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August 29, 1996

State Looks Into Filing Tax Violations Against Marijuana Club Proprietors

August 24, 1996, San Francisco, CA: State officials are probing into whether proprietors of the San Francisco Cannabis Buyers' Club may have violated federal and state tax laws by failing to report club revenue to the IRS. Failing to report income, including income generated through illegal activities, is against the law. The allegation is the latest in a series of accusations made by state law enforcement officials since the club was raided on August 4. To date, no individuals have been arrested in connection with the club, nor have any formal charges been filed.

California Bureau of Narcotics Chief Joe Doane said that the issue of possible tax evasion arose because agents found no documents related to the withholding of salary for Social Security, state and federal taxes and workers' compensation for employees of the club. "That indicates [that club founder Dennis Peron] was not following state and federal laws regarding payment of taxes on salaries and benefits," argued state attorney general's office spokesman Steve Telliano.

Dennis Peron told United Press International that standard business practices were not followed at the club because of the underground nature of supplying medical marijuana to those who needed it. "Until we change the law, you have to realize that what we are doing is illegal. We've had to do things a certain way to protect the people whose lives we were trying to help."

Californians for Compassionate Use treasurer John Entwistle called the state's latest allegation "another red herring" and reiterated that all profits were distributed back into the club. "If we had bought big houses, then we'd be ashamed," he remarked. "But we didn't; we've all taken vows of poverty. There is no hidden money."

Officials report that criminal charges involving both the tax issue as well as other facets of the club's activities may be filed in three to four weeks.

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

Governor Signs Law Reinvigorating State Medical Marijuana Research Program

August, 1996, Boston, Massachusetts: Gov. William Weld signed into law legislation (H. 2170) that would reinvigorate the state marijuana therapeutic research program and eventually provide for a medical necessity legal defense.

As amended by the state legislature, H. 2170 will direct the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) to pass rules and regulations within 180 days for the establishment of a marijuana medical research program. Like many states, Massachusetts had previously adopted legislation allowing for such a program, but had never addressed the issues of funding, regulations, or viable sources for marijuana.

The legislation was proposed by Rep. Pat Jehlen (D-Somerville) after communicating with a constituent who used marijuana as a therapeutic agent to combat severe nausea. NORML Legal Committee member Michael Cutler, Esq. helped draft the legislation.

For more information, please contact attorney Michael Cutler at (617) 439-4990 or Bill Downing of Mass/Cann NORML at (617) 944-CANN.

Cincinnati Buyers' Club Founder Pleads Guilty To Reduced Marijuana Charges

August 20, 1996, Covington, KY: Richard Evans, founder of the Greater Cincinnati Buyers' Club, plead guilty to a reduced misdemeanor charge of trafficking in marijuana under eight ounces and was sentenced to serve 29 days in county jail. Evans will begin his sentence in September. Evans had been facing three felony counts of trafficking in marijuana within 1,000 yards of a school following a February raid by law enforcement officers on the club's headquarters.

"I was facing a total of 15 years in prison; they were offering 29 days in county jail," Evans said after he entered his guilty plea in Kenton Circuit Court. Initially, Evans had considered battling the charges on constitutional grounds.

Prosecutors agreed to reduce the charges against Evans after conceding that his actions "were not done as part of a commercial enterprise [or] ... for purposes of profit." Evans told NORML that the judge in the case remarked that she believed that marijuana for medical purposes would eventually be legal in America, but noted that individuals have to abide by the law.

When asked whether he would continue to operate the buyers' club once he completes his jail term, Evans responded that it wouldn't be "in this country." However, he added that, "There's plenty of people lined up to take over."

Evans called the judgment a "partial victory" and told NORML that a short stay in jail was a fair price for the large amount of publicity his case generated.

NORML Chapter Files Complaint After Voters Strike Down Ballot Proposal To Decriminalize Marijuana

August 16, 1996, Traverse City, MI: Proponents of a city ballot initiative to decriminalize marijuana possession have filed a complaint with the Secretary of State alleging that opponents of the measure violated state campaign finance laws. The proposal was rejected by voters by a 58 to 42 percent vote.

The complaint, spearheaded by Traverse City NORML President Bill Bustance, maintains that Traverse City Police Chief Ralph Soffredine, Prosecutor Dennis LaBelle, and others acted as a political committee but failed to file any papers with the county clerk as required under the Michigan Campaign Finance Acts. The complaint also alleges that opponents sent out a biased flyer against the proposal using the tax-funded mailing permit of Traverse City. Bustance is demanding a new election.

"We've had two successful initiatory petitions filed and if these claims [prove] substantial then we at least deserve one fair election," Bustance said.

Traverse City officials admit that the city paid to send out over 9,400 flyers in a one-time mailing, but deny that the mailing was an attempt to influence voters against the ballot proposal. The flyer was titled "Marijuana: Facts to Consider."

According to Michigan law, a person who knowingly violates campaign finance rules could be punished by up to a year in jail or a $2,000 fine. An organization that does so may receive up to a $20,000 fine.

The road to the ballot had been a rocky one for marijuana activists. Chapter organizers' 1994 initiative drive was rejected by the city commission despite having well over the required number of signatures, because it allegedly conflicted with state law. This year's petition was devoid of legal problems, but faced severe opposition from city commissioners who in December unanimously passed a resolution asking residents not to sign the petition. The commission later passed a resolution encouraging voters to vote against the proposal.

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

Dutch Cities Get Into The Marijuana Business

August 1996, Delfzijl, Netherlands: For two decades, Dutch officials have tolerated the sale of marijuana and hashish in coffee shops; now some are going into business for themselves.

Authorities in the town of Delfzijl are spending $294,117 to open a coffee shop on September 1, reports the Associated Press. It is modeled on a similar project in the town of Bussum, outside Amsterdam.. Profits from the store will fund education campaigns on drug use, and the store will be staffed with counselors and youth workers offering free health information on drug use.

"Of course we don't want people to use drugs, but that's not realistic," said Delfzijl City Hall spokeswoman Marjon Edzes. "This is a healthier solution."

Despite their policy of tolerating the sale of marijuana and hashish, the number of Dutch adolescents who have ever used marijuana is far lower than in America. Dutch politicians maintain that their policy discourages hard drug use by separating the illicit drug markets.

For more information on comparisons between illicit drug use rates among Dutch and American adolescents, please contact NORML at (202) 483-5500 for a copy of "Exposing Marijuana Myths" by Dr. John Morgan and Lynn Zimmer, Ph.D.

Dole Calls For Larger Military Presence In Drug War

August 25, Palos Park, Ill: Responding to figures of rising illicit drug use among adolescents, Republican Presidential nominee Bob Dole vowed to greatly increase the role of the military in combating drugs.

"We will make drug interdiction a priority for our intelligence services, beefing up not just technical operations but also human intelligence operations," said Dole during a recent campaign speech. "We will expand the use of military technology, including reconnaissance and satellites and area surveillance and listening posts to track drug movements toward our borders."

Dole also advocated using the National Guard in domestic drug interdiction efforts. "Working with the governors, we will create designated National Guard units with appropriate training and equipment to provide a rapid response capability. If we need the National Guard to move in, they'll have the training."

