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September 12, 1996

Califano Attacks Attitudes Of Baby-Boomer Parents Regarding Adolescent Marijuana Use

September 9, 1996, New York, NY: The fact that a growing number of today's teens are experimenting with marijuana is not seen as a "crisis" by many baby-boomer parents who tried marijuana during their youth, reported a recent study released by the National Center on Substance Abuse and Addiction at Columbia University (CASA).

In addition, approximately half of the parents surveyed admitted to having tried marijuana in their youth and 46 percent said they expected their teen to try illegal drugs.

"What is infuriating ... is the resignation of so many parents," said CASA head Joseph Califano. "That is not a climate that is sending a clear and loud message to a kid: Don't use drugs."

Specifically, Califano was alarmed at the attitudes of parents who had formerly used marijuana. According to the study, 65 percent of parents who had tried marijuana believe their own children will use drugs. Also, 42 percent of those parents did not perceive use of marijuana by an adolescent under 16 years of age as a "crisis."

Califano argued that many parents need to be aware that the marijuana used by individuals today is far stronger than the marijuana of yesteryear. This claim has been refuted by NORML repeatedly.

"There exists absolutely no evidence that marijuana THC content has increased significantly over the past two decades," responded NORML Deputy Director Allen St. Pierre. "This fact is acknowledged by both the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and is confirmed by the scientific data from the Potency Monitoring Project in Mississippi."

The study also indicated that many adolescents have easier access to marijuana than they do other regulated intoxicants like cigarettes and alcohol. Califano did not believe that this finding supported a need to regulate marijuana.

"Legalization of marijuana would be a disaster," he responded on a National Public Radio broadcast. Califano did not elaborate further.

"The fact that children currently have easier access to marijuana than they do cigarettes or alcohol speaks volumes of the need to legalize and regulate marijuana, if only to more effectively keep it out of the hands of children," said St. Pierre.

The "CASA National Survey of American attitudes on Substance Abuse II: Teens and Parents" was conducted during July and August by telephone of 1,200 adolescents age 12 through 17 and 1,166 parents, all with children of the same age group.

For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre of NORML at (202) 483-5500. For further information on marijuana THC content over the last three decades, please request a copy of NORML's special report: "American Marijuana Potency: Data Versus Conventional Wisdom" by Dr. John P. Morgan. [Or go to "Exposing Marijuana Myths," posted at, particularly Claim No. 2, "Marijuana Potency Has Increased Substantially" - PDX NORML]

Libertarian Presidential Candidate Attacks Dole Proposals To Increase Drug War

September 1996, Washington, D.C.: Libertarian Presidential candidate Harry Browne has sharply criticized proposals by Republican Presidential candidate Bob Dole to greatly expand the role of the U.S. military, National Guard, and Central Intelligence Agency in the fight against illicit drugs. Browne maintains that increasing the "War on Drugs" will only create more suffering, more crime, and more victims.

"Like many other Republican politicians, Dole loves the insane 'War on Drugs,'" said Browne. "But all freedom-loving Americans should reject this vision of a nation at war with its own citizens.

"... Government can't keep drugs out of the country, it can't even keep drugs out of its own prisons. 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."

For more information, please contact Bill Winter of the Libertarian Party at (202) 333-0008 Ext. 226. For further information on the Harry Browne presidential campaign, please contact the Harry Browne for President Web site at

Virginia County To Force Convicted Drug Offenders To Name Their Suppliers

September 5, 1996, Richmond, VA: People convicted on drug offenses, including misdemeanors, in Henrico County will be called before a grand jury and ordered to reveal the identity of those who sold them the drugs. Those who refuse to cooperate face a contempt of court charge and jail time.

"If you get caught with a little bit of marijuana, you're telling us where you got it," said county prosecutor Toby Vick, who helped devise the new policy. However, reaction to the measure remains mixed.

"It makes great ink, and it makes great film at 11, but in reality I question the effectiveness of such a program," said defense attorney David Boone. Boone argued that most individuals convicted on drug possession charges have little first-hand knowledge of those who sell them the drugs. "Small time drug dealers are nameless strangers to the people with whom they trade," he said.

Kent Willis, director of Virginia's American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), noted that Vick and the police have the legal authority to carry out their plan, but did not believe it would be effective.

Anti-Drug Group Returns Donation After NORML Chapter Files Complaint
Alleging Campaign Finance Violations

September 11, 1996, Traverse City, MI: A local anti-drug group who actively opposed a city ballot initiative to decriminalize marijuana possession has returned a $1,000 check from the city's narcotics agency over concerns the donation may have violated state campaign finance laws.

Traverse City NORML President Bill Bustance, who was behind the narrowly-defeated initiative, recently filed a complaint with the Secretary of State alleging that taxpayer dollars were used to influence a political campaign. According to Michigan law, an organization that knowingly violates campaign finance rules could be fined $20,000.

"I was wondering who was going to step up to the plate," said Bustance, who is seeking 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."

The Traverse City Narcotics Team alleges that the funds donated to the anti-drug group, Grand Traverse Families in Action, were obtained under drug forfeiture laws and were not taxpayer dollars.

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

Case Of Medical Marijuana Activist To Be Heard September 30

September 12, 1996, St. Paul, MN: Longtime medical marijuana user and activist Darrel Paulsen is scheduled to be in court on September 30 to face charges of felony marijuana possession in the fifth degree.

An outspoken advocate for medical marijuana, Paulsen has acknowledged to using marijuana as a means to control his cerebral palsy. He has been featured on local news telecasts, spoken at national gatherings, run for city council, and was one of several patients spotlighted at NORML's 1994 Medical Marijuana Day rally and press conference.

Paulsen has publicly said that he uses marijuana daily for medical purposes. Approximately two ounces of marijuana were confiscated from his home during a police raid nearly one year ago.

If any activists would like to contribute to a fund established to help offset Paulsen's legal fees, he or she can write to the following address: Paulsen & Company, Attention: Medical Defense Fund, P.O. Box 2865, St. Paul, MN, 55102.



Regional and other news

Body Count

Eleven of the 15 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, distributed in the central metropolitan area (Sept. 12, 1996, p. 8, 3M-MP-SE). [The count would be 12 out of 15 except one person was sentenced to 90 days in jail, two years' probation and a $94 fine for "supplying contraband." That probably means "illegal drugs," but maybe not. We're not going to pay the county 25 cents a page to find out. As noted here previously, all one can be sure of is that the official tallies of people incarcerated for drug offenses are a whitewash.] That makes the body count so far this year at least 266 out of 483, or 55.07 percent.

The Nation's Correctional Population Reaches 5.4 Million

As noted previously in the Aug. 22 Portland NORML Weekly News Release, the United States' "Prison Population Climb[ed] To 1.6 Million Nationwide" in 1995, up 100 percent in the past decade. Also noted Aug. 22 was the omission from this year's Justice Department press release of the number of people serving parole or probation in 1995. The latest government press releases with those numbers have now been located, and it turns out America's total correctional population reached about 5.4 million in 1995 compared to 5.1 million the year before, including "almost 3.8 million adult men and women on probation or parole at the end of 1995, an increase of about 119,000 during the year." ("Probation and Parole Population Reaches Almost 3.8 Million," June 30, 1996, posted at gopher:// The Justice Department's Aug. 18, 1996 press release headed "Almost 1.6 milllion men and women in the Nation's Prisons and Jails ," is posted at gopher://

The Justice Department press release for 1994, headed "The Nation's Correctional Population Tops 5 Million," dated Aug. 27, 1995 and posted at, states there were "More than 5.1 million Americans - or almost 2.7 percent of the adult population ... under some form of correctional supervision" in 1994, including 2,962,000 adults on probation and 690,000 adults on parole. While last year's Justice Department press release did not state the actual number of people incarcerated in 1994, the number can be deduced easily enough, starting with the Department of Justice's statement that "Almost three-quarters of these [5.1 million] men and women were being supervised in the community on probation or parole. The others were confined in jail or prison." If one starts with 5.1 million and subtracts 2,962,000 probationers [= 2,138,000] and then 690,000 parolees [= 1,448,000], the resulting number of prisoners is consistent with the statement that "almost three-quarters ... were ... on probation or parole" [4 x 1,448,000 = 5,792,000].

