noted in the March 7 Portland NORML news release, the percentage of such felons sentenced to incarceration in the first two months of 1996 was 59.18 percent. Although that is a decline of just 5.68, as a percentage itself of 59.18, the overall decrease amounts to 9.59 percent. Perhaps the drug warriors in charge of Multnomah County public safety have begun to learn the lessons reported in the item below, New Study - War on Drugs Increases Violent Crime.

In any case, as noted in the June 13 Portland NORML news release ("Let's Do the Numbers"), figures from the U.S. Census Bureau and the federally-sponsored National Household Survey on Drug Abuse (which yields probably the most conservative estimates) suggest there are still at least 25,763 illegal-drug users in Multnomah County who remain unhampered by enforcement efforts pitted against the laws of supply and demand. Anyone who can obtain a lower but more accurate or credible estimate is guaranteed rebuttal space here in the Portland NORML news release - the methodology used here is posted with the June 13 news release, hyperlinked to source documents.

Portland Cannabis Buyers Club Update

Marc Brown, a co-founder of the Portland Cannabis Buyers Club, came pretty close to death a few months ago as a result of complications from all the AIDS medications he was taking. Although Brown was obliged to quit taking AZT and many other pharmaceutical medications, he continued to use cannabis to maintain his appetite, ameliorate pain, stress and combat AIDS "wasting syndrome." Brown now credits the marijuana with his subsequent improved health. The editor, who met with the former CBC president recently, as well as several months ago, can happily testify to Brown's improved health.

Also present during this social visit was a person who introduced himself as one of the top people in the Portland CBC - whose name shall go unmentioned here for obvious reasons. According to the Portland CBC person, quite a few new developments have come about in conjunction with the opening of the club's new office (see the Aug. 1 release). Reorganizing after its long diaspora, the club has almost 300 members, with one or two more joining every day. Originally, most of the club's members were AIDS patients, but just about as many now are suffering from cancer. Members are not allowed to smoke cannabis on the premises, and children are not allowed on the premises.

Most important, the club has taken rather extreme steps to make sure every patient's cannabis use is positively recommended by his or her physician. The procedures for this are pretty much carved in stone. Each patient must supply a "statement of condition" handwritten by the physician on his or her personal letterhead or prescription pad. Each statement must specify that the patient is being treated by the physician, and also the particular medical condition the patient has necessitating CBC membership. Unless the condition is included in the Portland CBC's short list of acceptable maladies, potential members are rejected - frequently. (This causes considerable anguish to many, since virtually none of these people are scamming, but members are also very afraid of allowing lax rules that might inspire a San Francisco-style police raid.) However, few of the dozens of Portland-area physicians who refer patients to the CBC actually write down the word "prescribe" or even "recommend," as that would seriously jeopardize their licenses if their statements ever came to light. Still, the Portland CBC wants to be sure every patient's physician affirmatively recommends his or her medicinal cannabis use, so the club confirms each statement and other details by phone or fax.

Perhaps the two major short-term problems faced by the club at this time include a perennial lack of cheap but high-quality medicine and the recent implementation of new rules and procedures to eliminate credit and follow more businesslike practices. All Portland CBC membership cards that do not include an expiration date will soon be considered null and void, too, and those without new cards have reportedly been told to re-apply.

The same goes regarding the certificates printed up for a handful of local indoor marijuana cultivators who have pledged to grow exclusively for the CBC. Quite possibly, the certificates for these co-conspirators aren't worth the paper they're printed on, but the CBC hopes to obtain more and better pot from local cultivators by holding out the possibility of legal assistance if worst comes to worst. At least one local attorney who actively works with the club and another world-class East Coast lawyer have reportedly offered to represent the CBC itself in the event it's busted. And the Portland CBC tells growers it will seek legal assistance for them if they follow the CBC rules (and are busted). But there are no written guarantees, or direct promises from attorneys, for obvious reasons.

With California's Proposition 215 leading in the polls at around 65 percent, this would be an excellent time for some of Portland's long-silent news media to report on why these civilly disobedient sick people and their physicians aren't persuaded by government lies and propaganda. Reporters, editors and others can contact the club at its mesage phone, (503) 235-1142.

OCTA Update

The Web pages for the new Oregon Cannabis Tax Act initiative campaign are up at The text of the new initiative and quite a few supporting documents are already posted there.

Local attorney Henry Kane and the Oregon Attorney General's office have dashed the hopes of OCTA supporters, who wanted to be out on the streets by now gathering signatures to get on the November 1988 ballot.