"Dole's proposals are nothing new," commented NORML Deputy Director Allen St. Pierre. "Increasing the use of military technology to interdict drugs began under the Bush administration at the cost of millions of taxpayers' dollars, yet yielded few tangible results. Also, the National Guard has been utilized in domestic drug enforcement - generally marijuana eradication - since Congress authorized its use in 1988 by sidestepping the Posse Comitatus Act of 1879 that forbids the use of federal troops in civilian law enforcement."

Dole defended his proposals by alleging that the threat of drugs, like the threat of terrorism from abroad, was an area where the military had a proper role.

For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre of NORML at (202) 483-5500. Copies of NORML's position paper: "National Guard Involvement In The Drug War" are available upon request.

America's Prison Population More Than Doubles In A Decade

August 18, 1996, Washington, D.C.: There were approximately 1.6 million men and women in the nation's jails and prisons last year, reported the Department of Justice. This figure is a 113 percent increase since 1985 and equates to one out of every 167 U.S. residents in jail or prison.

Since 1980 - when the number of inmates in state or federal prisons or in local jails stood at just over 500,000 - incarceration growth in the United States has ballooned over 200 percent. According to federal statistics, the most significant factor for this dramatic increase is drug arrests. Drug offenders now comprise more than 25 percent of all U.S. inmates, up from less than ten percent in the mid-1980s.

"While Congress and politicians are calling for tougher sentencing and tougher judges, they are conveniently neglecting the fact that America already incarcerates a larger percentage of its population than any other country; this is a direct result of the drug war." said NORML Deputy Director Allen St. Pierre. "Unfortunately, after listening to recent campaign speeches by both the Dole and Clinton camps, it appears this trend is far from over."

For more information, please contact either Allen St. Pierre of NORML at (202) 483-5500 or Mark Mauer of The Sentencing Project at (202) 628-0871.

Copies of NORML's fact-sheet: "Percentage Of United States Inmates Incarcerated For Drug Violations: A Ten Year Comparison" are available upon request.



Regional and other news

Body Count

Nine 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. 29, 1996, p. 9, 3M-MP-SE). That makes the body count so far this year 247 out of 457, or 54.04 percent.

Let's Do The Numbers

The new statistics from the preliminary 1995 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse posted at oblige Portland NORML to update its current estimates for the minimum number of cannabis consumers and other illegal-drug users in Portland, Multnomah County and the state of Oregon, and what it would cost to build prisons or jails for them all. Sisyphus

The numbers are up significantly across the board, despite record arrests, enforcement and incarceration costs.

The methodology used here is long, repetitive and boring but will be included below - feel free to skip the "methodology" sections unless you're interested in how the figures in the relatively brief summary were arrived at. Lots of care has been taken to make the ensuing calculations as conservative but realistic as possible. Any corrections or suggestions would be welcomed.

These estimates do not include the full costs of detection, arrests, prosecutions, public defenders or expenditures for prisoners' food, health-care, jail-maintenance, prison guards or probation officers, etc. Keep in mind that such ongoing expenditures probably amount to at least two to three times the cost of principal and interest for construction bonds.


I. Portland

Based on the latest 1995 figures from the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse and the U.S. Census Bureau, Portland NORML estimates there are at least 30,873 illegal-drug users in Portland, including 23,772 past-month marijuana consumers. At least 17,597 Portlanders use marijuana as their only illicit drug, while 13,275 Portlanders use illegal drugs other than cannabis. Based on the latest figures from Multnomah County, the cost of building jails for all the illegal-drug users in Portland would be $4,523,119,800, or more than $4.5 billion. With interest, the real cost would be $11,832,756,000, almost $12 billion. Constructing jails just for all the estimated pot-smokers in Portland would cost $3,482,771,500, almost $3.5 billion. With interest, the real cost would be $9,111,141,900, more than $9 billion. Building jails just for the estimated 13,275 Portlanders who use hard drugs would cost $1,944,884,400, almost $2 billion. With interest, the real cost would be $5,087,935,800, more than $5 billion. Just building jail beds for five percent to 10 percent of illegal-drug users who sell, smuggle or "manufacture" drugs (1,543 to 3,087 people) would cost $226,060,760 to $452,268,030, or one-quarter to one-half billion dollars. With interest, the real cost would be at least $591 million to $1.18 billion.

II. Multnomah County

Based on the latest 1995 figures from the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse and the U.S. Census Bureau, Portland NORML estimates there are at least 38,871 illegal-drug users in Multnomah County, including 29,930 past-month marijuana consumers. At least 22,156 county residents use marijuana as their only illicit drug. According to the latest Multnomah County figures, building jails for all of the illegal-drug users in the county would cost $5,694,885,200, almost $5.7 billion. With interest on new-jail bonds, the real cost would come to $14,898,165,000, almost $15 billion. Constructing jails just for all the estimated pot-smokers in Multnomah County would cost $4,384,963,400, more than $4.3 billion. With interest, the real cost would be $11,471,330,000, more than $11 billion. Building jails just for the estimated 16,714 Multnomah County residents (43 percent of 7.8 percent) who use illegal drugs other than marijuana would cost $2,448,723,000, almost $2.5 billion. With interest the real cost would be $6,406,008,200, or more than $6 billion. Just building jail beds for five percent to 10 percent of illegal-drug users who sell, smuggle or "manufacture" drugs in Multnomah County (1,943 to 3,887) would nominally cost at least $284 million to $569 million. With interest, the real cost would be at least $744 million to $1.5 billion.

Even when Multnomah County builds its 544 new jail beds, there will still be more than 20 illegal-drug users for each bed. Locking up all the cannabis consumers in Multnomah County would cram more than 15 pot-smokers in each bed. Just trying to lock up those who use illegal drugs other than marijuana would pack 8.7 offenders into every bed. Successfully incarcerating five percent to 10 percent of illegal-drug users who sell, smuggle or "manufacture" illicit substances (1,943 to 3,887) would fill every single bed (when built) with at least one to two inmates, but would leave all the real criminals out walking the streets.

III. Oregon

Based on the latest 1995 figures from the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse and the U.S. Census Bureau, Portland NORML estimates there are at least 194,858 illegal-drug users in Oregon, including 150,040 past-month cannabis consumers. An estimated 111,069 Oregonians, 57 percent of those 194,858 illegal-drug users, consume marijuana as their only illicit drug. Another 20 percent, or 38,971, use marijuana and another illicit drug. Altogether, 43 percent of the illegal-drug users in Oregon, at least 83,788 people, are buying and consuming illicit substances other than marijuana every month. Based on the cost of prison beds purchased most recently by the Oregon Legislature Feb. 2, 1996, building prisons for all the illegal-drug users in Oregon would cost $12,352,243,000, or more than $12 billion. With interest, the real cost would probably be at least $26,776,583,000, or more than $26 billion. Building prisons for all the marijuana-smokers in Oregon would cost $9,511,185,600, or more than $9.5 billion. With interest, the real cost would probably be at least $20,617,878,000, more than $20 billion. Building jails for the 43 percent of Oregon hard illegal-drugs users, 83,788 people, would cost $5,311,405,100, more than $5 billion. With interest, the real cost would be at least $11,513,801,000, more than $11.5 billion. Just building prisons for five percent to 10 percent of illegal-drug using Oregonians who sell, smuggle or "manufacture" illegal drugs (9,742 to 19,485) would cost $617,555,120 to $1,235,173,600, or $617 million to $1.23 billion. With interest, the real cost of building new prison beds for five percent to 10 percent of illegal-drug users who also sell, smuggle or "manufacture" drugs would probably be at least $1,338,705,500 to $2,677,548,400, or $1.3 billion to $2.6 billion.