Currently, about 70 percent of all federal prisoners are drug offenders - almost 20 percent of them marijuana POWs. If Multnomah County court records for 1996 are indicative (see "Body Count," above), more than 55 percent of all felons sentenced locally to county jails or state prisons are also drug offenders, though the county doesn't separate the marijuana tally.

Illegal Drug Users - Helping Make America Strong

US flag Prohibitionists are fond of citing bogus statistics purporting to show that cannabis consumers and other illegal-drug users are, on the whole, a drag on business productivity. In fact, however, there is little credible evidence on the subject, and what good evidence there is suggests that the only drug whose use significantly correlates with lower productivity and higher workplace accidents is alcohol, and even then only among heavy drinkers. *

As documented below, the 1995 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse and the August 1996 statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor state that 71 percent of cannabis consumers and other illegal drug users are gainfully employed, compared to just 63.3 percent of the general population. So let the prohibitionists explain, in view of the government's own figures, just how locking up illegal-drug users is going to improve the productivity of Americans (who are already the most productive workers in the world - as well as the biggest illicit-drug consumers).

As noted in the "Science & the Citizen" column in the March 1990 Scientific American, the myth that illegal-drug users impair overall business productivity was first put forth by President Bush and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as recently as 1989 ("Test Negative -- A look at the 'evidence' justifying illicit-drug tests," pp. 18 & 22, posted at However, when Scientific American examined the evidence cited by Bush and the Chamber of Commerce, it showed that workers who tested positive only for marijuana: 1) cost less in health insurance benefits; 2) had a higher than average rate of promotion; 3) exhibited less absenteeism; and 4) were fired for cause less often than workers who did not test positive. The article specifically states:

Yet according to [White House drug-policy official Henrick J.] Harwood, there was no significant difference between the income of households with current users of any illegal drug - including marijuana, cocaine and heroin - and the income of otherwise similar households. Does this mean that current use of even hard drugs - as opposed to perhaps a single marijuana binge in the distant past - does not lead to any "loss"? "You would be on safe ground saying that," Harwood replies.
It should be noted that the 1995 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse also states (with some duplicity):
Current employment status is also highly correlated with rates of illicit drug use, as 14.3 percent of unemployed adults (age 18 and older) were current illicit drug users in 1995, compared with 5.5 percent of full-time employed adults. The rate for full-time employed adults decreased significantly between 1994 (6.7 percent) and 1995 (5.5 percent) - "Any Illicit Drug Use," posted at
How can illegal-drug users both work more and work less? Well, why shouldn't they? The simplest way to represent workers' productivity graphically would be with a bell curve. Factoring in workers' use of alcohol and other drugs would somewhat flatten the top of the curve, but increase both the proportion of workers at each extreme who show the greatest productivity and the least productivity. The same pattern would hold with any survey of people who take any drug, be it alcohol, heroin or caffeine. Among people who regularly consume drugs for nonmedical purposes, some will "perform" normally, some will perform better and some will be adversely affected.

It seems probable, however, that the number of alcohol consumers whose unemployment is attributable to alcoholism is much greater than the rate of cannabis consumers whose unemployment is attributable to their cannabis use, particularly when one excludes such unemployment initiated by urine tests rather than poor performance.

A better way of representing workers' productivity would probably be to dispense with the bell curve and show the historical change in alcohol consumption patterns in the United States, beginning with a nationwide decline in alcohol use that started in the late 1960s, a generation after Prohibition was repealed. Probably most people who use cannabis or other illegal drugs would, 35 years ago, have used alcohol instead - probably causing greater overall harm to themselves and society than nonmedical drug users cause today. If one tallied the proportion of the population that currently uses alcohol or other substances for nonmedical purposes, there would probably not be much change from 1967, except alcohol consumers made up a much larger proportion of nonmedical drug users. The real question perhaps is to what extent the historical decline in alcohol use and rise in cannabis use have coincided with an overall increase in personal productivity - and how significant the productivity rate is compared to other, macroeconomic factors, such as the increase in government debt for counterproductive ends, or the long-term decline in the strength of the dollar, or the long-term increase in the trade deficit.

Workers can't do much about macroeconomic policies, but politicians can. As such, politicians' counterproductive attempt to dictate workers' preferences in nonmedical drug use can be seen as little more than scapegoating, or just another example of how the failed American political process is the biggest obstacle to improvng America's productivity and economic security.

[3/10/99 postscript: Some significant information that may go a long way toward explaining why cannabis consumers show relatively greater productivity reached the editor some time after his bust for cultivating medical marijuana in late 1996. One unexpected consequence of his having to publicly reveal his lifetime struggle with depression and his use of cannabis to regulate his mood and avoid suicidal ideation was that he received some helpful ad hoc counseling from Lynnette Shaw, a fellow depressive and head of the Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana, in Fairfax, California. Among many other things, Shaw pointed out that people who suffer from depression and other mood disorders include a disproportionately large number of people with extremely high IQs. A relatively large proportion of such people also supposedly performs successfully in college or while obtaining other advanced education. Generally, that is considered the best indicator of future productivity.

Now, the editor finds that reading about depression only exacerbates his, so he would appreciate it if someone else would forward him references from the scientific literature confirming or contradicting the above. Until then, call what ensues a theory.

The editor has previously theorized that most people who use cannabis on a daily basis do so not for intoxication, but for medical purposes, primarily to cope with mild to severe mental disorders. After all, such frequent marijuana use leads to tolerance, in particular, diminished intoxication and impairment, or none at all. If the editor is correct in theorizing that people in the United States who suffer from mood disorders are especially likely to use cannabis to alleviate their symptoms, it might provide an unexpected explanation for the demonstrated superior productivity of cannabis consumers as a group.

It would also explain why America's policy of inflicting unemployment, homelessness, and other harm on cannabis consumers not only pointlessly excerbates the damage to everyone, but also conflicts with the universal principle that persecuting sick people constitutes a cruel violation of human rights. It will depend on a future generation of objective social scientists to discover the extent to which the editor's theory may - or may not - be behind the 20 percent productivity advantage enjoyed by companies who eschew drug testing (see postscript below).]

Another thing to think about - if 63.3 percent of the population is employed and about 5 percent unemployed, then about 68.3 percent of the labor force is legitimate and up to 31.7 percent is underground. It seems probable that people in the underground economy use illegal drugs at higher-than-average rates, and yet are much less likely to risk reporting their use to government survey-takers.

The fact that illegal-drug use also correlates with higher unemployment provides no support to the prohibitionists' disemployment agenda - it only shows the connection between illicit-drug use and gainful employment constitutes an illusory correlation. That is, one cannot reasonably infer that illicit-drug use either harms or enhances productivity in general. However, there are obviously a lot more people from whom one could infer illegal-drug use enhances productivity than otherwise - and the evidence suggests an employer would have a better chance of success statistically by hiring a pot smoker, everything else being equal. One could also reasonably infer there is more evidence that illegal-drug users help make America strong as opposed to the opposite. But it would be just as foolish to encourage someone to use illegal drugs to improve his or her work performance as it is for employers to fire or not hire illegal-drug users. That is a policy that throws out the baby with the bathwater, and on the whole causes more harm than good to the prosperity of America and Americans. The purpose here is not to encourage use of marijuana or any other supposedly controlled substance. The purpose is to teach people to think and to debunk the false and harmful propaganda dished out by media and governments to the people they supposedly serve. Right behavior was never furthered by falsehoods.

A surprising and excellent explanation of why statistical studies involving illegal-drug users are inherently biased, misleading and easy to manipulate can be found in Andrew Weil's book, "The Natural Mind," particularly the first chapter, "What This Book Is About," posted in Portland NORML's Web pages at (Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, 1972).

Other Documentation:

According to the new 1995 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, "Seventy-one percent of all current illicit drug users age 18 and older (7.4 million adults) were employed, including 5.4 million full-time workers and 1.9 million part-time workers." ("Any Illicit Drug Use," posted at

Meanwhile, over in the U.S. Labor Department's Web pages, the latest employment statistics for August 1996, just posted on Sept. 6 at, state that "Total employment was about unchanged in August at 127.1 million. At 63.3 percent, the proportion of the population 16 years and over with jobs (the employment-population ratio) also was little different from the July figure." [The Labor Department updates this page monthly at the same URL. Subsequent figures will probably vary insignificantly.]

