Portland NORML News - Friday, January 2, 1998
-------------------------------------------------------------------

NORML Weekly News Release, January 2, 1998 (Canadian Federal Health Agency
Says It's Ready To Approve Limited Use Of Medical Marijuana; France Approves
Experimental Use Of Medical Marijuana, Anticipates Eliminating
Criminal Penalties For Recreational Use; Ontario Farmers Anticipate Planting
Commercial Hemp Plots This Spring; DEA Temporarily Ceases Threats To Subpoena
Names Of Marijuana Book Buyers)

A NON PROFIT LEGAL, RESEARCH, AND EDUCATIONAL ORGANIZATION

THE NORML 1001 CONNECTICUT AVENUE NW
FOUNDATION SUITE 710
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20036

T 202-483-8751 F 202-483-0057 E-MAIL NORMLFNDTN@AOL.COM
Internet http://www.norml.org

... a weekly service for the media on news items related
to marijuana prohibition.

January 02, 1998

Canadian Federal Health Agency Says It's Ready To Approve Limited Use Of
Medical Marijuana

Proposal May License Toronto University To Grow The Drug For "Emergency"
Purposes

January 2, 1998, Toronto, Ontario: The Canadian Department of
Health appears ready and willing to approve the use of marijuana as a
legal medicine in "emergency" situations, the Ottawa Citizen reported on
December 19, 1997. As a result, University of Toronto professor Dr. Diane
Riley is lobbying for permission to begin growing the drug at the school's
year-round greenhouse.

"There is no problem, basically, with marijuana as a medicine,"
said Health Canada spokesman Dann Michols. "Marijuana is no different than
morphine, no different than Aspirin." Michols explained that physicians who
wish to prescribe marijuana may apply to Health Canada's Emergency Drug
Release Program, and must present evidence that marijuana is
therapeutically beneficial to a particular patient. In addition, Michols
said that physicians must also provide the agency with the name of the
drug's federally approved "manufacturer." However, no licensed institution
is presently growing marijuana, he said.

Enter Dr. Riley, whose proposal would authorize the University of
Toronto to grow marijuana for medical use. "I think Health Canada is
implying that they are ready to let people have access to marijuana as
medicine," she said. "I'd like to see a situation where physicians ...
could come to U of T and say: 'We need access to your marijuana.' ... I've
worked with AIDS people and I know marijuana can help them."

Michols said that there is "a good chance" his agency will approve
Dr. Riley's plan if she gets permission from the university to grow
marijuana. He said approval could come within a month.

"I've done some preliminary investigations at the U of T [and] ...
I get the sense that they would be favorable toward doing it," Riley said.
"It shouldn't be a problem."

Presently, California state Senator John Vasconcellos (D-Santa
Clara) is lobbying the legislature to authorize a similar proposal in that
state. Senate Bill 535, introduced by Vasconcellos in 1997 and held over
until this year, seeks to establish a Medical Marijuana Research center at
a campus of the University of California. The center would grow marijuana
for scientific medical trials.

For more information, please contact either Paul Armentano or Allen
St. Pierre of The NORML Foundation @ (202) 483-8751.

***

France Approves Experimental Use Of Medical Marijuana,
Anticipates Eliminating Criminal Penalties For Recreational Use

January 2, 1998: Paris, France: French health ministry officials
announced that the government will begin conducting medical marijuana
trials in a limited number of hospitals this year. The announcement came at
the conclusion of a two-day national conference on drug policy, held at the
health ministry last December.

Officials also announced that the federal government will begin
serious debate on merits of marijuana decriminalization. More than 200
doctors, drug experts, scientists, teachers, and social workers who
attended the conference recommended that the government abolish criminal
penalties for possession of small quantities of marijuana, The London
Independent reported.

"French criminal penalties for marijuana are presently some of the
most severe in Western Europe," said Allen St. Pierre, Executive Director
of The NORML Foundation. "This apparent relaxing of the marijuana laws for
medical and recreational use indicates that France may be falling in line
with the more enlightened, harm reduction-based policies shared by most of
its neighboring countries."

Although government officials doubt that the panel's
recommendations will immediately lead to a formal change in the nation's
drug laws, spokesmen did announce that administrative changes regarding
drug-law enforcement could take place. "We can act ... without waiting for
a change in the law," Health Minister Bernard Kouchner said. Kouchner also
said that he favored prescriptive access for marijuana.

Ministry officials also announced that the government has
commissioned a scientific study to better compare the relative dangers of
legal and illegal drug use.

For more information, please contact either Paul Armentano or Allen
St. Pierre of The NORML Foundation @ (202) 483-8751.

***

Ontario Farmers Anticipate Planting Commercial Hemp Plots This Spring

January 2, 1998, Sarnia, Ontario: Proposed regulations released
by Canadian Health Minister Allan Rock may open the door for widescale hemp
farming in southwest Ontario this spring. Local politicians, who lobbied on
behalf of the regulations, said they expect the language to be finalized in
time for the spring planting season.

"Hopefully, the regulations will be in place and we'll be ready to
grow by the first of March," said MP Paul Steckle (L-Huron-Bruce).

At least one regional company anticipates that the approved
regulations will allow them to contract farmers to cultivate thousands of
hectares of the plant. "We're hoping for a couple of thousands acres this
... year," said Jean LePrise of Kenex Ltd. "There is lots of interest. We
have 300 to 400 [farmers] signed up wanting acreage."

Over the past few years, Canada has licensed a limited number of
farmers to cultivate small test plots of industrial hemp for research
purposes. The forthcoming regulations will allow farmers to grow commercial
plots of the crop for the first time in 50 years.

According to a preliminary draft of the regulations published in
The Canada Gazette, anyone growing, processing, or exporting hemp must
possess a license from Health Canada. The regulations also mandate that
farmers may not grow the crop within one kilometer of school grounds or any
public place frequented by persons under eighteen years of age. Industrial
hemp must be stored in a locked container or location, and samples of crop
have to be tested at a laboratory to determine THC content.

For more information, please contact either Allen St. Pierre or
Paul Armentano of The NORML Foundation @ (202) 483-8751. Text of the
regulations is available on the Health Canada website at:
www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hpb-dgps/therapeut/drhtmeng/hemp.html.

***

DEA Temporarily Ceases Threats To Subpoena Names Of Marijuana Book Buyers

January 2, 1998, Washington, D.C.: Drug Enforcement
Administration (DEA) officials are backing off attempts to subpoena the
names of individuals who purchased a marijuana cultivation book. The agency
withdrew its demands after legal challenges from the American Civil
Liberties Union (ACLU), and an acknowledgment from Assistant U.S. Attorney
John Stevens that the subpoenas were "unduly burdensome."

Ronin Publishing Inc. of Berkeley, California, and a gardening
specialty store in Tempe, Arizona, both received subpoenas in October to
reveal the identities of Arizona residents who bought Marijuana
Hydroponics: High-Tech Water Culture. The Arizona store was also requested
to turn over the names of customers who purchased grow lights, fans, and
certain fertilizers.

ACLU lawyer Nick Hentoff chastised the DEA for initiating legal
action in this case. "This was a fishing expedition by the DEA to see who
they could go after," he said.

For more information, please call either Allen St. Pierre of The
NORML Foundation @ (202) 483-8751 or Dale Gieringer of
California NORML @ (415) 563-5858. (http://www.norml.org/canorml/).

MORE THAN 11 MILLION MARIJUANA ARRESTS SINCE 1965 ... ANOTHER EVERY 49 SECONDS!
-------------------------------------------------------------------

Number Jumble Clouds Judgment Of Drug War ('Washington Post' Discovers
US Statistics, NIDA Data Skew Surveys, Policies - Len Bias Did Not Die
From Crack Cocaine)

Date: Fri, 02 Jan 1998 15:37:33 -0500
To: maptalk@mapinc.org, hemp-talk@hemp.net, november-l@november.org
From: Richard Lake  (by way of Richard Lake )
Subject: HT: Number Jumble Clouds Judgment of Drug War
Source: Washington Post
Page: A01, Front Page
Author: Jeff Leen, Washington Post Staff Writer
Pubdate: Friday, 2 Jan 1998
Contact: http://washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/edit/letters/letterform.htm

NUMBER JUMBLE CLOUDS JUDGMENT OF DRUG WAR

Differing Surveys, Analyses Yield Unreliable Data

As the election season began gearing up in late 1991, President George Bush
got an unsettling bit of front-page news:

The number of habitual cocaine users in the United States had jumped an
astounding 29 percent in a single year, from 662,000 to 855,000, according
to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Bush had aggressively
pushed his administration's anti-drug effort. Now, he had little to show
for it.

But the bad news, widely reported by newspapers across the country, was
wrong. NIDA had miscounted in its annual National Household Survey on Drug
Abuse, one of the nation's "leading drug indicators." A year later, without
fanfare, the number of habitual users was revised back down to 625,000.

"Problems with statistical imputation," the General Accounting Office
concluded in a 1993 report on the miscalculation that received little
public attention. "We certainly think that more adequate quality control
procedures could have caught findings of such significant policy relevance."

The 1991 cocaine mistake stands out as just one example of the tenuous
grasp scientists, politicians, the media and the public have in evaluating
America's 25-year crusade against drugs. Different methods of calculating
the number of drug users continue to produce widely gyrating estimates,
including those contained in the 1997 White House drug strategy report that
variously gives the number of habitual cocaine users as 582,000 and 2.2
million.

In spending a proposed $16 billion on the federal drug war in 1998 -- a 400
percent increase since 1986 -- lawmakers will rely on reams of data that
often attempt to impose statistical order on a chaotic social problem that
defies easy analysis. Extensive federally funded efforts to accurately
assess the subterranean drug world have led to contradictory findings and
occasional statistical curiosities, such as a 79-year-old female respondent
whose avowed heroin usage in one survey resulted in a projection of 142,000
heroin users, 20 percent of the national total.

"It's clear that these things are badly mismeasured and nobody cares about
it," said Peter Reuter, the former co-director of drug research for the
non-profit RAND think tank and now a University of Maryland professor.
"That's because drug policy isn't a very analytically serious business."

Measuring the drug war with any precision is a daunting task. Hard-core
drug users are hard to find, much less question, and people frequently lie
on drug-use surveys -- one study shows two-thirds of teenagers giving
deceptive answers. Since surveys typically receive only a small number of
positive responses, analysts risk making substantial errors in creating
projections for the entire nation. Survey results sometimes include
warnings acknowledging these obstacles, such as "subject to large sampling
error" or "great caution should be taken."

But the caveats often are downplayed or ignored, either by those issuing
the data or by journalists and others promulgating the information. In
reporting the apparent 1991 jump in habitual cocaine use, for example, the
White House's Office of Drug Control Policy noted that the statistics were
both "cause for concern" and "highly unreliable."

The difficulty in measuring and evaluating the nation's illegal drug
problem made it harder to set policy, stoked partisan rhetoric and confused
the public, drug analysts say. Many experts, for example, believe cocaine
and crack use are in decline, and the federal household survey indicates
that overall drug use is down 49 percent from its peak of 25 million
monthly users in 1979; yet many Americans still perceive the drug war as
perennially lost.

"You really can't tell from the big debate that goes on in public what the
big picture is," said David Musto, a Yale University medical historian who
has studied drug trends for three decades. "When I tell people about it,
they're completely surprised by the fact there has been a decline since 1980."

That big picture can be obscured by drug statistics that are "often
incomplete, erratic and contradictory," in the words of two RAND
researchers funded by the government to measure cocaine consumption. The
first problem of drug war analysis is the sheer number of measurements --
there are more than 50 federal drug-related "data systems" with hundreds of
"drug variables" produced by an array of federal agencies.