As detailed below, the state of Oregon currently has more than 24 illegal-drug users per prison bed, including 19.17 pot smokers per bed or 10.7 hard-drug users per bed. Locking up five percent to 10 percent of all illegal drug users who currently sell, smuggle or "manufacture" illicit substances (9,742 to 19,485 people) would pack one to three people in each bed, and leave all the real criminals walking the streets.


I. Portland - Methodology

The 1995 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse says "The current illicit drug use rate ranged from 7.8 percent in the West region to 4.9 percent in the Northeast" and that "There was little difference in rates of use in large metropolitan areas, small metropolitan areas, and nonmetropolitan areas" ("Any Illicit Drug Use," posted at The previous survey says the rate in 1994 was 6.6 percent in the West and 5.1 percent in the Northeast region, at The "Introduction" to the 1995 NHSDA posted at states that the "West" includes "California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Hawaii [and] Alaska." The first paragraph of the "Introduction" also notes that the NHSDA is "an ongoing survey of the ... population ... 12 years old and older," and the report notes throughout that its survey refers only to ages 12 and older.

[Although Portland NORML news releases consistently use current NHSDA figures, it's important to note that many if not most non-U.S. government experts put the American illegal-drug-use rate at the much higher proportion of 10 percent. A recent article in Forbes magazine, for example, says:

According to estimates by the United Nations International Drug Control Programme, over 7% of the U.S. population "abuses" cannabis, compared with under 4% in Holland. Various EU studies indicate that Holland has 1.6 hard-drug addicts per 1,000 inhabitants. The number compares with 2.5 in France, 3 in Italy and 5.3 in Switzerland. The U.S. wasn't included in these studies, but others show that the U.S. is still by far the largest consumer of illicit drugs. - "Just say maybe," Forbes, June 17, 1996, pp. 114-116, 118 & 120, posted at
If marijuana smokers make up 77 percent of all illegal-drug users in the United States, while people who never touch cannabis make up 23 percent of all illegal-drug consumers, as the 1995 survey states, then a proportion of "over 7%" cannabis consumers cited by Forbes is consistent with a 10 percent overall use rate. That rate has also been reported by such academic experts as Michael S. Gazzaniga, Ph.D., director of the Center of Neuroscience at the University of California/Davis, in the interview titled, "Legalizing Drugs - Just Say Yes," published by the National Review on July 10, 1995, and posted in Portland NORML's Web pages at]

The 1995 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse muddies the water and makes itself much less useful by failing to give the number or proportion of Americans age 12 or older. However, one can extrapolate the number (if not the proportion) mathematically from the survey itself, for example from such statements as "In 1995, an estimated 12.8 million Americans were current illicit drug users, meaning they had used an illicit drug in the month prior to interview. This represents 6.1 percent of the population 12 years old and older." ("Any Illicit Drug Use," ibid.) If 12,800,000 equals 6.1 percent of the population age 12 or older, and 6.1 times (x) 16.393442 = 100 percent; 12,800,000 times (x) 16.393442 = 209.83605 million = means there were 209,836,050 Americans age 12 or older in 1995. The necessary number yet to be defined is the proportion of Americans who are 12 or older.

Fortunately, the U.S. population grows relatively steadily, so a close approximation to the 1995 figure is possible. As this is written, the U.S. Census Bureau's constantly updated World Wide Web page at says the U.S. population is 265,622,745. A previous check at that site, reported in the April 18, 1996 Portland NORML news release approximately four-and-a-half months ago, showed the U.S. population was 264,677,062. The difference, 945,683 Americans, subtracted from the population circa April 18, should be close to the number of Americans at the end of 1995. (One is tempted to reduce the population estimate to mid-1995 levels, but to obviate objections, the larger number will be used, since it will yield a slightly smaller proportion of Americans age 12 and up, and thus a slightly more conservative estimated number of marijuana users, etc.) Thus 265,622,745 minus (-) 264,677,062 = 945,683. 264,677,062 minus (-) 945,683 (about another three months' difference in population growth, i.e., back to about December 31, 1995) = 263,731,379 Americans at the end of 1995.

Assuming then that 209,836,050 out of 263,731,379 Americans were age 12 or older in 1995, that yields a ratio of 210 out of a bit less than 264. In order to save a lot of number-crunching and allow skeptics to check the math here with a pocket calculator, that ratio of 210/264 divided by 2/2 = 105/132 will be used in the ensuing calculations. The actual ratio would be a little more narrow and would yield slightly greater estimates in ensuing calculations of illegal-drug users.

The U.S. Census Bureau's "Population and Housing Unit Estimates" World Wide Web page at points to an out-of-date Portland population figure from 1994. The latest, 1995 figures are contained in a document titled "Population of Incorporated Cities in Oregon by Alphabetical Order: July 1, 1995," faxed from the Center for Population Research and Census at Portland State University (tel. 503-725-3922, fax 503-725-5199). It cites a Portland population of 497,600.

Using the ratio of 105 out of every 132 Portlanders being 12 or older, 497,600 divided by 132 = 3,769.6969, multiplied by 105 = 395,818 Portlanders 12 or older. Of those, 7.8 percent would be illicit-drug users (1995 NHSDA, "Any Illicit Drug Use," ibid.). 395,818 multiplied by (x) .078 percent = 30,873 illegal drug users. (Portland NORML's last estimate, April 18, based on 1994 figures, was 22,885.)

The 1995 survey states (rather redundantly), "Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug, used by 77 percent of current illicit drug users. Approximately 57 percent of current illicit drug users used marijuana only, 20 percent used marijuana and another illicit drug, and the remaining 23 percent used an illicit drug or drugs other than marijuana in the past month" ("Any Illicit Drug Use," ibid.).

Seventy-seven percent of 30,873 illegal-drug users yields an estimated 23,772 marijuana smokers in Portland. At least 17,597 Portlanders, 57 percent of those 30,873, would use marijuana as their only illicit drug. Another 20 percent, or 6,174, would use marijuana and another illicit drug. Twenty-three percent, or 7,100, used an illicit drug or drugs other than marijuana (not counting, for ages 12-17, tobacco, or for ages 12-20, alcohol). In all, 43 percent of illegal-drug users used illicit substances other than marijuana. In Portland, that would be 30,873 x .43 = 13,275 hard-drug users.

What would it cost to build jail beds for all such offenders in Portland?

Multnomah County currently provides jails for the city of Portland. According to various media reports, the record-low percentage of voters who went to the polls on May 21 were supposed to cast ballots for or against bonds with a face value of $79.7 million to build 480 new jail beds. The last time The Oregonian reported the interest cost of the bonds was Feb. 29, 1996 ("Keep jail measure lean," p. B10). At that time the paper said the $79.7 million in bonds would cost $134 million with interest over 20 years. However, a Multnomah County document received from the office of Commissioner Tanya Collier after the election revealed the new-jail-bond measure will actually cost taxpayers, with interest, $208.5 million over 30 years for a total of 544 beds. At that rate, the current cost of new jails is $79.7 million divided by 544 beds, or $146,507.30 per bed. With interest, the cost per new jail bed is $208.5 million divided by 544, or $383,272.

