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October 10, 1996

Multiple Sclerosis Patient To Travel To Washington For Medical Marijuana
Husband To Push Wheelchair For 250-Mile Walk

October 10, 1996, Jersey City, NJ: On October 14, Jim and Cheryl Miller will embark on a 235-mile walk to Washington D.C. to raise awareness for medical marijuana.

Diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1971, Ms. Miller has been unable to walk for over a dozen years. Her physician has prescribed her numerous medications, including the synthetic THC capsule Marinol, yet she claims that natural marijuana offers her the greatest relief for her illness.

Her doctor states that he would prescribe her marijuana in the plant form if it was legal to do so.

"I hope that by bringing attention to my wife Cheryl, I can cause marijuana to be made available so that she and others are no longer needlessly forced to suffer with their pain or risk arrest," said Mr. Miller. "Right now, the only relief Cheryl can get from her painful muscle spasms subjects her to the risk of being put in jail and having her bank account and property seized."

The Millers' intend to arrive in Washington, D.C. on October 21, where they plan on meeting with representatives from the Office of National Drug Control Policy, Drug Enforcement Administration, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. They also hope to persuade their representatives in Congress to come out in favor of legal access to medical marijuana.

For more information, please contact Jim Miller of No Problem Productions at (201) 433-3907 or leave a message at (908) 255-1713. For more information about medical marijuana, please contact Allen St. Pierre of NORML at (202) 483-5500.

NORML Chapter Challenges Harassment Of Students With Hemp Jewelry

October 8, Cleveland, OH: Northcoast NORML has sent a letter to the Willoughby/Eastlake School District demanding that the school system stop harassing students for wearing jewelry made from hemp fiber. Schools in the district have been sending students to the principle's office and calling parents to "discourage" students from wearing hemp jewelry, in accordance with a new policy enacted by school officials in September.

Spokespeople for the school system claim that the policy is designed to promote a drug-free environment and stifle "sympathetic" leanings toward marijuana, but Northcoast NORML contends that the administrators' intentions do not give them license to violate the First Amendment.

"Legal precedents make it clear that students have the right to engage in symbolic speech," said Northcoast NORML President John Hartman.

The letter, written by Attorney William Saks, states that the courts have consistently ruled that "students' viewpoints cannot be constitutionally suppressed even if they can be interpreted as being pro-drug. Assuming ... that the students wearing hemp are expressing sympathy for marijuana use, ... the fact that marijuana use is illegal does not invalidate the First Amendment protection for the students' expression."

The letter demands a written promise that the school system will cease all action inhibiting the wearing of hemp in school.

"Hemp is a natural, [legal] fiber that is attractive and hip," said Hartman. "A student has a right to wear it whether they are promoting the medicinal value of marijuana, protesting the laws against it, or just for fun."

For more information, please contact John Hartman of Northcoast NORML at (216) 521-9333.

Dole Aide Reportedly Used Pot In College

October 7, 1996, Hartford, CT: John Buckley, communications director for Republican Presidential Candidate Bob Dole, may have regularly used marijuana while in college, according to allegations made by former classmates.

In a story that first ran in a Boston weekly last month, former classmates of Buckley said that they recall him using and occasionally selling marijuana while he attended Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts. Most describe Buckley's alleged relationship with marijuana to have been typical for the environment.

"Yes, he smoked pot. So what? A lot of people smoked pot," said former college roommate Ed Benfey during an interview with Reuters News Service.

"It was socially acceptable in that place and time to smoke pot."

Benfey said that he didn't specifically remember Buckley ever selling pot, but a second classmate speaking to the Boston Phoenix anonymously maintained he both smoked and bought marijuana from Buckley.

Responding to the allegations in a prepared statement, Buckley maintained that, "Whether I or any member of the Dole or Clinton staff used marijuana 20 years ago when in college is not a relevant issue and I'm not going to respond to further questions on the subject."

Dole has recently attacked Clinton as being soft on the drug issue and specifically criticized the President for hiring people to the White House who had used drugs in the past.

Oregon Cannabis Tax Act Aims For 1998 Election

October 1996, Portland, OR: A proposed Oregon initiative measure to allow adults to purchase cannabis in state liquor stores has been certified by the state Supreme Court and activists are already gearing up to place the measure on the November 1998 state ballot.

Although this year's proposal failed to collect the 73,261 registered voters' signatures necessary to place the initiative on the 1996 ballot, organizers are convinced that a future, more organized, and better funded campaign will be successful. "The Oregon Cannabis Tax Act (OCTA) made it two-thirds of the way to the ballot with less than $10,000," stated a press release from initiative organizers. "That is amazing in this age of dollar driven politics. We [expect] to raise $100,000 to qualify OCTA for the 1998 Oregon ballot [and] we will begin on a volunteer effort now."

If passed, OCTA will replace all state and local marijuana laws except for DUI laws and will permit adults to purchase marijuana from state liquor stores. The measure would also allow doctors to prescribe marijuana to patients through pharmacies, allow farmers to grow marijuana with a license for sales to the state, allow adults to grow marijuana for personal use without a license, and allow for industrial hemp cultivation. Ninety percent of the net proceeds will go to a state general fund, and the remaining 10 percent will be used to fund drug abuse education and treatment programs. Sale and possession to minors will still remain strictly prohibited.

For more information on OCTA, please contact the Campaign for the Restoration & Regulation of Hemp at (503) 235-4606 or write to: P.O. Box 86741, Portland, OR 97286. Inquiries can also be made to Portland NORML at (503) 777-9088 or by checking out their Web page at:




Regional and other news

Body Count

Five of the nine 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 (Oct. 10, 1996, p. 7, 3M-MP-SE). That makes the body count so far this year 299 out of 540, or 55.37 percent.

OCTA Update

The final papers for the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act have been filed. Veteran Oregon hemp activist Bill Conde has signed on as the third and final Chief Petitioner. (For more on Conde, see the article, "Conde & Seber: Building Toward The Future With Hemp," from the July 1994 High Times, posted at Conde, owner of Conde Redwood Lumber Co., can be contacted at 23005 N. Coburg Road, Harrisburg, OR 97446, tel. (800) 728-9488 (no e-mail yet).

Petitions have been printed and, as this is posted, at least 60 signatures have been collected by at least one small team (including the editor) who staked out a rainy Portland Saturday Market on Sunday, Oct. 13. Paul Stanford, also a Chief Petitioner, left town the day before to distribute many more petitions and the latest edition of OCTA's Cascadia Hemp News at the annual Barter Faire in Southern Oregon, where a crowd of 25,000 hemp-friendly people was expected.