Here is a timeline showing what's transpired so far.

July 5 - Paul Stanford filed a new Oregon Cannabis Tax Act with the Secretary of State's office in Salem.

July 12 - (No more than five business days later, by statute.) The Attorney General's office proposed the "summary," or text of the obligatory state-written ballot-title summary - limited to 85 words of less, by the way. The text of the summary can significantly affect how voters and the media view an initiative, so both supporters and opponents of a measure are allowed to file "comments" opposing the proposed summary and suggesting corrections.

July 26 - (No more than 10 business days, by statute.) Deadline for filing "comments" on the state-proposed summary. As mentioned before, local attorney Henry Kane filed comments (obviously designed to make the initiative less appealing to voters). However, because the summary proposed by the Attorney General's office July 12 did not mention the industrial-hemp aspects of the new OCTA, Paul Stanford also filed comments with new language mentioning hemp. Note that, by law, only those who have filed "comments" by this time will later be allowed to appeal the final wording to the state Supreme Court.

Aug. 5 - (No more than 5 business days later, by statute.) The Oregon Attorney General's office issued the certified ballot-title summary. The good news is Paul Stanford got most of what he wanted - the summary is much more realistic and positive than the last one. The bad news is that an employee of the Attorney General's office "accidentally" inserted the words "Amends Constitution" in the certified summary. OCTA does not amend the constitution, but again by statute, the Attorney General's office can not fix its own typo. Hence Paul Stanford and other OCTA supporters are now obliged to delay the entire campaign two to five months in order to appeal the words "Amends Constitution" to the state Supreme Court. Presumably Henry Kane will also have something to say.

Aug. 19 - (No more than 10 business days later.) Deadline for anyone who filed "comments" by July 29 to file a challenge with the Supreme Court over the wording of the summary. Note that, if Paul Stanford hadn't filed comments on July 26, he would have been unable to challenge the state's own damaging error. On the other hand, if the state had not made its mistake and if Henry Kane were to miss this deadline, OCTA supporters could have been out on the street with new petitions as soon as they were printed up.

Between about Oct. 19 and Dec. 19 - The Oregon Supreme Court will take from two to five months to fix the Attorney General's typo and to give full weight to the arguments of Henry Kane, whose legendary courtroom expertise has attracted a level of esteem unparalleled among Oregon attorneys.

The deadline for adding or withdrawing Chief Petitioners - up to three are allowed - occurs when the Secretary of State's office approves the initiative petition's final cover and signature sheet. This will happen soon after the Supreme Court signs off on the final ballot-title summary.

OCTA Seeks Full-Time Fundraiser

Most of the people who are already involved in the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act campaign feel overwhelmed by a variety of tasks. At the same time, there is unanimous agreement among supporters that raising funds for the next OCTA campaign is of utmost importance, and must begin at once. As a result, OCTA's political action committee, the Campaign to Relegalize and Restore Hemp (CRRH), plans to seek one or more people with the time and talent to focus on nothing but fundraising for OCTA. There seems to be consensus that, unless a talented and dedicated volunteer can be found with a lot of free time, CRRH will gladly pay commissions to anyone who could do such work professionally. Since most professional fundraisers apparently consider it unethical to work on commission for nonprofits, OCTA will probably have to find a chief fundraiser willing to learn on the job. No experience is necessary, but no bozos need apply, either - about the only requirement at this point is a degree of professionalism that will reflect well on OCTA. Organizers already have a list of interesting ideas to pursue, so good phone and computer skills, together with tenacity, could be much more important than creativity. Anyway, if any activist on this list knows of someone with the basic people and organizational skills needed for such work, please please please let him or her know a new hands-on career opportunity awaits! Interested candidates should call Paul Stanford at (503) 233-5191 for more details or e-mail him at Ideally, more people will be found soon who can devote their efforts exclusively to fundraising.

New OCTA News Group Needs Moderator

Because established OCTA organizers are already so preoccupied with other tasks, the Campaign to Relegalize and Restore Hemp is also seeking someone with basic computer skills and access to the Internet to moderate a new Usenet news group OCTA supporters plan to set up to exchange information and to distribute information quickly to coordinators around the state. The job description of this volunteer is pretty simple - to delete flames and to make sure the OCTA FAQ and similarly important documents are posted at all times. The moderator will also be called upon to inform key individual OCTA activists when a particular query or other message requires their specific attention. Interested candidates should call Paul Stanford at (503) 233-5191 for more details or e-mail him at

Think about it

The Latest 'Legalization' Poll - For What It's Worth

One of the media folks on the Portland NORML e-mail list passed along this news. It was omitted last week so the editor could obsessively mull over the last paragraph.