Thus, building jails for all the estimated 30,873 illegal-drug users in Portland would cost 30,873 x $146,507.30 = $4,523,119,800, or more than $4.5 billion. With interest, taxpayers would actually pay 30,873 x $383,272 = $11,832,756,000, almost $12 billion. Constructing jail beds for all the estimated pot-smokers in Portland would cost 23,772 x $146,507.30 = $3,482,771,500, almost $3.5 billion. With interest, the real cost would be 23,772 x $383,272 = $9,111,141,900, more than $9 billion. Building jails for the 43 percent subgroup who use hard drugs, 13,275 Portlanders, would cost 13,275 x $146,507.30 = $1,944,884,400, almost $2 billion. With interest, the real cost would be 13,275 x $383,272 = $5,087,935,800, or more than $5 billion. Just building jail beds for five percent to 10 percent of illegal-drug users who sell, smuggle or "manufacture" drugs (1,543 to 3,087) would cost 1,543 x $146,507.30 = $226,060,760 to 3,087 x $146,507.30 = $452,268,030, or almost one-quarter to one-half billion dollars. With interest, the real cost would be at least 1,543 x $383,272 = $591,388,690 to 3,087 x $383,272 = $1,183,160,600, or $590 million to $1.18 billion.

II. Multnomah County - Methodology

The latest, July 1, 1995 estimate from the Center for Population Research and Census at Portland State University (tel. 503-725-3922, fax 503-725-5199) puts the population of Multnomah County at 626,500. Assuming the ratio calculated previously, 105 out of 132 of those 626,500 would be age 12 or older, or 626,500 divided by 132 = 4746.2121 x 105 = 498,352. Of those, 7.8 percent would be illegal-drug users (1995 NHSDA, "Any Illicit Drug Use,", or 498,352 x .078 = 38,871. As stated by the 1995 survey, 77 percent in turn would be cannabis consumers, or 38,871 x .77 = 29,930. At least 22,156 Multnomah County residents, 57 percent of those 38,871, would use marijuana as their only illicit drug. Another 20 percent, or 7,774, would use marijuana and another illicit drug. Altogether, 43 percent of illegal-drug users, or 38,871 x .43 = 16,714 county residents, would use an illicit drug or drugs other than marijuana.

What would it cost to build jail beds for all such offenders in Multnomah County?

Using the same county figures cited previously in the section, "Portland - Methodology," building jails for all the illegal-drug users in Multnomah County would cost 38,871 x $146,507.30 = $5,694,885,200, almost $5.7 billion dollars. With interest on new-jail bonds, the real cost would come to 38,871 x $383,272 = $14,898,165,000, almost $15 billion. Constructing jail beds for all the estimated pot-smokers in Multnomah County would cost 29,930 x $146,507.30 = $4,384,963,400, more than $4.3 billion. With interest, the real cost would be 29,930 x $383,272 = $11,471,330,000, more than $11 billion. Building jails for the 43 percent subgroup of Multnomah County residents who use hard drugs would cost 16,714 x $146,507.30 = $2,448,723,000, almost $2.5 billion. With interest, the real cost would be 16,714 x $383,272 = $6,406,008,200, or more than $6 billion. Just building jail beds for five percent to 10 percent of illegal-drug users who sell, smuggle or "manufacture" drugs in Multnomah County (1,943 to 3,887 souls) would cost 1,943 x $146,507.30 = $284,663,680 to 3,887 x $146,507.30 = $569,473,870, or $284 million to $569 million. With interest, the real cost would be at least 1,943 x $383,272 = $744,697,490 to 3,887 x $383,272 = $1,489,778,200, or between $744 million and $1.5 billion.

Just for the sake of perspective, according to a Feb. 25, 1996 column in The Oregonian by Steve Duin, the county has a court-ordered jail-population ceiling of 1,371 ("The inmates aren't running the asylum, just running out of it," p. D1). The 544 new beds that voters placed an order for in the May 21 election will bring the total to 1,915 beds. With 38,871 illegal-drug users in Multnomah County, even when all 544 new jail beds are available, there will still be more than 20 illegal-drug users for each bed. Assigning 29,930 Multnomah County cannabis consumers to those 1,915 beds would yield more than 15 pot-smokers for each bed. Just trying to lock up the 16,714 Multnomah County residents who use illegal drugs other than marijuana would mean 8.7 such offenders for every bed. Successfully incarcerating five percent to 10 percent of illegal-drug users who also sell, smuggle or "manufacture" illicit substances (1943 to 3,887) would fill every single bed with at least 1 to 2 inmates, but would leave all other offenders walking the streets.

III. Oregon - Methodology

The most recent (July 1, 1995) Oregon population estimate of 3,140,585 is posted by the U.S. Census Bureau in its Web pages at Assuming the ratio calculated previously in "Portland - Methodology," 105 out of 132 of those 3,140,585 Oregonians would be age 12 or older, that is, 3,140,585 divided by 132 = 23,792.31 x 105 = 2,498,192. Of those, 7.8 percent would be illegal-drug users. (1995 NHSDA, "Any Illicit Drug Use," Thus 2,498,192 x .078 means there would be 194,858 illegal-drug users in Oregon.

Again, the 1995 survey states, "Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug, used by 77 percent of current illicit drug users. Approximately 57 percent of current illicit drug users used marijuana only, 20 percent used marijuana and another illicit drug, and the remaining 23 percent used only an illicit drug other than marijuana in the past month" ("Any Illicit Drug Use," ibid.).

Seventy-seven percent of 194,858 would mean there are 194,858 x .77 = 150,040 past-month marijuana smokers in Oregon. At least 111,069 Oregonians, 57 percent of those 194,858 illegal-drug users (194,858 x .57 = 111,069), consume marijuana as their only illicit drug. Another 20 percent, or 194,858 x .20 = 38,971, use marijuana and another illicit drug. Altogether, if 43 percent of the illegal-drug users in Oregon buy and consume illicit substances other than marijuana, that would be 194,858 x .43 = 83,788 hard-drug users.

What would it cost to build prisons for all such offenders in Oregon?

During the most recent, two-day session of the Oregon Legislature Feb. 1-2, policymakers agreed to borrow and spend $94.2 million to build 1,486 new prison beds at $63,391 per cell. The real cost with interest was not reported. Assuming the interest on $94.2 million in state bonds would be similar to that on $79.7 million in Multnomah County bonds (as detailed previously), $79.7 million in bonds [x 2.616] is to $208.5 million in principal and interest as $94.2 million [x 2.616] is to $246 million in principal and interest. However, the state of Oregon will not build all its new prisons at once, or issue all its $94.2 million in new bonds at once. That makes the interest estimate very problematical. An admittedly arbitrary but low-ball figure of $204.2 million [minus the face-value figure of $94.2 million = $110 million interest] will be used here to calculate the state's cost for each new prison bed, plus interest. Dividing $204.2 million by 1,486 new-prison beds yields a conservative cost per bed of $137,415.88 with interest.