The sad news is that Floyd Ferris Landrath, a.k.a. the American Anti-Prohibition League, who served as statewide petitioning coordinator during the last OCTA campaign, has resigned from OCTA's interim executive committee and withdrawn the support of the AAPL from OCTA. Landrath is also Assistant Director of Portland NORML. His departure will undoubtedly create complications for the organization of the new campaign, but should not prevent it from soon establishing a new and more decentralized system for coordinating petitioning and volunteer efforts, which will rely heavily on the Internet.

OCTA's interim executive committee met Oct. 7 to discuss and decide Landrath's status with the campaign. (The committee included Chief Petitioners Paul Loney, Bill Conde and Paul Stanford, plus Landrath, yours truly the editor, and Eugene activist Dan Koozer. Conde was absent and Koozer took part by conference call.) Prior to the meeting, Landrath, citing his extensive work on behalf of past reform campaigns, had issued an ultimatum demanding that the American Anti-Prohibition League be named as the sponsor of OCTA, as opposed to OCTA's chartered political action committee, the Campaign for the Restoration and Regulation of Hemp. Various objections were raised, including the AAPL's platform calling for an end to all substance prohibitions, not just that pertaining to hemp. Nobody else wanted to allow opponents of OCTA the opportunity to turn the cannabis-reform initiative into a referendum on drug prohibition in general. In the end, by a 3-0 vote, with Landrath and Loney abstaining, the committee rejected Landrath's demand. Landrath thereupon resigned.

Later, Landrath informed OCTA it could no longer use the Phantom Gallery as an office and would have to remove its phone. The phone, at (503) 235-4606, was soon online again, and new digs will be found presently. In the meantime, please continue to send all correspondence to CRRH at its registered address, P.O. Box 86741, Portland, OR 97286.

Although no formal search has been announced yet, anyone with a lot of spare time, burning dedication and computer expertise who would like to apply for the position of OCTA's petitioning coordinator should please contact one or more of the interim executive committee members at (Loney), (Stanford) or (Koozer). (Or use Conde's addresses, cited before.) Anyone else who would like to help the OCTA campaign by gathering signatures or whatever can also please contact Stanford or Smith in Portland, Koozer in Eugene, or see the list of other OCTA coordinators around the state posted at

Portland CBC Folds?

Several second-hand reports say the Portland Cannabis Buyers Club has disbanded abruptly, possibly leaving some former members worrying about what happened to their medical records. With everything else that's been happening, there has been no time to get the facts, but stay tuned.

E-mail List For Oregon Hempsters

OCTA will probably launch a new Usenet newsgroup in the next two or three weeks, and may or may not also soon launch its own e-mail list-server (allowing any subscriber to post messages for all other subscribers to read and comment on). In the meantime, anyone interested in taking part in hemp-related discussions among Oregon activists and researchers (or perhaps in lurking in the background) can subscribe to Ron Friedland administers the Eugene-based list-server. To subscribe, either send e-mail to with the line "subscribe hemp" (without the quotation marks) in the body of the message, or write to Ron at and he will handle it.

US Supreme Court Allows Roadblocks For Drugs

WASHINGTON, Oct. 7, 1996 (Reuter) - The Supreme Court Monday let stand a precedent-setting ruling that states may establish roadblocks for the chief purpose of intercepting illegal drugs.

The high court rejected a challenge that argued the roadblocks had been established on the pretext of ensuring compliance with traffic laws and violated the constitutional protections against unreasonable searches and seizures.

The case arose out of roadblocks Florida law enforcement officials set up on four state highways near the Georgia border in January 1984.

As part of the two-day operation, Florida law enforcement officials set up temporary checkpoints along the highways to stop traffic and to use drug-sniffing dogs to check the vehicles.

About 2,100 vehicles passed through the roadblocks, of which approximately 1,300 were stopped. In all, one person was arrested for the possession of illegal drugs while 61 traffic-related citations were also issued.

The roadblocks lasted for several hours throughout the evening rush, causing backups and delays of up to 45 minutes.

A lawsuit was filed by two people on behalf of all motorists who were stopped. It sought compensatory and punitive damages for violations of their constitutional rights.

A federal judge dismissed the lawsuit and a U.S. Court of Appeals in Atlanta agreed. It said the chief purpose of the operation was to intercept drugs, but ruled the state does have the power to conduct roadblocks to check drivers' licenses and vehicle registrations.

When the full appeals court declined to review the case, the three dissenting judges said the ruling marked the first time any federal appeals court has upheld roadblocks to intercept drugs as legal.

The attorneys for the motorists urged the Supreme Court to hear the case, saying law enforcement officials around the country were likely to adopt similar temporary, unannounced roadblocks for drugs. But the high court sided with the state of Florida, denying the appeal without any comment or dissent.

They that give up necessary liberty to obtain temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. -- Ben Franklin

San Francisco Cannabis Buyers Club Founder Arrested

SAN FRANCISCO, Oct. 11, 1996 (AP) - The founder of a club that provided marijuana to people with AIDS, cancer and other terminal diseases was arrested Friday, accused of selling pot to drug peddlers.

Dennis Peron, also an organizer of a ballot measure to legalize marijuana for medical uses, was arrested two months after state agents shut down his Cannabis Buyers Club and seized more than 100 pounds of marijuana.

San Francisco's prosecutor and other local officials who had tolerated the club for years criticized the raid, which was ordered by California's attorney general, Dan Lungren.

Cartoonist Garry Trudeau also ridiculed the raid in his Doonesbury comic strip, and Lungren responded by accusing Trudeau of encouraging a "wink-and-nod" attitude toward drugs.

City District Attorney Terence Hallinan said Friday's arrest was an "abuse of the prosecutorial power" by Lungren to influence the November vote on the medical marijuana ballot measure - Proposition 215.

But Lungren said a two-year investigation was initiated by city police, and he noted that state drug agents found the club was providing marijuana to children, drug peddlers and people who weren't really ill.

"The timing has nothing to do with 215," said Lungren, who also ordered the raid of the Los Angeles Cannabis Buyers Club last month.

The indictment, which charged Peron with conspiracy, and possession and sale of marijuana, was obtained across the bay, in Alameda County.

"They didn't have the guts to charge us in San Francisco," Peron told the San Francisco Examiner from Santa Rita Jail. "They just barged in this morning."

Hallinan said he would try to have the case prosecuted in San Francisco rather than in Alameda County.

The club openly sold the illegal drug since 1991, operating from a storefront on a busy street and claiming 11,000 members. Members insisted they had rigid restrictions and required proof of a patient's medical condition to sell marijuana.

But the indictment says undercover agents were able to obtain marijuana with faked doctors' notes recommending the drug as treatment. Some agents presented club owners with notes from fictitious doctors who suggested marijuana for ailments like acute back pain, colitis and insomnia.