Our source reported, in two messages:

"While channel surfing [last Saturday], I saw a poll on Northwest Cable News [channel 45 on my cable] on legalization of marijuana. It included Washington, Oregon and Idaho. Oregon showed the highest tendency to legalize. 28% for, 20% undecided and 52% opposed. Didn't give the sample size. Washington was 21% for, 62% against. Idaho was 19% pro. The story was about the Washington hempfest, poll was pegged to it."
When will specious surveys like this start asking realistic questions like, "Would you really want your taxes raised enough to lock up the 6 percent of Americans over 12 who used an illegal drug in the past month? (The rate is 6.6 percent in the West, according to the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, posted at

Other drug-policy poll questions we'd like to see:

  • Have you and your family experienced more harm and expense from illegal drugs or from the war on drugs?
  • If we just throw more money at the problem, will we eventually solve it?
  • How many people do you think we will have to lock up in order to make incarceration an effective drug-policy strategy?
  • If someone you loved encountered problems with either a legal or illegal drug, would you rather try to help them solve their problems in a non-punitive rehabilitation or medical program, or would you rather call the police and let the courts and prisons take care of them?

    Elections are the polls that count most, and the news media are doing a poor job of informing the rest of the country that Californians seem set to "legalize" marijuana (for authorized medical patients) in November with Proposition 215.

    But the most important thing about the latest poll and the latest vote (in 1986, in Oregon, which found 26 percent supporting untaxed legalization of pot for ages 18 and up) is that thousands of Oregonians and hundreds of thousands of Americans - more than ever - are going to jails and prisons because of laws which have less support than that required among members of a jury to gain a conviction. (In Oregon, criminal convictions require 10 out 12 votes in 12-person juries and six out of six in six-person juries.) This is an outrageous travesty because it violates two basic principles that all Americans hold dear. The first is that no American should have to subjugate his or her conscience to the government's. The second principle is that juries should represent the people. To convict marijuana offenders by jury, governments either have to force some jurors to vote against their consciences and support the government, or they have to stack juries so they no longer represent the people. There is a word for this. It's called "totalitarianism."

    Have You Lobbied Your US Representative For HR 2618 This Month?

    The editor recently called the office of Oregon's new District 3 U.S. Representative, Earl Blumenauer, to find out where the Portland-based Congressman stands. Rep. Blumenauer, a Democrat, has appointed Michael Harrison as his designated expert on both health-care and justice issues, so the call was directed to him.

    It seemed that Harrison, and probably Blumenauer's office as a whole, had not yet received one call from a marijuana-law reformer regarding HR 2618.

    So let's let them know we're here, OK?

    The AFL-CIO's two toll free numbers are still available that allow reefer reformers direct access to their U.S. congresspeople. No recording, no instructions to follow, no limit, and no need to forget anything.

    After it answers, just ask to be connected to your congress or senate person.

    1-800-96-AFLCIO (1-800-962-3524)
    1-800-97-AFLCIO (1-800-972-3524)

    Try to mentally prepare and have information on hand about HR 2618. The Marijuana Policy Project's Web page on HR 2618 is at NORML's HR 2618 page is at (or ask the editor for background information.) Stay polite and friendly (try to save any disagreements for a follow-up letter) and focus on what most people will agree with, for example, that a strong majority of the public supports the right of physicians to prescribe cannabis, or that current policy isn't working, or that a lot of new voices in the media are calling for reform.

    Please do what you can, when you can. Remember, when it's 9 am-5 pm in DC it's 6 am-2 pm here in Oregon.

    Below is Dr. Lester Grinspoon's sample letter, which you could use as a basis for your letter.

    Subject: Dr. Grinspoon's letter to U.S. representative


    Harvard Medical School
    Department of Psychiatry

    Massachusetts Mental Health Center
    74 Fenwood Road, Boston 02115

    November 3, 1995

    Rep. Bill McCullum
    Chair, Crime Subcommittee
    2266 Rayburn H.O.B.
    Washington, D.C. 20515

    Dear Representative McCullum:

    I am writing to request that you cosponsor a bill which will be introduced by my representative, The Honorable Barney Frank of Massachusetts. This bill would allow physicians to prescribe cannabis to patients with certain medical symptoms and syndromes. It is modeled after a similar bill which you co-sponsored in 1981 and again in 1983.