Based on these assumptions, the cost of constructing jail beds for all the illegal-drug users in Oregon would be 194,858 x $63,391 = $12,352,243,000, or more than $12 billion. With interest, the real cost would be 194,858 x $137,415.88 = $26,776,583,000, or more than $26 billion. Building prison beds for all the marijuana-smokers in Oregon would cost 150,040 x $63,391 = $9,511,185,600, or more than $9.5 billion. With interest, the real cost would be 150,040 x $137,415.88 = $20,617,878,000, more than $20 billion. Building jails for the 43 percent of Oregon hard illegal-drugs users, or 83,788 people, would cost 83,788 x $63,391 = $5,311,405,100, more than $5 billion. With interest, the real cost would be at least 83,788 x $137,415.88 = $11,513,801,000, more than $11.5 billion. Just building jail beds for five percent to 10 percent of illegal-drug users who sell, smuggle or "manufacture" illegal drugs (9,742 to 19,485) would cost 9,742 x $63,391 = $617,555,120 to 19,485 x $63,391 = $1,235,173,600, or $617 million to $1.23 billion. With interest, the real cost of building new prison beds for the five percent to 10 percent of illegal-drug users who are also traffickers would be at least 9,742 x $137,415.88 = $1,338,705,500 to 19,485 x $137,415.88 = $2,677,548,400, or $1.3 billion to $2.6 billion.

What would happen if all the illegal-drug users in Oregon were so irresponsible as to bankrupt the state by turning themselves in? The most recent news report at hand states "Oregon's 13.7 percent increase to 7,826 inmates in 1995 - the seventh biggest nationally - was twice the national average of 6.8 percent." (The Oregonian, "Number of inmates doubles in 10 years," August 19, 1996, p. A5, posted at So if Oregon currently has 7,826 available prison beds, there would be 194,858 divided by 7,826 = 24.89 illegal-drug users per prison bed. There would also be 150,040 pot smokers for 7,826 beds, or 19.17 per bed, and 83,788 people who used illegal drugs other than marijuana divided by 7,826 beds = 10.7 per bed. Locking up five percent to 10 percent of all illegal drug users who sell, smuggle or "manufacture" illicit substances (9,742 to 19,485 people) would pack more than one to three people into each bed, and leave all the real criminals walking the street.

In Conclusion

Illegal-drug use is more widespread than commonly perceived. The vast majority of illegal-drug users, particularly marijuana offenders, do little to warrant the harsh sentences even first-time arrestees routinely receive. Any harm they cause is minor compared to the expense of the measures taken against them. It is obvious that putting illegal-drug users and sellers in jail harms society more than it impedes the illicit drug market or limits the number of drug users or drug sellers. If the 1995 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse is accurate, illegal-drug-use rates in Oregon increased 18.18 percent in the past year, from 6.6 percent to 7.8 percent. Given the different consequences arising from marijuana decriminalization and harm-reduction policies in the Netherlands since 1976, what evidence can prohibitionists cite that illegal-drug use would increase 18.18 percent if such policies were instituted in Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon or the United States at large?

Public officials and media who are still in denial should ponder the laws of supply and demand together with a warning from one of the more eloquent members of the Wickersham Commission, whose 1931 report led to repeal of alcohol Prohibition:

It might be within the physical power of the federal government for a time to substantially enforce the Eighteenth Amendment and the National Prohibition Act. But under existing conditions this would require the creation of a field organization running high into the thousands, with courts, prosecuting agencies, prisons, and other institutions in proportion, and would demand expenditures and measures beyond the practical and political limitations of federal power. This would inevitably lead to social and political consequences more disastrous than the evils sought to be remedied. Even then the force of social and economic laws would ultimately prevail. These laws cannot be destroyed by governments, but often in the course of human history governments have been destroyed by them. - Wickersham Commission report, 1931, Summary, Volume 1, personal statement of Commissioner Henry W. Anderson, pp. 97-98.
It's time for public officials and the media to call for an open, objective and dispassionate public discussion, and a government commission to study current and alternative drug policies and recommend possible changes.

Overheard On 'The McLaughlin Group' On PBS August 16

Eleanor Clift, correspondent for Newsweek magazine: "I think the country should be more concerned about stopping young people from smoking tobacco because of the health problems it causes and the cost of treatment for lung cancer - than those kids out there smoking marijuana."

Overheard On CNN

CNN Special Interview With President Clinton
Sunday, August 25, 1996

.... WOLF BLITZER: Well, the accusation that Bob Dole and many other Republicans, of course, make is that someone was asleep on the job during these past three and a half, four years while there's been this explosion in drug use among young people.

PRESIDENT CLINTON: .... But this is a very complicated thing. It's obviously going on in other countries, and it's obviously started - all the experts say it began in 1990 with the change in attitudes about how dangerous these drugs are. We've done the things - it is true that we cut back the drug office in the White House but I don't think anybody believes that 100 people in a Washington bureaucracy controls what happens in drug use. We have been more aggressive at interdiction than previous administrations. We have tried to support - we have in fact supported - more school-based programs like the DARE program for law enforcement officials. I have tried to be as active as I could in lifting up these programs that work at the community level in helping people, but whatever we've done is not worked and we all need to face that. [!]

But I don't know that placing political blame helps us very much. If anybody's got a better idea, I'd be happy to look at it. [!] So we have got to do something to turn it around. But it's clear, if you just talk to young people, it's clear there has been in the last five years or so a real change in attitudes among core of young people about whether it's dangerous or not, and that seems to be right at the root of what the problem is. . . .

Boxer Urges CIA-Drugs Probe

Follow-up: Charges of involvement are 'without merit' agency representative says

San Jose Mercury News Staff Writers

U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer asked the director of the Central Intelligence Agency on Wednesday to investigate the CIA's apparent role in the sale of cocaine in California by members of a CIA-run guerrilla organization.

Citing a recent Mercury News investigation into the origins of the crack cocaine epidemic in black America, Boxer told CIA Director John Deutch that "even the notion that the U.S. government was involved in trafficking is sickening."

Mark Mansfield, a spokesman for the CIA, said Deutch was out of town and "has not yet received a letter from Sen. Boxer on this matter. He will, of course, respond after he's had an opportunity to review it."

Mansfield said the CIA was not currently looking into the situation because "charges of CIA involvement in such an operation are simply without merit. The CIA neither engages in nor condones narcotics trafficking."

The Mercury News' three-part series, which ran last week, showed how cocaine dealers working for the CIA's Nicaraguan Democratic Force (FDN) helped spawn a crack cocaine epidemic by selling massive amounts of cut-rate coke to the gangs of South Central Los Angeles throughout much of the 1980s.

The head of the drug ring's Southern California operation, a former Nicaraguan government official named Danilo Blandon, has admitted in federal court testimony that he and other exiles began selling drugs in black L.A. neighborhoods in 1982 to help finance the CIA's army, known in the U.S. as the Contras. Blandon testified that once U.S. taxpayer dollars began flowing to his organization, he stayed in the cocaine business to make money for himself.

DEA records show he was dealing an average of 100 kilos a week to the Crips and Bloods in L.A. during the 1980s, an activity that helped spark the crack epidemic in Los Angeles and, eventually, across the nation. He sold them cocaine until his arrest in 1992, court records show.

