Portland NORML News - Friday, November 21, 1997

Why The Colorado Initiative Is Bad Medicine (News Release
From American Medical Marijuana Organization Faults Provisions
In Ballot Measure Sponsored By Americans For Medical Rights -
'Voluntary' Registration With Police And Two-Ounce, Three-Plant Limit
Endanger Patients)

Date: Thu, 18 Dec 1997 03:35:05 EST
From: "Amer. Med. Mj. Org." (ammo@levellers.org)
To: Multiple recipients of list (drctalk@drcnet.org)
Subject: Why The Colorado Initiative is Bad Medicine

Defending The Rights Of Medical Marijuana Patients
Directors: Steve Kubby (kubby@alpworld.com)
Ed Rosenthal (asked@well.com)

Friday, Nov. 21, 1997

Why The Colorado Initiative is Bad Medicine

Is it heresy to oppose the Colorado medical marijuana initiative? Are we
giving aid and comfort to our opponents by opposing this initiative. We
think not.

The Colorado initiative will endanger patients by limiting them to just 2
ounces for possession or 3 plants for cultivation. Current Colorado law
already allows possession of up to 8 ounces as a misdemeanor.

Activists and patients in Colorado who complained about these limits were
told earlier this week by Dave Fratello of AMR that these limits are
necessary in order to assure the passage of the initiative and will not be

We believe the out-of-state backers of the Colorado initiative have
concluded that they can do whatever they please and activists will not dare
to publicly oppose this initiative. Moreover, we believe the folks who
drafted the initiative are dangerously misinformed about the real world
needs of medical marijuana patients.

Although most activists would have been happy to endorse the Colorado
initiative if they had just dropped the limits clause, the entire
initiative is bad medicine. The "voluntary" photo ID program which this
initiative would establish, is a good example of the naive thinking of
those who wrote this initiative. Photo ID may be popular with the police
and government officials, but many patients, especially those with AIDS,
worry that a photo ID program will allow the government to gain access to
their records. Besides, how "voluntary" is such a program if not having an
ID will get you arrested?

We reject the efforts of those who want to bring medical marijuana into
established, FDA approved, conventional guidelines. Medical marijuana is
not like any other medicine and must be used differently than other
medicines. Private cannabis clubs, not government run clinics is what
patients need to receive the maximum benefits of medical marijuana. This
initiative will only further marginalize buyer's clubs and the brave souls
who run them.

Prop. 215 was a genuine grass roots movement that embraced a wide coalition
of support from patients, activists, gays, seniors, business leaders,
doctors, nurses, police chiefs, legislators, celebrities and street people.
In contrast, the Colorado initiative is a private and secretive affair that
is determined to win federal rescheduling by whatever means necessary.

Some of us within the movement have already disagreed, in the strongest
terms, with the idea that we need gunslingers to go and challenge key
states with a medical marijuana initiatives. Whatever short term gains can
be secured by gunslingers, can be undone by other gunslingers.

We view Prop. 215 as a change in political consciousness. The goal is not
just to win, but to bring about change in ways that support this new
consciousness and includes as many people as possible. Real political
change must be based in the broadest coalition of citizens who believe that
this is their cause. No government can defeat us if the people have a
personal stake in the debate.

Proposition 215 succeeded because we inspired voters to proclaim that the
emperor wears no clothes. We can prevail without sacrificing our
principles or our integrity. We don't have to resort to the tactics of our
opponents. We can walk the high path and inspire others to join us. This
is the challenge before us.

Defending The Rights Of Medical Marijuana Patients
Directors: Steve Kubby (kubby@alpworld.com)
Ed Rosenthal (asked@well.com)

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For background, see:

Casualties Of America's Drug War (Member Of Cato Institute Writes Op-Ed
For Knight-Ridder/Tribune News Service Faulting US Assumptions
Behind Interdiction Efforts - How US Policy Of Certifying South American Countries
As Full Participants In 'Anti-Drug' Efforts Actually Destabilizes
Such Countries)

Date: Mon, 2 Feb 1998 17:47:55 -0800 (PST)
From: bc616@scn.org (Darral Good)
To: hemp-talk@hemp.net
Subject: HT: ART: causualties of the drug war
Reply-To: bc616@scn.org
Sender: owner-hemp-talk@hemp.net

Source: Knight-Ridder/Tribune News Service, Nov 21, 1997 p1121K2942.

