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November 21, 1996

Office Of National Drug Control Policy
Restates Opposition To Medical Marijuana Initiatives

November 15, 1996, Washington, D.C.: Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey re-emphasized the administration's opposition to voter-approved drug reform initiatives in California and Arizona that endorse the use of marijuana as a medicine. The announcement came following several closed-door meetings with law enforcement and state officials.

"There could not be a worse message to young people than the provisions of these referenda," stated McCaffrey in a November 15 press release. "Just when the nation is trying its hardest to educate teenagers not to use psychoactive drugs, now they are being told that 'marijuana [is] medicine.' The conflicting message is extremely harmful."

The California initiative says that, "Patients or defined caregivers, who possess or cultivate marijuana for medical treatment recommended by a physician, are exempt from the general provisions of law which otherwise prohibit possession or cultivation of marijuana." It further provides that, "Physicians shall not be punished or denied any right or privilege for recommending marijuana to a patient for medical purposes." The Act does not supersede state legislation prohibiting persons from possessing or cultivating marijuana for non-medical purposes.

Proposition 200 in Arizona, known as the "Drug Medicalization, Prevention and Control Act," is broader than California's measure and would essentially "medicalize" Arizona's drug policy. The Act calls for mandatory, court supervised treatment and probation as an alternative to incarceration for non-violent drug users and provides expanded drug treatment programs. It also permits doctors to prescribe controlled drugs such as marijuana to patients suffering from serious illnesses such as glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, cancer, and AIDS; however, this aspect of the measure is in direct conflict with federal law. Arizonans voted in favor of the initiative by a vote of 65 to 35.

"By our judgment, increased drug abuse in every category will be the inevitable result of the referenda," said McCaffrey.

In the weeks following the initiatives passage, proponents have speculated as to whether the federal government will target physicians and patients complying with the new state laws. On this matter, McCaffrey stated that federal law remains in "full force" despite the states' actions and that the Justice Department "will take action" when the evidence merits.

"It is unfortunate that General McCaffrey chose only to meet with those who oppose the notion of marijuana as medicine when meeting to strategize the federal response to the passage of the California and Arizona initiatives," said NORML Deputy Director Allen St. Pierre, who noted that at least two physicians who learned of the meetings were barred from attending. "These initiatives address health issues; to exclude input from physicians who are explicitly and specifically mentioned is unacceptable."

For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre of NORML at (202) 483-5500 or Dale Gieringer of California NORML at (415) 563-5858.

(Meanwhile) Drug Czar's Office Refuses NORML Meeting

November 18, 1996, Washington, D.C.: The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) has denied NORML's request for a meeting with Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey. NORML had offered to meet with McCaffrey following comments made by the General on National Public Radio that he "welcomed" NORML's involvement in the national debate over drug policy.

According to a letter signed by Janet Crist, Chief of Staff, "The Director feels strongly that, in light of NORML's vigorous support for pro-marijuana ballot initiatives in California and Arizona along with its longstanding advocacy for the legalization of marijuana, the meeting you proposed would serve no useful purpose."

She added that, "Your organization's agenda to legalize the use of ... marijuana ... is unsupportable (sic) on health, safety, as well as humanitarian grounds."

"It's a shame that the Drug Czar was not sincere in his offer to meet with NORML to discuss certain aspects of American drug policy," said NORML Executive Director R. Keith Stroup. "He has said on numerous occasions that we cannot arrest our way out of the drug problem; NORML has said for 26 years that an adult marijuana user should not face criminal penalties. I think that there are a number of points that we could agree on. Certainly, healthy discourse on this pertinent topic can only move the issue forward."

Ironically, McCaffrey reiterated his invitation to meet with NORML representatives while speaking at American University in Washington D.C. on November 13. This action prompted NORML's Executive Director to again request a meeting with the Drug Czar to discuss policy options.

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

Supreme Court Overturns Ohio Traffic Stop Decision

November 18, 1996, Washington, D.C.: The Supreme Court ruled that police do not have to inform drivers during a routine traffic stop that they are legally free to go before asking for consent to search their vehicle. The ruling overturns a 1995 Ohio Supreme Court decision mandating that police must first inform motorists that they are "legally free to go" before requesting the driver's permission to search their car for drugs or other contraband.

Writing the opinion for the court, Chief Justice William Rehnquist said that the court has "consistently eschewed bright-line rules" in Fourth Amendment analysis, and instead must examine the "totality of the circumstances" on a case by case basis. "It would be unrealistic to require the police to always inform detainees that they are free to go before a police consent search may be deemed voluntary," Rehnquist concluded.

In deciding the case, the High Court rejected the argument that many individuals will assume that they are in a police officer's custody as long as the officer continues to interrogate them. "While knowledge of the right to refuse consent is one factor to be taken into account, the government need not establish such knowledge as the sine qua non of an effective consent," Rehnquist opined.

The case is cited as Ohio v. Robinette, No. 95-891.

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

German State Plans To Sell Marijuana Over The Counter

November 19, 1996, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany: The small German state of Schleswig-Holstein recently announced plans to sell marijuana over the counter in an attempt to separate cannabis from the "hard" drug market, according to Reuters News Service. The state said it will soon apply to the federal drugs agency for a permit to sell marijuana.

The state Health Minister, Heide Moser, said authorities were losing credibility by treating marijuana as if it were as a dangerous as other "harder" drugs such as cocaine and heroin. "General warnings about the dangers of drugs are no longer being taken seriously," she said.

The idea drew criticism from the German federal government whose spokesman said that, "Schleswig-Holstein's stance has little to do with reality."

The state, which is governed by a coalition of Social Democrats and environmentalist Greens, said it had not yet decided precisely where and how much cannabis would be available if its project wins approval.

Marijuana is technically illegal in Germany, but the Supreme Court ruled in 1994 that possession of small amounts of cannabis for personal use should no longer be punished.



Regional and other news

Body Count

Five of the 10 felons sentenced by Multnomah County courts in the most recent week received jail or prison terms for controlled-substance offenses, according to the "Portland" zoned section of
The Oregonian, distributed in the central metropolitan area (Nov. 21, 1996, p. 8, 3M-MP-SE). That makes the body count so far this year 332 out of 610, or 54.42 percent.

Correction On Corrections

Two weeks ago, in the Nov. 7 Portland NORML weekly release, the news item headed "Oregon Election Results May Impact Drug Policy - 25% Of State Budget For Corrections," based on information in The Oregonian, gave incorrect information about the size of the Oregon state budget:
According to "Kitzhaber vows to help if Measure 47 passes" in the Nov. 8, 1996 Oregonian (pp. A1 & A17), "Measure 47 cuts property taxes by about $500 million the first year, or about 20 percent." That would mean the state's annual budget would be about $2.5 billion a year, or about $5 billion biennially. According to the same report, the state's budget for corrections "could reach $953 million in the next biennium," almost $500 million a year - one-quarter of projected state revenue under Measure 47.
Now comes a report from the same newspaper ("State expects big increase in tax income," Nov. 20, 196, pp. A1 & A8), which says "A new state revenue forecast is expected to add $100 million, perhaps more, for the 1997-1999 general fund. This would take the total state budget above $9 billion, 7 percent more than the current two-year spending figure."

If The Oregonian printed a correction to its Nov. 8 story, the editor missed it. Assuming the Nov. 20 figures are accurate however, that would mean an increase of $4 billion for Oregon's biennial budget, from $5 billion to $9 billion. Consequently, a state corrections budget of $953 in the next biennium would amount to only 10.58 percent of the budget.

However, the editor did leave himself some room for error. As noted in the Nov. 7 Portland NORML news item, "Just a few months ago, the state was predicting a 158% increase in prisoners over the next 10 years." That estimate has been reduced somewhat in recent months - the report is not handy - but clearly state officials still anticipate an increase of well more than 100 percent in the next decade. That should bring the figure up from 10.58 percent to 25 percent within a decade, instead of immediately. Of course, the figures will look better if Oregon's economic boom continues for the next decade. But they will also look much worse if a recession occurs.

There have been no reports to suggest that state officials will re-examine exactly how many pot smokers and drug offenders they are wasting money on, or whether reforming Oregon's drug laws or enforcement policies might have a significant impact on state or county budgets. Apparently the party line will continue to be that the need for new prisons is driven by the mandatory minimums established for violent offenders by voters who passed Measure 11 in 1994.

23 Percent Of Portlanders' Cars Prowled, 5 Percent Of Portlanders Burglarized

According to the preliminary results of an annual survey of Portland residents commissioned by the city, for the fifth year in a row fear of crime is dropping - even though 23% of all residents had their cars prowled and 5% had their homes burglarized. According to "Portlanders feel safer this year, survey says," in the Nov. 14, 1996 Oregonian (p. D15), the random survey of 11,500 city residents in September, administered by the city of Portland and Multnomah County auditors, found the numbers on car thefts and home burglaries remained the same as in 1995.