Blandon testified that before the Contra drug operation began, he and the head of the drug ring - Nicaraguan smuggler Norwin Meneses - met with Col. Enrique Bermudez, a longtime CIA employee and the military head of the FDN, who was murdered in Nicaragua in 1991. Meneses also confirmed that meeting in an interview.

At the time Blandon made those revelations, he was a highly trusted operative for the Drug Enforcement Administration, which got him out of jail in 1992, gave him a green card and put him on the drug agency's payroll. The Justice Department has paid him more than $166,000 since 1994, court records show.

Referring to past reports of Contra involvement in cocaine trafficking during the 1980s, Boxer told Deutch that "for over a decade, rumors of a Contra-CIA connection have persisted. I believe that these questions can be put to rest only by a candid and thorough investigation of the facts. I urge you to conduct such an investigation and make your findings public."

The CIA refused to release any documents regarding the FDN's cocaine dealers to the Mercury News, citing national security concerns. The DEA refused on the grounds that it would be an unwarranted invasion of the traffickers' privacy.

It is the second time in recent weeks that the CIA has been asked to look into apparent involvement by CIA operatives in drug smuggling and gun running.

The CIA's Inspector General announced on Aug. 6 that it would conduct an internal inquiry into an air base in Mena, Arkansas that was reportedly used in the mid-1980s to fly guns to the Contras, and drugs into Louisiana. The base, according to former National Security Council staffer Roger Morris, was run by a CIA and DEA informant named Barry Seal, who was murdered by Colombian gunmen in Baton Rouge in 1986.

Morris, who wrote a book on the topic recently, said in an interview that the CIA opened up a weapons-making facility near Mena, which provided guns to the Nicaraguan anti-Communists. The Inspector General's inquiry into Mena was requested by Rep Jim Leach, R-Iowa.

Boxer, in an interview, defended her decision to ask the CIA to investigate itself, saying that CIA director Deutch had promised to "change the culture" of the spy agency when Clinton appointed him in 1995.

"If they (the CIA) don't want to do it, there's always the possibility that the Congress will," Boxer said. But she said she was convinced Deutch shared her opinion that it was time to "clear the decks" at the CIA.

"No one has ever really evaluated the role of the CIA in the post-Cold War period," Boxer said, noting that the Mercury News' investigation provided "a good place to start. I want to get to the bottom of this."

Joe Hicks, head of the Multicultural Collaborative in Los Angeles, said "the real question is who's going to own up to his and...(will) the government admit to having a role in starting what has been this horrific scourge in the inner city?"

Hicks, an African American, said some politicians "have been pointing a finger at inner city communities, saying, "We can't help these people because it's just the way these people are.' But if you inject the kinds of guns, drugs and apparatus to support trafficking in any community, it would have the same effects we're seeing now, irrespective of skin color."

This isn't Boxer's first involvement in the issue of the Contras and cocaine. In 1986, she asked for a Congressional investigation of a San Francisco drug bust that eventually became known as "The Frogman Case." Stories in the San Francisco Examiner at the time revealed direct links between some of the drug smugglers arrested and the Nicaraguan Contras, but then-U.S. Attorney Joseph Russoniello blasted those stories as "shameful" and predicted that Boxer and others would one day apologize for questioning his handling of the case "when they have all the facts."

Records show Russoniello returned $36,000 seized from one of the traffickers in the Frogman Case after Contra leaders wrote the court and declared that the money was "for the restoration of democracy in Nicaragua." (The case got its unusual name from the fact that the police arrested frogmen swimming ashore at Pier 96 near Hunters Point in 1981 carrying 440 pounds of cocaine, the largest cocaine bust in California history at the time.)

The investigation Boxer requested was assigned to the House Judiciary Committee, where it died an unheralded death.

Former Judiciary Committee counsel Eric Sterling, who conducted the short-lived probe, said "there was just a tremendous holdup" in getting travel funds authorized for the investigation.

"The second part was, we were not trained investigators. I'm a Congressional staff counsel. I don't know anything about field investigation. And we tried to get some people to do it and just had a difficult time doing it," said Sterling, who now works in Washington on drug issues.

In Nicaragua, meanwhile, the Mercury's series has sparked a controversy involving allegations of press censorship.

La Prensa, which is Managua's largest daily, began reprinting the series last week, but ran a heavily censored version and quit running it after one day.

Commander Eduardo Cuadra, head of the Criminal Investigations Department of the National Police, admitted that he had urged the paper's editor, Pedro Xavier Solis, to stop publishing Blandon's name in the series, saying the former trafficker "is instrumental in an ongoing joint operation with the DEA."

Solis justified his action by claiming not to have seen the documents supporting the Mercury News' series, which are available on the Internet and are being widely read by Nicaraguan reporters. La Prensa began running the series again on Wednesday, minus Blandon's name.

Nicaragua's National Comptroller, Agustin Jarquin, expressed "great concern" about the stories and asked for a joint investigation by all of the nation's investigative agencies into the Nicaraguan role in the drug ring.

Jury Power (From 'Smoke And Mirrors')

From "Smoke and Mirrors: The War on Drugs and the Politics of Failure," by Dan Baum (Little, Brown and Co., 1996), pp. 324-325.
Reggie Walton: D.C. criminal courts judge appointed deputy director of state and local drug policy at William Bennett's Office of National Drug Control Policy:
For Reggie Walton, it was wonderful getting back to the real world of D.C. criminal court in December 1991. But in the two years he'd been gone, juries had begun acting strangely. He noticed it one afternoon when, after a case he thought clearly proved the guilt of a young crack dealer, the jury returned a verdict of not guilty. Then it happenend again. And again. Typical cases, which in the old days would have resulted in a quick guilty verdict, were tumbling to aquittal. Or juries would end up deadlocked because a single juror refused to convict. After observing this for a few months, Walton finally asked a jury foreman, an imposing black woman, about their verdict to acquit.

"We decided we aren't sending any more young black men to prison," she said.

The next time it happened, he asked the foreman again. Same anwer. "No more black men to prison." A believer in the War on Drugs, Walton [ed: a black man] was frightened for the first time. If the people lose their faith in their justice system, what then?

It was a good time to ask. On March 3, 1993, George Holliday pointed a video camera out his window and recorded Los Angeles Police officers beating Rodney King.

Jamaica May Cultivate Hemp For Industry

KINGSTON (Reuters, Aug. 29, 1996): Jamaica, the biggest producer of marijuana in the Caribbean, is preparing to cultivate industrial hemp on an experimental basis, the ministry of agriculture announced on Tuesday.

It said the hemp would not contain the psychoactive chemical found in marijuana and measures would be put in place to ensure the experimental hemp farm is not "tampered with."

The hemp would be used to produce soaps, textiles, animal feed, cosmetics and paper products. Ministry agronomist Renford Baker said hemp could be grown on all soil types, required little tending and would be suitable for Jamaica's steep hillsides, where it could lessen soil erosion.

The project needs the approval of the cabinet and national security ministry to proceed, officials said.

Mexico Close To Stamping Out Marijuana

MEXICO CITY (Reuter, Tuesday August 27, 1996) - Mexico is close to stamping out marijuana and opium poppy crops but faces a tougher battle eradicating police corruption, its top prosecutor said Tuesday.