Title: Casualties of America's drug war.(Originated from KRT FORUM)

Subjects: Latin America - Crime
United States - Relations with Latin America
Narcotics, Control of - Laws, regulations, etc.
Decriminalization - Social aspects

Electronic Collection: A20011877
RN: A20011877

Full Text COPYRIGHT 1997 Knight-Ridder/Tribune News Service

By L. Jacobo Rodriguez

Bridge News

WASHINGTON - Gen. Barry McCaffrey, director of the Office of National Drug
Control Policy, recently suggested that the Organization of American States
take responsibility for determining which countries are cooperating in the war
against drugs.

While having the OAS pass judgment on the anti-narcotics efforts of each
country might save the U.S. government from some diplomatic squabbles with its
Latin American neighbors, it would not affect the U.S. drug problem.

That problem is the result of America's harsh anti-drug laws, according to a
new report from the Geopolitical Drug Watch, a French research foundation.
These anti-drug laws ``have greatly contributed to a rise in violence and to
the criminalization of vast sectors (especially the African-American
population) of an increasingly fractured society.''

Washington, however, has incessantly blamed Latin Americans for the
drug-related woes of the United States. (If only those foreigners weren't
bringing drugs into our country, the argument goes.)

Latin Americans, for their part, are growing increasingly tired of
Washington's holier-than-thou attitude and would like the U.S. government to
shoulder more responsibility for the problems (at home and abroad) created by
drug trafficking.

Holding the United States (partially) responsible for Latin America's
drug-related woes might sound like a revival of the anti-Americanism that has
been waning in recent years in much of the region.

It is not. The United States is the single-largest market for illicit drugs in
the world, accounting for roughly one-eighth (about $50 billion) of the total
world market.

As a result, the drug laws and policies of the United States affect not only
U.S. society but also the societies of drug-source and drug-transit countries.

Because most of the drugs consumed in the United States are produced in Latin
America, the U.S. government has turned that region into the main battleground
of its international war on drugs.

But trying to stop drugs at the border or at the source makes no economic
sense, so long as drugs remain illegal in the United States.

In the illicit drug industry, most of the value of those drugs (as much as 90
percent) is added after they enter the United States. This merely reflects the
fact that the risk premium of selling drugs increases as the drugs approach
the point of retail sale.

Consequently, efforts to eradicate crops and interdiction of traffic -that is,
efforts to reduce the supply of drugs - put only a small dent in the profit
margins of traffickers.

The decriminalization of drugs in the United States would inevitably lower or
eliminate the risks of drug trafficking and the huge profit margins of drug

But rather than admit that the solution can be found at home, the U.S.
government exercises its considerable leverage to coerce other countries to
collaborate with it in an unwinnable war.

The certification process whereby the U.S. government rules on the
anti-narcotics efforts of drug-producing or drug-transit countries is at the
heart of that war.

Certification is an arbitrary and hypocritical exercise. Mexico's anti-drug
efforts, for instance, are not any better than Colombia's.

Evidence of drug-related violence and corruption is just as manifest in Mexico
as it is in Colombia, and yet Mexico was certified again this year while
Colombia was decertified for the second-consecutive time.

Mexico was certified because it shares with the United States huge economic
interests that could have been greatly disturbed if President Clinton had
imposed sanctions against Mexico.

Unfortunately, the mere threat of decertification has prompted Mexico, where
drug-related violence has dramatically increased in the last months, to step
up its own prohibition measures.

For example, the Mexican government recently granted additional surveillance
powers to the police forces as well as the military - which has in effect
become the main actor in the fight against drugs in Mexico.

Washington may consider the militarization of Latin American societies a
welcome development in its war on drugs.

But the certification process - whether unilateral or multilateral - has
failed and will continue to fail to stop the flow of illegal narcotics into
the United States.

Its only significant ``accomplishment,'' in fact, will be to weaken the
fragile democracies of the region.

L. Jacobo Rodriguez is assistant director of the Project on Global Economic
Liberty at the Washington-based Cato Institute. His views are not necessarily
those of Bridge News.

This commentary was prepared for Bridge News and is available to KRT

Knight-Ridder/Tribune did not subsidize the writing of this column. The
opinions are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of
Knight-Ridder/Tribune or its editors.

Letters to the editor responding to this article should be addressed to Sally
Heinemann, editorial director, Bridge News, 200 Vesey St., 28nd Floor, New
York, N.Y. 10281, or faxed to (212) 809-4643.



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