There is at first a seeming discrepancy between the two figures in that the NHSDA's are for ages 18 and older, while the Labor Department's are for ages 16 and older. However, according to the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, "The highest rates [of illegal-drug use] were found among young people age 16-17 (15.6 percent) and age 18-20 (18.0 percent). ("Any Illicit Drug Use," ibid.). So even if both surveys represented the exact same age group, they would still yield a quite similar number. However, if one were to calculate the usage rate of all the workers age 16 and older, illegal-drug consumers would make up an even higher proportion of the overall work force. The rate for all workers age 18 and older would be slightly lower.

* Up to 40% of industrial fatalities and 47% of industrial injuries can be linked to alcohol consumption and alcoholism, according to M Bernstein & JJ Mahoney, "Management Perspectives on Alcoholism: The Employer's Stake in Alcoholism Treatment," Occupational Medicine, Vol 4, No. 2, 1989, pp. 223-232. [1998 postscript - A new study says casual drinkers cause more harm than heavy drinkers. See "A Bad Season For Amateurs," in the San Francisco Chronicle of Dec. 24, 1998. As long as postscripts are being added, another new study released in 1998, reported by California NORML and NORML in Washington, DC, found that companies who drug test employees suffer almost 20 percent lower productivity than those who do not. Follow the links for more information. - ed.]

Drug Czar Dispenses Medical Opinions To Arizonans Regarding Proposition 200

By Alisa Wabnik The Arizona Daily Star, circa Sept. 11, 1996

Led by the nation's drug czar, a statewide group of law enforcement and anti-drug advocates yesterday blasted an Arizona ballot proposition as a front for national groups seeking to legalize controlled substances.

Proposition 200, an initiative that will appear on the Nov. 5 general election ballot, "couldn't be a more disastrous notion," said Barry McCaffrey, a retired Army general who heads the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

"It is bad medicine, bad science, and it's a violation of federal law," McCaffrey said. "More importantly, it's a cruel hoax. . . . It has a fatal flaw that, in my judgment, is designed into it by the drug legalization group."

The initiative, which garnered far more than the 112,961 valid signatures required to place it on the ballot, would allow physicians to prescribe Schedule I drugs such as marijuana to help relieve pain in seriously or terminally ill patients.

Prop. 200 also would send nonviolent drug offenders to treatment and probation, rather than prison, though violent criminals convicted of committing a crime while on drugs would be forced to serve 100 percent of their sentences.

McCaffrey spoke during Arizona's Ninth Annual Prevention Network Conference at the Sheraton El Conquistador Resort - and smack in the middle of a presidential campaign where Republican challenger Bob Dole has heavily criticized the Clinton administration's drug policy.

He joined members of the newly-formed Parents and Concerned Citizens Against Proposition 200 in alleging that the ballot measure would allow drugs ranging from marijuana to LSD and heroin "to be prescribed for ill-defined purposes."

Dr. Phil Kanof, medical director of the substance abuse treatment program at the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Tucson, called it "probably a first step toward the legalization of marijuana."

But Marvin Cohen, a Phoenix lawyer who helped put the initiative on the ballot, said that is not his goal.

"I'm not in it as part of a national strategy," said Cohen, treasurer of Arizonans for Drug Policy Reform. "I'm in it because I think that this proposition is a sensible step to deal with a national problem."

Cohen, a former chairman of the Pima County Democratic Party who went on to work in the Kennedy and Carter administrations, teamed with former Reagan administration official John R. Norton in backing the measure.

The proposition has attracted similar bipartisan support from former Arizona senators Barry Goldwater, a Republican, and Dennis DeConcini, a Democrat.

Yesterday, DeConcini penned a letter to McCaffrey reaffirming his support.

"I think this measure sends the right message to children," DeConcini wrote, citing its proposal to spend $5 million annually through a new Parents Commission on Drug Education and Prevention.

DeConcini also said that while the proposition offers doctors a legal defense for prescribing marijuana, it does so only in cases where they can scientifically document its benefits with written support from another physician.

"Law enforcement will provide a necessary safety valve in that if someone is using marijuana and does not have the letter which documents research and two medical doctors' signature(s), then this person would still be prosecuted," DeConcini wrote.

McCaffrey, however, said earlier in the day that ``it runs counter to the way America gets its medicines. It says that heroin and methamphetamines will be approved by a plebiscite of the people," rather than letting the Food and Drug Administration decide which drugs are safe.

He used the same brush to paint a similar measure on California's general election ballot.

"It's a complete Cheech and Chong show," he said, referring to a comedy team that played up marijuana use. "It will have 12-year-olds smoking dope."

NORML Posts New Medical Marijuana Web Pages

NORML founder and acting director Keith Stroup writes:

FYI, I would like to invite interested parties to visit the new medical marijuana section just added to the NORML Web site ( Select medical marijuana from the home page.

Many of the basic materials have now been collected in this section, including substantial excerpts from Dr. Lester Grinspoon's book, "Marihuana, the Forbidden Medicine."

Medical Marijuana On 'Cybil'

Clifford A. Schaffer wrote on Sept. 9:

"Cybil" (Cybil Shepherd's comedy show), on CBS tonight, featured a scene about medical marijuana. It started with Cybil and her ex-husband talking in her home and they smelled marijuana smoke. At first they talked fondly about how that brought back old memories. Then they reacted and went after Cybil's teenage daughter. It wasn't the daughter. It turned out it was the ex-husband's mother. She came walking out of the bedroom smiling broadly and commenting on what a wonderful day it was. When they asked her about it, she told them that her doctor had said it was good for her glaucoma and, besides, it felt good, so she did it once a week or so. There was no condemnation, only understanding and a little bit of humor. I have to say it was one of the better portrayals I have seen of this issue. They deserve some applause.

Television Madness

Jim Rosenfield writes:

John Perry Barlow's "The Powers that Were" In Sept 96 Wired magazine makes the point that "the United States is no longer a democracy, but government by Hallucinating Mob, driven mad by television."

Peter Watney responds:

Just before reading your message I had read the following circulated by ADCA in Australia:

"ADCA News of the Day"

The Daily Telegraph, 3 September 1996, p15
Teen TV addicts 'on path of failure, drugs and crime'

A University of Wales study of 20,000 teenagers comparing the views and beliefs of those watching limited amounts of TV with those who regularly watch more than four hours a night (classed as addicts), has found that the latter group are more prone to rebellion, drug-taking, crime and failure at school and work. Almost a quarter of 13-15 year-olds fell into this group. It is reported that the study links indiscriminate TV watching with corrosive and self defeating behaviour, isolation from parents and peers and feelings of worthlessness.

[End quote]

Not to mention amotivational syndrome.....

Drug Czar Calls Cigarettes, Alcohol Abuse "Gateway Behavior"

On Aug. 26, at a town hall meeting in Manchester, N.H., Office of National Drug Control Policy Director Barry McCaffrey said, "We believe that cigarettes are a gateway behavior. They don't compel a person to use drugs, but they allow, along with alcohol abuse, this process to take place." - The Washington Times, Sept. 5, 1996, p. A9.

More news:

Testimony by Barry R. McCaffrey to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sept. 4, 1996:

"Despite a decline in adult smoking, the use of tobacco products is on the rise among American youth. In 1995, more than a third of high-school seniors smoked cigarettes - a greater number than at any time since the 1970s. The threat to our children's health is tremendous.
"Is tobacco a 'gateway drug'? While we do not at this time have any scientific evidence of a direct cause and effect relationship between the use of tobacco and other drugs, a strong statistical correlation exists. Youths aged 12-17 who smoke are about 8 times more likely to use illicit drugs and 11 times more likely to drink heavily than nonsmoking youths. A study conducted in 1994 by Columbia University Center on Substance Abuse and Addiction found that 83 percent of those who used cocaine identified smoking cigarettes as gateway behavior. Finally, we know that nicotine is an addictive substance that causes neurochemical reactions similar to those produced by cocaine, heroin, and amphetamines.
Alcohol is the number one illegal drug problem among young people. It is the drug abused most frequently by our children, and is responsible for 35 percent of the highway deaths among our youth. In the '40s and '50s, young people often took their first drink at the age of 13 or 14. Today, they frequently start at age 12. The 1996 NHSDA shows the mean age of first use of alcohol declining since 1990; in other words, younger and younger children are beginning to drink. Three to four million teenagers are now alcoholics.