Attorney General Antonio Lozano Gracia said the army could be rid of nearly all the marijuana and opium poppy plantations by next year. Opium poppies are used to make heroin.

But he told a group of international journalists it could take as long as 15 years to clean up Mexico's corrupt main police force. "With regard to this problem of the Judicial Police ... it seems to me it is a problem that could be solved in 15 years, it can't be solved in four more years," he said.

"We have to work on it every single day, and honestly, we have to change a culture, which I think is the biggest challenge a human being can set himself."

Lozano, whose term runs until 2000, announced last week that he was firing 737 members of the 4,000-strong Federal Judicial Police, the country's most powerful police force and the one most widely accused of drug-related corruption, human rights abuses and common crime.

The announcement caused alarm among Mexicans who feared that crime would suddenly jump with so many corrupt policemen on the streets and out of work. Lozano acknowledged those fears but said: "These gentlemen were already on the streets; they still are but at least they don't have their badges."

Lozano, a member of the conservative National Action Party (PAN), is the only opposition politician in the cabinet of President Ernesto Zedillo, whose Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) has ruled Mexico since 1929.

Lozano said 1996 would be a record year for destruction of marijuana and poppy plantations in Mexico, thanks to a developing relationship "of trust and unconditional support" between the Attorney General's Office and the army.

"Supposedly in Mexico something like 55,000 hectares (136,000 acres) are sown (with illegal drugs). In 1994 we eradicated 27,000 hectares (66,700 acres), in 1995 36,000 hectares (89,000 acres), this year we will pass 40,000 hectares (99,000 acres), which puts us in a position that next year we can think of almost 50,000 hectares (124,000 acres)."

"We are talking about the possibility, practically, of eradicating 100 percent," he said.

He said the Attorney General's Office had transferred 18 helicopters to the army to help it spot illegal plantations, of which 60 percent are marijuana and 40 percent opium poppies. Mexico does not produce cocaine, although it is a major transshipment point to the United States.

Despite the best relationship with the military in many years, Lozano said: "I have not received any pressure, from the U.S. government or anyone, to militarize the fight against drug-trafficking."

Lozano took issue with the often-quoted figure that 70 percent of the cocaine entering the United States passes through Mexico - a figure routinely given out by U.S. officials. "I don't agree with that figure ... we don't know what the figure is," he said.

He said Mexican and U.S. officials were working on a joint analysis of drug-trafficking problems that would help produce a figure he would consider more reliable.

Libertarian Candidate Harry Browne Opposes War On Drugs

2600 Virginia Avenue, NW, Suite 100
Washington DC 20037
For additional information:
Bill Winter, Director of Communications
Phone: (202) 333-0008 Ext. 226

Dole's militarized War on Drugs would create "more suffering, more crime," says Browne

WASHINGTON, DC - Bob Dole's proposal to use U.S. military forces to escalate the War on Drugs creates the frightening specter of a militarized America, soaring crime, and a ravaged Bill of Rights, warned Libertarian presidential candidate Harry Browne today.

"Dole wants to turn a rhetorical War on Drugs into a real war - complete with troops massed along our borders, CIA surveillance, and rapid response military units. But all freedom-loving Americans should reject this vision of a nation at war with its own citizens," said Browne.

Over the weekend, Republican nominee Dole called drugs "the moral equivalent of terrorism," and promised to use the U.S. military, the National Guard, and the Central Intelligence Agency for drug interdiction efforts. He also proposed setting up "rapid response" military units and stationing troops along the Mexican border.

"Like many other Republican politicians, Dole loves the insane War on Drugs," said Browne. "It allows him to pretend to be tough on crime; it allows him to demand more police, more prosecutions, more laws, more government power, and more prisons. And it leaves American citizens with fewer individual freedoms and a ravaged Bill of Rights."

The fundamental problem, said Browne, is that Dole is unwilling to admit that government doesn't work, and that the War on Drugs hasn't worked.

"Before there were drug laws, there was no drug problem as we know it today," said Browne. "There were no muggers on the streets, trying to support $100-a-day habits; no pushers in high schools, trying to hook kids on drugs; no gangs fighting over drug profits; no drive-by shootings killing innocent children; no crack babies; no epidemic of overdoses. All these things began in the 1960s with the insane War on Drugs. And expanding the war on drugs will only create more suffering, more crime, and more innocent victims."

Further, Browne noted, the federal government will spend $14 billion in 1996 to "control drugs" - and has spent more than $250 billion over the past 15 years on the War on Drugs. Despite this, more than 1.3 million Americans are arrested every year for drug offenses, and cocaine and heroin are more affordable than ever, acknowledged a 1995 White House report.

"Government can't keep drugs out of the country; it can't even keep drugs out of its own prisons," said Browne. "Militarizing the War on Drugs won't solve the problem - the only realistic solution is to end the war. Ending the insane War on Drugs will take the criminal profit out of the illicit drug trade and bring peace to our cities once again."

Browne said he expects Republican and Democratic politicians to attempt to portray his call to end the War on Drugs as "extremist."

"But the real extremists are the ones who continue to let children die in drive-by shootings rather than give up their love affair with the War on Drugs," he said.

Harry Browne for President
fax: 202-333-0072
2600 Virginia Ave. NW, Suite 100,
Washington DC 20037
voice: 202-333-0008

'What Price Corruption'

by David Enscoe of UPI

PHILADELPHIA (UPI, Aug. 27, 1996) - A massive police corruption scandal in Philadelphia has resulted in the dismissal of more than 100 drug convictions and forced the city to pay millions of dollars to settle civil lawsuits, but some are saying not all of those convicted should go free.

With as many as 2,000 more cases tainted by six admittedly crooked police officers between 1987 and 1992, the city faces prospects of more costly lawsuits as convictions are overturned.

A lawyer for the victims of the police frameups said whatever the city pays won't make up for the time innocent people spent behind bars.

"All the innocent people who went to prison can't put their lives back the way they were," said Philadelphia Public Defender Bradley Bridge. "We have a giant fiscal and moral responsibility to correct that abuse."

But district attorneys and Mayor Ed Rendell, while conceding there are wrongs to be righted, hope to minimize the damage and are scrambling to find independent evidence to make as many of those convictions as possible stand.

Rendell, himself a former Philadelphia district attorney, said his major concern was that guilty people may be going free.

Commenting on the recent dismissal of 60 convictions, Rendell said, "If, in this group of 60 there are four major drug dealers, or eight, that's four or eight drug dealers who should be behind bars and that's wrong."

Bridge acknowledged that some of those convicted on the testimony of the corrupt officers might be guilty. But he said that's a price the city must pay.

"It's troubling that people who may be guilty will have their cases dismissed," Bridge said. "But these officers have corrupted the process to the point where they have no credibility."

"How does (Rendell) know that these people committed other crimes?" he said. "All we know is that these cops are liars, they planted drug evidence, they perjured themselves in court."

Bridge said the district attorney's office has not opposed dismissing the cases against some, but not all of the people busted by the corrupt officers.