Perhaps more resources would be available to fight real criminals if the city and Multnomah County weren't spending more than half of their public-safety budgets arresting and prosecuting at most 13.8 percent of all drug offenders (according to estimates based on government statistics, cited in "Oregon and Multnomah County Arrests For Drug Offenses, 1986-1995 - 13.80 Percent of Multnomah County's Estimated 1995 Illegal Drug Consumers Busted," in the Sept. 5, 1996 Portland NORML Weekly News Release at According to the district attorney's office, this is the highest rate in the region. "Imprisoned marijuana growers get a break," from the Oct. 13, 1995 Oregonian, posted at, as well as arrest statistics from the DEA and Portland Police Drugs and Vice Division, cited parenthetically in the article "America's No. 1 Crop - Marijuana Tops The Charts," posted at, suggest that the Portland area and Oregon in general must have the highest or close to the highest rate of prosecutions in the country for marijuana cultivation, if not for other drug offenses.

With so many police out chasing flower growers, rapists and other real criminals continue to enjoy an enforcement holiday. As noted in "Despite police effort, serial rapist slips away," in the Nov. 15, 1996 Oregonian (pp. E1 & E10), "In Portland, police make arrests in about 30 percent of reported rape cases. That is consistent with the clearance rate of other violent crimes in Portland. ... According to the state's Law Enforcement Data System statistics, only about 30 percent of crimes such as murder, robbery and aggravated assault are resolved. Last year, Portland police cleared 114 of 372 reported rape cases by arrest. [30.64 percent - ed.] Portland police have a better rate of arrest for rape cases than the state as a whole. Last year in Oregon, police arrested 351 people on rape charges, which is 26 percent of the 1,312 rapes reported."

If, as suggested by the article, "Only half of rapes are reported to police," Portland and Oregon police could be arresting about the same proportion of drug offenders as rapists.

There's just one problem. If 1,312 rapes were reported, and twice that many, or 2,624 really happened, there would be no more than about 2,600 rapists out there. The state and counties have that many jail beds, with plenty to spare. But according to the most conservative government statistics, the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, there are at least 194,858 illegal-drug users in Oregon and 30,873 illegal-drug users in Portland (as documented in "Let's Do The Numbers," in the Aug. 29, 1996 Portland NORML Weekly News Release, posted at Neither the state, with about 9,000 beds - including those out-of-state - nor Portland (or Multnomah County), with about 1,500 beds, has that much room. Not a single public official in Portland or Oregon has addressed the fact that the emperor has no clothes - that there will never be enough money to arrest or prosecute so many illegal-drug users, or even illegal-drug traffickers. Virtually every public official in Oregon is thus complicit in a de facto policy that strengthens the most clever and most ruthless and most efficient segments of the illegal-drug market, while weeding out the most stupid, weak and incompetent.

That is not a policy likely to make anyone feel safer, on reflection.

Alarm clock

California Medical Association Says It's Time To Study Medical Benefits Of Marijuana

Prop. 215 Presents Opportunity for Federal Studies

SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Nov. 6, 1996--The California Medical Association plans to encourage the federal government to conduct controlled studies on the effectiveness and safety of using marijuana for medical purposes.

"The huge voter support of Prop. 215 is really a mandate to the federal government that marijuana must be studied for any medical benefits," said CMA President Jack E. McCleary, MD. "The CMA will work to encourage research facilities, such as the National Institutes of Health, to conduct studies on the medical value of smoked marijuana to patients."

The CMA has a long-standing policy to oppose medical use of marijuana until properly controlled studies prove it to be safe and effective for alleviating nausea, vomiting, pain, or diminished appetite in seriously ill patients. CMA supports efforts to expedite access to marijuana, under the direction of a physician, if controlled studies prove it to be effective.

"Physician are committed to be giving the best care to their patients. But good care depends on good science. We anticipate working with the federal government, Prop. 215 proponents and physicians to ensure that good clinical research is done to see if marijuana works and for what patients," Dr. McCleary said.

The need for controlled studies is not the only concern of the nation's largest state medical association. The CMA is very worried about the threat of federal prosecution to physicians who recommend marijuana to a patient. Under the initiative patients who possess or cultivate marijuana for personal medical treatment on the oral or written recommendation or approval of a physician, are exempt from prosecution under state law. The initiative also contains an immunity provision which protects physicians from prosecution under state law for recommending marijuana to a patient. However, it appears that physicians may be subject to serious liability under federal law.

"Proposition 215 has absolutely no effect on federal law that makes it a crime to use, distribute, dispense or possess marijuana," Dr. McCleary said. "Prop. 215 may not protect physicians who, in good faith, recommend marijuana for seriously ill patients or compassionate end-of-life care."

Federal law classifies marijuana as a Schedule I drug, which means there are no recognized medicinal uses. The proponents of Prop. 215 have argued that the federal government will not bother to prosecute physicians who recommend marijuana for medical reasons.

"Federal drug enforcement officials have explicitly stated that they will prosecute physicians who recommend marijuana to patients under Proposition 215," Dr. McCleary said. "Since a single physician could issue recommendations for a number of patients, physicians might be a more likely target for federal prosecution than the individuals possessing or cultivating the marijuana. Other federal sanctions are also possible such as revoking the physician's Drug Enforcement Administration registration which allows physicians to prescribe certain medications. This would seriously hinder the physician's ability to provide proper medical care to his or her patients."

The California Medical Association represents California physicians from all geographic areas, modes of practice, and medical specialties. With 34,000 members, it is the largest state medical association. CMA is dedicated to quality health care for all Californians.

CONTACT: California Medical Association
Ron Lopp, 415/882-5115

[As reported widely by its opponents, Proposition 215 was not endorsed by the CMA However, the CMA's failure to endorse Proposition 215 did not mean the CMA ever spent any significant resources opposing it. - ed.]

'Patients Get Their Marijuana From Uncle Sam'

Lawrence Journal-World, p. 2
November 18, 1996
photo of Irvin Rosenfeld
By Helen O'Neill AP Writer

The small silver canister that looks like a cookie tin arrives promptly once a month for Florida stockbroker Irvin Rosenfeld.

Its contents: 300 tightly rolled marijuana joints.

His supplier: the US government.

"The quantity is satisfactory," Rosenfeld says appreciatively. "And I don't have to buy it on the street."

The 44-year old suffers from a rare bone disease and is one of eight people leagally supplied with marijuana under the government's compassionate use program.

It's run by the same health and drug agencies that condemn marijuana as part of the national war on drugs. And this fall, top governments officials from those agencies campaigned against ballot measures in California and Arizona to legalize marijuana for medical purposes. The issues passed in both states, although the courts will determine their fate.

"Research shows that marijuana is harmful to one's brain, heart, lungs, and immune system," wrote Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala in a recent statement."Any law premised on the notion that marijuana or these other illicit drugs are medically useful is suspect."

So why does the government continue supplying it?

"When we have a compassionare-use situation, out of feeling for the patient, we don't take that away," says Don McLearn, a spokesman for the Food and Drug Administatrion. "We just don't add to it."

The federal marijuana program started in the '70s and was discontinued in 1992 - partly because of a huge increase in applications from AIDS patients. The 13 people already receiving monthly pot shipments were allowed to continue. Five have since died. The others will be supplied - at taxpayer expense - for as long as they want.

They suffer from cancer, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis and rare genertic diseases.

Marijuana, they say, helps control nausea and muscle spasms, ease eye pressure and pain and stimulate appitites. Pot patients insist it works better than other drugs, including the highly expensive Marinol, a pill form of marijuana that has the same active ingredient, THC. [Natural marijuana has dozens of varying cannabinoids, any or all of which might be of varying help with different maladies. The particular THC molecule synthetically produced as Marinol is only the most prevalent cannabinoid found in most marijuana. - ed.]

"We are sick people. We are desperate people," says Elvy Musikka of Florida, who has glaucoma and carries her daily ration of marijuana "brownies" in her pocket-book. She bakes them from the 300 joints the National Institute on Drug Abuse sends her every month.

"This medicine gives us quality of life." The government crop is harvested on a 7.5-acre pot farm at the Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences aat the University of Mississippi. From there, the marijuana is shipped by airplane to Raleigh, N.C., where the cigarettes are rolled by machine, packed in canisters and delivered to medical centers for the eight patients to pick up.

The entire operation costs about $200,000 a year.

Some say the government position reflects the hypocrisy of a political war on drugs that denies many seriously ill people a cheap medicine whose benefits are so obvious the government supplies it. They point out that more than 20 states have laws allowing the medical use of marijuana, but they are ineffective as long as the federal ban remains.

"US Drug Czar Calls State Marijuana Measure 'Tragedy'"

Los Angeles Times, Nov. 16, 1996

But he will not say whether federal officials will try to block the initiative or prosecute doctors who recommend the drug.

By Faye Fiore, Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON--Calling the state's passage of Proposition 215 a "tremendous tragedy," White House drug czar Barry R. McCaffrey said Friday the administration will step up its efforts to discourage other states from following California's lead in legalizing marijuana for medicinal use.