    The urgent need for such iegislation is indicated by the fact that thousands of patients in 26 cities have formed Cannabis Buyers Clubs throuqh which, with a note from their doctors, they can obtain at cost a small amount ot marihuana (cannabis) for medical use. They are risking arrest because they have found that marihuana relieves their symptoms better than the available legal medicines. For example, it appears to be the best available treatment for nausea and vomiting associated with cancer chemotherapy. Many people with AIDS also suffer from nausea caused by the disease itself or the drugs needed to treat it. In most of these people marihuana eliminates the nausea more effectively than conventional antinauseants. Marihuana is also used in the treatment of glaucoma, migraine, and muscle spasms caused by multiple sclerosis, parapleqia, and quadriplegia. Again, it is often safer and more effective than any of the legal medicines available for these purposes.

    This medical marihuaha bill would allow people who need medical cannabis to obtain it legally with a doctor's prescription, and to use it without having to suffer the anxiety created by its iilegal status. A growing number of citizens and physicians have come to understand that outlawing the medical use of cannabis is both unscientific and immoral. A recent national poll indicates that 85% of Americans are in favor of allowing medical marihuana, and 36 states now have passed laws designed to facilitate its availability. These hopes cannot be realized until the federal qovernment passes similar legislation.

    I am enclosinq a copy of a Commentary published in the June, 1995, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association which may help you to understand why your support for Representative Frank's bill is important. If you would like to learn more about this issue, I would be glad to send you a copy of a book written by James B. Bakalar and me (Marihuana, the Forbidden Medicine, Yale University Press, 1993). If I can help in any other way, please get in touch with me. My telephone and fax numbers are listed below.

    Thank you for considering cosponsorship of this most important and humane legislation.

    Sincerely yours,

    Lester Grinspoon, M.D.



    617-277-3621 (phone)
    617-277-8423 (fax)

    New Study - War On Drugs Increases Violent Crime

    Contact: Carl Close
    August 14, 1996


    OAKLAND, CA - Despite high hopes that America's "war on drugs" would reduce the rate of serious nondrug crime - assault, homicide, rape, robbery, and the like - the drug war has diverted scarce resources away from fighting such crime, putting the lives and property of citizens at greater risk, according to a new study released today by the Independent Institute.

    In "Illicit Drugs and Crime," economists Bruce Benson and David Rasmussen compare crime trends in Kansas (whose enforcement of drug laws lagged behind national trends) with trends in other states. They conclude that Kansans - and other states' residents - were relatively safer from nondrug violent crime before escalating drug law enforcement.

    "When a decision is made to wage a 'war on drugs,' other things that criminal justice resources might do have to be sacrificed. Getting tough on drugs inevitably translates into getting soft on nondrug crime," Benson and Rasmussen conclude.

    Policymakers mistakenly believe that combating drug use is an effective away to reduce violence and property crime. But because only a small percentage of drug users commit large numbers of crimes against persons or property, efforts to combat these crimes by targeting drug use have proven ineffective, Benson and Rasmussen argue. Combating nondrug crime through direct means would utilize criminal justice resources far more effectively, they maintain.

    Benson and Rasmussen are professors of economics at Florida State University and research fellows at the Independent Institute, a public policy research organization in Oakland, California. The 60-page report can be obtained by contacting Carl Close, the Institute's Public Affairs Director, at 510/632-1366, or by e-mail at Web site:

    An Independent Policy Report
    By Bruce L. Benson & David Rasmussen
    Professors of Economics, Florida State University
    Research Fellows, The Independent Institute


    In the early 1980s, policymakers and law enforcement officials stepped up efforts to combat the trafficking and use of illicit drugs. This was the popular "war on drugs," hailed by conservatives and liberals alike as a means to restore order and hope to communities and families plagued by anti-social or self-destructive pathologies. By reducing illicit drug use, many claimed, the drug war would significantly reduce the rate of serious nondrug crimes - robbery, assault, rape, homicide and the like. Has the drug war succeeded in doing so?

    In ILLICIT DRUGS AND CRIME, Bruce L. Benson and David W. Rasmussen (Professors of Economics, Florida State University, and Research Fellows, the Independent Institute), reply with a resounding no. Not only has the drug war failed to reduce violent and property crime but, by shifting criminal justice resources (the police, courts, prisons, probation officers, etc.) away from directly fighting such crime, the drug war has put citizens' lives and property at greater risk, Benson and Rasmussen contend.