Lungren said five others alleged to be involved in the operation of the Cannabis Buyer's Club were also being sought.

[Jerry Sutliff writes: By the way, isn't it illegal to forge doctor's notes for the purpose of obtaining medication (legal or illegal)?]

San Francisco Examiner Endorses Proposition 215 With A Strong Editorial

"Yes on 215: Medical Pot" (Oct. 8, 1996)

A vote for pharmaceutical pot would overrule Wilson's vetoes of commen-sense bills - and strike a blow against hyposcrisy.

Doctors can prescribe all manner of highly addictive or potentially dangerous narcotics, such as morphine or barbiturates. But never underestimate the power of hypocrisy.

That's why you can't get marijuana from a drug store. It's instead by a drug dealer. This makes you a criminal if a few puffs or pot are the only effective medicine for, say, the ghastly nausea that accompanies chemotherapy.

For three years, Gov. Wilson has vetoed bills to legalize medical uses of marijuana. Ironically, this has brought a terrible punishment on the very people he claims to hold in high regard - the upright citizens who would rather suffer the agonies of the damned than break a law, any law, no matter how hypocritical.

It's hypocrisy because hundreds of research papers have demonstrated the medical values of marijuana for patients with arthritis, asthma, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, AIDS, cancer and other afflictions.

It's hypocrisy because, in spite of the helicopters now buzzing hidden fields of sinsemilla, marijuana is still a major cash crop in many backwoods districts.

It's hypocrisy because it might take as long as 10 minutes for a vistor from Mars to score a bag of illegal pot in any community with a population greater than 200. Otherwise it might take 30 minutes.

We often wonder if the initiative process in California isn't abused by cynical promoters who seek their fortune by coming up with propositions that will generate a deluge of donations.

But that's clearly not the case with Proposition 215 on the Nov. 5 ballot. it would regulate medical use of marijuana under a physician's care. Patients would be allowed to possess, grow and use marijuana.

It gives the voters a chance to overrule a governor whose political ambitions evidently require obeisance to political conservatives. Perhaps it's unfare to generalize, but in this case we are thinking of pretty nice people usually devoted to common sense. Instead, crazed revulsion erupts at what recreational use of marijuana seems to symbolize: Smirking disrespect, repudiation of tradtional values, criminal behavior and a very bad attitude.

That's not what's happening here.

Listen to Anna T. Boyce, a registered nurse for 27 years and a confessed scofflaw: "Two years ago, my husband J.J. was diagnosed with lung cancer. He went through hell - chemotherapy was agony. Luckily, I knew about the medical use of marijuana. A few puffs after chemotherapy blocked his nausea, and made his lasts months bearable."

Vote yes on Prop. 215

Marijuana Policy Project Posts Report On States' Medicinal Marijuana Laws

Washington, D.C., Oct. 9, 1996 - The Marijuana Policy Project has recently added to its World Wide Web site an extensive report and analysis of the medicinal marijuana laws in all 50 states and the District of Columbia -


State legislatures have several options to enable some patients to use medicinal marijuana even within the confines of federal prohibition. It is extremely important for state legislators and activists to understand what can and cannot be accomplished on the state level before developing a legislative strategy. This report is the most thorough, up-to-date compendium of the states' medicinal marijuana laws. Thirty-five states (including the District of Columbia) have enacted favorable laws, which remain on the books in 24 states. Some of these laws enabled hundreds of patients to use marijuana, despite federal prohibition.

In this paper, the MPP analyzes the pros and cons of each legislative option, describes state-level legislative activism presently underway, and offers direction and advice to people interested in making marijuana medically available in their states. Key points include: The main goal of state legislation is to provide for a legal supply of marijuana; the top two priorities of state legislation should be to eliminate the penalties for possessing and cultivating medicinal marijuana and to open a state therapeutic research program; other options that have been tried generally send a message to the federal government but do not directly help patients gain access to medicinal marijuana.



To support the MPP's work and receive the bimonthly (hard-copy)
newsletter, "Marijuana Policy Report," please send $25.00 annual
membership dues to:

Marijuana Policy Project (MPP)
P.O. Box 77492
Capitol Hill
Washington, D.C. 20013

202-462-5747 TEL
202-232-0442 FAX

New Evidence Backs CIA-Contra-Cocaine Allegations

San Jose Mercury News, Oct. 3, 1996
Affidavit: Cops knew of drug ring
Document sheds light on Contra-cocaine link

By Gary Webb and Pamela Kramer

LOS ANGELES - During the early 1980s, federal and local narcotics agents knew that a massive drug ring operated by Nicaraguan Contra rebels was selling large amounts of cocaine "mainly to blacks living in the South-Central Los Angeles area," according to a search-warrant affidavit obtained by the Mercury News.

The Oct. 23, 1986, affidavit identifies former Nicaraguan government official Danilo Blandon as "the highest-ranking member of this organization" and describes a sprawling drug operation involving more than 100 Nicaraguan Contra sympathizers.

The affidavit of Thomas Gordon, a former Los Angeles County sheriff's narcotics detective, is the first independent corroboration that the Contra army - the Nicaraguan Democratic Force - was dealing cocaine to gangs in Los Angeles' black neighborhoods. Known by its Spanish initials, the FDN was an anti-communist commando group formed and run by the CIA during the 1980s.

Gordon's sworn statement says that both the Drug Enforcement Administration and the FBI had informants inside the Blandon drug ring for several years before sheriff's deputies raided it Oct. 27, 1986. Gordon's affidavit is based on police interviews with those informants and one of the DEA agents who was investigating Blandon.

Twice during the past year, Ron Spear, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department spokesman, told the Mercury News that his department had no records of the 1986 raids and specifically denied having a copy of Gordon's search-warrant affidavit - even after two pages of it surfaced during the March 1996 cocaine trafficking trial of legendary Los Angeles "crack" cocaine dealer "Freeway" Rick Ross.

The Mercury News obtained the entire search warrant affidavit this week.

Wednesday, Sheriff Sherman Block's office did not respond to written questions about the raid, the warrant, records of what was found and what happened to those records and evidence.

A recent Mercury News series revealed how Blandon's operation, which sold thousands of kilos of cocaine to black Los Angeles drug dealers such as Ross, created the first mass market for cocaine in the United States during the early 1980s and helped fuel a crack explosion that is still reverberating through black communities. Several investigations into U.S. government knowledge of, and possible involvement with, the Nicaraguan drug ring are under way. Both the CIA and the Justice Department have denied government involvement.