But perhaps more significant was what McCaffrey would not say. After two days of meetings with California and federal law enforcement officials, he refused to comment on whether the federal government will work to nullify the just-passed initiative or move in to prosecute doctors who recommend marijuana to their patients.

"There could not be a worse message to young people," McCaffrey said, referring to Proposition 215 and an even broader initiative passed in Arizona last week. "Just when the nation is trying its hardest to educate teenagers not to use psychoactive drugs, now they are being told that marijuana and other drugs are good, they are medicine."

McCaffrey said the Clinton administration has made no decision on whether to take legal action to block the initiatives, which permit doctors to recommend marijuana for use by patients with cancer, AIDS and a variety of other illnesses. "The attorney general and lawyers will have to sort through what is involved. I don't think there is an obvious answer," McCaffrey said. "What is not at stake is federal law. Federal law is not jeopardized."

The strategy for now will be to track trends in both states, looking for increases in drug-related accidents, teen pregnancy, work absences and hospital emergency cases, he said.

"By our judgment, increased drug abuse in every category will be the inevitable result of the referenda," McCaffrey said. "We will ensure that the rest of the country sees clearly what happened in these two states."

Bert Brandenburg, chief spokesman at the U.S. Justice Department, said federal prosecutors have not decided whether to become involved in trying to strike down the marijuana measure. "I think everybody is still mulling over what to do," he said.

Atty. Gen. Janet Reno, speaking two days after the election, said that individual incidents of illegal marijuana trafficking or possession that may arise out of the new measure will still be prosecuted. "We're going to enforce federal law and we're going to do it on a case-by-case basis," she said. But California Atty. Gen. Dan Lungren and Orange County Sheriff Brad Gates--both vocal critics of the measure--wasted no time moving to block it. Terming the proposition's passage "legal anarchy" and "an unprecedented mess," they initiated the meetings with McCaffrey, Drug Enforcement Administration chief Thomas Constantine and other federal officials.

Supporters of Proposition 215 asserted that it is virtually unprecedented for state and local officials to lobby the federal government against a proposition that was clearly the will of the voters--passing easily with 56%.

"This is the approach you would expect from George III when the colonists raised issues about how they want to be governed," said Eric E. Sterling, president of the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation, a small Washington think tank. "There is an arrogance and contempt for the voters who have supported Proposition 215. The power to write the laws flows from the people, not from the top."

While cocaine and opium have been approved for restricted medicinal use, federal law classifies marijuana as a Schedule I drug, a category reserved for the most dangerous of substances that "lack an accepted medical use."

Backers of California's initiative have vowed to promote their cause nationally and try to persuade every state to approve marijuana for medical use, a trend they said law enforcement will be unable to stop.

"They are trying to put fingers in a dam that is crumbling," said Dr. Lester Grinspoon, professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. "Marijuana is a remarkable medicine and that news cannot be withheld anymore. This is going to happen. California has led the way."

Arizona's Proposition 200, an even broader measure, legalizes medical use of marijuana and other drugs now beyond the reach of doctors. It also specified that nonviolent drug users convicted of first- and second-time use of recreational drugs be given probation and rehabilitation instead of prison time.

But McCaffrey said voters in both states were duped by advertising campaigns that exploited the needs of the terminally ill.

"This was a hoax. A lot of people heard terminally ill and pot and figured so what? Never mind that this authorized people to grow pot in their backyard," he said.

While predicting that only bad could come from the initiative's passage, McCaffrey said he had "great faith" that large numbers of doctors would not recommend marijuana "when there are clearly better treatments."

And eventually, he said, the nation will come to the right conclusion about marijuana as medicine.

"Over time, the American people will make the right judgments," he said. "The overwhelming majority of people in California and Arizona won't make use of marijuana and don't want their children to use it. . . . They don't want stoned behavior."

Times staff writers Richard A. Serrano and Marlene Cimons contributed to this story.

A Physician Writes To The Wall Street Journal

Letters to the Editor, The Wall Street Journal, Nov. 20, 1996:
Smoking pot in Vietnam did not kill nearly as many soldiers as the ill-conceived campaign to suppress marijuana smoking, resulting in the substitution of heroin undetectably smoked in cigarettes.

Since meaningful drug education was absent in the military ("Just say no to drugs" has been around for a long time), these vets first realized they were addicted when they began to withdraw on the way home.

It is true that marijuana smoke extracts painted on guinea pig abdomens is more carcinogenic than tobacco extracts. However, studies in Jamaica have shown no difference in lung cancer incidence between tobacco-only and tobacco-plus-marijuana smokers. Further, the literature shows no significant incidence of lung cancer in marijuana-only smokers.

The comment about the danger of bypassing the FDA in drug introduction is well taken. There have been several protocols approved by the FDA to test the safety and effectiveness of medical marijuana in AIDS Wasting Syndrome and other diseases. These have all been stopped by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which must sign off on the protocols before the DEA will supply the marijuana.

William B. Wenner, M.D.
Volcano. Hawaii

[Dr. Wenner is apparently referring to the U.S. government-funded study, often described as the most rigorous of its type scientifically and medically, Ganja in Jamaica, A Medical Anthropological Study of Chronic Marijuana Use, by Vera Rubin and Lambros Comitas, Mouton & Co., The Hague and Paris, Anchor Books, U.S.A., 1976. A similar major U.S.-funded study that reportedly produced much the same results is Cannabis in Costa Rica - A Study in Chronic Marijuana Use, 1980-82, by Edward W. Carter, Institute for the Study of Human Issues, 3401 Science Center, Philadelphia, PA. The editor would be much obliged if any reader could lend a copy of either or both rare and out-of-print books to scan and post on the World Wide Web.]
Heavy marijuana smokers show less evidence of lung injury than heavy tobacco smokers, and it may be cannabinoids that are protecting them from developing a condition like emphysema. -- UCLA researcher Dr. Donald Tashkin in "Marijuana Less Harmful to Lungs Than Cigarettes," by Louise Gagnon, Medical Post, Sept. 6, 1994.

How Many Americans Die From Drugs?

The ensuing chart shows the number of American deaths nationwide per year that result directly or primarily from the following substances, according to world almanacs, life insurance actuarial (death) rates, and the last 20 years of U.S. Surgeon Generals' reports. (Figures are for 1994 from the federal government's Bureau of Mortality Statistics and the National Institute on Drug Abuse, et al.- the last complete year on hand.)

Tobacco.................340,000 to 450,000 deaths
(not including 50% of all highway deaths and 65% of all murders)

Aspirin.................... 180 to 1,000+
(including deliberate overdoses)

Caffeine ................ 1,000 to 10,000
(from stress, ulcers and triggering irregular heartbeats, etc.)

"Legal" drug overdoses...14,000-27,000
(deliberate or accidental, including from mixing with alcohol)

Illegal drug overdoses.....3,800-5,200

[including Cocaine (1988) ..... 2,000 - ed.]


Marijuana users also have the same or lower incidence of murders and highway deaths and accidents than the non-marijuana using population as a whole (Crancer Study, UCLA; U.S. funded, $6 million; first & second Jamaican Studies, 1968 to 1974; Costa Rican Studies, 1980 to 1982; et al.). - from The Emperor Wears No Clothes, by Jack Herer, back cover, 10th edition, 1995. Prove him wrong and collect $30,000.

NORML's Latest Letter To General McCaffrey

November 18, 1996
General Barry McCaffrey
Office of National Drug Control Policy
Executive Office of the President
Washington, DC 20503

Attention: Ms. Janet Crist
Chief of Staff

Dear General McCaffrey:

I had originally written you on September 5, 1996, requesting a meeting to discuss our concerns with current administration drug policy and to seek areas in which we might work cooperatively. I recently received a letter dated October 23, 1996, from Ms. Janet Crist, your chief of staff, declining to meet with representatives from NORML, reporting that you "feel strongly that, in light of NORML's vigorous support for pro marijuana ballot initiatives in California (Proposition 215) and Arizona (Proposition 200) along with its longstanding advocacy for the legalization of marijuana, the meeting you proposed would serve no useful purpose."

I am writing again to pursue this matter because of a statement you made at a forum at American University last week, in which you again stated you would be willing to meet with NORML to discuss marijuana policy.

While it is true that NORML differs from the administration on many aspects of marijuana policy, those differences should not preclude us from meeting to discuss policy options. It is precisely through such discussions that we hope to better understand the administration's policy, and to provide you and your staff with a more accurate understanding of NORML's position.

There are other areas of marijuana policy, i.e., adolescent marijuana use, where our policy positions appear to conform. NORML actively discourages the use of marijuana (and other drugs, both legal and illegal) by adolescents, and we are available to work with the ONDCP and others to develop more effective drug education programs.

Similarly, you have publicly stated on several occasions that "we cannot arrest our way out of this problem," suggesting another area of common ground. NORML has always opposed the practice of arresting otherwise law abiding citizens who smoke marijuana, and we would like to discuss options which would avoid the criminal sanction while maintaining an overall discouragement policy.