    "Getting tough on drugs inevitably translates into getting soft on nondrug crime," they write. "When a decision is made to wage a 'war on drugs,' other things that criminal justice resources might do have to be sacrificed."

    To support this conclusion, Benson and Rasmussen compare data on drug law enforcement and crime trends between states, and debunk numerous misconceptions about drug use and criminality.


    One of the most prevalent misconceptions, Benson and Rasmussen, contend is the notion that a large percentage of drug users commit nondrug crimes, what might be called the "drugs-cause-crime" assumption implicit in the government's drug-war strategy. If true, then an effective crackdown on drug use would reduce nondrug crime rates. However, Benson and Rasmussen show that the "drugs-cause-crime" assumption is false. Certainly many violent and property criminals use drugs. But only a small percentage of drug users commit violent or property crimes. Drug offenders are far more likely to recidivate for a drug offense than for a violent offense or property crime.

    Is drug use to blame for the crimes drug users do commit? Benson and Rasmussen sug-gest that the reverse is closer to the mark: Many criminals who use drugs did not begin to do so until after they began committing nondrug crimes. A Bureau of Justice Statistics survey of prison inmates found that about half of the inmates who had used a major drug, and about 60 percent of those who used a major drug regularly, did not do so until after their first arrest for a nondrug crime.

    "Similarly," Benson and Rasmussen note, "more than half of local jail inmates who reported they were regular drug users in the survey . . . said that their first arrest for a crime occurred an average of two years before their drug use. Once an individual has decided to turn to crime as a source of income, he or she may discover that drugs are more easily obtained within the criminal subculture and perhaps that the risks posed by the criminal justice system are not as great as initially anticipated. Furthermore, criminal activity generates income with which to buy goods that previously were not affordable, including drugs. Thus, crime leads to drug use, not vice versa."


    Because relatively few illicit drug offenders commit violent and property crimes and because criminal activity more often precedes drug use than vice versa, targeting drugs is an inefficient strategy for combating nondrug crime. And because it requires withdrawing a large amount of scarce criminal justice resources from directly fighting nondrug crime, it is also an ineffective, often counterproductive, strategy for fighting such crime. Indeed, the trade-off between fighting drugs and fighting nondrug crime is so severe that in some juris-dictions it seems to have led to an increase in nondrug crime.

    Benson and Rasmussen examined Florida crime data and found that increasing police efforts against drugs relative to the efforts against serious nondrug crimes resulted in a lower probability of arrest for property crime. "Primarily as a consequence of this reduced probability of arrest, the property crime rate in Florida rose 16.3 percent, from 6,892 offenses per 100,000 population in 1983 to 8,019 in 1989." Violent crime also increased markedly in response to greater drug law enforcement, as drug dealers displaced by law enforcement invaded the turf of established dealers, and residents of previously untapped markets fell prey to violent criminals. Since 1989, Florida has reduced its drug enforcement efforts, and its property crime rate has fallen.

    Benson and Rasmussen also discuss how prison overcrowding due to increased drug law enforcement has compromised the punishment of other criminals. Although statistical studies of the impact of early prison release on overall crime rates have not been performed yet, a growing number of violent felons have been released early, only to commit more violent crimes.


    Crime reduction was sold as one of the drug war's important side benefits. But what about its main mission, to reduce drug use? Despite the increase in the number of drug arrests and convictions, drug consumption overall has not demonstrably fallen. While the drug war may have played a significant role in reducing the demand for and supply of marijuana, access to cocaine has increased. From 1984 to 1990, the proportion of high school students who reported that cocaine was "fairly easy" or "very easy" to obtain rose by about 20 percent.

    This failure is due in large part, Benson and Rasmussen explain, to drug entrepreneurs' adoption of new production techniques, new products, and new marketing strategies in response to greater law enforcement. Their "innovations" include lengthening the drug distribution chain and using younger drug pushers and runners (to reduce the risk of arrest and punishment), increasing domestic drug production (to avoid the risk of seizure at the border), smuggling into the country less marijuana and more cocaine (which is harder to detect), development of "crack" cocaine (a low-cost substitute for higher priced powdered cocaine and for marijuana, which the drug war made harder to obtain), and development of drugs with greater potency (because they are less bulky and because punishment is based on a drug's weight, not its potency).


    Given the failure of the drug war to reduce crime and drug use, what ought to be done? Benson and Rasmussen offer seven public policy recommendations.

    1) Reduce Crime and Drug Abuse by Cracking Down on Juvenile Criminals. Punishing youthful offenders early might divert them from further crime and remove them from the crime sub-culture where they are more likely to begin drug use.