For cocaine alone there are national statistics on casual use (at least
once a year), current use (at least once a month), frequent or habitual use
(at least once a week), crack use and use broken down by age, race and sex.
There are stats on tonnage consumed, purity, price per gram, price per
kilo, patients reporting cocaine problems in emergency rooms, patients
seeking treatment and so forth.

"It's not that one thing is better than the other," said Eric Wish,
director of the Center for Substance Abuse Research at the University of
Maryland. "They all give a different piece of the puzzle, and they need to
be put together. But because of federal turf issues, it's more of an
adversarial process than a collaborative relationship."

Reuter said he has pointed out discrepancies in the habitual cocaine-use
figures in the national strategy report in the past, but the discordant
numbers keep appearing. On page 11 of the 1997 strategy, the count of
habitual cocaine users is given as 582,000, a number that "has not changed
markedly since 1985." But in a chart on page 227 of the strategy's budget
summary, the number of such users is given as 2,238,000.

"I can't seem to get the machinery that cranks out these reports to pay
attention to these inconsistencies," Reuter said.

An official with the Office of National Drug Control Policy blamed the 1997
inconsistency on "sloppy writing." But the precise reasoning behind it
gives a glimpse into the problem of gauging the drug war. The warring
numbers in this case come out of different measuring methodologies -- one
based on the household survey, the other on urine tests of jail inmates --
that give radically different results.

"The truth is probably somewhere in the middle," said Joe Gfroerer, who
manages the household survey for the federal Substance Abuse and Mental
Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). "It's just a difficult thing to
estimate."

Jared Hermalin, the GAO project manager who uncovered the 1991 cocaine
mistake, said: "There's every reason to believe that maybe the numbers are
not absolutely correct but the trends are correct. That's the main thing we
need to know."

In recognition of the need for better analysis, the office of national drug
policy director Barry R. McCaffrey has proposed a comprehensive Performance
Measurement System intended, for the first time, to standardize measurement
of the drug war.

"Facts should drive policy, but they haven't until very, very lately, with
McCaffrey," Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.), a longtime critic of the
household survey's measurement of hard-core cocaine use, said in an interview.

The proposed system shows just how complex measuring the drug war is. It
contains one mission statement with five goals, 32 objectives and 99
"targets" that will be tracked by more than 111 "measures."

Even when the data is not marred by obvious statistical flaws, the sheer
profusion of it can baffle those looking for simple answers on whether the
drug war has been a success or failure. There is consensus that overall
drug use, as well as marijuana and cocaine use specifically, have declined
dramatically since the 1970s. But that clarity soon clouds when researchers
delve deeper.

For example, according to the household survey, current (monthly) cocaine
use decreased in the 1980s -- and was often cited as a sign of success;
but, also according to the household survey, hard-core (weekly) use did not
drop, and that was cited as a sign of failure. More recently, even as the
household survey shows that the overall number of cocaine users has
declined (success), emergency room data shows that the number of people
seeking medical treatment for cocaine problems is rising (failure) as
chronic addicts age and their health deteriorates. And the household survey
may show that overall drug use is down (success), but a high school survey
shows that teenage marijuana use is up (failure).

For the past 25 years, the nation's most prominent gauge of illegal drug
use has been the national household survey, begun by NIDA in 1972 and taken
over by SAMHSA in 1992. Government workers annually conduct one-hour,
in-person interviews with a randomly selected sample of 18,000 people, age
12 and up. From the answers, statisticians extrapolate the size of the
nation's drug-taking population.

The second most-publicized measurement is the NIDA-sponsored, 22-year-old
"Monitoring the Future" survey. Each year, more than 51,000 high school
students at more than 400 public and private schools are polled about their
drug use.

In the 1970s and 1980s, the household and high school surveys were treated
as national news on the state of the drug war, particularly in tracking the
rise of marijuana and cocaine.

"I've been looking at the household survey and the high school survey for
years and years," said Eric Sterling, a former House Judiciary Committee
staff counsel now with the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation. "They have
an effect like electric shock on a dead frog's leg. There's a spasm people
have when they get this data. People, certainly on Capitol Hill, look to
respond."

In the mid-1980s, the advent of crack played havoc with the existing
measurement system. Simply put, there was no measurement in place for crack
use -- crack was so new that the household survey did not start asking
about it until 1987.

Faced with an unprecedented national outcry after the overdose death of
University of Maryland basketball star Len Bias on June 19, 1986, Congress
rushed through a law punishing crack cocaine possession at a rate 100 times
that of powder cocaine. Without hard data, lawmakers relied heavily on
high-pitched media accounts, some of which "were not supported by data at
the time and in retrospect were simply incorrect," the U.S. Sentencing
Commission later concluded in a comprehensive study on "Cocaine and Federal
Sentencing Policy."

"It was really the opposite of science," said Sterling, who wrote the draft
version of the crack law when he served with the Judiciary Committee. "It
was mythology-driven. It was said repeatedly that there were 3,000 new
crack addicts every day. These kinds of numbers would get thrown out and
repeated without anybody doing the arithmetic or asking: `How does this
number relate to anything we know about the usage?' "

The lawmakers believed -- erroneously, it would later turn out -- that
crack had killed Bias. (Testimony from someone who was with Bias when he
died pointed to powder cocaine.) Congress reacted so strongly to crack in
part because it believed it was dealing with a rapidly spreading "crack
epidemic."

Yet the household survey eventually estimated that crack use stabilized
almost immediately and never approached the levels that powder cocaine had
-- crack stood at 668,000 monthly users in 1996 compared with more than 5
million for powder cocaine in 1985, according to survey figures.

But the statistical data eventually provoked just as much criticism as the
absence of data did. Crack use turned out to be harder to measure than
powder cocaine use. Like heroin, crack quickly concentrated among poor
urban addicts. Many of them lived on the streets, where they would not be
counted by the household survey.

"The household survey and the school survey are pretty useless for
measuring hard drug use in the population," said Wish, the University of
Maryland research center director.

By the late 1980s, drug researchers like Wish thought that the nation's
cocaine problem was breaking into two distinct groups: mainly white
suburbanites who used cocaine casually on weekends and mainly black urban
addicts who used crack or cocaine daily. For casual users, Bias's death
seemed to have the effect of scaring millions off cocaine; the household
survey indicated that after 1985 the number of monthly cocaine users
plummeted 70 percent.

Yet the trend in hard-core usage is still being sorted out.

In 1990, just as the Bush administration had begun touting the decline in
casual use, then-Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Biden produced a
report counting habitual cocaine users at 2.2 million. That was nearly
triple the household survey's estimate.

Biden's numbers had come from what would eventually emerge as a third
leading indicator of the nation's drug use -- the Justice Department's Drug
Use Forecasting (DUF) program, started in 1987. The DUF program collects
voluntary urine samples from 30,000 jail inmates in 23 cities across the
country each year to test for cocaine and other drugs. Biden's figures were
extrapolations from these urine tests.

Mark Kleiman, a Harvard researcher who supervised the Biden committee's
work, subsequently acknowledged that the methodology was "not precise." But
he said conservative assumptions were used to come up with numbers that
gave a clearer picture of the nation's cocaine use.

But the GAO and household study researchers like Gfroerer say that the DUF
urine tests cannot be used to extrapolate larger numbers because they are
not part of a randomly selected scientific sample.

"DUF really isn't representative of anything," Gfroerer said. "The way it's
collected, you can't project it out to any population."

Although the household survey is based on a randomly selected sample, it
also has limitations, according to some researchers. Only a tiny percentage
of people admit to heroin and cocaine use, and they must then become the
basis for projections into the millions of users. For example, of 32,594
people surveyed in 1991, only 127 admitted to using heroin in the past
year, according to the GAO. From this number the survey projected 701,000
heroin users nationwide.

Thus, small errors in the way the survey is carried out can be magnified.
That means yearly shifts of a few hundred thousand in a projected user
population of a million are statistically insignificant because they could
be explained by possible errors in sampling, reporting or extrapolation,
Gfroerer said.

The GAO found such problems in the 1991 cocaine and heroin figures. For
heroin, further investigation revealed that 53 of the 127 users counted in
the survey were inappropriately "imputed" -- researchers made a subjective
decision to count them even though they gave contradictory answers. When
the error was later corrected, the number of heroin users dropped 46
percent to 381,000.

Moreover, of the 701,000 annual heroin users originally estimated in 1991,
142,000 were derived from the survey response of a lone 79-year-old white
woman. Her answer was weighted in an effort to make the survey result more
representative of the nation's population; but the resulting statistical
projection accounted for one-fifth of all the estimated heroin users in the
United States that year, according to the GAO.

"The bottom line is [that] to make projections from the household survey to
the number of heroin users in the country is probably not a good idea,"
said Hermalin, the GAO project manager. "Cocaine [estimation] is dangerous,
too."

In 1994, the household survey was revamped to make it more accurate at
counting hard-core drug use, but Gfroerer said the difficulty was "only
partially" corrected.

"The basic issue of understating of hard-core drug use, those problems are
exactly as they have been," Gfroerer said. "We still feel it's important to
collect these data as part of the survey. The real issue is how you report
them."

MEASURING THE DRUG WAR: For the last 25 years, progress in America's battle
against illegal drugs has been measured primarily by four "leading drug
indicators."

SURVEY: National Household Survey on Drug Abuse

BEGUN: 1972

SPONSOR: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

FREQUENCY: Every three years since 1972, yearly since 1990

YEARLY FUNDING: $5.7 million

METHODOLOGY: Questionnaires given to a randomly selected sample of 18,000
households; answers are reported anonymously

STRENGTHS: Best measure of overall national drug trends, especially
marijuana and first-time users

REPORTED LIMITATIONS: Undercounts hard-core heroin and cocaine users who
don't live in households; some people lie on surveys; sampling errors
distort results

OVERALL TRENDS REPORTED: Overall drug use down 49 percent since 1979 peak;
cocaine down 70 percent since 1985 peak; marijuana down 58 percent since
1979 peak; crack stable since 1988

SURVEY Monitoring the Future Study

BEGUN 1975

SPONSOR National Institute on Drug Abuse

FREQUENCY Yearly

YEARLY FUNDING $4 million

METHODOLOGY University of Michigan researchers poll more than 51,000
eighth-, 10th- and 12th-grade students at more than 429 schools

STRENGTHS Best early warning system for drug use among youth

REPORTED LIMITATIONS Doesn't count dropouts; undercounts non-white
students; some students lie on surveys

OVERALL TRENDS REPORTED For high school seniors, overall use down 37
percent since 1979 peak; cocaine use down 70 percent since 1985 peak;
marijuana use up 84 percent since 1992 but still down 41 percent since 1978
peak; heroin use up sharply since 1985

SURVEY Drug Abuse Early Warning Network

BEGUN 1978

SPONSOR SAMHSA

FREQUENCY Yearly

YEARLY FUNDING $2.5 million

METHODOLOGY Data collected from patients in more than 500 emergency rooms
in 21 cities

STRENGTHS Best measure of people with chronic or acute drug problems

REPORTED LIMITATIONS Not a representative sample; counts people seeking
treatment along with people who overdose; counts suicide attempts with
legal drugs

OVERALL TRENDS REPORTED More and more drug users are ending up in emergency
rooms -- a record 531,827 in 1995, up 43 percent since 1990

SURVEY Drug Use Forecasting program

BEGUN 1987

SPONSOR Department of Justice

FREQUENCY Quarterly

YEARLY FUNDING $2.4 million

METHODOLOGY More than 30,000 jail inmates at 23 U.S. cities submit to
voluntary urine tests

STRENGTHS Best measure of drug use among the criminal population

REPORTED LIMITATIONS Isn't a scientific sample; can't be used to
extrapolate national figures

OVERALL TRENDS REPORTED Crack and cocaine use declining among U S.
arrestees; 17 cities reported declines in percentage of positive cocaine
urine tests in 1996

SIX WAYS OF LOOKING AT COCAINE USE

Over the past 10 years, different efforts funded by the federal government
have produced wildly different estimates of the number of hard-core
(weekly) cocaine users in the United States.