In addition, because of the approval of the ballot initiatives regarding medical marijuana in Arizona and California, there is an acute need for all of us to work in a cooperatively manner to see that the new laws are implemented in an effective and responsible manner. NORML understands that those two initiatives were intended to provide protection from arrest and criminal prosecution for those seriously ill Americans who use marijuana with a physician's recommendation to relieve pain and suffering; they do not change the legal status of those who smoke marijuana for non-medical purposes. NORML can be helpful in assuring that marijuana consumers understand and appreciate this distinction, and that the new state laws are used in an appropriate manner.

Specifically, we would like the opportunity to arrange a meeting with you, to which we would bring Dr. Lester Grinspoon from Harvard University and Dr. John Morgan from the City University of New York, two experts in the medical use of marijuana. We would be pleased to arrange a meeting at your convenience.

Thank you for reconsidering this matter.

R. Keith Stroup, Esq.
Executive Director

JAMA Criticizes Crack/Cocaine Racial Sentencing Disparities

Cocaine Hydrochloride Effects Similar To Crack Cocaine
Addicted Individuals Better Served By Treatment Than Prison

Journal of the American Medical Association
AMA Science News Press Releases for the week of November 20, 1996

CHICAGO--Federal sentencing guidelines which allow possession of 100 times more cocaine hydrochloride than crack cocaine are inappropriate and should be changed, according to an article in this week's issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

Dorothy K. Hatsukami, Ph.D., from the Department of Psychiatry, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, and Marian W. Fischman, Ph.D., from the Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University, New York, N.Y., reviewed research articles to find the differences and similarities between the use of crack cocaine and cocaine hydrochloride. They then determined how these findings might affect policies on the imprisonment and treatment of cocaine users.

The authors write: "The physiological and psychoactive effects of cocaine are similar regardless of whether it is in the form of cocaine hydrochloride or crack cocaine (cocaine base) ... cocaine hydrochloride used intranasally may be a gateway drug or behavior to using crack cocaine. Based on these findings, the federal sentencing guidelines allowing possession of 100 times more cocaine hydrochloride than crack cocaine to trigger mandatory minimum penalties is deemed excessive.

"Although crack cocaine has been linked with crime to a greater extent than cocaine hydrochloride, many of these crimes are associated with the addiction to cocaine. Therefore, those addicted individuals who are incarcerated for the sale or possession of cocaine are better served by treatment than prison."

They write: "Instead of using the differences between crack cocaine and cocaine hydrochloride to justify enormous differences in prison sentences for those convicted of selling cocaine, focusing on approaches that could lead to better treatment and prevention is a more constructive and ultimately more cost-effective approach to this issue."

Cocaine is an alkaloid extracted from coca leaves. The coca leaves are processed with different chemicals (eg, alkali, organic solvents, hydrochloric acid, and ammonia) resulting in the intermediate product, coca paste, and the final product, cocaine hydrochloride, which is imported to the U.S. and other parts of the world from South America. Cocaine hydrochloride is typically used for nonmedical purposes either intranasally (snorting) or intravenously.

According to the researchers, from the mid 1970s to the mid 1980s, cocaine users were primarily middle class, and the drug was primarily powder cocaine hydrochloride taken by the intranasal route. By the mid 1980s, a new epidemic began: crack cocaine, a readily smokable form of cocaine hydrochloride, that was being sold in unit doses for $3 to $5. The availability of a relatively cheap smokable form led to a marked expansion of cocaine use among the poor and ethnic minorities.

In 1986, Congress passed a federal sentencing guideline that punishes a first-time offender with a minimum mandatory sentence of five years in prison for possessing five grams of crack cocaine (resulting in 50-200 doses), while that same first-time offender would have to possess 500 grams of cocaine hydrochloride (resulting in more than 10,000 doses) to obtain the same sentence. In 1988, a law was passed stating that the possession of more than five grams of crack cocaine triggers a minimum of five years in prison, whereas simple possession of cocaine hydrochloride or any other controlled substance by first-time offenders is punished by a maximum of one year in prison.

The authors write: "... many who progressed to crack cocaine use began with intranasal cocaine hydrochloride. Therefore, controlling the use of cocaine hydrochloride may be important ... Both forms of cocaine can lead to a lack of control over use and the same psychological, social, legal, and physiological consequences."

'Less Disparity Urged In Cocaine Sentencing'

The New York Times, Wednesday, Nov. 20, 1996

By Christopher S. Wren

On the assumption that crack cocaine creates more addicts and promotes more violence than powdered cocaine, federal law for a decade has dealt far more harshly with crack dealers and users than with others caught with more traditional forms of the illicit drug.

Now, two psychologists specializing in drug addiction have determined that the physiological and psychoactive effects of different forms of cocaine are so similar as to make the existing discrepancy in punishment "excessive."

The study, by Dorothy K. Hatsukami at the University of Minnesota and Marian W. Fischman at Columbia University, appears in the current issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. It breaks new ground by posing a medical challenge to the federal sentencing guidelines, which have been criticized over the last decade primarily for jailing more black offenders than white ones.

"The important issue is when possible to try to have science inform policy," Dr. Fischman said in an interview, explaining why the researchers undertook the project. "Cocaine is cocaine. Regardless of whether you shoot it up or smoke it or snort it, it has the same stimulant effect."

In their study, in which they examined laboratory experiments and other published studies on cocaine going back 20 years, Dr. Fischman and Dr. Hatsukami suggest sharply reducing the disparities in cocaine sentencing. But they stopped short of proposing that it be eliminated altogether.

An outbreak of crack-related crime in the 1980s prompted Congress to enact legislation in 1986 that punishes a first-time offender with five years in prison for possessing 5 grams of crack cocaine. To receive the same sentence, a first-time offender caught with powdered cocaine would have to possess 500 grams, or more than a pound.

The researchers proposed reducing this 100-to-1 ratio to as little as 2 to 1. That would translate into the same penalty for possessing twice as much powdered cocaine as crack cocaine.

When cocaine was smoked in crack form, the researchers said, it still gave a faster, more intense high than powdered cocaine that was snorted, and therefore has greater potential for abuse.

"Crack cocaine is a lot easier to use, and it is more accessible to a broader population," Dr. Hatsukami said in an interview, explaining why she and her colleague believed there should be some difference in sentencing. "We felt that crack cocaine does lead to more use."

Dr. Fischman added, "I feel that it is more dangerous because of its availability, not because of the drug."

Cocaine hydrochloride, the scientific name for powdered cocaine, is refined from an alkaloid leached from coca leaves. It can be converted into crack by cooking the powder with baking soda and water in a microwave or conventional oven.

Dr. Hatsukami and Dr. Fischman also concluded that treating offenders made more sense than locking them up.

"Although crack cocaine has been linked with crime to a greater extent than cocaine hydrochloride, many of these crimes are associated with addiction to cocaine," they wrote. "Therefore, those addicted individuals who are incarcerated for the sale or possession of cocaine are better served by treatment than prison."

Because most offenders jailed for crack have been black, the disparity has been attacked largely on racial grounds. According to a government study of illicit drug use nationwide, in 1993, 88.3 percent of federal defendants convicted of selling crack were black. By contrast, blacks accounted for only 27 percent of those convicted of selling powdered cocaine.

In February 1995 the U.S. Sentencing Commission, a group of experts that draws up guidelines for federal courts, called the 100-to-1 ratio in crack sentences "a primary cause of the growing disparity between sentences for black and white federal defendants."

The commission recommended all but eliminating this gap. But Congress, with President Clinton's acquiescence, rejected the recommendation.

The issue of the sentencing disparity has reached the Supreme Court, which ruled 8-1 last May 13 that statistics showing a predominance of black defendants for crack-related offenses did not constitute sufficient proof that the government selectively prosecuted African-Americans.

"It's a continuing problem," said Lloyd Epstein, a criminal lawyer in New York City who often represents defendants in drug cases. "You find that black adolescents are arrested for crack on a daily basis and their sentences are more severe than whites or Hispanics arrested for powder."

Under the current sentencing guidelines, Epstein said, a wholesale distributor of cocaine powder could receive a lighter punishment than his customer who bought a small amount of the powder and converted it into crack.

"The issue is not whether crack should be punished," Epstein said, "but whenever you're dealing with justice, you're looking for some kind of parity."

Julie Stewart, president of Families Against Mandatory Minimums, a group in Washington that opposes mandatory sentences for drug offenses, said, "It's purely politics that prevents the right thing from being done on crack and powder."

There is no sign that Congress plans to reconsider its tough stance against crack, particularly since there has been no public pressure to do so.

"When you mention crack cocaine," Ms. Stewart said, "their minds immediately jump to an image of a young black man with gold chains and a gun in his pocket."

The federal guidelines do not apply to cases tried in state and local courts. Only 13 states and the District of Columbia distinguish between crack and powdered cocaine in their own statutes, and these tend to involve larger amounts of drugs.

The states are Alabama, California, Connecticut, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Virginia and Wisconsin.