    2) Emphasize Treatment Over Drug Law Enforcement. Treatment is more cost-effective because it cuts consumption directly, whereas law enforcement works indirectly, by raising the price of drugs.

    3) Abolish Civil Forfeiture Laws. Civil forfeiture laws give the illusion that drug law enforcement is self-financing. They give law enforcement agencies incentives to pursue counter-productive policies that violate due process.

    4) Make Public Safety the Main Police Priority. Law enforcement agencies should be evaluated on the basis of their effectiveness in preventing crime, not merely in responding to it after the fact. Improved citizen cooperation and sense of public safety should also be high priorities.

    5) Make Sentencing Guidelines Reflect the Highest Priorities. Sentencing guidelines must allow officials to consider prison capacity, so that dangerous prisoners are not released prematurely to make space for the less dangerous.

    6) Decentralize the Prisons. Keeping prosecutors and judges in the same jurisdictions as the prisons to which they send convicts would reduce the likelihood of dangerous prisoners being released prematurely.

    7) Decriminalize Drug Use. Decriminalization would free up scarce criminal justice resources in order to focus on violent and property crime. Prohibition, especially of less dangerous drugs, is ultimately a self-defeating policy.*

    The entire text of ILLICIT DRUGS AND CRIME is on the Independent Institute's Web Site: A hard copy of the 60-page report is available for $7.95 + $3.00 (S/H) from the Independent Institute, 134 Ninety-Eighth Avenue, Oakland, CA 94603 (USA). Credit card orders accepted. 510-632-1366 (ph), 510-568-6040 (fax), (e-mail).

    [End quote]

    Actually, a persual of The Independent Institute Web site failed to locate the "entire text," although a summary of the report at confirms the above.

    Not About Hemp, But About Propaganda

    TORONTO, Aug. 9 (UPI) -- Exposure to cocaine and other drugs in the womb has virtually no effect on early childhood development, University of Buffalo researchers said Friday.

    So-called "crack babies'' are not doomed, LeAdelle Phelps, director of school psychology program at the State University of New York at Buffalo, told United Press International.

    Phelps matched 20 children whose mothers used drugs to 20 unexposed children of the same sex, ethnicity and socioeconomic status and found no differences in social skills, behavior or reasoning abilities.

    "By the time these children are two years old there is no evidence that there is any effect on their development,'' Phelps said. "We didn't find any social problems arising by the time the children were 5 years old.'' Previous studies have suggested social problems arise with "crack babies'' as they mature.

    In fact, in most instances, the children who were exposed to cocaine scored higher on a battery of psychological tests than did the students who were never exposed to cocaine or other illegal drugs during pregnancy.

    "That doesn't mean cocaine is good for babies,'' Phelps said. She said it may reflect the fact that these babies who are exposed to cocaine are later removed from the custody of their mothers and are often raised by grandparents who may help the young children in areas of verbalization skills.

    Phelps said that previous studies which found problems in babies exposed to drugs in the womb may in fact have caused by factors other than cocaine use. Exposure "is often exacerbated by myriad socioeconomic and environmental factors which place children at considerable risk for developmental and psycho educational difficulties," she said.

    But when Phelps carefully matched the two groups, developmental differences disappeared. "All of the developmental afflictions frequently linked with intrauterine drug exposure occurred as frequently or more frequently in the nondrug exposed group as in the cocaine exposed group."

    Clinton Reverses Pursuit of 'Most Wanted' Drug Banker

    U.S. Lets Drug Banker Off
    by The SPOTLIGHT Newspaper
    Liberty Lobby, Inc.
    300 Independence Avenue SE
    Washington, DC 20003

    Subscription: 800 522 6292

    Narcotics continue to flood America as officials turn a blind eye to the real culprits: crooked politicians both here and abroad, and the North American Free Trade Agreement, which leaves our borders wide open to drugs from Mexico, Columbia and other countries.


    August 19, 1996

    With federal anti-narcotics programs already in hopeless disarray, the Clinton administration was jolted last month by the discovery that the international drug banker at the top of its "most wanted" list, millionaire financier Harry Beda, was an agent of the Mossad, Israel's secret service.

    "Beda was arrested by the Columbian police in June and charged with running a huge money-laundering network that linked Miami to a number of Latin American cities," says Quilli Osorio, a Mexican reporter. "The U.S. demanded to get custody of him right away-- until they found out he was an Israeli. Then they dropped it in a hurry."