Call to CIA headquarters

But according to a legal motion filed in a 1990 case involving a deputy who helped execute the search warrants, one of the suspects in the raid identified himself as a CIA agent and asked police to call CIA headquarters in Virginia to confirm his identity. The motion, filed by Los Angeles defense attorney Harland W. Braun on behalf of Deputy Daniel Garner, said the narcotics detectives allowed the man to make the call but then carted away numerous documents purportedly linking the U.S. government to cocaine trafficking and money-laundering efforts on behalf of the Contras.

The motion said CIA agents appeared at the sheriff's department within 48 hours of the raid and removed the seized files from the evidence room. But Braun said detectives secretly copied 10 pages before the documents were spirited away. Braun attempted to introduce them in the 1990 criminal trial to force the federal government to back off the case. Braun was hit with a gag order, the documents were put under seal and Garner was convicted of corruption charges.

Internal sheriff's department records of the raid "mysteriously disappeared" around the same time the seized files were taken, Braun's motion said. That claim was buttressed in an interview this week by an officer involved in the raid, and earlier by an attorney for one of the defendants.

Ex-cop fingered

The officer, who would not allow himself to be identified, said the alleged CIA agent was Ronald J. Lister, a former Laguna Beach police detective who worked with Blandon in the drug ring. The 1986 search-warrant affidavit identifies Lister's home in Laguna Beach as one of the places searched. It says Lister was involved in transporting drug money to Miami and was Blandon's partner in a security company. The company, according to a former employee, was doing work at a Salvadoran military air base in the early 1980s. Lister pleaded guilty to cocaine trafficking in 1991.

A 1986 FBI report obtained from the National Archives last year said Lister claimed his security business was "CIA approved."

Since at least 1983, Gordon's affidavit said, both Blandon and Lister were under DEA investigation. Other court records say Blandon turned up in DEA investigative files as early as 1981. Blandon now works for the DEA as an undercover informant.

At Ross' trial in March, Blandon - the Nicaraguan government's director of wholesale markets under the U.S.-supported dictatorship of Anastasio Somoza - testified that he was one of the founders of the Los Angeles branch of the FDN, and that he sold cocaine to raise funds for that army.

Detective Gordon's 1986 search-warrant affidavit, which was approved by Los Angeles Municipal Court Judge Glenette Blackwell, mirrors much of Blandon's sworn testimony last March.

"Informant #2 stated to your affiant that Blandon is a 'Contra' sympathizer and a founder of the ... (FDN), an organization that assists the Contra movement with arms and money," Gordon's affidavit states. "The money and arms generated by the organization come through sales of cocaine. Informant #2 provided some 100 names of persons involved with the distribution of cocaine. All of these persons are either Nicaraguan and/or sympathizers to the Contra movement."

The affidavit names Lister; Blandon's father, Julio; his wife, Chepita; banker Orlando Murillo; and another man as "being directly involved with cocaine distribution."

'Up to 20 kilos a week'

The affidavit also said Blandon was delivering "up to 20 kilos a week" to a Nicaraguan cocaine dealer named Ivan Arguellas "who in turn sells mainly to blacks living in the South-Central Los Angeles area." It said Blandon "uses a beer bar at Central Avenue and Adams Street in Los Angeles to distribute as much as 10 kilos of cocaine per week." Arguellas was described as being "confined to a wheelchair as the result of being shot (in) a drug-related incident."

During an interview with the Mercury News last year, former Los Angeles crack king Ross said one of his first cocaine sources was "a guy named Ivan, who was in a wheelchair."

Gordon, like six of the seven other narcotics detectives who staged the Blandon raids, was later indicted on federal corruption charges in the early 1990s. After two trials, including one in which he defended himself, Gordon was convicted of one count of tax evasion. He could not be reached for comment.

'Contras, Crack, The CIA' (The Nation)

"Contras, Crack, the C.I.A."
By Robert Parry
The Nation, Oct. 21, 1996

Allegations that contra rebels, under the benevolent gaze of the C.I.A., smuggled cocaine into U.S. cities to finance their war in Nicaragua have brought new promises of a thorough federal investigation. Yet according to government documents recently obtained by The Nation, evidence that the U.S. government turned a blind eye to contra drug trafficking has long resided in Washington files. Those records show that Ronald Reagan's Justice Department brushed aside many eyewitness accounts of C.I.A. links to contra smuggling.

Typical was the case of 31-year-old Wanda Palacio, who broke with Colombia's Medellin cartel in 1986 and became an F.B.I. informant.

Palacio also approached Massachusetts Senator John Kerry and told his office that she had witnessed cocaine being loaded onto planes bearing the markings of Southern Air Transport, a onetime C.I.A.-owned airline then under Pentagon contract.

Kerry, who was already investigating the contras, hand-delivered Palacio's eleven-page "proffer" statement on September 26, 1986, to William Weld, then the Justice Department's Assistant Attorney General for Criminal Affairs. According to Palacio's statement, she had stood with cocaine kingpin Jorge Ochoa at the airport in Barranquilla, Colombia, in 1983 as a cocaine shipment was loaded onto a Southern Air Transport plane. Palacio said that Ochoa told her it was "a C.I.A. plane and that he was exchanging drugs for guns." Ochoa added that he was giving money to both the Nicaraguan contras and the ruling Sandinistas to hedge his bets against any outcome of their civil war. (This point was corroborated in F.B.I. interviews with a drug cartel lawyer, Patricia Velez, who also claimed that "Ochoa finances both Sandinista and anti-Sandinista in Nicaragua.")

Two years later, Palacio said, in early October 1985, she was back in Barranquilla with some of Ochoa's aides as another Southern Air Transport plane was loaded with cocaine. "I concluded that the guns-for-drug connection still continued," she said.

According to notes taken by a member of Kerry's staff, Weld chuckled as he read the sections about C.I.A. personnel. "This isn't the first time today I've seen allegations about C.I.A. agent involvement in drugs," Weld reportedly remarked. "There are bum agents, former and current C.I.A. agents."

Over the next week, Weld's 1986 calendars show, he had frequent phone conversations about the Palacio allegations. But at a follow-up meeting with Kerry's staff on October 3, Justice officials challenged Palacio's credibility. She had claimed, for instance, that she contacted the F.B.I. in June, but the F.B.I. said the first meeting was in mid-July. Palacio's testimony conflicted with President Reagan's insistence that the U.S. government was not arming the contras and that contra leaders were not drug traffickers. On October 5, however, a Sandinista soldier shot down one of Oliver North's gunrunning planes inside Nicaragua. The co-pilot, Wallace "Buzz" Sawyer, and two others died. A cargo handler named Eugene Hasenfus was the only survivor.