The most conservative estimates come from the National Household Survey on
Drug Abuse, which was revised in 1994 to better measure hard-core use. (A
mistake in 1991 led to the report of an erroneous single-year jump of
200,000 hard-core users.)

Other studies combining the household survey findings with urine-test data
from jail inmates have produced larger figures but differing trendlines.

A RAND study released in 1994 showed a slow upward trend.

A 1995 study by Abt Associates Inc. showed falling and rising trends. When
Abt improved and revised its methodology in a 1997 study, it counted more
hard-core users than ever.

SOURCES: National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, Office of National Drug
Control Policy, General Accounting Office, RAND, Abt Associates Inc.

THE BIG PICTURE

The number of illicit drug users has declined sharply since 1985.

IN MILLIONS

1996: 13 million

The amount of federal money spent on drug control efforts continues to
increase rapidly.

IN BILLIONS

1998: $16 billion requested

SOURCE: Office of National Drug Control Policy, National Household Survey
on Drug Abuse
-------------------------------------------------------------------

'Washington Post' Gets Critical? (Commentary On Previous Article,
From 'Marijuananews.com')

Date: Tue, 20 Jan 1998 16:54:04 -0400 (AST)
Sender: Chris Donald 
From: Chris Donald 
To: mattalk@listserv.islandnet.com
Subject: Wash Post: a SECOND article that deviates from prohibitionist line

Subject: number_jumble_clouds_judgment_of_drug_war

marijuananews.com

A Personal Newsletter on the Cannabis Controversies / Date: 01/20/98

[1]Richard Cowan, Editor and Publisher

"Number Jumble Clouds Judgment of Drug War" - The Washington Post Gets
Critical?

Differing Surveys, Analyses Yield Unreliable Data

Ed. Note: While this article is important for what it says, it is even
more important for having originated in the Washington Post, which is
slavish in following the prohibitionist party line. This is the second
"deviationist" major article to appear in the Post recently. (See:
[15] "Hooked on Dogma" Amazingly, Washington Post Deviates from the
Prohibitionist Party Line ) Retired Krimlinologists who used to make a
career reading between the lines of Pravda could possibly put their
skills to work here. Could there be glasnost at the Post? Of course,
the original purpose of glasnost was to make communism work, so the
Post quotes only one anti-prohibitionist. All the rest are academics
determined to make it work. They want prohibition "with a human
face." The truth is very dangerous.
-------------------------------------------------------------------

Straight From The Horse's Mouth (Question To McCaffrey At San Francisco's
Commonwealth Club Last Summer, Deleted By Media)

Date: Fri, 2 Jan 1998 14:31:32 -0800 (PST)
X-Sender: tjeffoc@pop.sirius.com
To: aro@drugsense.org, maptalk@mapinc.org, drctalk@drcnet.org
From: "Tom O'Connell" 
Subject: Straight from the horse's mouth (?)

This summer, at a Commonwealth Club luncheon in SF, I had a rare
opportunity to ask a single question of Barry McCaffrey about drug policy.
The question I asked him was (I thought) shrewd and timely: why wouldn't
the model proposed by the Attorneys General of the various states for
regulating cigarettes be an equally good model for regulating other
dangerous and addictive drugs? He seems to have immediately understood the
drift of the question and tried to dodge it by preaching a sermon against
cigarettes. The moderator, unprepared for my temerity, allowed me to retain
the microphone and point out that McC hadn't answered my question; in a
moment of candor, he agreed.

The following is a verbatim transcript of his real answer (which I have on
an official tape provided by the Commonwealth Club, but which was
mysteriously edited *out* of the later radio broadcast. When I asked our
local PBS station why, I was told it was for "time limitations" (it was the
only question edited out).

McC: (finishing 1st answer)...Donna Shalala. and others, will carry the
ball for the Administration working with Congress to sort out the tough
question of -where do we go next, but we all are delighted with their (the
AG's) efforts and we think it will be enormously helpful.

TJO: The point of my question, General, was that regulation of a legal
industry may be a far more effective tool than suppression of an illegal
one.

McC: Yeah. Well, I would almost suggest- although I didn't respond to your
question because at face value, why would anybody want to have marijuana,
cocaine, methamphetamines and heroin look like the problem we currently
have with tobacco and alcohol? (intense applause from a few members of the
audience-McC smothers a chuckle) I mean, ya know, we end up saying to
people-and, by the way, I'm not here to debate you, I'm just here to offer
my own viewpoint-you don't have to accept it. But we do know that the worst
drug in America is alcohol-a mildly addictive drug- it's unsettling to my
staff to hear me say that- if we all use alcohol, 10% of us get addicted,
so we ended up with 18 million Americans addicted to alcohol, a devastating
national tragedy; and we're killing 400,000 people a year with cigarettes.
Now, I would be hard put to argue that we ought to legalize, and bring into
less social disapproval, and more wide availability, these incredibly
addictive and toxic substances like methamphetamine. Now, you know, in the
marketplace of ideas, you're free to debate that position-but I don't
support it-and I don't think most Americans do either.

The moderator quickly recognized the next questioner. I had already decided
not to try to continue a "debate," and surrendered the mike. McC is
skillful at using his built-in advantage of owning the podium and
foreclosing debate. However, stripped of the misleading verbiage, what he's
implying is really nonsense:

1) If currently illegal drugs were legalized, they'd be more available and
therefore, as widely used than alcohol. Since they are more "addictive,"
we'd have even more addicts to them than we now have alcoholics.

2) Whatever the costs of an illegal market to society, they are justified
by the "social disapproval" and decreased availability which criminalizing
these agents allows (also by implication, cigarettes and alcohol *should*
be outlawed in a rational world, but he accepts society's judgment that
they not be illegal, at least for the moment).

The one thing he said which is unquestionably true is that the majority of
Americans agree with his (nonsensical) position. Our problem is how to
reverse that. Judging from our bickering over the medical marijuana issue,
we're a long way from achieving that goal.

Tom O'Connell
-------------------------------------------------------------------

MSNBC Commentary - Planning The CIA's Next Secret War
(Clinton Administration Deal Giving $37 Million To Colombian
Armed Forces A Recipe For Trouble)

Subj: MSNBC Commentary - Planning The CIA's Next Secret War
From: Frank S. World 
Date: Fri, 02 Jan 1998 22:41:56 -0500
Source: MSNBC
Commentary: Michael Moran, MSNBC's international editor.
Contact: michael.moran@msnbc.com
Website: http://www.msnbc.com/

Editor's note: We have been unable to learn when this item was broadcast
but, based on the below, it must have been within the last week.

PLANNING THE CIA'S NEXT SECRET WAR

After years of scandal and disgrace, the Central Intelligence Agency is
planning its political resurrection courtesy of a new evil empire:
international drug cartels. The new enemy has no nuclear weapons and no
plan for world revolution. But U.S. intelligence agencies claim to see a
threat to national security that justifies new relationships with regimes
that otherwise merit nothing but condemnation. If the past is any guide,
this is a recipe for trouble.

AS AMERICANS CURSED the annoying workdays between Christmas and New Year's
on Monday, a right-wing death squad kidnapped and killed a family of six in
southwest Colombia. The victims were members of a single peasant family and
were targeted, Colombian officials theorized, because they were suspected
of sympathizing with leftist rebels.

In the other parts of the country, leftist guerrillas were blamed for
killing a town councilor and an off-duty soldier.

Sadly, unlike in Mexico, massacres of this sort are no longer unusual in
Colombia, Latin America's current version of Algeria. And, as in Algeria,
there are no easily identified heroes and villains.

BALANCE OF TERROR

On one side sits a corrupt government, commanding an increasingly restless
military which, in turn, has encouraged the growth of a shadowy and
murderous collection of "paramilitary" death squads. On the other side are
the Cali, Medellin and other drug cartels and their hired help: at least
two left-wing guerrilla movements - possibly numbering 50,000 armed
insurgents - allied with sympathetic peasant and Indian groups concentrated
primarily in the country's southern border provinces. And, of course, stuck
in the middle are millions of poor human beings who wish only to be left
alone.

Out of this cauldron of political, ethnic and ideological hatreds, the CIA
and its military counterpart, the Defense Intelligence Agency, believe they
can choose sides to fight the good war against drugs. As the Washington
Post reported this weekend, the Clinton administration has cut a deal with
Colombia that will send about $37 million in military aid to specific units
of the Colombian armed forces - but only those not implicated in the
country's death-squad atrocities.

This concept - sold to the Post as a unique policy approach - actually
differs little from past American doctrine. Whether exploiting factions in
El Salvador's military junta, Japan's Liberal Democratic Party or South
Vietnam's dictatorship, American officials always claim to know the good
guys from the bad guys and channel money to them with abandon. In every
case, U.S. officials exaggerate both what they know about their proteges,
and their ability to understand their motives.

MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE

The United States officially has held Colombia at arms length ever since
the 1994 election of President Ernesto Samper, whose campaign is believed
to have been financed by drug money. President Bill Clinton and his "drug
czar" Barry McCaffrey made a show of "decertifying" Colombia as an
upstanding drug-fighting partner in 1996 and again last March. But
intelligence "cooperation" didn't miss a beat.

In fact, the policy shift the Post revealed is only the officially scripted
part of an increasing U.S. military and intelligence role in Colombia,
Peru, Bolivia, Venezuela and, increasingly, in Mexico. This growth of these
new spy markets has suited the intelligence community just fine as it seeks
desperately to replace the old Soviet enemy. Economic espionage hasn't
panned out. Neither Islam nor the Chinese, for now at least, seem like the
bogeyman that CIA-friendly intellectuals tried to manufacture earlier in
the decade. Latin America - familiar spook territory and an easy sell to a
xenophobic, immigrant-fearing Congress - is the perfect fallback position.

The U.S. military is less enthusiastic since they already feel
overstretched in the post-Cold War world. Beginning with the Reagan
administration, which first dragged the military services kicking and
screaming into the "drug war," U.S. forces have been increasingly involved
in efforts to train, equip and, on occasion, lead local units against the
drug cartels and their allies.

POLITICIZING LATIN MILITARIES

Regardless of the military's reservations, project "Underlord," as one
Pentagon wit dubbed it, is well under way. Outwardly, at least, U.S.
efforts in the region are aimed at increasing the effectiveness of Latin
American military counternarcotics and counterinsurgency units, and so far
results are mixed. However, many associated with these contacts believe
there has been a dangerous side effect: politicizing military officers who
in some cases only recently returned to their barracks after decades
running these countries as dictatorships.

The American experience in Colombia should be a warning signal. Despite a
decade of deep involvement, there is little evidence to suggest the U.S.
efforts are paying dividends. On the contrary, Colombia has been sinking
deeper and deeper into anarchy. Certainly, this is partly caused by the
corrupting influence of Colombian drug cartels and partly by longstanding
political rivalries. But wrongheaded U.S. measures have played a horrible
part.

In 1991, according to classified Colombian military documents obtained by
the group Human Rights Watch and confirmed by former Colombian officials,
U.S. Defense Department and CIA teams advised the Colombian military to
create paramilitary groups who could root out peasant leaders sympathetic
with leftist guerrillas without implicating the military directly in human
rights abuses. The U.S. embassy in Colombia has denied that report.

'A SPOOK'S DREAM'

A retired U.S. military officer until recently involved in Latin American
training efforts told me that Colombia, Peru, Venezuela and Mexico are all
part of a concerted effort by U.S. intelligence agencies to "grab hold" of
events in Latin America before governments succumb to guerrillas, cartels
or some alliance of both groups.