'Drugs Are Bad - The Drug War Is Worse'

Thanks to a volunteer with a new scanner, Portland NORML has just added an excellent New York magazine cover article from Feb. 5, 1996 to its Web pages at

Here's an excerpt:

Like any lasting crusade, the drug war has at times used fear, hype, half-truths, and well-crafted mythology to sustain itself. For the past decade, its mythmaking machinery has been conveniently sustained by crack. Here was a drug so addictive and destructive that, like a tornado, it wiped out everything in its path. Everyone it touched was damaged, and every neighborhood it went into was ruined. Mothers had no interest in their kids; fathers couldn't work; teenagers beat up and stole from their grandparents; horrible, depraved, and unimaginably violent crimes were committed because of the drug's mind-altering effects.

The drug-war hawks couldn't have invented a better menace than crack. As it happens, they did invent it - some of it, anyway. "You had this disgusting pandering of the media," says Dr. John Morgan, a pharmacologist and a professor at City College. "If you look back to '85, '86, '87, you see these astonishing stories. You know, '48 Hours on Crack Street' in Time and Newsweek and on the television magazine shows, all depicting this drug that was destroying a generation of young people in the city. But all those stories were done before there were any data about crack's biology and its actual harm."

Now that some time has passed, the truth is a little easier to see. To begin with, crack is not instantly addictive. Its "discontinuation rate" is about the same as cocaine's, which makes sense since they are more or less identical pharmacologically. "The claims of instant addiction all came from the treatment people," says Morgan, who is considered a radical among the reformers. His credentials to analyze drugs, however, are unimpeachable: He writes the drug-dependency sections of the Merck Manual, the widely used medication textbook. The primary difference between the two drugs is that crack is a quicker, more intense high. Cocaine is a comparatively longer, smoother experience.

Most of the havoc created by the drug had little to do with its pharmacology but a lot to do with the economic and demographic vagaries of the illegal-drug market. It was the very fact that cocaine became so expensive that created the market niche for crack in the first place - another example of the sausage effect. And because crack was sold so cheaply - a couple of rocks cost $5 - and its effects were so brief, people needed to use it again and again during a single day. Low cost was also responsible for crack's reach and the explosion of low-level street crime. A pocketbook, even if it had only a few bucks in it, was enough to get high.

"Crack emerged during the eighties, when there was a lot of interest in cocaine but it was too expensive for a lot of people," says Morgan. "But it's important to understand that in the context of poverty, a disruptive drug war, the loss of 400,000 low-level jobs in this city, and the continuing ravages of the Reagan years, the drug was given powers and blamed for things for which it was not responsible."

Probably the most compelling piece of crack agitprop was the crack baby: the indelible, heart-wrenching image of that tiny, scrawny, newborn infant crying inconsolably because of its hunger for drugs. According to a number of academic medical studies, this image is misleading. "All these kids who are supposedly damaged because their mothers smoked crack? Well," says Morgan, "it turns out not to be true. Yet everyone in America talked about it. It became a war cry, didn't it? But even people who first published papers about low birth weight and low head circumference have now decided that if you control for everything else, it wasn't the crack. It was multiple drug exposure, bad prenatal care, bad nutrition, and, more important, exposure to alcohol and cigarettes."

There is a lot more worth reading in the article. The author, Craig Horowitz, also goes into the direct costs of the drug war, and puts it at $100 billion a year - and "many times" more than that in indirect costs.

Snohomish County Cuts DARE

County's '97 Budget Looks Tight - DARE Program, 23 Jobs Among Cuts

DARE logo Everett [Washington] Herald, Thursday, Nov. 21, 1996
By Scott North, Herald Writer

The talk at the Snohomish County budget hearing Wednesday was a grim and bleak as the weather outside.

The county council voted 4-1 to approve a $400 million spending plan for county government in 1997.

But few people are smiling.

County Prosecuting Attorney Jim Krider labeled the budget "inadequate to meet the needs of Snohomish county" and warned that he may soon be forced to become lenient on crime.

Sheriff's deputies, who said their department now has the state's worst ratio of officers to population served, warned that budget will mean some people still will have to wait up to 45 minutes to have their calls for help answered by law officers.

"Clearly, the citizens of Snohomish county deserve better than that," sheriff's Sgt. Rusty Johnson said.

The budget actually makes crime a priority, putting more sheriff's deputies on the road, seating a 13th Superior Court judge and easing crowding at the county jail.

But it does that while cutting the county workforce by 23 jobs, raiding cash reserves, imposing new fees for using some parks and axing county development in the popular Drug Abuse Resistance Education program.

The budget approved by the council Wednesday is $2.8 million more than requested by county Executive Bob Drewel. He had proposed cutting county support for DARE sot he nine deputies who now teach the anti-drug program to students can be reassigned to patrol area roads after the end of this school year.

Drewel said he hated the decision, but is convinced the county has few options other than eliminating some programs if it wants to keep its books balanced.

"This is not the last difficult budget we will have," Drewel told the council.

Indeed, he said, 1998 promises to be worse.

Council member John Garner of Marysville echoed those concerns.

He questioned whether the county can continue to take the lead role in providing regional service.

"You can only become so lean and so mean," he said. "You get down to the point where there is no more give, and I think we are stretching that point right now.

Krider and others seemed to agree.

The prosecutor said that his office has seen a 40 percent jump in criminal jury trials this year, but he received no more deputy prosecutors than he did at the end of 1995.

"What does all this mean?" he asked. "It means a cut in services, which in our business means reducing the number of crimes charged. Would the public not have us charge murder? Child abuse and sexual assault? Drunken driving? Domestic violence? Manufacturing and distribution of drugs?"

Krider said that he expects to be faced with those types of choices during the next year, and if so, he'll be back before the council asking for relief.

Council chairman R.C. "Swede" Johnson of Snohomish said it time for others to help pay. If schools should want DARE programs, they need to cover the cost, he said.

Council member Gary Nelson of Edmonds cast the lone vote against budget approval. He said he disagreed with plans for charging parking fees at some county parks.

"I think this is going to come back to haunt us," he said.


.... Bye, bye DARE: As it stands now, sheriff's deputies will no longer teach the popular Drug Abuse Resistance Education program in area schools. Plans call for the nine deputies assigned to the DARE unit to go to patrol jobs at the end of the school year. But the county council also has asked Sheriff Rick Bart to study alternatives to dumping DARE altogether, including contracting with school districts to pay for the service.

'Seattle Dares To Seek DARE Alternatives'

City Is Latest To Defect From Venerable Anti-drug Program, Saying It Wants Better Results.

Los Angeles Times, Nov. 19, 1996
By Kim Murphy, Times Staff Writer

SEATTLE--This is a city whose young minds often seem fond of dispatching themselves somewhere else. People speculate about whether it's the relentless drizzle or the dark aura of the music clubs or the mystique of Seattle rock stars fallen dead under the needle.

Whatever it is, heroin fatalities here rose 294% from 1985 to 1995. A survey showed 88% of high school students had tried alcohol or other drugs.

What's a city to do? In Seattle this fall, the Police Department canceled its primary drug education program in the schools, DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education). Spokane had pulled out a few weeks earlier.

The two cancellations are the latest and most prominent in a trickle of defections from the popular Los Angeles-founded program that sends uniformed officers into three-fourths of the nation's school districts to teach youngsters how to say no to drugs, gangs and violence. Communities in Colorado, Florida, Texas, Massachusetts and elsewhere have joined the search for alternative drug education programs.

In many cases, there's talk about budgets and the need to free up officers for crime-fighting duties. There is criticism in conservative circles about parental responsibility and, from the graying liberals, fears that DARE is turning kids into family snitches. In Seattle's case, it came down to a budget cut and a growing conviction that DARE didn't work.

"What the research really shows is that the relationship that has developed between children and police officers is very important and very laudable, but the long-term effects on reducing drug and alcohol abuse is unknown and hasn't been substantiated," said Nancy McPherson, director of Seattle's community policing bureau.

A spate of recent studies pointing to a sharp upward curve in teenage drug use (marijuana use climbed 141% from 1992 to 1995, the Department of Health and Human Services disclosed) has made it painfully clear that nobody has figured out what to do about it.

There's a lot of head-scratching going on: We did such a good job, a remarkable job, really, of bringing down teenage drug abuse in the late 1970s and 1980s. What happened? Does it mean we have to bring Nancy Reagan back?

In some ways, many drug education analysts say, we have been victims of our own success. Substantial reductions over the last 15 years mean today's youngsters didn't grow up seeing the street-corner junkies their parents came to know and regret. What do many teenagers have now, these analysts say, except an officer in the classroom telling them drugs are bad for their health?

"In 22 years, I've seen the whole thing become a big circle. There's a generation out there that thinks they invented marijuana," said Spokane police Sgt. Mike Prim, who is developing an alternative to DARE that will involve a wide range of patrol officers and focus on safety in general.

"Things that I was taught, and things my parents and other people in authority told me, didn't kick in till I was in my 30s," Prim says. "We're expecting after this thing has run out of L.A. for 12 years, and out of here for six years, we want the nation to change?"