Later that week, as Palacio was again meeting with Kerry's investigators, she gasped when she saw Sawyer's photo flash on the TV. Palacio exclaimed that Sawyer had been one of the Southern Air pilots she saw loading cocaine in Barranquilla in early October 1985 - an assertion met with incredulity by Kerry's staff. But after the plane crash, the Associated Press sent me on assignment to Managua, where Sandinista military intelligence chief Ricardo Wheelock showed me documents recovered from the plane. I scribbled down all the entries from Sawyer's flight logs, in which the pilot had used airport codes to designate the cities visited. I deciphered them only after returning to Washington. Three entries - for October 2, 4 and 6, 1985 - listed Sawyer flying a Southern Air L382 from Miami to Barranquilla.

Palacio's passport established that she was in Colombia during that period. In addition, she passed an F.B.I. polygraph exam about her Colombia account. But the Justice Department noted that Palacio's responses to several other questions came up "inconclusive," and Weld refused to pursue her allegations.

On November 25, 1986, the Iran/contra scandal broke wide open with disclosure of Oliver North's diversion of Iranian arms profits to the contras. As the scandal spread, Palacio's story hit the Miami news media. Southern Air officials admitted that Sawyer flew their planes but angrily denied involvement in cocaine smuggling. The company filed a libel suit against one TV station that carried the Palacio story - a suit that immediately chilled media coverage (years later it was dismissed).

Wearied by the Justice Department, in a Senate deposition on August 7, 1987, Palacio complained that "the FBI stopped working with me all of a sudden because of this Southern Air Transport deal.... Justice doesn't want to hear me." After her encounter with Washington politics, Palacio returned home to Puerto Rico. Other contra-cocaine witnesses suffered similar rebuffs.

But the C.I.A.-contra-drug connection rose to national prominence recently when reporter Gary Webb wrote a series for the San Jose Mercury News describing the street-level impact of the contra cocaine in Southern California. Drawing from court records and documents at the National Archives, Webb detailed how - with near impunity - contra leaders smuggled the cocaine that fueled the crack epidemic. Webb's series touched off an uproar in black communities.

The question of C.I.A. knowledge of contra drug smuggling, borne out by other documents obtained by The Nation, could resonate in Massachusetts as well this election year. Weld, now the Republican Governor of that state, is the G.O.P. candidate challenging John Kerry for his Senate seat. When I asked Weld about Wanda Palacio, he responded with uncharacteristic harshness, declaring that his Justice aides had "felt her credibility was roughly that of a wagonload of diseased blankets."

But Charles Saphos, who was Weld's narcotics chief at Justice, was much less strident. "I would not put her up as a government witness without more corroboration," he told me. The larger truth about Wanda Palacio may be that she was a witness who brought forward unwelcome news about the contras, the C.I.A. and cocaine.

Letter to The Los Angeles Times

By J.Thomas Ungerleider, Los Angeles, circa Oct. 7, 1996

The writer was appointed by former President Nixon to the National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse.

Robert A. Jones' essay on the CIA and drugs (Sept. 25) makes the distinction between blacks' and whites' perceptions of the likelihood of the CIA's smuggling drugs into this country (and into South-Central Los Angeles). He also raises the question of why they would do this.

For most whites the very smuggling of drugs into any part of this country by the government is amoral and, for some, unthinkable. But (as in the O.J. Simpson trial which he compares this to), isn't it crucial to look at the evidence? Jones says there is no evidence, so we do not know, but he is wrong.

For in 1989, our neighbor Costa Rica declared Oliver North and ex-CIA agent John Hull persona non grata, the most severe noncriminal penalty a government can impose, banning them from that country for life. This was for overseeing an airlift which smuggled cocaine from Costa Rica into the United States.

Even though North didn't keep the profits himself, using them instead to get arms for the Contras, he did this at the very time that then-President Reagan and then-Vice President Bush were leading our nation's "war on drugs"! That is evidence enough for me that some government officials knew, sanctioned and/or participated in this activity.

One Drug Agent's Decade-Long Battle (Salon)

Salon (an Internet 'zine), Oct. 8, 1996

Right hand, left hand
One drug agent's decade-long battle to expose the Contra-cocaine connection - and how the government got in the way

By Dennis Bernstein and Robert Knight
Pacific News Service

Veteran Drug Enforcement Agent Celerino Castillo III says he never figured his toughest anti-drug case would be against the federal government that employed him for 15 years.

Last week, flanked by civil rights activist Dick Gregory and the Rev. Joseph Lowery of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Castillo staged a public protest at DEA headquarters in Washington. His demand: an official investigation into the Reagan-Bush governments' clandestine Iran-Contra policy, which allegedly flooded the U.S.'s predominantly black communities with crack cocaine during the 1980s.

This was not the first effort by Castillo to expose what he believes to be the true story. Along with other law enforcement officials, congressional investigators and investigative reporters - most recently Gary Webb of the San Jose Mercury News - Castillo has been battling for over a decade to expose the government's alleged use of drug profits to finance covert operations against Nicaragua's Sandinista government. CIA officials have consistently denied the charges.

His crusade began around January 14, 1986, when Castillo says he tried to alert then Vice President George Bush at a U.S. embassy party in Guatemala. At the time Castillo was covering several Central American countries for the DEA. Convinced that "something funny" was going on at El Salvador's Ilopango military air base - later revealed to be a prime transshipment point for Contra drugs, arms and money - he told Bush. "But he just shook my hand, smiled and walked away from me," Castillo recalls.

In the ensuing months, Castillo gathered his own evidence. In a Feb. 14, 1989 memo to his Guatemala-based DEA supervisor, Castillo detailed how known traffickers with multiple DEA files used hangars controlled by the CIA and by Lt. Col. Oliver North - then the point man at the National Security Council for sharing intelligence, transportation and military facilities with Contra leaders - at Ilopango and obtained U.S. visas, despite their background.

"There is no doubt that they were running large quantities of cocaine into the U.S. to support the Contras," Castillo told reporters in a 1994 interview on the eve of North's bid for a Senate seat in Virginia. "We saw the cocaine and we saw boxes full of money. We're talking about very large quantities of cocaine and millions of dollars."

Oliver North's own notebooks are chock full of references to drug-related Contra operations that appear to support Castillo's claims. On July 9, 1984, when the Contras were desperate for money, North wrote that he "went and talked to (Contra leader Federico) Vaughn, [who] wanted aircraft to go to Bolivia to pick up paste, wanted aircraft to pick up 1,500 kilos."