"They have agreed that the officers were liars, but they've drawn a line in cases where there was corroborative evidence. They will not agree to dismiss the case," Bridge said. "We're getting to the stage where we might have to litigate some of these cases in front of a judge. "

William Davol, a spokesman for the district attorney's office, conceded that in cases where the only evidence was provided by a corrupt police officer, prosecutors can not oppose the dismissal of convictions.

"You don't use bad cops to get bad guys," Davol said, adding that the police scandal "has totally thrown the system for a loop."

Six former officers have pleaded guilty to fabricating evidence and stealing from drug suspects.

Louis Maier, 38, a 13-year veteran of the force, admitted in federal court that he conducted illegal searches, stole money from suspects, and planted evidence in order to win convictions.

Authorities said as many as 15 more officers may be implicated in the scandal by the time the investigation is completed.

The six officers, all of whom worked in the 39th District, have been sentenced to lengthy prison terms.

Common Pleas Judge Legrome Davis has dismissed the convictions of 137 people in recent months. Among them was the case of Betty Patterson, 53, a grandmother who served three years in prison on a trumped up drug conviction.

One of the corrupt officers, John Baird, admitted planting drugs in Patterson's home. Earlier this month, the city agreed to pay Patterson more than $2 million to settle a civil suit.

Bridge said the real tragedy is that the scandal could have been avoided if the district attorney's office had acted sooner.

"It's unfortunate that the D.A.'s office is acting after the fact." he said. "We gave information to the D.A. in 1989 concerning these police officers. If they had followed through back then the problem would have been avoided."

Marijuana 'Kingpen' On Death Row?

William Hathaway writes (on Aug. 29, 1996):

Who all saw last Sunday's 60 Minutes? A man is on Death Row under the "Kingpin" law. He did not kill anyone. And neither did any of the 'drugs' he grew. The man who did kill claims he testified, under severe pressure from the prosecuters who wanted blood, that he was offered $500 (never received) to kill a guy he'd been trying to kill for a long time for personal reasons (he'd molested the killer's mother and raped his sister). Since the condemned man had been picked up on a cannabis charge and knew the killer, the inquisition nailed him on the "Kingpin" thing. With no mention (at least in the TV show) of any connection whatsoever between the killing and the dealing. The killer, of course, did not receive a capital sentence. It is doubly strange in that the men are white. That sort of stuff is usually reserved for the less-than-white.

Anyone with better info? Any hope people will notice how rotten the war has become? About as much as bringing an innocent man back to life?

'Marijuana Smoking Makes Its Way Back To Campaign'

by Ian Shoales, as syndicated in the Daily Register

President Clinton takes a lot of heat for allegedly having only a nodding acquaintance with the truth. But when he claimed that he smoked marijuana in college, but didn't inhale, I believed him. He's way too detail-oriented to be even a reformed pothead. He has an attention span of iron. His idea of a good time is reading a nice big stack of position papers. He actually enjoys attending meetings. Those who think he's some kind of decadent socialist must be on something themselves. The dude's a cube, man. He's practically a Republican.

But marijuana seems to be making a comeback as an issue in the '96 campaign. On the national level, there was Clinton's press secretary, Michael McCurry, admitting: "I was a kid in the 1970s. Did I smoke a joint from time to time? Of course I did." Republican Susan Molinari (apparently known as "Mustang Sally" back in her college days) confessed: "Yes, close to 20 years ago, I did experiment with marijuana less than a handful of times. Looking back on it, it was the wrong thing to do."

Meanwhile, here in San Francisco, the state attorney general's office closed down the Cannabis Buyers' Club, an organization dedicated to selling marijuana to ill persons with chronic pain. This earned the attorney general points as a tough can-do soldier in the war on drugs. (It didn't make him very popular in San Francisco, of course, but nobody there voted for him anyway, especially not AIDS-sufferers with a ganja jones.)

But then that's San Francisco.

The rest of the country thinks we all just sit around all day smoking spliffs and sipping decaf lattes while entering multicultural manifestoes in our journals. That's when we're not recruiting young persons into our aberrant lifestyle.

But every day, I hear more and more people calling talk radio - archconservatives! - suggesting that marijuana be legalized, or at least decriminalized. Many hemp enthusiasts claim not even to be interested in its mind altering qualities, but in its usefulness as a miracle fiber. (Yeah, right.)

Still, some things puzzle me. Newt Gingrich, Al Gore and Sen. Connie Mack, among others, have all admitted to "experimenting" with marijuana in their youth. They turned out all right, didn't they? Most sentient beings, it's been shown, stop putting Kool Aid in the water pipe sometime around the age of 25. So what's the problem? Why do politicians get so tweaked?

Among politicos, the cycle of drug use seems to be this" youthful "experimentation," which fluctuates between three and five occasions, no more than a "handful"; entrance into politics' and after 20 years, regret.

Why regret? I've smoked more than a handful of joints myself; looking back on the experience, I can't say I regret it exactly. I might even puff on one again if someone handed it to me. I could jabber about nothing, giggle at the dog, consume chips like there was no tomorrow. I could feel like a kid again.

And what's with this "experimentation" business? What does that mean? Take a bag of Jamaican and a bag of Thai and drop them off a building to see which on hits the ground first?

The White House is in hot water these days. This time, the executive branch is accused of having 21 employees, give or take a few, who used cocaine and hallucinogens not long before they started working at the White House.

Naturally, some take this to mean that the Clinton crowd are even now dropping Sunshine, snorting nose candy, and giggling at FBI profiles right there in the basement next to Fawn Hall's rusting paper shredder.

That's understandable. But if it's true, I'm sure they regret it, even if it was just an experiment. They're scientists - regretful scientists - just like every other politician.

Ian Shoales edits the newsletter Duck's Breath. The Newspaper Enterprise Association column occasionally runs in The Daily Ledger.

'DARE, Not'

Nicholas Merrill writes:
[The ensuing article comes] From the September 1996 Internet World - page 32 or 33 (don't have the mag in front of me) The reference to "Middleberg & Associates" is in reference to an earlier blurb from the column about a PR firm who can be hired to "protect clients from attacks on the Internet". You can read more about it online at - just search for
By Eric Berlin and Andrew Kantor

If you want to see the latest twist on the "we got the domain name first" game, check out You might expect it to be the home page for D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education), a police-led program that purports to help keep kids off drugs.

It isn't. In fact, it's some anti-D.A.R.E. people who own Their case: That the program isn't based on education but on "scare tactics," "peer pressure," and "social stigmas."

On the site you'll find a lot of information that may make you think twice about supporting D.A.R.E. For instance, D.A.R.E. officers only receive one week of drug education. Or that D.A.R.E. founder and former L.A. police chief Daryl Gates once called for casual drug users to be "shot as traitors."

Nick Merrill, who runs the site, says he hasn't heard much from D.A.R.E. yet - just one call when he first registered the domain name asking him if he was planning to use it was the most official communication yet. He hasn't received any threats of legal action yet either, likely, he says, because there's nothing offensive on the site (although the quote from Hitler - no matter how appropriate - may raise some eyebrows). But he has already "enlisted the services of more than one lawyer" just in case.

D.A.R.E. hasn't taken too kindly to parodies - the organization sued someone for selling shirts with a D.A.R.E. logo that read "I turned in my parents and all I got was this lousy T-shirt" - so what it'll think of the site remains to be seen. Perhaps it's a job for Middleberg & Associates.



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