[End quotes]

The written statements/testimony of the participants in the September 4th hearing on "Rising Teen Drug Use" are available at the APA Web pages at

By the way, anyone can send his or her thoughts to Mr. McCaffrey at:

Office of National Drug Control Policy
Executive Office of the President
Washington, DC 20500
E-mail: Tracy Bare (an assistant to McCaffery )
Fax: (301) 251-5212

US Code Leads To Disparate Sentences For Women

Alda Facio of Costa Rica was one of the first lawyers to identify the shortcomings of international law in protecting women's rights. Facio worked in women's prisons and said she found that female inmates served longer sentences than men for the same crimes. "There are all these myths about women, and if women break ther stereotypes they get harsher treatment," she said. In Latin America, she said, a supposedly gender-neutrral drug-trafficking law pushed by the United States gets applied selectively. Men get sentences of 10 to 15 years while women get 15 to 25, she said. - The Washington Post, Sept. 6, 1996

"Ottawa Lawyer Urges An End To 'Chemical McCarthyism'"

By David Stonehouse
New Brunswick Telegraph Journal, circa Sept. 9, 1996

FREDERICTON - As a university student in the early 1970s, Eugene Oscapella became fascinated with the economics of the drug underworld. A massive and lucrative black market thrived despite millions of dollars authorities spent fighting it. And it thrived because it was illegal.

Prohibition made no sense to him as a young masters in economics student, and it makes even less sense to him today as a public policy lawyer.

The well-spoken Ottawa barrister is a passionate campaigner for the decriminalization of all illicit drugs in Canada - a battle that may never be won in his lifetime, but one he fights nonetheless. He has never tried any illegal drug himself, not even marijuana.

To him, decriminalization is an issue not only of personal freedoms, but of saving lives, curbing disease and putting an end to a costly but ineffective policing effort.

"There is no philosophical, social, moral, ethical, legal logic to the way we deal with drugs in society," says Mr. Oscapella, a founder of the Canadian Foundation for Drug Policy. The Ottawa-based group spent six months pressing politicians to embrace decriminalization as Parliament Hill dealt with a new drug law. There had been some hope - some senators like New Brunswick's Rose-Marie Losier-Cool had expressed support for the decriminalization of marijuana. Senator Losier-Cool, a 58-year-old school teacher, believes that smoking marijuana doesn't make a personal a criminal and that laws are preventing drug users from getting medical help. Mr. Oscapella and supporters had been pressing those very points. But they ended their lobbying effort embittered. Both the Senate and the House of Commons passed the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act late last June without making personal use of marijuana or other drugs legal.

After the law was passed, he lashed out and called the move "political cowardice." But today, there is still some hope: A joint House of Commons-Senate committee will be conducting an extensive review of drug policies and laws. "What we are hoping for is an honest, open reassessment of Canada's drug laws and policies. And that is a lot to ask for in this climate of chemical McCarthyism," Mr. Oscapella said in an interview from his Ottawa home yesterday.

The foundation - whose members include psychologists, health policy advocates and public policy researchers - says it does not encourage drug use. It wants to "decriminalize" drugs not "legalize" them. It would still be against the law for children to have them or for people to drive while under their influence. The group says it should not be a criminal offence for adults have small amounts of drugs for personal consumption. Under Mr. Oscapella's vision, marijuana could be picked up at a liquor store and harder drugs available at drug stores or in health clinics for addicts. He argues that laws banning drugs are driving users underground where they are less likely to get help for addiction, more likely to die of overdoses or contract deadly diseases like AIDS, and more likely to commit other crimes. According to the foundation, about 500 people died due to overdose last year, compared to less than 100 five years earlier.

"When you are looking at hundreds of people dying every year from drug overdoses, that to me is a critical issue," Mr. Oscapella said. "And when you look at the violence largely associated with the heroin and cocaine trade and some of the synthetic drugs that the motorcycle gangs are involved with, that is an issue we have to deal with. The criminal prohibition of drugs creates an enormously profitable black market in these drugs, he said. "Heroin only sells for as much as it does because it is a black market product," he said. "If it were available through medical facilities or through other means of distribution, it would not be nearly as expensive. "People would not need to rob banks in order to get the money to feed their heroin habit. They would not need to break into your house or into your car," he said. "As well, you've got to look at the extraordinary powers that the state is assembling to fight this - the powers of search and seizure, body cavity searches, surveillance. "All of these things are having an enormous impact on your autonomy as a citizen who may never have touched drugs. But you are increasingly being put under the thumb of the state because, in a vain attempt to deal with drugs through the criminal justice system, they have to keep ratcheting up to powers of enforcement to try and put a dent in the business. And they can't."

Police powers granted to enforce drug laws is one of the greatest threats to our civil liberties in Canada, Mr. Oscapella said. "I think our drug laws are incredibly harsh and punitive. We should be treating drugs as a health issue. Our drug laws make no sense from any perspective. And, above all, they don't stop people from taking drugs." And the foundation disputes those who say legalizing a drug will encourage more people to use it. It argues that 11 U.S. states have already decriminalized marijuana possession and that drug council officials in one Australian state are urging that its citizen be allowed to use and grow the drug. And it notes that one survey done in the late 1980s showed that in the Netherlands - where possession of marijuana is not prosecuted - only 12 per cent of high school students had smoked it at least once. The same study showed that 59 per cent of American high schoolers in the U.S. had. "There is no reason to expect that there would be a large increase in use of drugs if they were decriminalized and people were given sensible, honest education about them," Mr. Oscapella said. "Are you as an adult going to start using heroin tomorrow if you know the true consequences of using this drug? Are you going to start using it whether it is legal or illegal, if you know you have a 10 to 15 per cent chance of developing a drug dependency problem because of it?"

Even if there were an increase in use, he said, it is likely to be a safer form of use. For example, people injecting heroin and cocaine are at risk of AIDS or hepatitis from infected needles.

But Mr. Oscapella suggested they could be given oral versions of the drugs instead. And he argues that Canadians should be taught more about drugs, just like they are told to drink responsibly. "Given that some people are going to use drugs, we should talk to them about how to stay alive," he said. "It's a bit like AIDS education: You may not want your kids to sleep with somebody else but maybe it is better to tell them how to do it right, so they don't kill themselves."

"Staff On Addict Watch"

By Robert Walker
Calgary Herald, City News, Sept. 9, 1996, p. B1

As Alberta hits the gambling addiction jackpot everyone from blackjack dealers to lounge staff is being trained to spot problem gamblers early.

Alberta Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission experts have recently launched training programs for gaming industry staff, said AADAC training consultant Wayne Spychka Sunday.

Bill Eadington, head of Nevada's Institute to Study Gambling, told the Herald Albertans spend 3.2 per cent of their disposable income on gambling compared with .07 per cent in the U.S.

And with addiction to gambling affecting one in 20 Albertans - one of the highest rates in Canada - Spychka said the Alberta Association for Casino Operators approached AADAC for help in developing a training program.

"They wanted to know how they could help out a patron who might have a gambling problem," he said. "The industry has shown, without any initiative on AADAC's part, they are interested in being responsible."

He said the focus now is on prevention and early intervention. Gaming and lounge staff are trained to notice if a regular patron is spending more money than normal, coming in during working hours or doubling their bets rather than walking away after losing.

He said they're trained to see if gamblers are unduly agitated and upset while gambling.

"They are in a difficult situation. The people are there to gamble. The intervention needs to be very subtle, low key and would depend on the relationship with the person and would avoid offending them," said Spychka. Staff could suggest the person calls it a day or goes and has a coffee.

Brian Carlson, manager of the Country Road Saloon at Calgary's Crossroads Hotel which has seven VLTs, said the program was a good idea but wondered how staff would apply it.

"The people working on the floor work for tips and don't want to see anybody walking out the door and not come back. They wouldn't want to offend. It would definitely have to be handled in a tactful manner," he said.