Glenn Levant, DARE America's president, points out that for the slow leak of cities no longer in the program, 275 others have joined this year, including New York City and Washington, expanding the number of cities to 10,000 in 49 nations worldwide.

Most studies critical of DARE's effectiveness, he says, evaluated an older curriculum, in use before DARE expanded to the junior high and high school level and adopted new interactive techniques for teaching kids, among other things, to resist peer pressure.

Teenagers in surveys generally say their DARE training was beneficial. But what good is it, some wonder, to be told not to use drugs when all the reasons for using drugs are still there?

"The program is kind of like, 'Don't do drugs,' but on the other hand, they don't give any alternative," said Miguel Bocanegra, 17. "Like programs where you can actually go to get treatment . . . so there's things for youth to do besides drugs to begin with."

Cities like Seattle are trawling for other solutions. The Seattle school district is arming teachers with drug education curricula for every grade level. Some cities are looking at programs like Life Skills Training, developed at Cornell University, which tries to develop a broad range of social skills that can be used to resist drugs.

Bringing more programs into the arsenal is precisely what's needed, says Lloyd Johnston, a researcher at the University of Michigan, which conducts the annual adolescent drug use survey for the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

"I think everyone wants to believe DARE works," Johnston said. "But if in fact it doesn't, then the real cost is not the wasted program monies; the real cost is the opportunity costs, that all those children grew up without an effective prevention program at the time they really needed one." ...

Drug Use Dilemma

Despite programs aimed at combating drug use by America's teenagers, the percentage of those using marijuana has climbed in recent years.

Percentage of those age 12 to 17 who reported using marijuana within the last month:

1990: 4.4%
1991: 3.6%
1992: 3.4%
1993: 4.0%
1994: 6.0%
1995: 8.2%
Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's National Household Survey on Drug Abuse

Researched by Paul Singleton, Los Angeles Times

Drug Reform Coordination Network Publishes New Edition of The Activist Guide

The most recent issue of The Activist Guide is now available in full on the World Wide Web. Please check it out at Please note that the DRCNet publications menu at has not yet been created, so that link will not be working. Please let us know if you find any bad links or other problems. The e-mail version will hopefully be released before the end of this week. To receive The Activist Guide by e-mail, send an e-mail to with the line "subscribe guide your name" in the message. This issue has several pictures which are not included in the e-mail version.

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'US Study Suggests Smokers May Be Smarter'

WASHINGTON (Reuter, Nov. 20, 1996) -- Smokers are smarter, a study presented at a medical conference suggested Tuesday.

To test claims by smokers that cigarettes seem to enhance their memory, learning and attention, a University of California-San Diego professor devised a word memory test matching smokers with non-smokers.

He found that smokers were able to perform the memory test more accurately and faster than non-smokers.

"The differences in electrical activity between the brains of smokers and non-smokers show that, in fact, the smokers are doing more processing," Jaime Pineda, an associate professor of cognitive science, who ran the study, told a meeting of the Society for Neuroscience.

He asked groups of smokers and non-smokers to remember a list of five words flashed on a computer monitor. After pausing, he flashed them words and asked them to identify which were on the original list. This sequence was repeated 50 times.

"What this suggests is that smoking causes non-specific, arousal-related changes in the brain that affect the speed of motor performance and can persist over a long period of time," Pineda said.

'Prop. 215 Backer's Idea Of 'Caregivers' Draws Opposition Of Erstwhile Ally'

Pot-Farming Plan Envisions Co-op

San Francisco Examiner, Tuesday, Nov. 19, 1996, p. A3
By Eric Brazil of The Examiner staff

A move by one of the originators of Proposition 215 to establish a legal framework for marijuana cultivation and distribution is creating a split between backers of legalized pot.

"There's no sense in having a law if you're not going to implement it," said Dennis Peron. "We are fulfilling the spirit of the law."

Prop. 215, approved on Nov. 5 by the California electorate, legalized marijuana for medical purposes but was written in broad strokes, and how it will be implemented is unclear.

Peron and his associates are in the process of organizing the San Francisco Caregiver Cultivation Co-Op, which would furnish members with high-grade, organically grown marijuana.

Under Peron's proposal now being circulated, the co-op would provide "mold-free, pesticide-free, chemical-free" marijuana, low prices, "lawyers, should you be arrested," a social club atmosphere, nurse on duty and "cultivation of hybrid strains for your ailment."

"This will be high-quality, medical-grade marijuana, not Mexican on-the-street stuff," Peron said.

Sample "caregiver's contracts," "physician's recommendation" cards for members and a list of requirements for membership have been sent to cannabis buyers clubs throughout California - and to Attorney General Dan Lungren, Peron said Monday.

Prospective co-op members must have a letter of diagnosis and a physician's recommendation of marijuana for treatment, and pay a still-to-be-determined fee. Purchases will be limited to 1 ounce or less, Peron said.

Members must also sign the caregiver's contract, authorizing the co-op "to provide for me cultivation of marijuana for my medical use."

Under Prop. 215, a patient or "patient's primary care giver" can cultivate marijuana for the patient's personal use.

Dave Fratello, a spokesman for Santa Monica-based Americans for Medical Rights, who did some of the heavy lifting for Prop. 215, said Peron's move is "pushing the envelope. They're creating a criminal risk for themselves and anybody who joins in running that operation, as well as giving false hope to patients."

By defining a person who cultivates marijuana for medical purposes and supplies it via a co-op as a primary care giver, Peron is being "a little too cute," Fratello said.

"The problem is that until federal law changes, we cannot address the question of supply," he said.

Peron said he's certain that there will be a legal test of the co-op, for which "we've signed up a lot of people already . . . and when we win, then we'll sue for damages."

Maybe a test case can be won, Fratello responded, "but there's a cost to even trying, which is that two weeks after the election you're suggesting to millions of voters that 215 was in fact a wolf in sheep's clothing. It was promoted as one thing and in practice it's going to be something else. That's the surest way to turn off the 6 percent of the voters who gave us a majority."

Lungren spokesman Steve Telliano declined comment on the proposal.

'German State Plans To Legalise Sale Of Cannabis'

BONN (Reuter, Nov. 19, 1996) - A small German state announced plans on Tuesday to sell cannabis over the counter in an attempt to fight the menace of more addictive drugs such as heroin and cocaine.

The move by the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein immediately drew an angry reaction from the federal government, which said the plans had "little to do with reality."

Schleswig-Holstein said it would apply to the federal drugs agency for a permit to sell cannabis as part of a pilot project aimed at separating the markets for "hard" and "soft" drugs.

The state Health Minister Heide Moser said authorities were losing credibility by treating cannabis as if it were as dangerous as other "harder" drugs.

"General warnings about the dangers of drugs are no longer being taken seriously," she said. "That has terrible consequences, especially when it comes to the abuse of the designer drug Ecstasy."

But the federal government's drug policy spokesman Eduard Lintner said making a substance which damages human health more widely available would increase consumption and lead to more health problems among the population.

Cannabis is illegal in Germany but the supreme court ruled in 1994 that possession of small amounts of cannabis products for personal use should no longer be punished. How much is tolerated as a small amount varies from state to state.

"The suspicion that Schleswig-Holstein is trying to clear the way for legalising hashish and marijuana is obviously well grounded," Lintner said. "Schleswig-Holstein's stance has little to do with reality."

The state, which is governed by a coalition of Social Democrats and environmentalist Greens, said it had not yet decided precisely where and how much cannabis would be available if its project wins approval.

'February 7 Court Date Set For NBA Trailblazer'

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP, Nov. 18, 1996) -- Portland Trail Blazers guard Isaiah Rider will go on trial Feb. 7 after pleading innocent to marijuana possession charges.

Clackamas County sheriff's deputies cited Rider Oct. 31 a few blocks from his apartment in suburban Lake Oswego. Rider, one of five people in two parked cars, was the only person cited.

Deputies reported Rider was holding a lighter and a pop can with holes in it to his mouth. The deputies said they found less than an ounce of marijuana in the crude pipe.

Ken Wittenberg, one of his attorneys, would not discuss the case, other than to say: "We'll be in court on the seventh. You can come see for yourselves."

If convicted, Rider, faces a minimum $500 fine.

'Rx - Marijuana'

The Nation, Dec. 2, 1996

One of the scariest legacies of the War on Drugs is the deliberate narrowing of the national debate about drug use. Beginning with Jimmy Carter"s second drug czar, it has been the openly admitted goal of that office to forbid certain terms and concepts. "Recreational drug use" is one, a distinction between "hard" and "soft" drugs another. Science and nuanced discussion have been sacrificed to "just say no" orthodoxy to the point where we can"t rationally define our real drug problems, let alone debate our way toward solutions. Just ask Joycelyn Elders.

The War on Drugs and its disparate political agendas depend on marijuana prohibition. The war on marijuana keeps the full fury of the War on Drugs -- with its urine testing, mandatory sentences and asset forfeiture -- aimed at the widest possible segment of the population. Without marijuana prohibition, our 12-million-person "drug problem" shrinks to about 2 million at most; drug policy shrinks from Cabinet-level jihad to sideshow.