"There's a lot going on right now that goes beyond training and arming the
militaries down there," said the officer, requesting anonymity. "It's a
major push to hold together some pretty unpleasant governments, especially
in Colombia. Basically, it's a spook's dream."

From Washington's perspective, far-off Colombia, relegated to bit-player
status by the rise of Mexico's drug cartels in the past few years, is a
relatively safe place for this "dream" to be playing itself out.

But the massacre of 45 Mexican peasants just before Christmas - and the
arrest of a ruling party member in connection with the atrocity - is a
reminder that Colombia isn't the only country in the grips of a pincer-like
increase in right-wing paramilitary and left-wing guerrilla trouble.

Here, too, the CIA has left its footprints - again allying itself with
questionable elements within a foreign country's military. In the 1980s,
after pressure to step up drug cooperation by the Reagan administration,
Mexico agreed to allow the CIA helped train a unit in Mexico's military
with anti-insurgency tactics similar to those used earlier in the decade
against leftists in Nicaragua, Guatemala and El Salvador. The targets this
time, however, were nascent drug-trafficking gangs along the U.S.-Mexican
border. After the deaths of four Mexicans, the unit was scrapped. But the
idea lived on and drew Mexico's army into the war on drugs.

Alone in Latin America, Mexico's military had steered clear of politics for
the better part of this century. Whatever other faults Mexico's revolution
produced, military dictatorship was not one of them.

But, in the eyes of many U.S. and Mexican officials, the U.S. intelligence
effort to mobilize Mexico's army against drugs has backfired badly. An army
once held in high esteem has been brought low by the arrest earlier this
year of Gen. Jesus Gutierrez Rebollo, chief of Mexico's drug-enforcement
effort, on charges of taking bribes from drug cartels.

Now, suddenly, Mexicans find themselves confronting a mass grave filled
with women and children, allegedly put there by right-wing paramilitaries.
Sound familiar? It will be interesting to see what the State Department's
human rights report has to say when it's released in January.
-------------------------------------------------------------------

Hatch Blames Courts Themselves For Heavy Caseloads (GOP Senate
Judiciary Leader From Utah Denies Rehnquist Criticism)

Subj: US: Hatch Blames Courts Themselves For Heavy Caseloads
From: Marcus-Mermelstein Family 
Date: Fri, 02 Jan 1998 17:03:47 -0500
Pubdate: 2 Jan 1998
Source: San Jose Mercury News
Author: Neil A. Lewis, New York Times
Contact: letters@sjmercury.com

Editor's note: The relationship between drug policy and
this and the following story is subtle but interesting. Drug cases are
clogging and backlogging the courts. Rehnquist is criticizing Senate
Republicans for stalling on Clinton appointments. In today's response
Hatch blames the courts themselves.

HATCH BLAMES COURTS THEMSELVES FOR HEAVY CASELOADS

Reply To Rehnquist: Senator Says 'Activist' Nominees Are A Problem, Too.

WASHINGTON -- Responding to the unusually pointed complaint of Chief
Justice William Rehnquist about the Senate's slow pace in confirming
federal judges, the head of the Judiciary Committee on Thursday defended
the Senate's performance and said the courts themselves were partly to
blame for their heavy caseloads.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said that while he respected the chief justice's
opinion, he disagreed with Rehnquist's assertion that the courts were
overburdened because of a large number of judicial vacancies.

Hatch's comments put two of the nation's leading conservative voices on
opposite sides of a vigorous debate over the Senate's handling of judicial
appointments.

On one side are Hatch and his fellow congressional Republicans, who have
delayed consideration of many of President Clinton's nominees, asserting
that the White House is trying to pack the courts with ``activists,'' or
judges who would interpret laws more broadly than Congress intended.

The White House has contended that its nominees are highly qualified and
within the mainstream of legal thought and should have their qualifications
debated openly.

While Rehnquist had some criticism for the administration -- saying Clinton
had sometimes been too slow in making the nominations -- he said the Senate
bore greater blame for failing to act in a timely fashion on the
nominations it did have.

It remained unclear Thursday how much effect the chief justice's complaints
would have on the Senate.

Although Rehnquist brings to the debate longtime conservative credentials
in addition to his authority as chief justice, Republicans have viewed the
issue as not just a dispute over judicial philosophy, but also as a
rallying cry to energize the party and to raise money for the conservative
cause.

Rehnquist offered the extraordinary criticism of the Senate in his annual
state-of-the-judiciary report delivered Wednesday.

``The Senate is surely under no obligation to confirm any particular
nominee,'' the chief justice said. ``But after the necessary time for
inquiry it should vote him up or down,'' allowing someone else to be
nominated.

He complained that delays in the Senate had left nearly one in 10 of the
nation's more than 800 judgeships vacant.

``Vacancies cannot remain at such high levels indefinitely without eroding
the quality of justice,'' he said.

Despite his unquestioned conservative philosophy, Rehnquist also plays an
institutional role in which he is obliged to represent the views of the
branch of government he heads as chief justice of the United States.

Many federal judges have complained they are overworked because of heavy
caseloads and backlogs.

The White House quickly seized on the report Wednesday night, saying, ``The
judicial system is more important than playing politics.''

Hatch, in a telephone interview Thursday, acknowledged that there might be
some room for improvement by the Senate, which is responsible for
evaluating and confirming judicial nominees. But he said any problems on
the courts were due largely to what he described as excessive ``activism''
of many judges and the caliber of Clinton's nominees.
-------------------------------------------------------------------

Drug War As Cause Of Drug Abuse (Review And Excerpt From 'In Search
Of Respect, Selling Crack In El Barrio,' By Philippe Bourgois)

Date: Fri, 02 Jan 1998 15:38:41 +0000
From: Peter Webster 
Subject: Drug War as Cause of Drug Abuse
X-Mailing-List:  archive/latest/3953

Readers,

I'm now reading one of the best books to appear recently on the "drug
epidemic" of US inner cities: *In Search of Respect: Selling Crack in El
Barrio* by the Associate Professor of Anthropolgy Philippe Bourgois. The
book has been praised by just about every noted reviewer, and is an absolute
MUST for anyone maintaining he knows the least thing about the drug problem.
It is quite clear from the evidence presented therein that the Reagan-Bush
Drug War was the PRIMARY CAUSE of the crack "epidemic", an unpalatable truth
to many, no doubt, but nonetheless the truth. Among much evidence presented,
we learn that The Drug Enforcement Administration in 1988, after years of
the Drug War's most strenuous efforts noted that the kilo price of cocaine
dropped 5-fold during the 1980s, from $80K to $15K.

>From a footnote in the book:

"Francis Hall, the founder of the Tactical Narcotics Team (TNT) [New York
City, later disbanded as impractical and ineffective] and a thirty-five-year
veteran in the New York City Police Force's Narcotics Division, told
students at a forum on drugs at the State University of New York, Westbury,
in May 1990":

Despite these press conferences that you've seen - and I've participated in
a number of them - there's more cocaine in the streets of New York today
than ever before in its history; no question about it.

Last August, 5,000 pounds of cocaine seized in an apartment house in Forest
Hills in Queens, an absolutely mind boggling amount of cocaine. Did that
seizure of 5,000 pounds have any effect, any impact at all on the
availability of cocaine on the street? None, whatsoever. Not at all. And as
we're standing at the press conference in police headquarters, within
walking distance of the building, people were selling cocaine on the street.

There is even reason to believe that the South Florida Task Force that was
established by President Reagan in 1981 under the direction of then
vice-president Bush, that task force actually resulted in more cocaine
coming into the United States rather than less. And I say that because the
marijuana dealers got out of the marijuana business because of the
incredible bulk of transporting marijuana into south Florida. They got out
of the marijuana business and they got into the cocaine business. A kilo of
cocaine, that's 2.2 pounds - about half the size of a five pound bag of sugar.

Peter Webster email: vignes@monaco.mc
-------------------------------------------------------------------

Nonabstinence Program Seems To Work For Many Alcoholics And Addicts
(Harm Reduction Makes Headway Across United States)

Date: Sat, 3 Jan 1998 00:59:18 EST
From: Gerald Sutliff 
To: Multiple recipients of list 
Subject: Nonabstinence program seems to work for many alcoholics and addicts
Source: SF Examiner, op/ed section, 1/2/98
Contact: letters@examiner.com

ALBANY, N.Y. - Your Toddler throws tantrums whose does not? -
so you give him time-outs, speak sternly, cancel a dessert; But not
every time he acts up. Like most parents, you choose your battles
and skip some.

That's the thinking behind providing shelter for chronic alcoholics or
drug addicts without requiring that they abstain or enter treatment.
It's called harm reduction." It makes sense to keep people alive until, one
day perhaps, they sober up. In the meanwhile, they are prevented from dying
on the streets.

Most of us have a hard time with the measures and implications of harm
reduction. Beyond our tendency to moralize and blame victims, no one wants
to encourage deadly habits.

Naturally, the approach has opponents in the substance abuse treatment
field, where a single-minded insistence on abstinence has saved millions of
lives. Tempers flare when reformers suggest a more flexible approach may
help others.

We in the public ponder this carefully, then bang our fist on the table
and shout, "It's not right." Certain social problems, from alcoholism to
AIDS, churn our stomachs and, often, cloud our thinking about remedies.
Witness the debate over whether, as research now suggests, some problem
drinkers can be helped at an early stage by being taught to moderate their
intake rather than abstain totally.

"It's splitting the field apart," said Jeffrey Hon of the National Council
on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence.

Edward DeBerry of the National Resource Center on Homeless-ness and Mental
Illness, based in upstate New York, says of the non-abstention treatment
program: "In the public's mind you're encouraging abuse."

His federally funded center neither endorses nor opposes the concept, but
DeBerry says the harm reduction model, long popular in Europe and
Australia, has caught on here because "many people came to the conclusion
that the heavy-handed approach has not worked."

That's why in the helping professions, from ministers to psychologists,
have counseled people to stop their most damaging behavior before
attempting to quit addiction to alcohol or drugs. Increasingly, and usually
on a case-by-case basis, some social workers are beginning to take the same
approach.

Deciding to countenance evil in order to avoid harm constitutes a major
shift in dealing with problems where the traditional approach has been,
"No, don't, stop."; The philosophy is to "meet people where they are," in a
common phrase, rather than issuing mandates, and work from there.

Take programs that exchange clean needles for used ones for addicts who
shoot drugs into their veins. The idea is to prevent them from sharing
needles, a major cause of spreading the AIDS epidemic.

Fears that needle exchanges encourage additional drug abuse have gone
unrealized, according to the Center for AIDS Prevention Study at UC-San
Francisco. But risky behavior, such as sharing dirty needles, has declined.

After four years of public needle exchanges in San Francisco, the rate of
HIV infection among intravenous drug users has, at the least, not gone
up, said Delia Garcia, of the city's AIDS office. The exchanges are also a
time when addicts ask about other health problems, with many - often
pregnant women - volunteering for rehabilitation.

Naturally, people who treat addicts have their reservations. In 1987, when
the idea was still new, several former addicts who worked in drug programs
in Harlem laughed at the idea. They told me that scheming drug users would
simply sell the needles for drug money. Attitudes may have changed given
the continued MDS epidemic.

"Since their clients are in and out of treatment, counselors don't want to
see them get HIV while they're out," said Kelly Knight, a University of
California researcher who volunteers in a San Francisco exchange for women.
Some clients serve as adjunct public health workers by exchanging other
addicts' needles, which still reduces the number of potentially infected
needles on the streets. Last year, the city programs exchanged 2.2 million
needles.