The Alberta Hotel Association has asked for training to deal with problem VLT gamblers as part of a program called It's Good Business, dealing with problem drinkers. Now lounge staff are being advised on how to intervene and how to refer problem gamblers for assistance, said Spychka.

And a pilot course was held this summer for representatives from about four Alberta casinos. AADAC decided to add gambling to its mandate January 1994 with a help line in Calgary, which saw 2,713 calls in 1995/96.

As many as 2,177 problem gamblers were admitted to the new outpatient program in the same period according to Mary Dibbs, AADAC problem gambling consultant.

Identifying The Problem Gambler

Questions asked by addiction specialists to spot the problem gambler:

  • Do you spend more money than you intended gambling?
  • Do you gamble longer than you intended?
  • Do you lose track of time gambling?
  • Do you hide your gambling activities from family members?
  • Do you spend money on gambling that was earmarked for other things like household items?
  • Do you spend time gambling when you should be working?
  • Have you ever borrowed or stolen money from work to pay for gambling?

    Source: Wayne Spychka, AADAC training consultant.

    Turin Drugs Motion Stirs Up Controversy In Italy

    TURIN, Italy, Reuters, Sept. 11, 1996 - Turin city council has sparked angry debate among Italian politicians after overwhelmingly voting for soft drugs to be legalised.

    The motion, which carries no legal force, was welcomed by many politicians, including the Green party which is in Prime Minister Romano Prodi's government coalition, but was denounced by others.

    The council, voting 22-2 with five abstentions, urged parliament and government on Tuesday to reform Italy's existing drug laws to enable the northern city to carry out what it called a "social, political and medical experiment."

    The council, run by a coalition of centre-left parties, said it also wanted to set up a programme for the controlled distribution of heroin to addicts.

    Turin, an industrial city in the shadow of the Alps and home to car giant Fiat, has long been plagued by urban drug problems.

    "It was a courageous and responsible decision," declared city mayor Valentino Castellani on Wednesday.

    "Our's was a political act. We wanted to bring to the attention of parliament, government and political parties the complex problem of drugs and drug addiction," he said.

    Agostino Ghiglia, leader of the far-right National Alliance group on the city council, called it an "act of shame" and said he would send a syringe to those who voted in favour.

    Centrist CCD leader Pierferdinando Casini said he was against any acceptance of soft drugs and said legalisation was tantamount to the state turning its back on the problem.

    "This road aims to level Italy with countries like the Netherlands and represents the exact antithesis of what we believe the younger generations need," he said.

    Italian law currently tolerates possession of only a small quantity of hashish for personal use and bans the sale of soft drugs.

    Haryana Alcohol Prohibition Yields Unexpected Consequences

    South China Morning Post, July 30, 1996

    "So far, prohibition has not been quite the success we hoped it would be," admitted Officer Bedi of the Haryana Police Police Force to reporters. "Naughty motorists think they can out-wit us with their plastic tubes and their melons, but give us time and we shall bring them to justice."

    Officer Bedi explained that, since a total prohibition on alcohol was introduced in the North-Eastern state of Haryana a month earlier, motorists had found ingenious ways to smuggle drink in from neighboring 'wet' states.

    "While they are across the border, they fill their car windscreen washer bottles with liquor. Then they fit plastic pipes to the bottles, running from beneath the hood and emerging near the steering wheel. This means that whenever they feel like a sip, they can put the pipe into their mouth, activate the windscreen wiper switch, and squirt as much hooch as they want down their throat. They also inject alcohol into water melons, and we only discovered this because of the bravery of one of our officers, who hit a man's melons with a stick and split them open.

    "The results of prohibition so far have been very disappointing. Before it was introduced, men used to come home drunk at night. But now, they're so drunk all the time that they don't go home at all for days on end, and when they do it's only to steal money from their wives to buy more liquor. If it continues, I'm thinking of having the retail trade in melons stopped altogether."

    Hemp Production Leads To Increase In Crime (And Laughs)

    LYMINGTON, England, Reuter, Sept. 6, 1996 - British farmer George Heathcote, distraught that people were stealing his hemp crop after mistaking it for cannabis, put up a huge sign Friday to warn them off.

    "You would have to smoke a joint the size of a telegraph pole to get stoned," the sign in southern England said.

    Talk Is Cheap - Call Now, Pay Never

    The AFL-CIO is still funding two toll free numbers providing a direct connection to the U.S. congressional switchboard. No recording, no instructions to follow, no limit, and no need to forget anything. After it answers, just ask to be connected to your congressional representative or senator. Call 1-800-96-AFLCIO (1-800-962-3524) or 1-800-97-AFLCIO (1-800-972-3524)

    Mentally prepare and have information on hand about the legislative issues you'd like to talk about. Stay polite and friendly (try to save your disagreements for a follow-up letter) and focus on principles that most people will agree with. Do it!

    "Epidemic Of Drug-Related Murders Plagues Tijuana"

    Los Angeles Times, September 10, 1996
    By Anne-Marie O'Connor, Times Staff Writer

    Violence: Traffickers settle scores or target crusading police and prosecutors. City is likened to 1930s Chicago.

    TIJUANA - At first, Rafael Lopez Cruz appeared to be just another grotesquely tortured, nameless corpse, dumped in an isolated stretch of Playas de Tijuana by thugs who meticulously broke most of his bones.

    Had Lopez Cruz not been a state judicial police agent who had complained of narcotics corruption in the ranks, his murder a few weeks ago might have escaped notice entirely, as simply one more name on a long list of underworld killings here.

    Tijuana has made headlines as the site of gangland-style killings of top officials since the assassination of the Mexican presidential heir apparent, Luis Donaldo Colosio, here in March 1994.

    Behind the high-profile crimes, however, is a bloody string of drug- and corruption-related murders that has prompted one U.S. prosecutor to compare Tijuana to Chicago in the 1930s.

    The violent score-settling between drug lords - and between traffickers and police or anyone else who gets in their way - has left behind a trail of corpses, often with signs of torture, sometimes blindfolded or with their hands tied behind their backs, all bearing the signature coup de grace shots to the head.

    Others have been gunned down publicly, in broad daylight, by bold thugs who don't bother to hide their faces. Many victims are anonymous young strangers from impoverished rural Mexico. Others are from socially prominent local families.

    "In Tijuana, these kinds of killings have become so frequent that it's almost a normal occurrence," said Teodoro Gonzalez Luna, the spokesman for the Baja California state attorney general's office in Mexicali.

    Just last week , a young woman whose family had received threats from reputed narcotics traffickers was mowed down in a public market, along with a police officer who was on the scene, police said.

    State Atty. Gen. Jose Luis Anaya Bautista said drug-related violence accounts for 40% of the 35 homicides that occur each month, on average, in Baja California.

    While deaths from drug violence have decreased statewide this year, they have surged in Tijuana, Gonzalez Luna said. "There are the score-settling executions at the high levels, and power struggles between neighborhood distributors."

    Tijuana coroner Gustavo Salazar said he believes that there is an increase partly because of a growth in local drug sales and consumption.

    "There are well-known public officials who are assassinated for doing their jobs: fighting narcotics traffickers," Salazar said. "Other men are killed because they want easy money and turn to drug trafficking. This is definitely on the rise in Tijuana."

    Human rights leaders who monitor drug violence say the trademark execution-style murders of one to three men appear in local newspapers each week. Others, they say, pass without notice.

    The drug murders have become an extremely sensitive image issue in Tijuana, making even the homicide statistics themselves a virtual state secret. Buck-passing has become the modus operandi.

    Bernardo Cisneros, the spokesman for the state judicial police in Tijuana, said homicide statistics were "top-secret, confidential figures." Baldomero Juvera, the force's homicide chief, said his murder figures were for internal use only. The federal attorney general's delegate, Luis Antonio Ibanez Cornejo, said homicides were the responsibility of the state judicial police. Tijuana state judicial police Cmdr. Antonio Torres Miranda said it was difficult to separate drug violence from other crimes.

    "Quantifying this in Tijuana is a headache," Gonzalez Luna said. "We know that drugs are behind the majority of violent deaths in Tijuana. Of that there is no doubt."