Marijuana prohibition depends in turn on the drug's demonization. In the name of sustaining the drug war, we are taught that marijuana is lethal, carcinogenic and addictive. While marijuana has its risks, especially for children, none of this is true. Neither is it true that marijuana has no accepted medical use; in 1991, almost half the oncologists who answered a Harvard Medical School survey said they would prescribe marijuana for relief of chemotherapy side effects were it legal, and most had already recommended it to their patients. Now come the citizens of California and Arizona, who on November 5 voted to allow patients to use a physician"s recommendation that they smoke pot as an element of their defense if prosecuted in state marijuana cases.

The initiatives put the federal government in an excruciating bind. The Feds are the only legal owners of marijuana in the country, which means Washington has three options: It can dispense the marijuana; it can turn a blind eye; or it can send the D.E.A. into Arizona and California to arrest patients and their physicians on federal marijuana charges. Before the votes, drug czar Barry McCaffrey said he would send in the federal antidrug cops.

Don't bet on it. Televised images of skeletal patients arrested for using a state-sanctioned, doctor-recommended medicine would be explosive. If anything, such images would likely widen acceptance of medical marijuana. And if Washington takes either of the other two paths -- complying with the initiatives or ignoring them -- the walls start tumbling down. Marijuana will no longer be an instrument of the Antichrist; it will be a medicine. The absurdity of confiscating houses and sending users to prison for five years in nonmedical cases will be thrown into sharper relief. The initiatives' opponents argue that medical marijuana is the narrow edge of the legalization wedge, and they may be right.

Will an increase in recreational use follow the acceptance of medical marijuana? Recent history suggests not. Back in the seventies, California joined ten other states in decriminalizing marijuana possession. From 1976 possession of less than an ounce was a parking-ticket-type offense in California, and marijuana use went up zero percent (and the state saved more than $950 million in police and prison costs).

The medical marijuana initiatives are an important step. But these measures had billionaire backers; the next might not. And the initiatives will certainly galvanize the formidable interests dependent on keeping the drug war alive. So the long-term significance of the medical marijuana votes depends on the ability of drug-policy reformers to seize the moment. The War on Drugs hasn't suffered a hit this big in two decades. Let's see what the reform movement can do with it.

Dan Baum

Dan Baum is the author of Smoke and Mirrors: The War on Drugs and the Politics of Failure, published this year by Little, Brown. Support for this editorial provided by the Shafer Fund of The Nation Institute.

If You Can't Enforce A Prohibition On Rhino Horns, How About Marijuana?

Letters to the Editor, The Zychik Chronicle, Nov. 18, 1996, Part 2:

I saw something on CNN last you should hear about.

The facts as I recall are:

(a 5min. piece on the African rhino) Years ago faced with a declining rhino population the governments of the world got together and banned all trade of rhino horn. Now South Africa [I believe it was Kenya or Zimbabwe. JZ.] has legalized the trade and has the only growing rhino population.

The CNN reporter said "the leading conservationist is now saying things that would have been heresy a few years ago" cut to the conservationist he says "We really can't blame the consumers of the potions containing rhino horn. We can't blame the local poachers. and we can't blame the traders in the middle. When the trade of rhino horn was made illegal the price doubled and there was no money for the protection of the animal. Because the price has risen so much the poachers are more desperate and dangerous. If the animal is to survive we must treat it as an economic resource."

He went on to explain that they want all countries to legalize trade in rhino horn so the price will come down. Cut to a black South African in green fatigues. He says "the rhino has provided me a job money from the rhino has built us a school and a well for water." Then the CNN reporter says " The conclusion is clear if one species becomes extinct all species suffer." How he could miss the obvious conclusion that it is impossible to regulate the law of supply and demand I don't know.

This may be something to watch. If this works for the rhino it could become a model for the preservation of many endangered species, and if it works for animals maybe it could be applied to lands as well.

Patrick Hughes

'Looking To Cure A Political Addiction'

San Francisco Chronicle, Nov.15, 1996

By Craig Reinarman

The election campaign made it clear that drug-baiting is replacing red-baiting in American politics. Bob Dole pounced on a survey showing increased drug use among teenagers as if it were an end-zone fumble. He used it to paint Bill Clinton as a draft dodger in the drug war.

Sadly, Dole's charge is false. There is no longer a dime's worth of difference between the president's drug policy and the failed drug wars of Bush, Reagan and Nixon, and even Nixon expanded treatment and convened a national commission to review drug policy. After relentless attacks by conservative drug warriors, Clinton abandoned his early attempts at reform, moving beyond his usual centrism to embrace their hard line.

He raised federal drug spending above the extraordinary heights of the Bush years, increasing the Drug Enforcement Administration's budget 18 percent since 1992. Like his Republican predecessors, he devoted two-thirds of anti-drug funding to police and prisons, leaving only one-third for prevention, education, treatment, social services and research.

To appear "tough," the president has rejected the U.S. Sentencing Commission's recommendation to correct the gaping disparity between long, mandatory sentences for crack cocaine (used primarily by blacks) and those for powder cocaine (used primarily by whites). He suppressed for over a year a definitive scientific review, sponsored by his own department of Health and Human Services, which showed that needle exchange programs successfully prevent the spread of AIDS among injection drug users without encouraging drug use. He refused to allow even research on the medicinal potentials of marijuana, despite medical evidence that it provides relief to many patients suffering from cancer, AIDS, glaucoma and other diseases.

At the start of election season, the President appointed a military general as drug czar - a man with no expertise on abuse or addiction but who does symbolize "toughness." Near the end of the campaign, he proposed drug testing all teenagers as a condition for obtaining a driver's license, even though the vast majority do not use illicit drugs.

Thus, the president can honestly claim that he has been as "tough" as his Republican critics - and that is the pity. Under the banner of getting "tough on drugs" we have squandered billions of tax dollars, trampled civil liberties, diverted police from chasing violent criminals, clogged the justice system, given the U.S. the highest rate of imprisonment in the world, and in the bargain reduced job prospects for millions of youth by giving them criminal records. And after all this our real drug problems - hardcore abuse and addiction - remain largely untouched.

But politicians seem to suffer from historical amnesia on drug issues. Since 1914, they have scapegoated one chemical bogeyman after another and then made promiscuous promises about each "tough" new drug law they pass.

While drug prohibition has grown increasingly punitive and costly, it has never been any more effective than alcohol prohibition was. In effect, politicians are saying that when an expensive medicine has been found to fail and have nasty side effects, the solution is to have the patient take a double dose. American drug policy is a fully bipartisan failure. We need new solutions, not the simplistic scapegoats and sound bites of yesteryear.

For starters, the president should convene a fully independent national commission on drug policy-with members from all points of view. Its charge should be to conduct a rigorous cost-benefit analysis comparing existing policy with the full range of alternatives. It should study the public health-based drug policies developed by other nations, many of which more effectively reduce the harms associated with drug use and are far less repressive and costly. Then the commission should disseminate its findings directly to the public to spur the truly democratic debate on drug policy we've never had.

Drug problems are too serious to be left to partisan politics. Members of both parties are addicted to the drug war approach. None of them wants to admit publicly that all those "tough" laws and fat drug war budgets they pass every year haven't helped. In the current climate, only an independent commission is capable of telling the complicated truth about what works and what doesn't and considering all policy options. With the election over, maybe the president can muster the courage to "just say no" to continued drug-baiting and "yes" to a full and fair review of the evidence.

Craig Reinarman is a professor of sociology and legal studies at the University of California at Santa Cruz.

Dutch Will Not Accept EU Intervention On Drugs

THE HAGUE, (Reuter, Friday, Nov. 15, 1996) - The Dutch government said on Friday it would not tolerate intervention in its domestic drugs policy under a forthcoming drive by European Union member states to harmonise efforts to combat drug abuse.

"National legislation and the powers afforded by national legislation are a Dutch affair and not one for Europe or our neighbours," Prime Minister Wim Kok told a news conference after the weekly cabinet meeting.

French plans for harmonising EU efforts to combat drug abuse have sparked fears among some Dutch MPs the Netherlands may be forced to abandon tolerance of soft drugs and close down the country's many coffeeshops were cannabis is sold openly.

Kok said the French document, to be discussed in parliament next week ahead of a European summit later this month, contained much that was positive.

"It says a lot that is positive about the need to forge closer cooperation," Kok said.

"Simply because the Netherlands has rather exceptional legislation we should not end up in a position whereby we also refrain from strong international cooperation to combat all (drugs) excesses," he stressed.

He said countries had a duty to ensure that the cross-border consequences of domestic policies were kept within manageable bounds. But he added: "There where the (French) document seeks to transcend (national) borders and influence domestic legislation it is of course going too far. For national legislation is the business of national governments and not of Europe."