There are other documents that appear to lend weight to Castillo's charges:

An internal document of the House Committee on Narcotics Abuse and Control, dated June 25, 1986, concluded that "a number of individuals who supported the contras (in both the U.S. and Central America) have suggested that cocaine is being smuggled in the U.S. through the same infrastructure which is procuring, storing and transporting weapons explosives, ammunition and military equipment for the Contras from the United States." A City of Miami Police Intelligence Report dated Sept. 26, 1984, states that money to support Contras being illegally trained in Florida "comes from narcotics transactions." Every page of that document is stamped: "Record furnished to George Kosinsky, FBI." Justice Department head Janet Reno, then Florida's chief prosecutor, apparently took no action on the allegations. In the spring of 1986, John Mattes, a former Miami-based Federal Public Defender, began working with the office of Sen. John Kerry to investigate the Contra-drug connection. Mattes, like Castillo, had sought without success to expose link between Florida Contra training camps and drug traffickers.

"What we investigated and uncovered," Mattes recalls, "was the very infrastructure of the network that had the veil of national security protecting it, so that people could load cannons in broad daylight, in public airports, on flights going to Ilopango Airport, where in fact the very same people were bringing narcotics back into the U.S., unimpeded."

When informed about the network, Mattes said federal officials "decided that in fact they didn't want to look at the Contras. They wanted to ... try to deter us from our investigation. We were threatened on countless occasions by FBI agents who told us that we'd gone too far in our investigation of the Contras." In 1987 and 1988, Kerry's subcommittee on Narcotics and International Terrorism took reams of testimony on the CIA-cocaine connection from CIA agents, Contra mercenaries, drug pilots, Medellin cartel accountants, and law enforcement officials. Kerry said at the time that "our covert agencies have converted themselves to channels for drugs."

Castillo is not the first DEA agent to run afoul of other government agencies in the course of overseas drug investigations. Last month, Richard Horn, a 23-year veteran of the DEA, filed a federal class action suit against the CIA, the National Security Agency and the State Department for unlawfully spying on him and other unnamed DEA employees and their families. Horn, who currently serves as a group supervisor in field division in New Orleans, La., claims in the lawsuit that illegal electronic surveillance and eavesdropping of DEA agents has been going on all over the world, undermining the ability of DEA agents to trust other U.S. government officials.

In 1994, Horn had filed a lawsuit charging the former U.S. Charge d'Affairs for Burma and Burma CIA Chief of Station with violating his civil rights by spying on him during his tour of duty in Rangoon, Burma. The defendants in that suit have successfully sought delays, claiming in part that the suit threatens national security interests.

Horn, 49, served in Burma in 1992 and 1993. To date Horn has refrained from giving interviews to the news media about his case. But one former DEA agent with 15 years of field experience in South America says he believes Horn's claim is right. "I know it right to my soul that I was bugged," the agent, who asked to remain anonymous, said in a telephone interview. "I would say things intentionally on the phone to see if I was bugged, and it would come back to me from people in Central Intelligence. They were so brazen. Central Intelligence felt they could get away with murder and I'm sure they did."

CIA Public Affairs Officer Dave Christian, asked about Horn's suit, said, "It's not a part of the CIA's mission to do anything like that [wiretap DEA agents in-country] and we don't."

In Castillo's case, both Attorney General Janet Reno and CIA director John Deutch have stated there is no evidence to support the allegations being made against the CIA. Ten years ago, the CIA dismissed allegations about its Contra-drug connection as "fantasy, the most scurrilous kind of journalism."

Robert Knight and Dennis Bernstein were founders of the Contragate/Undercurrents investigative news program for which Knight won the George R. Polk Award for Radio Reporting. Knight and Bernstein won The Jesse Meriton White Award for International Reporting and the National Federation of Community Broadcasting award for reporting on the Iran-Contra affair.

'Drug Agent Faces Arrest In Case Of Peeping Tom'

San Jose Mercury News, Oct. 4, 1996
By Raoul V. Mowatt, Mercury News Staff Writer

The head of the San Jose office of the Drug Enforcement Administration was charged Thursday with engaging in some sordid surveillance.

San Jose police obtained a warrant for the arrest of Michael Meyrick as a peeping Tom. The warrant says he peered into the windows of two women - one of them a Mountain View police officer - who live in his South San Jose apartment complex.

The officer allegedly saw Meyrick staring into her window Sept. 26 and ran out of her ground-level apartment to find him the only person nearby. She yelled at him to stop, and at first he complied, but then he bolted, according to police reports. She and two others chased him down, struggled with him and held him for San Jose police.

A week later, after police canvassed the neighborhood, a warrant was issued charging him with two counts of prowling and one count of resisting arrest.

"It's a sad situation for everybody," San Jose police Capt. Tom Wheatley said. "There's an expectation by the public and us (in law enforcement) that we're supposed to be better than that."

Meyrick's attorney, Dan Jensen, contends it is a case of mistaken identity, in which his client was jogging in the area. He said he expects the 47-year-old Meyrick, who is out of the area, to turn himself in by early next week.

Meyrick, who has been in charge of the DEA's two dozen agents based in San Jose for about a year, has been placed on paid administrative leave. Stan Vigar, a DEA spokesman, said that after the criminal case is resolved, Meyrick could face internal discipline. He declined to answer further questions.

Endorsements Roll In For Proposition 215

Alan R. Silverman writes:

The following organizations recommend a vote of YES on California Ballot Proposition 215:

National Organization for Women
American Civil Liberties Union
Californian Nurses Association
California Labor Federation (AFL/CIO)
California Federation of Teachers (AFL/CIO)
Friends Committee on Legislation of California

This list compiled by Russ Jorgensen of Sonoma County and published by the Sonoma County Peach and Justice Center. It is widely distributed in the county.

The only NO on 215 was the California Medical Association. They have supported medical marijuana in the past, but they have been pursuaded to not endorse prop 215. - alan

'Clinton, FDA Criticized For Limiting Sale of Drug Tests'

Los Angeles Times, Oct. 8, 1996

  • Health: Kits designed for home use are marketed by a Georgia woman, who refuses to submit data for approval. She and GOP cite parents' rights.

    By Melissa Healy, Times Staff Writer

    WASHINGTON - The Clinton administration, already stung by Republican charges of complacency in the face of rising drug use, has come under a fresh round of fire for restricting sale of home drug tests designed for parents to administer to their children.

    Although GOP presidential candidate Bob Dole has been responsible for most of the drug policy criticism so far, the latest salvos are coming from Republican lawmakers who accuse the Food and Drug Administration of denying parents a potent weapon for fighting drug abuse in the home.

    Led by House Commerce Committee Chairman Thomas J. Bliley Jr. (R-Va.), Republicans cite the FDA's actions as a prime example of what they characterize as a heavy-handed approach to regulation in an area where they believe parents' rights should be paramount.