    Said Jose Luis Perez Canchola, Tijuana-based vice president of the Mexican Human Rights Academy: "They are afraid of statistics. Statistics say things politicians do not want to hear."

    Most observers see no easy solutions. Still, without acknowledging that any rise in drug violence is occurring, Jesus Velasco, spokesman for the federal attorney general's delegation in Tijuana, said 55 new Baja California federal police agents arrived in the city two weeks ago and more have been requested. "With more personnel and resources, we will combat narcotics traffic, illegal immigrant smuggling and other federal crimes," he said.

    The carnage has shaken residents in Playas de Tijuana, a picturesque beach community on the city's outskirts. "This has struck like a lightning bolt," said Marta Rocha de Diaz, the head of the Housewives of Playas de Tijuana.

    Indeed, some of the recent scenes are reminiscent of "Scarface," the film about drug violence in Miami.

    In February, a gang of armed men dressed in federal judicial police uniforms kicked down the doors of a home and sprayed everyone there with automatic weapons fire, said Juan Meza, the subcommander of the local municipal police substation. Two brothers, 13 and 25, were killed, Meza said. A third person was left for dead, he said.

    The killers stole nothing from the family, whose deceased father had been the director of a prestigious private school. One family member, however, had stepped on the toes of narcotics traffickers, according to police and those familiar with the case.

    "They came to kill. They didn't steal anything," Rocha de Diaz said. "If the sister hadn't just walked out the door with her baby, I think they would have killed them too. The world of narcotics is ferocious."

    A few weeks later, gunmen mowed down the 26-year-old son of a Tijuana radio announcer and a friend as they walked out of a local disco. "It was an execution," Meza said.

    Like others in communities where traffickers are entrenched, Rocha de Diaz suspects that the traffickers have police protectors. What other explanation is there for the apparent inviolability of the walled compounds where strange armed men come and go at night in vehicles with blackened windows, she said. "If you took all the corrupt police and threw them in jail, you wouldn't be able to shut the gate," she said.

    Sightings - whether real or imagined - of the Arellano Felix brothers are a staple of local gossip, though the reputed leaders of the so-called Tijuana drug cartel have so lowered their profiles that one ballad portrays them as invisible but potent "phantoms."

    For years they have managed to escape capture, in spite of a $1-million reward for information leading to their capture for alleged narcotics trafficking and suspected connections to the May 1993 slaying of the cardinal of Guadalajara, said Rene Aboytes, a spokesman for Mexico City's attorney general.

    Once flamboyant swashbucklers, the Arellanos - Benjamin, Javier and Ramon - are suspected of working behind the scenes of a powerful crime empire that is now fending off competitors seeking a share of its business.

    The stakes are extremely lucrative. Tijuana is one of the prime nerve centers for smuggling operations that funnel the about 70% of all cocaine that reaches the United States through Mexico, experts say, as well as a hefty portion of the heroin, methamphetamine and marijuana that supplies U.S. consumers.

    Most citizens of Tijuana are afraid to discuss the violent byproduct the industry generates. They describe the criminal organizations as uncontrollable and destructive forces of nature. To do anything besides get out of their way, they say, could invite the wrath of the unseen forces pulling strings behind the scenes.

    One young hotel manager - English-speaking, college-educated, computer-literate, in starched khakis and a crisp white shirt - told of the dilemma that he has faced since the day a few months ago when a Colombian man checked into the hotel with a nervous demeanor and a piece of hand luggage that he insisted on carrying himself.

    Soon the Colombian confessed to a hotel custodian: He had a modest load of cocaine he needed to get across the border and would be "deeply appreciative" of any help - such as information on when he would be least likely to be stopped and searched by U.S. Customs authorities.

    Eventually, the entire hotel was clued in. They exchanged knowing glances as the Colombian lined up a Mexican woman to pose as his girlfriend. When zero hour arrived, they watched the "couple" drive away, the Colombian sweating under the bags of cocaine strapped to his torso under a baggy linen suit, like a character from a "Miami Vice" rerun, the manager said.

    The Colombian made it across, he said. Since then, he has noticed the presence of other "pequenos narcos" - small-time smugglers pushing for a share of local cross-border traffic, he said.

    The young manager said he has never once seriously considered calling the police. What if the police he contacted turned out to be allies of narcotics traffickers? Even if they weren't, he doubts their ability to protect hotel staff from the so-called sicarios - professional assassins - of the drug traffickers. Better, he said, to simply stay out of it - and hope members of the so-called Tijuana cartel never arrive to "protect" their territory, leaving one of the ubiquitous corpses.

    "Confidence in security forces is very low," said Antonio Garcia Sanchez, the Baja state's human rights ombudsman. "It is commonly known that there are criminals within the police forces. There is little faith that police can provide security. And they have solved almost none of the crimes committed here."

    In the past two years, there has been a string of assassinations of officials who took on narcotics corruption, including a former municipal police chief, a prison warden and several senior prosecutors.

    The latest cautionary tale is the story of ill-starred Rafael Lopez Cruz.

    Earlier this year, he had given prosecutors, journalists and a human rights leader details on what he said were ties between judicial police, including several ranking officers, and the Arellanos, human rights and judicial sources said.

    Several of Lopez Cruz's police colleagues say the men who tailed and threatened him for the last few weeks of his life - and who, they believe, eventually killed him - were state judicial police agents with close ties to narcotics traffickers.

    Just the sight of Lopez Cruz's body was a shock. "They massacred him," said Juan Meza, of the municipal police. "They broke all of his bones." Mexican authorities say the assassination of veteran Tijuana prosecutor Jesus Romero Magana on Aug. 17 might also have been retribution for the firing of 29 Baja California federal agents as part of a nationwide sweep of more than 700 federal police suspected of corruption.

    Critics say that theory sidesteps concerns that Romero and up to a dozen others involved with the Colosio investigation have been murdered in the past couple of years. But many of the Tijuana victims they cite - like reform-minded Tijuana Municipal Police Chief Jose Federico Benitez, whose April 1994 killing was officially attributed to drug traffickers - had fallen afoul of myriad corrupt forces.

    "Tijuana, unfortunately, has become a dangerous city," Victor Clark, the respected head of the independent Binational Human Rights Center, said. "There are so many killings now people have become jaded. The violence over control of the cartels - of drug traffic, immigrant smugglers, kidnapping rings - has reached unprecedented levels."

    Canadian Reform Advocates Cite Major Support

    Legalization advocates claim major support
    Telegraph Journal, Sept. 11, 1996, Page 1.

    1995 survey shows up to 70 per cent of Canadians would have marijuana at least decriminalized, if not made legal

    By Richard Foot, The Telegraph Journal

    MONCTON - Tobacco shop proprietor Steve Vasseur, who has a criminal record for marijuana possession: "Let the people vote on it. I'll bet that the result today would be a two-to-one ratio in favour of legalization."

    Behind the busy counter at Keatings Tobacco in Moncton, Steve Vasseur deals out the stuff of his daily trade: cigarettes, imported herbal smokes and sometimes even hookah pipes to a steady stream of customers.

    But sales at his downtown store would jump 20 per cent, Mr. Vasseur reckons, if he was also allowed to sell marijuana, the dried leaves of the cannabis plant.

    So many Canadians already smoke the stuff - five million, he says - that politicians are fools not to legalize the drug and cash in on its growing market.

    "I think legalizing marijuana is long overdue," says Mr. Vasseur. "The government could make money on this if they want. Why don't they just grade it, blend it, set it up and reap their taxes?"

    Mr. Vasseur says his store raises about $2,000 each month off the provincial sales tax charged on tobacco.

    "If we had marijuana, there would be another $1,000 in taxes a month, just in my store."

    The most recent surveys show that Canadians want the marijuana laws changed.

    A 1995 poll by Health Canada said that as many as 70 per cent of Canadians want marijuana either legalized or decriminalized - which means someone caught smoking it wouldn't get a criminal record, and would only have to pay something resembling a parking fine.

    The 1995 poll, titled "Canada's Alcohol and other Drugs Survey," shows that 27 per cent of Canadians over the age of 15 actually want marijuana made legal, to be regulated in the same manner as tobacco or alcohol.