'Drug Czar' Barry McCaffrey's Thugs Assault Marijuana Policy Project At News Conference

November 15, 1996
MPP Director of Communications Chuck Thomas

Filled with anticipation, I sat just three feet away from the podium in the ONDCP Director's Conference Room waiting for Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey to speak at his news conference on the federal government's response to the California and Arizona initiative victories. Moments later, with my arm twisted behind my back, I was ejected from the building by a security guard and Mr. Hicks from -- I believe -- the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP).

I went to the news conference intending to ask McCaffrey if he would be willing to work with the Marijuana Policy Project to discourage children from abusing marijuana, explaining that it is a medicine -- not a plaything -- that should only be used under a doctor's supervision. I had obtained a valid press pass from the ONDCP's front desk woman after showing her a copy of our newsletter, the "Marijuana Policy Report," and explaining that I write articles on marijuana policy developments.

As my colleague Rob Kampia stood in the hall by the elevators patiently waiting to distribute information to the media, one ONDCP staffer berated the front desk woman for letting me in because the MPP is an "arm of Soros." As Kampia tried to correct them, other staffers were already escorting me out of the conference room and ripping my press pass off of my jacket.

Once out in the hall with Kampia, I was surrounded by ONDCP staffers telling me that I had to leave this "private" property (the ONDCP office suite). I politely but firmly reminded them that ONDCP is a government entity, paid for by the taxpayers -- including me. I asked why I was being escorted out of the conference area before McCaffrey even approached the podium, despite my valid press pass. I asked to see some written rules regarding public access to the hallways. I asked if it was a criminal offense to wait by the elevator to speak to reporters on their way out.

In the meantime, one of the ONDCP staffers told Kampia that she couldn't believe I was behaving this way, considering they "have guns." She said she was authorized to use her gun against people who were trespassing.

My questions went unanswered.

Instead, I was grabbed, yanked, shoved, twisted, and forcefully ejected from the building (750 - 17th Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20500).

Kampia followed on his own accord, and distributed our press packets to the media as they left the building.

I am planning to press assault charges against Mr. Hicks, write an op-ed piece about how this incident typifies the ONDCP's handling of our nation's drug situation and medicinal marijuana in particular, and investigate the possibility of suing the ONDCP.

Apparently, this assault was reported on in the Arizona Republic the day after the event.

Any thoughts or ideas on any of this?

We Shall Overcome,

Chuck Thomas
Director of Communications

Marijuana Policy Project (MPP)
P.O. Box 77492
Capitol Hill
Washington, D.C. 20013-8492
202-462-5747 (phone)
202-232-0442 (fax)

More Abuse From The Authorities

[Al Robison of DPF-Texas responds to the previous press release:]

Rob ---

Thanks for sending that account of Chuck's adventure. We were treated exactly the same way on Friday at noon when we held a press conference which DPFT Secretary Ralph Hodges had organized in front of DEA headquarters in Houston.

Ralph used to be President of Houston NORML, and this was the third year in a row the NORML guys had done this, so they knew what to expect. But it was new to most of us.

I was a few minutes late, hence didn't know what had happened, but when I drove into the parking garage of the building in which the DEA offices are located a guard came running up to me and told me to get the hell out of there.

I was just following the big arrow marked "Visitor parking," and so I asked the guard (I was genuinely puzzled) why I couldn't park there since I was a visitor. He said that that meant visitors to this building.

I said "I am a visitor to this building. I'm supposed to participate in the press conference in front of it," to which the guard replied "I know that and that's why I'm telling you to get the hell out of here!"

This guy was an officer of the Houston Police Department.

But I was only verbally abused, and found out later that the guys who had parked there and got out into the lobby to get the elevator down were physically manhandled more like what happened to Chuck. The three people were Dick Evans (our Dick Evans, not the MA Dick Evans), Susan Robbins, and Elvy Musikka. Dick is a physician who is serving as President of Texans for Medical Rights, and he and Susan are both DPFT members. I hope that either Dick or Susan will describe their experience for you.

I'm still having trouble believing that this really happened. It reminds me of my two kids the time that TV mini-series entitled "Holocaust" came on many years ago. They were young teenagers back then, and couldn't believe that this stuff really happened. They thought somebody had just made it up.

Of course I realize that if we were Jews in Germany back in the '30's we would have had the crap beat out of us instead of just been forcibly ejected, but the principle is certainly the same. And it occurs to me now that we might have suffered more had there not been so many TV cameras out in front. We did apparently get good press coverage out of the deal, anyhow, although I don't think the public knows about the way Dick and Susan were manhandled.

Thanks again for the report. I guess we're all a tad smarter than we were before November 15th.

Cheers / Al

A Strategy To Think About

No doubt in a moment of weakness, an unusually knowledgeable drug-law-enforcement official who regularly educates and informs his opponents in "The Great Drug Debate" on the DRCNet list-server (but who shall go unnamed here) wrote the following advice to drug policy reformers:
"Attacking the current policy" immediately alienates cops and assorted others - all of whom fit into category 1 of the people legislators listen to. Also, by "attacking" the current policy, aren't you "attacking" the people who MADE the current policy? Namely those same legislators? I'm sure they'll be most solicitous of your arguments while they show you the door. No, you've got to be cagier than this. (After all, THEY are, and they expect it from everybody else, as well.)

Here's how I'd do it. (Though why I should be sharing this with you guys is beyond me.) I'd start out by finding some legislator(s) whom I can trust to do the right thing. Preferably somebody who's not already on record for "legalization," like Mayor Schmoke, for instance. I'd get them to look at how Controlled Substances are regulated now. Maybe hold some hearings on how the regulatory agencies monitor the licit traffic in controlled drugs, and how they prevent diversion. I'd give people like the DEA and the FDA LOADS of chances to tell us what a great job they're doing in this area. (They are doing a good job, so it won't be hard.) Then I'd make sure everybody knew that when the medical community, the drug industry, and government get together, they are very capable of keeping a tight lid on stuff like pharmaceutical cocaine, and morphine, and other dangerous drugs.

I'd be subtly pointing out that in America today, we've got a MAJOR problem with cocaine on the streets, but how much of the cocaine consumed is diverted from licit pharmaceutical supplies? Next to none. Why? Because the boys (and girls) in blue are doing such a great job! We've got a helluva heroin problem in this country alright, but how many morphine addicts are there? Next to none. Why? Because the narcs have got the lid screwed down tight on THAT little problem! And what about amphetamines? Schedule II drugs all of them. But do we have a Desoxyn problem in this country? Not on your nellie! Big time crank and meth problem, but that's because we don't have the kind of CONTROL over those things that we do over the drug industry's version.

THAT's what we need! More control! We need to get those same great results - fewer addicts, fewer problems, fewer harms; we need to put the "control" back in controlled substances. (Catchy slogan, eh?) At this point, you've still got all the government folks on board, and your pet legislator's sounding like the reincarnation of Harry Anslinger.

Now comes the "switch," essential element in every confidence scheme. You've got to get your legislator to slide in the change you really want. We've got to regain control by partnering up the medical profession, the pharmaceutical industry, and the government. We've got to 'divert' all of those addicts into this new 'control regime'. How do we do this? We change one line from the controlled substance act. The one that says controlled substances are to be prescribed, dispensed or administered only within the scope of a registrant's usual professional practice. For eighty years, this has been interpreted by the government and the courts to exclude addict maintenance. You'd have to change a couple of definitions, too, but essentially your amendment would say that "the usual scope of professional practice shall be construed to include the maintenance and detoxification of drug addicted persons, if such maintenance or detoxification is deemed to be within the best judgment of the physician." With this one sentence, (and I have to say, that's a very REASONABLE sounding sentence, if you're Joe or Jane Citizen, just looking in from the outside) you have effectively taken the drug traffic off of the street and put it into the doctor's office.

See? Now you haven't "attacked" anybody, forced anybody to renounce a previous vote, or made somebody "vote for legalization of drugs". DEA can hardly come back now and say, "Well gee, we didn't mean we had THAT good a handle on things..." (If they do, your legislator says, look boys, we're counting on you to police up any drug traffic that's still out there, just leave the doctors alone to do their jobs. Here, we'll vote an increase in your appropriation so you'll have enough to do the job.) You've effectively seized control of the issue, and taken the first step in whatever direction you REALLY want to go.

And what have you got if this is effected? Addicts and abusers of controlled drugs in schedules II through V can go to a medical doctor for treatment, maintenance, detox, or whatever. You could write in some language that doctors should try to make these people drug free, but if it ain't happening, the medical doctor can maintain them forever. You've still got to deal with heroin, acid and pot, which are all in Schedule I, but that's another fight, another day. In the meantime, junkies can get morphine, dilaudid, methadone, demerol, cocaine, and codeine, which ought to be enough to knock the pins out from under the illicit market. Problem solved, it's Miller time. Take your legislator to the tavern and get plastered.

Would this work? It would have in my legislature. We're a dual registration state - both the State and the Feds register people to handle controlled drugs. This would have sailed. Not that there wouldn't have been some squalls, but it would have worked. Would it work for you? I doubt you could get enough of the reformers to agree long enough to pull it off.



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