    At issue is whether "Parents' Alert," a home drug test marketed by a one-woman firm in Georgia, should be commercially available without going through a lengthy FDA approval process.

    Priced at $40, the test kit consists of a widely used, FDA-approved, urine-collection cup, an envelope for mailing it to a government-approved laboratory and a pamphlet explaining the meaning of the lab results, along with phone numbers of drug-abuse hotlines in the event of a positive result.

    Since the mid-1980s, the FDA has treated home drug test kits as "Class 3 Medical Devices." The designation puts Parents' Alert in the category of medical devices presenting the most serious risks if misused by the intended consumers, in this case, parents.

    Other Class 3 devices include X-ray machines (which are intended for use by trained medical clinicians), cardiac pacemakers, extended-wear contact lenses and anti-snoring devices placed in the mouth during sleep.

    So far, the FDA has not approved an application for an over-the-counter test for illegal drugs, although in one case it approved the marketing of a home drug test by a physician's prescription.

    In deliberations on past submissions and in a recent Capitol Hill hearing, FDA regulators have questioned whether parents, acting without a physician's assistance, can understand the results of a test and respond appropriately. Of particular concern is the possibility of a false-positive result, they said.

    In notes taken during a 1995 meeting with FDA attorneys, one firm seeking the agency's approval for a home test cited the agency's concern that such tests could cause "family discord" and subject children to "coercion" from their parents.

    Sunny Cloud, a Marietta, Ga., parent who began marketing Parents' Alert after she caught her son smoking marijuana three years ago, never has applied for FDA approval of the test. Defying the agency's warnings that she could be held liable for steep civil penalties if she continues to market the tests for home use, Cloud said that she has sold slightly more than 1,000 of the kits. Bliley's office, citing provisions in criminal law, said that Cloud could be subject to a year in prison for every kit she has sold.

    Cloud, however, is adamant. Arguing that a virtually identical drug-test package has been used by major employers for years, she has refused to subject her product to the FDA approval process and is still selling the kits by mail order from her home.

    Government regulators and their allies see the case as a commercial dispute started by a businesswoman who does not want to submit her product to government scrutiny intended to ensure its safety, reliability and benefit to consumers.

    Cloud says that the dispute involves government regulation that is arrogant, bureaucratic and hostile to small businesses. But she contends that it involves a grander principle as well: the right of parents to rear their children free of government interference. Cloud is furious that the FDA would deny parents a tool for managing their children's affairs that corporations routinely use in managing their work forces.

    "FDA was concerned about these tools because they said it would cause divisiveness and friction within the family," Cloud said in an interview. "Well, I didn't realize that FDA had powers that could extend into the living room. I thought parents could make those choices. My personal opinion is that [FDA's stated concern on the] efficacy of the test is really a red herring. This is about parents' rights."

    The wrangle over Parents' Alert already has caused the FDA to modify its initial position and initiate a "review" of its policy that most home drug tests should be regulated as Class 3 devices. But in a recent hearing before Bliley's committee, agency regulators defended their earlier statements that parents might not have the ability to respond appropriately to test results.

    For President Clinton, the issue presents a potentially tricky political dilemma. It pits the president's popular advocacy of "family-friendly" initiatives against the arguments of a regulatory agency charged with protecting consumers from the marketing of drugs and devices whose safety or effectiveness have not been proved.

    In recent months, Clinton has championed a number of initiatives - from the V-chip to school uniforms - designed to help parents cope with society's negative influences on their children. Many would consider support for a home drug test consistent with the president's past actions. The FDA's decision to maintain regulatory obstacles to sale of the test kits - all with the administration's implicit assent - strikes some as a bad political move in the crucial final weeks of his reelection campaign.

    Already, cracks in the administration's unity have appeared: In an interview last week, Gen. Barry McCaffrey, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, said that he believes families "ought to make up their own minds" about whether the test is right forthem.

    "We have home pregnancy tests, home AIDS tests," McCaffrey told the Christian Science Monitor. "Maybe we need a home drug test."

    McCaffrey's comments prompted Bliley to fire yet another shot across the Clinton administration's bow.

    "Parents might disagree whether to test their own children, but that's a decision that ought to be made by them - not by Washington bureaucrats," Bliley said. "Maybe Gen. McCaffrey can get on the phone with the Food and Drug Administration and give them the same message."

    According to FDA spokesman Jim O'Hara, such a call would be unnecessary.

    "The administration wants parents to have the tools they need to fight drug abuse," O'Hara said. "The only question is how to make certain in this case that drug tests provide reliable and accurate information and that people know how to use it."

    'Turned On By Politics: Meet Arizona's Happiest Taxpayers' (New York Times)

    The New York Times, October 6, 1996
    By James Sterngold

    PHOENIX - What's surprising is not so much that this conservative law-and-order state seems to have legalized the sale of marijuana, but that it took even the most ardent of the state's pot smokers nearly a decade to figure it out.

    "When I first read the law I thought, OK, I see this, but I didn't think you could really do it," Bill Green, an aerospace engineer, said while sharing a joint with several other marijuana enthusiasts in front of the copper-domed state Capitol on a recent afternoon. "I never had any idea I could buy a license and be a law-abiding citizen while I burned a joint. But I pay my marijuana tax now. I'm as legal as you get."

    A license to sell marijuana? In the middle of a war on drugs, when national leaders are debating how best to wipe out drug use and trafficking?

    It may sound like a Cheech and Chong episode, but Arizona has offered since 1983 a "Cannabis and Controlled Substances Dealer's License." The state insists the license is a law-enforcement tool, a way of hitting up dealers for unpaid taxes, but a number of smirking Arizonans, and at least one judge, disagree. A license, they say, is a license. The annual fee for this one is $100, payable by check or money order to the Department of Revenue, License and Registration Section.

    The state also requires tax stamps ($10 per ounce, or about 10 percent of the street price) that, as carefully explained in the statute, must be affixed to the bags of pot when they are sold. It asks that mailings specify whether the drug will be sold by the gram or the ounce. The state has even improved the stamps, which bear a handsome little cactus symbol, to satisfy users.

    "The old stamps just kind of fell off," explained Peter Wilson, the chairman of the Arizona chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, or Norml, a group promoting legalization. "So they redesigned them and put on a better adhesive."

    Wilson was cheerful in describing such details despite the fact that he was arrested last year for marijuana possession. His case has become the test for a law whose stated intent was to allow the state to grab the ill-gotten gains of drug dealers but has wandered off, like many things under the influence of marijuana, in a far different direction.