    An Ontario survey in 1994 by the Addiction Research Foundation found that among people aged 35 to 54, the bulk of the population, 50 per cent said marijuana should be decriminalized. Another 10 per cent said the drug should be legal. Only 40 per cent favoured keeping marijuana use a criminal offence.

    To prove this point, Mr. Vasseur thinks the federal government should hold a national plebiscite on the issue.

    "Why don't they ask for a vote?" he says. "A plebiscite. Let people vote on it. I'll bet that the result today would be a two-to-one ratio in favour of legalization."

    Mr. Vasseur claims that more than five million Canadians use marijuana today. In fact, the survey shows, the number is closer to two million. The 1995 federal survey shows that 7.4 per cent of Canadians said they are current marijuana users, compared to 27 per cent who said they are active tobacco smokers.

    Twenty-three per cent of Canadians said they'd used marijuana some time in their lives, compared to 49 per cent for tobacco.

    Cocaine is currently used by 3.8 per cent of the population and heroin and LSD used by 5.9 per cent, the survey shows.

    Mr. Vasseur reminds people that another former New Brunswick premier was also a supporter of free marijuana use, even if he never actually admitted it.

    "We have Richard Hatfield, who ran the province for 10 years, who not only smoked pot but was once caught with it," he says.

    Mr. Hatfield was found not guilty of having marijuana in his suitcase. Mr. Vasseur, on the other hand, already has two criminal convictions for marijuana possession, and faces a charge of trafficking after an undercover drug sting arrested him and 70 other Monctonians last December.

    Mr. Vasseur denies ever selling marijuana, but admits to being a weekend smoker.

    "I have a casual drink. I also believe in having a casual puff from time to time with friends," he says.

    "You can have neo-Nazi meetings in this city," he fumes, "but God forbid if you're caught with pot."

    Down the street at the Hempire store, owner Serge Cormier agrees with his neighbour. Mr. Cormier sells shirts, shoes and books made from hemp, the stalk of the cannabis plant, which is rich in long fibres. Mr. Cormier says he isn't interested in selling marijuana, but he'd like to see it legalized, because that would make his life easier.

    Growing and selling raw hemp is illegal in Canada, even though it's free of the intoxicating chemical that's present in the marijuana leaves.

    One way for politicians to proceed, says Mr. Cormier, is to make hemp legal in Canada, and if no one abuses that law, to later legalize marijuana.

    "If you could have some system that sold marijuana in liquor stores, or in legalized cafes like they do in Amsterdam, then they could put an age limit on it. They'd put the drug dealers out of business and the kids couldn't buy drugs."

    This way, says Mr. Cormier, the government could collect taxes and spend the money on dealing with harder drugs such as cocaine and heroin.

    "Marijuana should be like tobacco," says Mr. Vasseur. "You should be 19 or 20 and have to make an adult decision, just like you do for liquor.

    "Marijuana should be distributed just like under a tobacco licence. Tobacco companies and the government should package it and retail it the same way."

    "Currency King George Soros - Rich Ally for Drug Dissidents"

    The New York Times, September 11, 1996
    By Carey Goldberg

    LOS ANGELES - Across the country, the scattered dissidents who denounce the whole idea of a war on drugs have found an unexpected ally: George Soros, the currency-market Croesus who is known for donating hundreds of millions of dollars each year to shore up democracy in the former Soviet bloc.

    In his most recent contribution out of the nearly $15 million he has given or pledged to change drug policy, Soros has made major personal donations to two ground-breaking state ballot initiatives that would legalize the medical use of marijuana: $350,000 to one in California and $100,000 to one in Arizona.

    Without his backing, say organizers in California, they would not have managed to gather the 433,000 signatures needed to get the initiative on the ballot.

    Tuesday, Barry McCaffrey, President Clinton's drug policy director, denounced the initiative as "dangerous and wrong."

    Three other wealthy contributors helped get California's Proposition 215 off the ground, but the initiative's opponents single out Soros. "All roads seem to lead to Soros," said Stu Mollrich, the campaign consultant for the opposition.

    Soros declined to be interviewed, but passages in his interview-style book, "Soros on Soros," set out his deep conviction that U.S. drug policy, with its emphasis on treating drug use as a crime rather than a medical problem of addiction, is so ill-conceived that "the remedy is often worse than the disease."

    While he has no prescription of his own, Soros wrote, he could imagine legalizing some of the less harmful drugs and devoting the money saved from the criminal justice system to treatment.

    Soros first began to focus on America's drug problem in 1992, said Ethan A. Nadelmann, a prominent critic of the drug war and head of the Lindesmith Center, a New York City think tank founded in 1994 with Soros' money. As the revolution in Eastern Europe began to settle down, he said, Soros turned his philanthropic attention closer to home and decided that U.S. drug policy was deeply flawed and debate on it was being stifled.

    He first diverted a rivulet of foundation money - $4 million dollars - toward groups exploring alternative drug policies in 1994, and has kept up that yearly level since, Nadelmann said, financing both groups that support some sort of legalization and groups that propose other plans. One percent of his annual giving is now related to drug policy.

    Though that may not be much for Soros, who still donates more than $300 million each year in the former Soviet bloc, it nonetheless makes him the biggest financial heavyweight ever to throw his philanthropic heft behind the camp that denounces the war on drugs.

    His entry into the drug policy arena, along with that of several other wealthy contributors, has drug war believers worried.

    "These are not your hippies on the street anymore," said Tom Gorman, former president of the California Narcotics Officers Association. "These are businessmen.

    In Arizona, it was another businessman, John Sperling, who helped launch the drug initiative, Proposition 200, together with John Norton, a produce millionaire and former deputy secretary of agriculture in the Reagan administration. Along with legalizing medical marijuana, it would toughen the penalties for drug users who commit violent crimes under the influence, while banning prison sentences for most convictions on possession.

    But Soros had a critical, if indirect, effect on that campaign as well by financing policy centers that have provided significant technical support for it, organizers said.

    In California, campaign finance records show that aside from Soros and Sperling, two other wealthy businessmen have helped bring contributions to Proposition 215 to just over $1 million: Peter Lewis of Ohio, who gave $300,000 and George Zimmer, of California, who made an interest-free loan of $160,000. Under Proposition 215, patients with AIDS, cancer, glaucoma and other illnesses could legally grow and use marijuana if their doctor advised it.

    "Until a couple of years ago there was only one person in the country giving over $100,000 to the movement," Nadelmann said, referring to a Chicago donor named Richard Dennis. "Now there are four, five, six people willing to give $100,000 or more, of which no one is in Soros' league."

    Mollrich of Proposition 215's opposition said that financing for the medical marijuana initiative appeared to be "ideologically based" and complained that it was coming from "a very small group of people and they are not Californians."

    The "no" side of the initiative has raised only about $30,000 so far. "We haven't found our George Soros yet," Mollrich said.

    Nadelmann argued that in fact, the Soros money could not begin to compare to the billions spent on the drug war and the money that groups backing it can - and may - furnish.

    Despite initial polling results showing that about 65 percent of Californians support legalizing medical marijuana both sides of the California initiative said they thought that a major injection of money on either side could yet decide its fate.

    Those close to Soros said it remained unclear whether he would give more money to the California and Arizona initiatives; Nadelmann said that the financier's interest in drugs and another domestic project, on death and dying, might soon be eclipsed by other American projects he is soon to start, including major work on inner city education.

    But backers of Proposition 215 said the Hungarian-born financier had helped them log a notable triumph.

    "In many ways, getting it on the ballot may be the victory in and of itself because the issue tests so well," said Dave Fratello, the campaign spokesman.

    Longtime marijuana advocates in San Francisco began the California initiative which, along with its counterpart in Arizona, gives voters their first chance to weigh in directly statewide on whether medical marijuana should be legalized.

    But when they saw a few weeks before this spring's deadline for signatures that they were not going to make it, "an appeal was made," Nadelmann said circumspectly, and the last-minute money from Soros and others came through.

    BC Drugs Speed To US Via 'Midnight Express'

    The Vancouver Sun, circa Sept. 9, 1996
    By Stewart Bell

    BLAINE, Wash. - The smuggler's white BMW slowed as it neared the rendezvous point on H Street, the darkened rural road that parallels the Canada-U.S. boundary on the outskirts of this border town.