    But the report that the ministate's money movers were once again in the midst of the booming "coke and smoke" trade was only one of the ticking time bombs the U.S. drug enforcement chiefs were handed in recent weeks, law enforcement sources say.

    One of the front companies for Beda's cocaine cash conduits, known as the Orexana Corp. of Hialeah, Fla., was found to have contributed thousands of dollars in laundered drug cash to the election campaigns of then Sen. Al Gore (D-Tenn.) and Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), former chairman of the Senate subcommittee on narcotics and terrorism.

    Such payoffs have become commonplace among American politicians, according to a faceless witness identified only as "Maria" who appeared under heavy security guard at a hearing held by Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.), the powerful chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, in Washington earlier this month.

    Shielded from TV cameras by a backlit screen, Maria was described as a member of Columbia's elite political establishment involved in funneling millions of dollars fromthe Cali cocaine cartel to the campaign of President Ernesto Samper.

    Her testimony left no doubt that Samper had actively solicited - and on occasion personally accepted - a grand total of $6 million from a consortium of vicious drug wholesalers.

    Under pressure to "do something," the Clinton administration declared Samper persona non grata and lifted his U.S. visa, as well as the required "certification" of his government as an honest enforcer of international narcotics regulations.

    "But Columbia is not the only culprit. There is new evidence that the election of Panamanian President Ernesto Perez Balladares, favored by the Clinton administration, was also financed by drug bankers," Osorio said. "And this graft does not stop south of the border."


    In fact, the greatest single boon the drug trade has enjoyed in recent years has turned out to be the U.S.-sponsored North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), law enforcement experts say.

    In an attempt to justify the Clinton administration's support of this pernicious pacet, U.S. Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin has been boasting in recent weeks about Mexico's ability to make good on some of the bailout credits it received from Washington last year.

    "Rubin says we collected hefty interest payments, too, and made a profit on some of these emergency loans," says Harry Prebisch, a former executive of Keefe, Bruyette, the leading Wall Street broker of bank securities. "What he forgets to add is that such Mexican debt financing almost invariably represents laundered drug profits. It is the only booming growth industry south of Tijuana."

    Veteran federal drug enforcement experts privately agreed with his blunt conclusions.

    "Most of the capital investment going into Mexico's economic infrastructure comes from drug proceeds these days," confirmed Jack Kelley, the U.S. Customs agent in charge of San Diego field office.

    His colleague, Craig Chretien, director of operations for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in San Diego, voiced similar views. Goldman, Sachs, a leading Wall Street investment bank headed by Rubin before he joined the incoming Clinton administration in 1992, helped set up a number of consulting firms to show Mexican exporters how they can profit from NAFTA.


    Now many of these advisers have been hired by Mexico's drug magnates looking "for someone knowledgeable to counsel them about taking better advantage of NAFTA," says Chretien.

    In the U.S., cocaine and heroin "have never been cheaper or more plentiful," admitted Gen. Barry McCaffrey, the Clinton administration's new drug czar in a recent TV interview.

    One result is that emergency-room admissions of youths under 18 suffering from drug overdoses have just about doubled during the past 12 months, warning that narcotics are no longer just one among numerous public-health problems: they are becoming a plague.

    Overheard On Usenet - 'Drug Testing - Helpful Info'

    FROM: (your Libertarian)
    DATE: 14 Aug 1996 19:03:57 GMT

    [Jeff Nightbyrd writes:]

    I made a posting several days ago and received lots of email questions which I don't have time to answer individually. A number of salesman are trying to push various teas in these groups. Here's part of a typical ad:

    >"By popular demand, I am now also offering Houston Enterprises' Naturally
    >Klean Herbal Tea. This product, trusted by thousands and the #1 selling
    >product of its type for the last seven years, is also guaranteed, or your
    >money back."

    I WROTE THE BEST SELLING PAMPHLET CONQUERING THE URINE DRUG TESTS and thought a little scientific information might be helpful:

    Drug Metabolites are passed out of your system over a period of days or weeks depending on the substance. Various drinks that are sold like the one above work by dillution - they do not attack the testing enzymes that that bind with your drug metabolites. These drinks work in general because after several days if you gorge your system with a liquid you are basically passing water. These concoctions are generally made up of pectin, jello, and colorizers. They are harmless.