    So far, at least, the license Wilson lawfully obtained has become a shield because he has persuaded a court - much to the shock and dismay of prosecutors - that the state could not have it both ways, making him pay for the privilege of dealing or possessing pot, and then arresting him for doing so.

    It is a standoff that the Legislature has indirectly encouraged through inaction. Indeed, ever since the case popped up a year ago many legislators have seemed intent on running from the licensing issue with as much embarrassed haste as they can muster.

    While amusing in some ways, perhaps, Arizona's bizarre flirtation with what amounts to an ad hoc experiment in drug legalization demonstrates the rarely acknowledged shades of gray that underlie the battle over drugs, particularly in an election year when politicians, afraid of sounding soft on drugs, are presenting the issue in stark black and white.

    Surveys show that the vast majority of Americans support strict enforcement against the sale and use of harder drugs like methamphetamine and cocaine. But Arizona's situation and the state government's two-sided reaction to it - condemning marijuana use while doing nothing to change the licensing law - reflects the growing sense among Americans that marijuana is different from other drugs.

    A number of people seem to feel that pot, if not acceptable, does not rank as a threat with cocaine, heroin or even, some argue, alcohol, and that users ought to be left alone.

    Law-enforcement officials often describe marijuana as a "gateway" drug that appeals to teen-agers and leads to harder drugs and ruined lives. But prominent people ranging from Vice President Al Gore to Rep. Susan Molinari, the keynote speaker at the Republican national convention, have admitted using - and then dropping - pot.

    Many states, including New York and California, have virtually decriminalized possession of small amounts, and most people convicted of possession are given probation, even in this tough state.

    Arizonans will vote next month on a proposition, placed on the ballot through a petition drive, that would almost completely decriminalize marijuana possession, though it has been billed as a measure to make certain drugs available for medical purposes.

    Local, state and federal officials have harshly condemned the initiative, but it is given a reasonable chance of passing. Those caught with modest amounts would face treatment and education, not prison, and most of those in prison now would be paroled - as long as they had not committed violent crimes.

    California voters will also consider a proposition, though far narrower, that would legalize pot and some other drugs for medical treatments.

    W. Michael Walz, Wilson's lawyer, said he chose to focus on marijuana defendants because of this climate of tolerance. "It was easier to be successful in this area because juries just aren't interested in convicting people on this stuff," he said.

    Marijuana use is rising - many experts agree that the drug is one of the country's largest cash crops, with sales estimated at $10 billion to $40 billion a year - and public officials' public comments are generally as tough as ever.

    But as Mark A.R. Kleiman, a drug-policy expert at the University of California at Los Angeles, put it, "This issue does not have as much political salience as it used to because of the growing number of people who have used it."

    Angry Arizona law-enforcement officials insist that they are anything but indifferent, that marijuana is not legal and that dealers will be dealt with harshly. But Wilson's case has been allowed to slide for 14 months and the legislature has passed up an opportunity to straighten out the legal anomaly.

    A bill that would have repealed licensing passed a state Senate committee earlier this year but was killed. John Greene, the president of the Senate, dismissed it as "a stupid bill," adding that "it made lawmakers nervous to vote on it." Greene said that he felt the current law was fine and that the courts would eventually correct the inappropriate interpretation of the licensing statute.

    "Doesn't that kind of tell you something?" asked Russel Lintecum, a poet, singer and Norml member, who was puffing happily in front of the Capitol and striking a conspiratorial note. "I mean, you tell me."

    The issue arose in 1983, when the heavily Republican Arizona Legislature followed several other states and passed a marijuana tax law to give the courts another way of punishing dealers.

    The lawmakers added the licensing provision to create still another tool for snaring anyone caught with pot. At the time, some legislators questioned whether the law might be interpreted as a form of legalization. The questions were brushed aside, and Gov. Bruce Babbitt, now the U.S. secretary of the interior, signed the bill.

    The law was all but forgotten until 1990, when Green, an engineer at an Allied Signal plant and a regular pot smoker, tested positive in a company drug test. He was forced to undergo regular urine testing for the next two years, and got mad.

    "I felt I had to do something in retaliation, so I formed the Norml chapter here," he said, adding that for one of his first newsletters he examined the state's drug laws and stumbled on the licensing provision. He eventually bought a license and a sheet of stamps.

    Wilson, who succeeded Green as head of the Norml chapter several years later and who also bought a license, said he was worried at the time that his high profile might make him the target of a police sting operation. But he was finally arrested by accident. His wife, who has since died, had an ailment that made her violent at times, Wilson said.

    Once, after he called the police to help subdue her, she blurted out that he was hiding pot. The police found a few ounces, but returned the pot when Wilson showed them his license. Four days later he was arrested.

    Walz, his lawyer, argued that the charges amounted to double jeopardy because the tax, which Wilson had paid, was punitive in itself. The county magistrate who handled the preliminary hearing agreed and the charges were dropped.

    The state appealed, and the case traveled to the state Superior Court, which passed it to the state Court of Appeals, which sent it back to the magistrate, who sent it back to the Superior Court. On Sept. 26 that court sent it back to the magistrate, rejecting the double jeopardy ruling.

    But the magistrate, John R. Barclay, said that as far as he was concerned the case was closed and that he would throw it out again. "Anyone with one neuron left of legal knowledge knows that if they want to try this case they will have to bring it to a grand jury or refile it," said Barclay, a Republican who insisted he was merely applying the statute.

    What has been the effect of this odd experiment? An increasing number of high school students in Arizona admit using marijuana, but that is happening across the country, and there is little evidence that many students know about the licenses. Only 84 licenses have been issued this year, and the state has collected just $413,400 in licensing fees and taxes in the law's 13-year existence.

    For people like Deborah Pine, the license allows her peace of mind. Ms. Pine suffers from fibromyalgia syndrome, a potentially debilitating muscle disorder. She said the prescription drugs she had been taking had so many side effects that she often could not get out of bed. She turned to marijuana with reluctance, she said, but has found it extremely effective, allowing her to be an active mother for her two children. She keeps her pot in a pickle jar on her kitchen counter on which one of her daughters has written, "Mom's medicine."

    Lintecum, the poet, who is a Vietnam veteran suffering post-trauma stress disorder, said he spent years on anti-depressants that left him in a vegetable-like state. "Marijuana gave me my life back," he said.

    Wilson described his use as casual. "It's like chocolate," he said, "one of life's little pleasures."

    Some marijuana advocates are even saying that the licensing, if publicized, could bring a tidal wave of tax revenue that would completely change the state's financial structure.

    "Let me tell you, if that state went full-fledged into this and had a monopoly on legalized sales, I can assure they would realize incredible revenues," said Allen St. Pierre, Norml's deputy director in Washington. "It would be the richest, and the happiest, state."



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