The commitment to gain trust over time while reducing the most immediate
source of danger also guided long-term outreach to certain groups.
With pink and blue tattoo-covered forearms, a bright red crew-cut and a
silver bone through his nose, Kyle Ranson of the San Francisco AIDS
Foundation seems a natural for his work with runaway, homeless youths in
San Francisco. He may spend months, even years, getting to know some of
these teens and young adults before suggesting they go home or stop selling
sex or using drugs.

"You have to meet the kids where they're at," Ranson told me. "Some are
ready to stop. With others we try to keep them alive long enough so they
reach the point where they will stop."

In the meanwhile, his group runs writing and art workshops and other
activities such as regular barbecues in Golden Gate Park which tap the
runaways' creativity. Many begin to feel their lives are worth saving.
Some proponents are ambivalent. "Oftentimes, I just feel like I'm
encouraging these kids to continue using drugs," said Sara Parks Urban of
the long-established Larkin Street Youth Center.

The center even has a Hustlers Support Group where young male prostitutes
eat pizza, warn each other about abusive customers and, often, recover
their dignity.

"If they know someone's concerned about them, who knows, maybe in five
years they'll get off the street," said Roger Hernandez of the Larkin center.
The approach appears to be working. He said that 71 percent of Larkin's
clients have left the streets, usually for families treatment or a group home.

Absolute proof that harm reduction efforts work can be elusive since it
is hard to run controlled re search trials with such transient groups such
as runaways, addicts with AIDS or street alcoholics.

But other indications, and common sense, suggests it can help. For years
in Minnesota, chronic alcoholics who have been treated but have relapsed
repeatedly are often referred to "wet" or "damp" shelters rather than
another round of expensive care.

With a room, meals and case management, they are in less danger and cost
less in terms of pan handling, crime and emergency room visits, reported
Cynthia Thrnure, director of the state's chemical dependency program.

Honolulu has a similar shelter and there are dozens more, some of them
among the 60 or so federally funded Safe Havens, transitional housing of
the last resort for chronically homeless.

Typically, residents cannot drink on the premises. Though they may do so
elsewhere, they are held accountable for their behavior and can be evicted
for violations.

"There is good anecdotal evidence that if they have a safe place to stay,
they will cut back on their drinking or drug use," said Deirdre Oakley, of
the Policy Research Institute, who has visited dozens of such facilities.
And as professionals in the fields reiterate, little happens with an
alcoholic or addict until he or she decides they want to get better.

Much of addiction treatment consists in getting people to that point.
Advocates of wet shelters say that's their aim as well with chronic
alcoholics.

"A lot of people can't grasp the concept that you can accept where they're
at and still encourage them to go into treatment," said Donna DeMaria of
the Homeless Action Committee in Albany, N.Y., which runs one such-shelter.

"When you start giving people some compassion, a support system, have them
feel a part of community, and they start feeling good about themselves,
that might start them thinking about making a change."

Consider a final example of harm reduction in practice, that of working
with addicts or alcoholics who have AIDS. Some case managers, notably in
New York City or San Francisco, no longer insist these clients stop drugs
and alcohol in order to qualify for housing or other benefits.

In such programs, abstinence and recovery remain a priority, but not a
requirement. Many counselors consider the approach more realistic as the
epidemic shifts into other groups such as addicts who shoot drugs with
needles.

The goals are several: keep the person alive, prevent him or her from
spreading HIV through risky actions, and enlist the person as a partner.
Mandating abstinence can drive some away and increase the chances they will
infect others.

The urgency of certain health situations, such as AIDS or addictions,
requires we sort through comforting notions of right and wrong in order to
best save lives. It is easy to preach sternly about what "these people"
should do. It is much harder to rethink our traditional, emotion-laden
responses.

*	*	*

Examiner contributor Christopher D. Ringwald is a Kaiser Media Fellow
studying the future of alcoholism and addictions treatment while a visiting
scholar at the Sage Colleges in Albany, N.Y.
-------------------------------------------------------------------

Fire-Safe Cigarettes Hit A Wall (US Government Seeks Fireproof Smokes;
Cigarettes Primary Cause Of Fatal Fires, Blamed In One-Quarter
Of All Fire Deaths)

Subj: US: Fire-Safe Cigarettes Hit A Wall
From: Marcus-Mermelstein Family 
Date: Fri, 02 Jan 1998 17:24:55 -0500
Source: San Jose Mercury News
Author: Myron Levin, Los Angeles Times
Contact: letters@sjmercury.com
Pubdate: Fri, 2 Jan 1998

FIRE-SAFE CIGARETTES HIT A WALL

Big Tobacco: The Industry Has Used Its Wealth To Avoid Regulation, Papers
Show.

Many people know that smoking is considered the nation's leading
preventable cause of death. But it is less widely known that cigarettes
also are the leading cause of fatal fires, responsible for about
one-quarter of all U.S. fire deaths. Often, the 1,000 victims each year are
not just smokers who drifted off to sleep but children and other bystanders.

Yet many scientists and fire officials say these deaths are often avoidable
because small design changes in cigarettes would make them less prone to
start fires.

Indeed, over the past quarter-century, many bills have been introduced in
state legislatures and Congress to require cigarettes to meet a
fire-resistance standard.

But tobacco companies, claiming fire-safe smokes would not be commercially
feasible, have repeatedly overpowered or outflanked such efforts. And the
way they have done it, secret documents and interviews show, is a textbook
example of a powerful industry using its wealth and ingenuity to stave off
regulation.

They have done it through a sophisticated, two-pronged strategy that has
included bankrolling in-house scientists and outside consultants to debunk
the technical feasibility of safer smokes.

At the same time, they have attracted the strangest of bedfellows by doling
out millions of dollars worth of grants, contracts and services to cement
an ingenious alliance with fire safety organizations. In the process, they
have won the favor, and in some cases the silence, of credible groups whose
whole purpose is saving lives.

And they have shifted the fire-resistance burden to manufacturers of
everything from mattresses and furniture to pajamas.

``Their answer (is) to fire-proof the world against our torches,'' said
Congressman Joseph Moakley, D-Mass., who began pushing fire-safe-cigarette
legislation in 1979.

Fire groups grateful

But some fire groups, grateful for tobacco's financial support, appear to
have accepted the industry's argument that fire-safe smokes remain a pipe
dream.

``I can't overemphasize the good that this money has done,'' said Fred
Allinson, president of the National Volunteer Fire Council, which has
received heavy support not only from cigarette manufacturers but from
smokeless tobacco giant United States Tobacco.

Tobacco officials deny any cynical motives. ``Philip Morris has a long
history of giving back to the communities in which our employees live and
work, and that includes supporting the firefighting community,'' a company
spokesman said.

Others see it differently.

``It would be like the international chiefs of police getting funding from
the Mafia to fight crime,'' complained Andrew McGuire of the Trauma
Foundation, a safety group in San Francisco.

But the strategy has paid huge dividends for the tobacco industry by
dividing the people whom lawmakers consult on fire-related issues, as
occurred last spring in New York when a fire-safe cigarette bill was defeated.

In many ways, the tobacco industry today has never seemed more vulnerable
- as evidenced by its dismal image and fervent campaign for congressional
protection from mega-lawsuits. But while the industry is seemingly on the
ropes, its mastery of the fire-safety debate reflects its staying power.

``This is not the industry of old,'' observed Don Shopland, a veteran
official with the National Cancer Institute. ``But they're far from dead
and far from dying . . . in terms of having a lot of clout to . . .
influence the political process.''

Although cigarettes seem like nothing more than tobacco wrapped in paper,
they are in fact carefully engineered to look, taste, smell and burn a
certain way -- and to go on burning when not being puffed.

This spares smokers the trouble of lighting up again, and pays off in
higher sales from cigarettes burning out in ashtrays. But it also means
that a cigarette rolling off the lip of an ashtray onto a mattress, or into
the crack of a sofa, can smolder undetected for 30 or 40 minutes before
bursting into flames.

The idea of safer smokes has been around for decades, with dozens of
patents granted on ways to make cigarettes burn cooler or go out when not
being puffed. Cigarette makers say these ideas either won't work or would
produce cigarettes no one would buy.

`World safe for cigarettes'

The result is that with active encouragement from the industry, government
and business have pursued a policy that tobacco foes describe as ``making
the world safe for cigarettes.''

For example, furniture and mattresses have been made more fire-safe,
cutting down on cigarette fires. But this approach has limitations, because
the long life-cycle of such items ensures that flammable furnishings remain
in use.

Big Tobacco's fear of changing its products is easy to understand. In the
United States, cigarettes are a nearly $50 billion-a-year business, and
among the most profitable of all consumer products. With so much at stake,
the cigarette makers are adamant about doing nothing that might reduce the
appeal.

They worry, too, that if government gets involved in the chemistry of the
manufactured cigarette, there is no telling where it might lead.

Lawsuits are another concern. A dead or disfigured child could be a hugely
sympathetic plaintiff if it were shown that his injury could have been
prevented.

With that in mind, an attorney with a top tobacco law firm voiced dismay in
1987 when R.J. Reynolds, in introducing its novel Premier brand, boasted
that Premier -- which heated, rather than burned, tobacco to reduce
second-hand smoke -- was coincidentally less apt to start fires.

Reynolds' announcement ``seriously undercuts'' the industry's legal
position, warned William S. Ohlemeyer of Shook Hardy & Bacon, in a memo
leaked to the Los Angeles Times.

``In litigation that is now quite unattractive . . . the existence of a
`goof-proof' cigarette . . . could make this litigation significantly more
attractive'' to plaintiffs, he wrote.

The threat fizzled when Premier bombed in test markets and wasn't mass
produced. But pressure was growing in Congress and the states. It
intensified after 1987 when a federal task force concluded that a few
changes in cigarettes would reduce the risk of fires -- including making
them thinner, packing the tobacco less densely, and using less porous paper.

Tobacco companies said such cigarettes would burn differently and produce
more toxic smoke. However, the federal task force found that the more
fire-safe, experimental cigarettes produced ``tar, nicotine, and carbon
monoxide . . . within the range of yields from the best-selling commercial
cigarettes.''

As a tobacco official had warned earlier, simply claiming that fire-safe
smokes were impossible had become ``politically inadequate.''

``The technology does exist as reflected in certain European cigarettes, as
well as'' two American brands, wrote Michael Kerrigan of the Tobacco
Institute in a 1982 memo leaked to the Times.

About the same time, officials with Burson-Marsteller, public relations
consultants to the industry, outlined a bold and imaginative plan of
outreach to the fire service. The time had come to ``position the tobacco
industry as a concerned `part of the solution' to influentials,'' the memo
said.

The plan was oiled by money, and lots of it -- distributed in the form of
grants, equipment and public relations and lobbying services to national
fire organizations and fire departments throughout the land.

Soon tobacco companies were funding ``the largest privately financed fire
education/fire prevention program in the United States,'' John Rupp, an
industry lawyer, told a Minnesota legislative panel.
-------------------------------------------------------------------

New Painkiller ('Science' Reports Epibatidine, Or ABT-594,
Similar To Nicotine, Derived From Skin Of Ecuadorean Frog)

Date: Fri, 2 Jan 1998 01:45:53 EST
From: ltneidow@voyager.net (Lee T. Neidow)
To: Multiple recipients of list 
Subject: New Painkiller

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A deadly poison from the skin of a
South American frog provided the decisive clue for the discovery
of a powerful new painkiller that researchers say may have all of
the benefits of morphine, but none of the damaging side effects.

Researchers at Abbott Laboratories in North Chicago, Illinois,
developed the new painkiller, called ABT-594, after scientists at
the National Institutes of Health isolated a poison from the skin of
an Ecuadorean frog called Epibpedobates tricolor.