    Byrd Labs ran hundreds of tests in cooperation with a NORML group that supplied THC (pot) positive urine. The drinks like the one advertized above did no better than drinking water or coca cola. These companies usually recommend that you mix their product with 2 to 4 quarts of water. Our tests showed that you can save you money. Merely in-taking 2-4 quarts of water, coffee, cola, etc. will get the same result. Usually after 3 days a person will pass a drug screen with this method.

    Research shows the sucess rate increases if the imbiber takes at least 50 milligrams of Vitamin B complex to make their urine a nice golden color rather than a suspisciously clear output. But one word or caution. Using these teas or attempting dilution with water, cola, etc. yield a sample deficient in creatinine. Many labs test suspect samples for cretinine and report a failure or "Test Not Valid" if the creatinine level falls below the normal human range.

    The entrepreneur above offers annecdotal evidence of his sucess. I'm sure he's well meaning and just trying to make a little money. But his "guarantee" no matter how well meaning does not stand up to scientific scrutiny.

    In general urine addditives are a much better way to counteract the enzymes used in the standard drug detection tests. They can work several ways including blocking the action of the enzymes trying to bind to drug metabolites. The best additives according to our tests is made by Klear out in California. Their free info line is 800 661-1357.

    My motto remains:
    "Test your govenrment. Not your urine."

    Cochran To ABA - Drug War A Race War

    ORLANDO, Fla, Aug 4 (Reuter) - Lawyers should speak out against racism in the legal process, Johnnie Cochran, who was O.J. Simpson's main defence lawyer, told the American Bar Association's annual meeting on Sunday.

    "When people accuse you of playing the race card, that is preposterous in a society where race plays a part in almost everything we do," Cochran said. "You cannot allow yourself to be quieted about injustice," he said.

    Cochran cited statistics from the Centre for Juvenile Justice in California showing that four out of 10 black men in California were in prison, on parole or on probation and that nationwide the figure was three out of 10.

    If that were true for white males, there would be a "national uproar," but because the statistics involve blacks, "nobody really seems to care about this," he said.

    He used drug prosecutions as an example of why statistics for blacks are so high. Young black males charged with possession of five grams of crack cocaine face a mandatory prison term of five years, Cochran said.

    In contrast, "if a person lives in the suburbs and is charged with possession of 500 grams of pure powdered cocaine that's the only way they will ever get a sentence of five years," he said.

    "Five grams versus 500 grams. ... How does that happen in a fair society, and what are prosecutors doing about it?" Cochran asked.

    Five grams of crack retails for $225 to $750, while 500 grams of pure cocaine sells for $35,000 to $50,000, he said.

    Cochran said 74 percent of those sentenced for drug-related crimes under federal sentencing guidelines were black.

    "This draconian racist policy permeates what's happening in America," he said, adding that prison terms for black women were becoming almost as high as those for men.

    "This so-called war on drugs is really a war on people of colour," he said.


    World Health Organization - Drug War Blocks Access To 'Essential' Morphine For Pain

    VIENNA, Aug 6 (Reuter) - Terminally ill patients around the world needlessly suffer extreme pain because many governments have done too little to ensure hospital access to morphine, the U.N.'s drugs body said on Tuesday.

    The World Health Organisation regards morphine as an essential drug for severe pain, but most countries fail to follow United Nations recommendations to make it widely available at a reasonable cost.

    Only 46 percent of countries responding to a questionnaire by the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) said the opiate was stocked in all hospitals. Only 48 percent said morphine was stocked in hospitals with cancer wards.

    "These figures are shocking," said INCB Secretary Herbert Schaepe, referring to conclusions based on information furnished by 65 governments. Some 144 other nations -- among them the world's poorest -- did not reply.

    "The Board is also concerned that the non-responding governments, representing half of the world's population, may be doing even less to carry out the... recommendations on opiate availability."

    The INCB said the expected rise in the number of senior citizens, cancer and AIDS cases made a need for improved pain relief increasingly urgent.

    By 2015, the World Health Organisation expects 50 million new cancer cases a year.

    It estimates 18 million adults and 1.5 million children are infected with HIV, the deadly virus that causes AIDS. The WHO predicts that by the year 2000 the virus will have attacked 30 to 40 million people.

    Schaepe said many countries were reluctant to make opiates such as morphine more freely available because they could not ensure the narcotics did not leak into the illicit market.

    The board called on all governments to remove overly restrictive policies and other barriers preventing hospital access to the pain-killer.

    The INCB, which regularly reviews the world drug scene and countries' compliance with international drugs conventions, was set up in 1968. It seeks to ensure adequate drug supplies are available for medical and scientific purposes and aims to curb the illicit drugs trade.




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