    As the passenger door flung open, a man stumbled out of the forest with a backpack stuffed full of marijuana, which he had carried south across the international divide on a rough trail from Zero Avenue in Surrey.

    He lunged into the BMW, the door slammed and the car sped back past the cattle farms and rural homes towards Blaine, its red tail-lights fading into the night.

    Two police cruisers arrived within minutes, blue emergency lights flashing, but they were too late. Another bundle of B.C. grown pot, with an estimated street value of $90,000, was already on its way to U.S. streets.

    Despite a recent series of highly publicized drug seizures and government pledges to stamp out smuggling, scenes like this are an increasing occurrence along B.C.'s vast border with the United States.

    Although Ottawa has been talking tough about stemming the international flow of contraband, the 600-kilometre B.C.-U.S. divide remains as porous as ever to the increasing number of professional drug couriers who specialize in moving illicit cargo across the border.

    "We know that there are loose-knit organizations that are utilizing multiple couriers to smuggle marijuana," said Brian Rockom, special agent in charge of U.S. Customs in Blaine. "It's on the increase."

    The professional couriers are emerging to fill a vacuum in the local drug industry. Because of Canada's relatively slack drug penalties and B.C.'s favorable growing conditions, the province has emerged in recent years as one of the world's top marijuana growers, along with Mexico and Colombia. B.C. is also now the top exporter to the U.S. of potent hydroponic-grown marijuana, police say.

    But in order to survive, B.C.'s booming $1-billion marijuana-growing industry needs regular access to the U.S. market, according to police. B.C.-grown pot fetches $6,000 per pound in Washington, Oregon and California - more than twice the street price in Canada - creating a strong economic incentive to export.

    With so much money at stake, growers are turning increasingly to professional couriers to move their product efficiently across the border - couriers such as Lenny, who heads a smuggling ring that employs three people and moves an estimated $15 million worth of drugs into the U.S. from B.C. each year.

    Contacted by a reporter through an ad in a drug magazine, Lenny described himself as a 29-year-old ex-soldier from Bellingham, Wash. (The driver of the BMW in the incident described at the beginning of this story, Lenny agreed to be interviewed on the condition that his last name was not published.)

    He said he thinks of himself not as a criminal, but as an entrepreneur. He has a college arts education and runs his operation much like a business.

    He tries to ensure his prices are competitive, guarantees full refunds to "clients" if their goods are seized - no small gesture when the value of his cargo can reach six figures - and has a name for his company: Midnight Express.

    He even advertises. An ad in the fall edition of an underground magazine, Cannabis Canada, reads: "Border Problems? Midnight Express, specializing in importing and exporting, security guaranteed, no weight limit, professional and experienced. When it absolutely, positively has to be there tonight!"

    "I'm not purporting to be doing something new. People have been smuggling for centuries," said Lenny. But like his colleagues, Lenny has brought new sophistication to an ancient craft. He has as much high-tech hardware as border agents: night-vision goggles, camouflage, police scanners, two-way radios, a fast car, a pickup truck and a boat.

    "Most of my camouflage tactics were taught to me by Uncle Sam because I was in the army," he said. "That's kind of a giggle I get every now and again. The government that's looking for me is the same government that taught me what I know."

    Like a good soldier, Lenny believes in being prepared. He spends most of his work day studying the habits of Canadian and U.S. police and border agents. He watches them and notes their shift changes, breaks, habits, where they eat and when, where they place their motion sensors and how long it takes them to respond when one is tripped. He doesn't have a high regard for them.

    "They're bureaucrats," he said. "I don't see them as the enemy, I just don't think they're paid a lot and I don't think they have high standards. I don't want to call them stupid, but I don't think they're too sharp."

    Lenny fears not the customs agents or police who watch the border, but other criminals who might rob him, and he especially fears the Internal Revenue Service. "The tax man'll find you first," he said.

    To avoid this, he launders his profits through businesses in Washington state, mostly restaurants.

    "It's not bad," he said of his enviable income, about $5,000 per week. "I just have to put everything in my girlfriend's name. I try not to be too flashy."

    As for his friends and family, they think he's a commercial fisher, like his father.

    Southern B.C. borders three American states: Washington, Idaho and Montana. While the international highway crossings are heavily guarded, the border passes through countless isolated areas where policing smugglers is virtually impossible.

    "It's really easy" to smuggle drugs across the border using wilderness trails, said Vancouver marijuana activist Marc Emery. "You'd only get caught out of fluke."

    U.S. Customs estimates marijuana smuggling cases have risen more than ten-fold in the past few years, but Emery said only a fraction get caught. "The number of people getting caught are only about one-one-hundredth of the people doing it."

    The increase in marijuana smuggling comes despite a 212-year-old federal crackdown on smuggling described during its unveiling in February 1994 as "a comprehensive strategy to reduce tobacco and other contraband smuggling."

    The plan called for a 25-per-cent increase in frontline enforcement, with an additional 350 staff across Canada. Customs agents were also to hold special "border blitzes."

    Since January, customs officers have seized an estimated $600 million worth of drugs, including $115 million in B.C. and Yukon.

    But the booming marijuana trade continues to frustrate law-enforcement agencies.

    "Every method in the world is used," said Staff Sergeant Ken Ross of the RCMP drug squad. "Your imagination is the limit. You just have to get it from here across the border."

    Ross said the major problem isn't catching smugglers, it is getting them prosecuted by judges and lawyers who don't always view the crime as serious and may have been marijuana users themselves at one time.

    "Catching crooks and dope traffickers is easy. Getting them into court and through the system is different, and [smugglers] know that It gets to be 'What's the point?' We haul them into court and they get a $3,000 fine."

    Ross said Canadians must decide whether they want police to continue enforcing marijuana laws or whether the drug should just be legalized. Ross doesn't think it should be legalized, but Emery does.

    Lenny doesn't favor legalization. That would put him out of a job. He plans to vote Republican in the coming U.S. presidential election because he thinks Bob Dole is more likely than Bill Clinton to continue with the war on drugs that keeps Lenny in business.

    On the night of a recent smuggling run, Lenny, a youthful man with curly blond hair and a trendy goatee, started driving through Blaine at 9 p.m., listening to a police scanner that crackled in the back seat of his car.

    He drove past the police station and the border patrol office, and checked the regular hangouts where the police, border patrol and customs officers take their breaks. He was pleased when the police announced on the scanner that they were tending to a disturbance on the waterfront, far from his pickup point on rural H Street.

    He drove out of town, stopped beside a cattle farm and tested his night-vision glasses on a herd of cows. The glasses were army surplus and illuminated the night in a green glow. Then Lenny returned to the city, where he could better keep his eyes on the police.

    The cargo on that night was 7.5 kilograms of marijuana. Lenny's business would be paid $1,500 for picking it up in Surrey and delivering it to a wholesaler in the U.S. He would pay $300 to his employee, who had crossed into Canada earlier in the day to pick up the drugs and would hike back to the U.S. along a trail.

    Although border agents have placed motion sensors along the trail to detect smugglers, Lenny said he knows where most of them are and even if his partner tripped one, it takes police so long to respond, he would be long gone by the time they arrived.

    Lenny says he has smuggled guns into Canada, but mostly he works for marijuana growers, ferrying their crop south and taking their money north, a job that he says keeps him busy four to five days per week.

    He said the hardest part about his business is not becoming careless after so many successful trips across the border.

    "That happens to a lot of guys," he said. "They stop taking the precautions they should and they get caught. I guess you get careless when you get bored."

    Lenny left the Burger King parking lot at 9:54 p.m. and drove east on H Street, past the Payless Shoe Store and the Dairy Queen. He stopped at the corner of H Street and Sunrise Road and dimmed the headlights on the BMW.

    As he waited for his partner to scramble across the border, he reflected on why he remains in the dangerous field.

    "There's an excitement involved," he said. "I get a rush every time I do it. If you can do something you enjoy and make money out of it I enjoy staying one step ahead, and it does pay the bills."

    At 10:15 p.m., Lenny's partner emerged from the trail and they were gone, back toward the city.

    The police arrived five minutes later, blocking off the road, their blue emergency lights revolving in the night. After questioning a reporter at the scene and searching his car, the police cars sped off east down H Street - in the opposite direction from the smugglers.



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