John Daly of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and
Kidney Diseases, an NIH agency, found in 1976 that an extract
from the frog's skin could block pain 200 times more effectively
than morphine. He called the compound epibatidine in honor of the
frog. Although epibatidine appeared to be a painkiller in rats, it
was too toxic to use in humans.

Ten years later, NIH researchers used new analytic tools to
determine the chemical structure of epibatidine and found that it
resembled nicotine. This was consistent with its painkilling effect.
Scientists had known for decades that nicotine in the blood would
attach to a nerve cell and produce a mild analgesic effect.

'Chance favors the prepared mind'

A brief report on the compound, along with a diagram of its
chemical structure, was published in the journal Science.
Researchers at Abbott realized that the chemical structure was
close to a group of experimental drugs that the company was
testing for treatment of Alzheimer's disease. They also worked on
the nicotine receptors on nerve cells.

"Chance favors the prepared mind," said Michael Williams, a
scientist and vice president at Abbott. "We had a slew of
compounds that we knew interacted (with the nicotine receptors).
We then looked through them for some that had analgesic
potential."

After screening some 500 compounds, the Abbott researchers
selected the drug ABT-594 for further testing. Its chemical
structure closely resembled epibatidine, but it lacked the elements
that made the frog compound toxic.

"The frog didn't make epibatidine for the benefit of humans, but
rather to kill predators," said Williams. "We needed to get rid of
the (poisons) that affected the cardiovascular system and the
respiratory system."

In a research to be published Friday in Science, Williams and his
colleagues report that in laboratory animals studies, ABT-594
appears to be many times more powerful than morphine, but it
lacks the serious side effects of that drug. And right now, morphine
is the main drug used for treatment for intense and unrelenting pain,
such as from cancer or injury.

Avoiding morphine's side effects

According to Science, there are 30 million to 40 million Americans
with moderate to severe pain that is not affected by common
analgesics, such as aspirin or ibuprofen. And there are thousands
with chronic pain who depend on morphine, despite its side
effects, just to get through the day.

Williams said that morphine can suppress breathing. This means
the drug often cannot be used to control pain in patients who
already have respiratory problems.

Morphine also can stop the digestive movement inside the
intestines and bowel, which can lead to dangerous constipation.
Williams said that the condition can become so serious that some
patients will stop taking morphine and endure their pain to avoid
constipation.

The effectiveness of morphine also declines from chronic use and
can become addictive.

Williams said that tests with laboratory animals showed that
ABT-594 does not diminish respiration nor cause constipation. He
said laboratory animals also showed no sign of addiction to
ABT-594 and the drug appeared to be effective no matter how
long it was used.

The drug is now in early human safety testing in Europe and the
results should be known by the summer, said Williams.

Many in the medical field say there is an urgent need for new drugs
against pain.

"If it works in people, it's going to be a completely new kind of
pain reliever, Howard Fields, a professor of neurology at the
University of California, San Francisco, said in Science.
-------------------------------------------------------------------

Drug From Frog May Revolutionize Pain Treatment (Abbott Laboratories
Says Human Tests Show No Morphine-type Side Effects)

Subj: US: Drug From Frog May Revolutionize Pain Treatment
From: Jerry Sutliff and Marcus-Mermelstein Family
Date: Fri, 02 Jan 1998 14:38:22 -0500
Pubdate: Fri, 02 Jan 1998
Author: Paul Recer, Associated Press
Source 1: SF Chronicle, 1/2/98, Page A6 (via AP)
Headline 1: Powerful Painkiller Developed From Skin of South American Frog
Contact 1: chronicle@sfgate.com
Source 2: San Jose Mercury News
Contact 2: letters@sjmercury.com

[Headline 2:]
DRUG FROM FROG MAY REVOLUTIONIZE PAIN TREATMENT

Human Tests: Powerful Medication Has No Morphine-type Side Effects.

WASHINGTON -- A deadly poison from the skin of a South American frog
provided the decisive clue for the discovery of a powerful new painkiller
that researchers say may have all of the benefits of morphine, but none of
the damaging side effects.

Researchers at Abbott Laboratories in North Chicago, Ill., developed the
new painkiller, called ABT-594, after scientists at the National Institutes
of Health isolated a poison from the skin of an Ecuadorian frog called
Epibpedobates tricolor.

John Daly of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney
Diseases, a NIH agency, found in 1976 that an extract from the frog's skin
could block pain 200 times more effectively than morphine. He called the
compound epibatidine in honor of the frog.

Although epibatidine appeared to be a painkiller in rats, it was too toxic
to use in humans.

Ten years later, NIH researchers used new analytic tools to determine the
chemical structure of epibatidine and found that it resembled nicotine.
This was consistent with its painkilling effect. Scientists had known for
decades that nicotine in the blood would attach to a nerve cell and produce
a mild analgesic effect.

A brief report on the compound, along with a diagram of its chemical
structure, was published in the journal Science. Researchers at Abbott
realized that the chemical structure was close to a group of experimental
drugs the company was testing for treatment of Alzheimer's disease. They
also worked on the nicotine receptors on nerve cells.

After screening 500 compounds, the Abbott researchers selected the drug
ABT-594 for further testing. Its chemical structure closely resembled
epibatidine, but it lacked the elements that made the frog compound toxic.

In a research to be published today in the journal Science, Michael
Williams, a scientist and vice president at Abbott, and his colleagues
report that in laboratory animal studies, ABT-594 appears to be many times
more powerful than morphine, but it lacks the serious side effects of that
drug. Morphine is now the main drug used for treatment for intense and
unrelenting pain, such as from cancer or injury.

According to Science, there are 30 million to 40 million Americans with
moderate to severe pain that is not affected by common analgesics, such as
aspirin or ibuprofen. And there are thousands with chronic pain who depend
on morphine, despite its side effects, just to get through the day.

Williams said morphine can suppress breathing. This means the drug often
cannot be used to control pain in patients who already have respiratory
problems.

Morphine also can stop the digestive movement inside the intestines and
bowel, which can lead to dangerous constipation.

The effectiveness of morphine also declines from chronic use and can become
addictive.

Williams said tests with laboratory animals showed that ABT-594 does not
diminish respiration nor cause constipation. He said laboratory animals
also showed no sign of addiction to ABT-594, and the drug appeared to be
effective no matter how long it was used.

The drug is now in early safety testing on humans in Europe and the results
should be known by the summer, said Williams.

Many in the medical field say there is an urgent need for new drugs against
pain.

``If it works in people, it's going to be a completely new kind of pain
reliever, Howard Fields, a professor of neurology at the University of
California-San Francisco, said in Science.
-------------------------------------------------------------------

Medical Examiner - Drugs Caused Farley's Death ('Saturday Night Live' Comic
Dies In Chicago)

Subj: US IL: Medical Examiner: Drugs Caused Farley's Death
From: Jerry Sutliff & Frank World & Marcus-Mermelstein Family
Date: Fri, 02 Jan 1998 15:15:46 -0500
Source: Associated Press
Pubdate: 2 Jan 1998

MEDICAL EXAMINER: DRUGS CAUSED FARLEY'S DEATH

Comedian Chris Farley died of an accidental overdose of cocaine and
morphine, the medical examiner announced today.

A narrowing of the arteries supplying the heart muscle was a significant
contributing factor in his death, Cook County Medical Examiner Dr. Edmund
Donoghue said in a statement.

Farley's brother found the body of the 33-year-old ``Saturday Night Live''
and movie comic Dec. 18 on the floor of his apartment in the posh John
Hancock Building. Police said they found no sign of foul play or drugs in
the apartment.

But toxicology tests found morphine, a painkiller derived from opium, and
cocaine in Farley's blood. Blood tests also found fluoxetine, an
antidepressant sold as Prozac, and an antihistamine, but those did not
contribute to his death, Donoghue said.

``Both lungs showed edema and congestion, which is a common finding in
opiate intoxication,'' Donoghue wrote. ``The liver showed fatty change
which is frequently seen in heavy drinkers.''

He did not immediately return a phone call seeking further detail.

The 290-pound actor waged a continual battle against overeating, drugs and
alcohol, Farley's friends have said. Newspapers reported after his death
that he was seen on drinking binges during his last few days.

Former ``Saturday Night Live'' writer Al Franken said producer Lorne
Michaels repeatedly suspended Farley from the show and told him to get help.

``This was not something where people around him ignored (his problems),''
Franken told the Chicago Tribune. ``It wasn't something where he ignored
it. It was something he didn't have power over.''

Fellow comics wept at a private funeral Dec. 23 in Madison, Wis., where
Farley grew up and went to high school.

Farley was a 1986 graduate of Marquette University in Milwaukee, where he
studied theater and communication. He joined Chicago's Second City
improvisational troupe before moving on to ``SNL,'' where he was part of
the cast from 1990-95.

He also played witless but lovable slobs in the movies ``Tommy Boy,''
``Black Sheep'' and ``Beverly Hills Ninja.''
-------------------------------------------------------------------

Former Drug Czar Becomes Houston's Mayor (One-time US Drug Czar And Portland
Police Chief Lee Brown Pledges To Continue Fight Against 'Drugs')

Date: Tue, 6 Jan 1998 21:18:51 -0800
To: mapnews@mapinc.org
From: jwjohnson@netmagic.net (Joel W. Johnson)
Subject: MN: US TX: Former Drug Czar Becomes Houston's Mayor
Source: Reuters
Pubdate: Fri, 2 Jan 1998

FORMER DRUG CZAR BECOMES HOUSTON'S MAYOR

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Lee Brown, formerly the United States' top drug
official, pledged Friday to continue his fight against drugs at the local
level as he was sworn in as Houston's first black mayor.

Brown said he would appoint what amounted to a city drug czar to work with
community groups to develop anti-drug strategies.

"My vision is of a Houston where every child is handed a library card
instead of a beer can, a joint or a pill. Let our children find their
adventure between the covers of a great book and not the deadly fumes of a
crack pipe," he told about 2,000 people gathered at Houston's Wortham
Center.

Brown, 60, served as director of the White House Office of National Drug
Control Policy in President Clinton's first term.

Before that he was police chief of Atlanta, Houston and New York. Brown
defeated wealthy oilman Rob Mosbacher in a runoff election for mayor Dec.
6.

Brown said his election as the first black mayor of Houston, the nation's
fourth-largest city, sent a signal of hope to young people.

"Another important barrier has fallen in the city of Houston. Today all
children -- black, white, Hispanic and Asian -- can point to City Hall and
say, 'I too can be mayor,"' Brown said.

He served as Houston's police chief from 1982 to 1990. The first black in
that position, he was credited with reforming a police department racked by
scandal and racism.

As police chief, Brown instituted a policy called neighborhood-oriented
policing. He said he would bring a similar approach to city government.

Brown replaces popular Mayor Bob Lanier, who could not seek re-election
after serving three two-year terms because of term limit laws.
-------------------------------------------------------------------

Bar Patrons Fume Over Smoking Law (Unique Prohibition Begins In California)

Subj: US CA: Bar Patrons Fume Over Smoking Law
From: Frank S. World 
Date: Fri, 02 Jan 1998 15:26:38 -0500
Source: San Francisco Chronicle
Page: A1, Front Page
Author: Michael Taylor, Chronicle Staff Writer
Contact: chronletters@sfgate.com
Pubdate: Fri, 02 Jan 1998
Website: http://www.sfgate.com/chronicle/

BAR PATRONS FUME OVER SMOKING LAW

Drinks Left Inside As They Puff Away

"No Smoking'' signs were tacked up in bars all over California yesterday,
and hard-core smokers nursing a scotch or a beer were so angry that if they
had been allowed to light up, the smoke would have been coming out of their
ears.

Patrons of Bay Area bars railed against the new state law that bans smoking
in bars -- the toughest such law in the nation -- and there were mad
mutterings about the loss of a comfortable refuge and the need to repeal
the law.

In bar after bar, it was pretty much the same scene -- a few drinkers
bellying up to the plank for a New Year's Day hair of the dog. And outside
on the sidewalk, a few more moping about, their martinis and manhattans
momentarily abandoned as they puffed away and groused about the new rule to
anyone who cared to listen.

``This is the most ridiculous law I've ever seen,'' said ``Piano Bob''
Dwyer, as he smoked a cigarette outside the Saloon, a North Beach bar said
to be the oldest tavern in San Francisco. ``This is a bar. What do you do
in a bar? You drink and smoke. This is why we don't stay home and smoke --
it smells up the house. We come here to congregate -- and to smoke and
drink. ``This is our playroom. It's smelled this way since 1861, and it'll
smell this way for another 50 years.''

Inside, bartender Ann Marie LePage was succinct in her opinion of the new
statute: ``It bites.''

LePage said that in the first day of the new smoking ban, customers were
cooperative, shuffling out to Grant Avenue for the occasional smoke,
although a few people absent-mindedly lit up and she had to remind them,
politely, to go outside.

A few blocks north, at Gino & Carlo, owner Frank Rossi said there were ``no
problems, nobody yelled and screamed'' when the ``No Smoking'' signs went up.

But some customers clearly weren't happy.

Outside the front door, Sherry Hart sucked on her cigarette and said:
``This is the only place I can smoke. It feels like high school. It's a
total drag.''

Bar owners like Bill Colburn, of the Lost & Found Saloon on Grant Avenue,
said that while a few patrons might stay away because of the no-smoking
ban, most of the regulars will stay on.

``I think I'll survive,'' Colburn said. ``In this neighborhood, a lot of
the local people come here. Some even call this their living room.''

In the East Bay, things were not much different.

At the corner of Piedmont and MacArthur avenues, Ron Mason, who has been
frequenting Egbert Souse's bar for 35 years, put down his brandy and soda
on the long wooden bar now devoid of ashtrays and stalked outside to light up.

``I'd rather be sitting in there,'' he said, nodding back at the bar as he
puffed away. ``This is an invasion of privacy, this law. I can't smoke in
there. I can't bring the drink out here. If you're going to ban tobacco,
then ban it totally, like heroin. Then we can all get it a lot easier.''

For many, the smoking ban was an involuntary aid to cutting back on their
habits.

At The Graduate, a bar near the intersection of College and Claremont
avenues in Oakland, carpenter Steve Lage was tucking into his first of the
day.

``Normally,'' he sighed, ``I'd be sitting here smoking'' as well as
drinking. He said he was going to step out to the sidewalk for a smoke
pretty soon -- a confirmed smoker can only go cold turkey so long -- but
like many of the regulars in Bay Area bars, he says he really misses the
living-room atmosphere of his favorite watering hole.

``This is one of the last bastions of civilized living,'' he said, glancing
around the small tavern. ``I like to be able to smoke at a bar, accompanied
by my favorite beverage.'' Which, of this New Year's morn, was a screwdriver.

Customers, by and large, felt that they should be able to do what they want
in a tavern. Indeed, many said they were in their neighborhood bars four or
five times a week and considered them a comfortable adjunct to their lives.

But the law was designed less for the customers and more for the employees
who are there eight or 10 hours a day and have to suck up all that
secondhand smoke. Still, many employees said the smoke did not annoy them
and suggested, instead, that there be smoking and nonsmoking bars so
patrons could choose.

``It doesn't bother me,'' bartender Pia Butler, at The Graduate, said of
the clouds of smoke that used to swirl around her. ``I think the whole
thing should be up to the bar owner.''

At that moment, Graduate owner Javad Parsa came in, looked around at the
entire place, its far wall quite visible now that there wasn't a curtain of
smoke in front of it. ``I like it,'' he said. ``The place is cleaner.''

It may be cleaner and the view may be clearer, but your basic saloon
habitue, the man who knows that a bar is a bar is a bar, and nothing else,
doesn't really care if you can see from one end to the other, and doesn't
really care if you might add 35.2 months to your life by not inhaling all
that smoke.

Listen to Jim Richardson, as he stands outside the Saloon in San Francisco,
and blares out a farewell:

``This ain't no health spa, man.''
-------------------------------------------------------------------

A Medical Problem (Letter To Editor Of 'San Francisco Chronicle' Says Drug
Abuse And Addiction Are Medical Problem, For Doctors Not Police)

Subj: US CA: PUB LTE: A Medical Problem
From: Richard Lake  (by way of Richard Lake )
Date: Fri, 02 Jan 1998 16:56:51 -0500

Newshawk: Frank S. World 
Source: San Francisco Chronicle
Contact: chronletters@sfgate.com
Pubdate: Fri, 02 Jan 1998
Website: http://www.sfgate.com/chronicle/

A `MEDICAL PROBLEM'

Editor -- San Francisco Supervisor Gavin Newsom contends ``it is time to
treat heroin abuse less as a crime and more like a medical problem'' and
recommends operating methadone programs to combat addiction.

A fantastic notion! Remove ``heroin'' from his statement, however, and it
becomes a brilliant methodology for which to fight all drug abuse in general.

Drug abuse and addiction, after all, is a medical problem. But somehow, we
choose to combat the act of facilitating addiction, not the addiction
itself. It should be no surprise that our war on drugs has completely
failed to solve the very problem for which it was intended.

But not only has the war prevented us from addressing drug abuse, it has
created a black market flooded with guns, violence, corruption, and a
temptation to our youth that can only be created by prohibition.

Should we follow Newsom's strategy, we might take notice that while
methadone programs are more effective than prisons, they also diminish the
drug problem that our war has been incapable of denting.

The only path to victory over drug abuse is with doctors, not police.

JOEL W. JOHNSON
San Jose
-------------------------------------------------------------------

Different Approaches To The War On Drugs (Three Letters To The Editor
Reject 'San Diego Union-Tribune' Pro-Drug-War Editorial)

Subj: US CA: 3 PUB LTEs: Different Approaches To The War On Drugs
From: Rick Wagner 
Date: Sat, 03 Jan 1998 15:26:16 -0500
Source: The San Diego Union-Tribune
Pubdate: Fri, 02 Jan 1998
Contact: Mail: Letters Editor, The San Diego Union-Tribune, P O Box 191,
San Diego, CA 92112-4106
Fax: ( 619) 293-1440
E-Mail: letters@uniontrib.com

DIFFERENT APPROACHES TO THE WAR ON DRUGS

Re: "Don't surrender to drugs" (Editorial, Dec. 21):

First, I would agree that there is no problem that is more important to
solve in San Diego County than that of drug abuse and the related costs.
But does the solution lie in putting more money into the current system? No.

Currently, we have a highly dysfunctional, county-funded drug and alcohol
treatment system. It must be changed before spending more and more money.

Treatment providers need to be monitored for effective treatment outcomes
- not for simply filling beds. The county needs a nonprofit agency to test
the clients of the current providers of such services, at random,
post-treatment intervals, to verify and evaluate their efficiency. We need
to find out what kind of treatment is working best.

Spending more money on the present system will simply guarantee the
continuance of expensive automobiles and salaries for several executive
directors and the maintenance of a dysfunctional treatment system that will
guarantee to increase the population of homeless, jail and prison inmates
and judiciary, probation and parole cases.

We must look at our past mistakes. We must hire professionals to critically
evaluate and assess our problems, and look closely at the large numbers of
clients who do not complete the traditional, county-funded programs.

Most important, we must spend wisely on prevention. Prevention dollars must
be backed with critical and evaluative research -- not two or three
individuals' thoughts, aspirations and biases sewn into a proposal that is
bought by the county.

PATRICK KEITH Imperial Beach

***

Well, The San Diego Union-Tribune is at it again. If we just spend a little
more taxpayers' money, take away a tad more personal liberty or use our
leaders' bully pulpit, then we can lick drug use. Poppycock.

You proponents of the drug war need to realize that it is the very
illegality of drugs which makes this illicit industry so profitable and
thus, so dangerous. It is you well-intentioned social engineers who have
driven up the price of cocaine and marijuana and have turned what is
essentially a medical problem (addiction) into a criminal justice problem.
You created the Cali cartels, the Tijuana mob or whoever is in charge this
week.

Your actions have led to people prostituting themselves in order to get a
fix. And you inspire enough fear in people to forfeit their civil rights in
order to wage a war you cannot win. If you truly want to rid this country
of the negative effects of drug use, you will stop the criminalization of
drugs and reconcentrate resources on personal responsibility and medical
approaches to lifestyle choices. To carry on with this insane war on drugs
shows that you are just as high as the addicts.

MATTHEW S. McDONALD San Diego

***

I have a hard time understanding how the facts presented in your editorial
support a continued press of the "war" against drugs instead of an end to
the war. The dollar amounts indicated ($759 million) for law enforcement,
courts, jails, prisons and property destruction for county taxpayers,
producing virtually nil results in drug use, actually support the argument
to end prohibition and spend these funds on drug and alcohol treatment and
rehabilitation.

Prohibition did not work for alcohol, a substance of large weight and
volume -- and it certainly is not working for the other substances which
are much easier to contraband throughout society. Why do we draw the
distinction between these different substances when the harms done by drug
prohibition in terms of violence, prison time, forfeiture laws, trampling
of Fourth Amendment rights and illicit funds seem to far outweigh the harms
caused by the substances themselves. And even if one argues that drug use
is bad (I do), under our Constitution, where does the government get the
right to control what individuals do to their own bodies so long as they
don't get behind the wheel of a car and injure others?

In the early 1900s, it took a Constitutional amendment to institute
prohibition of alcohol, yet we have acquiesced to allowing this existing
drug prohibition and its harmful results to happen without a whimper. Treat
drugs as the medical issue they are (as we did for the first 200 years of
this nation), and most of the so-called drug-related "problems" will
vanish. Not to mention putting all the drug lords out of business -- just
as happened to the bootleggers when alcohol prohibition ended.

DAVID C. BREZIC San Diego
-------------------------------------------------------------------

Clerk Treated Like Dealer (Florida Store Clerk Who Sold Single Cigarettes
Paraded Before Television Cameras With Other 'Drug Dealers')

Date: Sat, 3 Jan 1998 09:56:35 EST
From: adbryan@onramp.net
To: Multiple recipients of list 
Subject: ART: Clerk treated like dealer

>From the 1-2-98 Tampa Tribune

http://www.tampatrib.com/
e-mail form: http://www.tampabayonline.net/interact/letters.htm

1/2/98 -- 10:29 PM

Clerk treated like dealer
By STEPHEN THOMPSON of The Tampa Tribune

ST. PETERSBURG - One by one, accused ``drug dealers'' were paraded
before television cameras this week to show police are taking
street-level drug trafficking seriously.

One of the suspects was Khaled Mohamad Alghamdi, a clerk at a Citgo
convenience store at 3401 Fifth Ave. S.

But the 27-year-old immigrant from Saudi Arabia wasn't charged with
selling an undercover detective a rock of crack cocaine.

Instead, he was accused of selling loose cigarettes to an undercover
detective who came to the store twice last month. Each transaction was
for about 50 cents.

``I had no idea if it's legal or not legal,'' an outraged Alghamdi said
after his arrest. ``Some people don't have enough money to purchase a
pack of cigarettes.''

Alghamdi was one of about a dozen people St. Petersburg police showcased
Monday at the city's port terminal, just south of downtown, after a
three-month investigation into street-level narcotics sales. Reporters
and broadcasters were invited to photograph those suspects who were
rounded up.

Two of Alghamdi's fellow clerks at the Citgo store also were brought to
the port terminal. They didn't understand the charges against them,
either.

Derto Castillo, 33, and Hesham Muqbil, 29, each were charged with
selling drug paraphernalia. Investigators said they sold flowers and
steel wool scouring pads to the same undercover vice and narcotics
detective who bought the cigarettes from Alghamdi.

In the eyes of the vice squad, these items constitute drug paraphernalia
because crack addicts can use the tube in which the flower is placed as
a pipe. And the scouring pad can be stuffed into one end of the tube to
hold the drug.

The detective, in affidavits, said that when she asked Castillo for a
crack pipe on Nov. 5, he gave her the flower, a piece of the scouring
pad, and a soda. And when she asked Muqbil for the ``works'' a week
later, he included in a bag the scouring pad, even though she didn't
mention it by name.

But the clerks said that's not what happened. And they said they didn't
know the products were going to be used illegally.

Lt. George Chapman of the vice and narcotics squad said authorities
decided to include some people in the sweep who were not part of the
three-month investigation.

But Chapman didn't think police were obligated to differentiate when
walking the suspects before media cameras.

``I don't see that that is our responsibility,'' he said.

Stephen Thompson covers Pinellas law enforcement. He can be reached at
(813) 823-7732.
-------------------------------------------------------------------

Sending Stories Home From Prison ('Storybook Project' Tries To Preserve
Illinois Prisoners' Family Ties)

Subj: US IL: Sending Stories Home From Prison
From: Marcus-Mermelstein Family 
Date: Fri, 02 Jan 1998 17:18:06 -0500
Source: San Jose Mercury News
Author: Christopher Wills, Associated Press
Contact: letters@sjmercury.com
Pubdate: Fri, 2 Jan 1998

SENDING STORIES HOME FROM PRISON

Parents Who Can't Read To Their Children At Bedtime Record Their Voices
Instead

LINCOLN, Ill. -- Erika Gonzales is reading to her 2-year-old boy, Jimmy.
It's a simple book about the simple things children do: visit the corner,
take the bus to Grandma's, go to first grade.

But barely a sentence along, she tosses the book down.

Crying and swiping at tears with the palms of her hands, she whispers, ``I
can't read it.''

Then she gathers herself and starts reading again -- into a cold, black
tape recorder. Jimmy is 125 miles away in Joliet. Gonzales is in prison.

``Mommy misses you and loves you,'' she tells the recorder. ``She's going
to read you a book to let you know this is me and I love you.''

She soon finishes the story, then gives the recording to the volunteers who
will make sure it is mailed.

This is the Storybook Project, a program built around the simple idea that
parents in prison should have a chance to read to their children.
Volunteers collect books and recorders, take them to prisons and let
inmates record stories and personal messages.

``It's an amazing experience to go in and realize just how much these
parents care for their kids,'' said Linda Ketcham, who runs the program for
Lutheran Social Services. ``Part of what we're trying to do is make sure
kids know Mom is OK. Many of them are very frightened for their parents.''

Gonzales, a soft-spoken 18-year-old with her hair in a long ponytail, said
her sister is caring for Jimmy while she serves a year for robbery and
battery. She has not seen him in almost five months.

``I just want him to hear my voice,'' Gonzales said. ``I've been doing a
lot of thinking. I'm ready to go home to my child. I want to quit drinking
and all that stuff.''

The Storybook Project gives her a way to reach her son. But the volunteers
staffing the project try not to get carried away over the impact of that
contact.

``We're talking about a little 15-minute experience here,'' said volunteer
Linda Thomas. ``This is not going to cure the family's problems. But I
can't help thinking (that) from the child's perspective, it will be a
memory of a loving moment.''

The volunteers arrive at Logan Correctional Center, a medium-security
prison with 641 women and 1,038 men, about 9 a.m. It is past 9:30 before
security allows them in.

Most have been doing this monthly since May. That's when this central
Illinois project got its start. It is modeled after similar programs
serving county jail prisoners in southern Illinois and Chicago.

Inmates at Logan leaped at the chance to take part, said Sandra
Kibby-Brown, an assistant warden. Dozens of inmates have signed up, with
more requests coming in every day.

The volunteers set up in one of the prison classrooms, filling it with
books: ``Big Bird's Busy Day.'' ``David and Goliath.'' ``A Is for Africa.''
``Willie Mays.''

Books for little children can be recorded in just a few minutes. With
longer books for older children, prisoners commonly record the first
chapter and encourage the children to finish it for themselves.

Once the recording is done, the tape and book are packaged and sent off to
the child.

Volunteer Sally Wolf said some prisoners cry and some maintain their
composure -- at first.

``Even the most stoic ones get a little emotional by the end,'' Wolf said.
``It's that `Bye, I'll see you' thing that gets them.''

She recalled one inmate who brought dog-eared pictures of her children. She
placed the pictures on the recorder and read to them.

``We were both bawling,'' Wolf said.

Alice Turner has not seen her five children in months. She should get out
in March after serving more two years for burglary. In a classroom next to
a set of 1978 encyclopedias, she reads ``Sweet Pea's Thank-You Book.''

``That was a nice little book,'' she tells the children. ``Give each other
a big kiss for me. Bye-bye.''
-------------------------------------------------------------------

Named In The Public Interest (Son Of Cabinet Minister Charged With Ridding
Britain Of Drugs Arrested For Dealing Cannabis)

Date: Fri, 02 Jan 1998 13:38:07 -0500
From: shug 
Subj: UK: Named In The Public Interest
Source: The Scotsman, Edinburgh, UK
Contact: Letters_ts@scotsman.com
Pubdate: Fri, 2 Jan 1998

NAMED IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST

Today, The Scotsman ends the farce that was fast becoming a disgrace to out
public life, our freedom of speech and our democracy. Today, we can tell
what every reporter, commentator, television pundit, Member of Parliament,
civil servant and habitue of the bars of Westminster has known for days:
the government minister whose 17-year-old son was arrested on 15 December
for dealing in cannabis is Jack Straw, the Home Secretary and the Cabinet
member charged with ridding Britain of drugs.

We do this not out of any sense of mischief but because what started out as
a reasonably minor family difficulty has turned into a major arguement over
a point of principle. This is an arguement over what the British public is
and is not allowed to know about a matter of public interest - and who
decides.

After all, we are being invited to believe that the matter is almost at an
end. The affair may have involved a minister of the Crown, a national
newspaper, the Attorney General, a key government policy and allegations of
political censorship. Yet now the 17-year-old accused by the Mirror may
face a caution, at worst. End of story?

Hardly. In the beginning it was possible to argue that Mr Straw's son was
entitled to privacy (legally-guaranteed, so we were told) and that the
minister himself should not be named, even when the entire press was in
possession of the facts. We, like others, took the view that the guidance
of the Press Complaints Commission should be respected. As a Scottish
newspaper, moreover, we were under no obligation to connive in the secrecy
yet judged, at first, that this was a private affair.

The Government has caused us to alter our opinion. It has turned an
arguement over privacy into a battle over press freedom, political
interference and the public interest. It has also made strictures of the
PCC somewhat beside the point. Given that Mr Straw has expressed
frustration at his supposed inability to identify himself, and given that
he has been identified in publications overseas and on the Internet, we
are happy to place his name in the public domain, in Scotland at least. For
Mr Straw's legal advisors do not seem to have recognised that there is no
restriction on identifying the minister north of the Border.

Whether his son is cautioned or whether no action is taken against him
matters only slightly now, ironically enough. Given that the alleged crime
involved only 10 UKP worth of cannabis a caution might seem sensible,
though we must wonder with what seriousness we are now supposed to treat
the Government's attitude towards drug trafficking. Mr Straw, as the
minister responsible for drugs policy, has long asserted that dealing is
very much worse than possession. Now that he has been identified, he might
like to share with us again his belief in the need to be 'tough on crime'.
Perhaps, too, he could at least reconsider our call for a Royal Commission
on drugs.

Before he does, however, there are a few other things he and the Government
might discuss. One is how he proposed to lead the campaign against drugs
while attempting to remain anonymous in his son's case and while every
member of the Commons knew perfectly well that he was the minister
involved. Did Mr Straw really intend to offer us the black comedy of
pretence when a drugs problem existed in his own household? How did he
imagine he was supposed to answer parliamentary questions? Was it credible
that every MP should know of his predicament while the public, with a
legitamate interest, was kept in ignorance?

For that matter, can the Government explain its decision to use the law to
protect a senior minister who would have done himself a favour if he had
revealed his identity at the outset? For the sake of a 10 UKP crime it has
attempted to gag the press; it has seen the arrest of a reporter going
about her job; and it has reduced its vaunted drugs policy to mere
shambolic rhetoric. All that and it still demands our silence?

Besides, the injunction granted against the Sun and hence all other Fleet
Street newspapers was a dubious device used for dubious purposes. At first
we were supposed to believe that Mr Straw's son was protected by section 49
of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 which grants anonymity
automatically to persons under 18. But as the Sun argued, this only comes
into effect when proceedings have begun, in other words when a person has
been charged. Since Mr Straw's son has only been arrested and bailed, the
act has no relevance to the issue of anonymity.

Mr Justice Jones accepted as much but nevertheless ordered that secrecy be
maintained under the Contempt of Court Act 1981. This is intended to
safeguard the administration of justice and it is a moot point whether it
was ever devised to cover questions of anonymity. At the very least, Mr
Straw's insistence that he has not been 'allowed' to identify himself is
arguable.

In any case, who was it who published a White Paper last year calling for
'more openness' in youth court proceedings and asserting that "Justice is
best served in an open court where the criminal process can be scrutinised
and the offender cannot hide behind a cloak of anonymity"? Who is the
minister who knows perfectly well that even the provisions of Children and
Young Persons Act were relevant they have been breached in the past without
law officers seeking injunctions? The answer in both cases, of course, is
Jack Straw.

Nevertheless, such a sweeping use of legal power is of a piece with the
entire affair. At its heart is the question of Mr Straw's ability to do his
job with regards to drugs while claiming anonymity in a drugs case
involving his son. Furthermore, though police deny that pressure has been
placed on them, there has been a clear attempt to silence questions. One
can only wonder how this Government would have behaved had the original
matter been more serious. As things stand, they oblige us to identify the
Home Secretary: this version of official secrecy cannot be tolerated.

Yet the real joke, the true measure of the affair's absurdity, is that any
MP could name Mr Straw in the Commons without fear of legal challenge.
Under absolute privilege all newspapers would then be free to publish. Mr
Straw may wish to consider that this morning we have merely saved him from
the humiliation on the floor of the House.
-------------------------------------------------------------------

Drug Row Minister Is The Home Secretary ('The Scotsman' Names Jack Straw As
Father Of Boy Caught Selling Cannabis)

Subj: UK: Drug Row Minister Is The Home Secretary
From: shug 
Date: Fri, 02 Jan 1998 13:53:54 -0500
Source: The Scotsman, Edinburgh, UK
Author: Andrew Parker, Political Correspondent
Page: Front Page
Contact: Letters_ts@scotsman.com
Pubdate: Fri, 2 Jan 1998
Ooops: The Scotsman item previously posted subject: ' Named In The Public
Interest' should have been listed as an Editorial.

[Front page banner headline:]
DRUG ROW MINISTER IS THE HOME SECRETARY

[Sub headline:]
Scotsman Names Jack Straw As Father Of Boy Caught Selling Cannabis

The Cabinet Minister whose son is accused of drug dealing is Jack Straw,
the Home Secretary.

The Scotsman today takes the radical step to identify Mr Straw because it
believes the public interest in naming him now outweighs the need to
preserve his 17-year-old son's anonymity.

Yesterday, Mr Straw told two tabloid newspapers that he would like to be
named but his legal advisors had told him it was not possible. In fact this
is only the case under English law and there is no reason to stop Scottish
newspapers printing Mr Staw's identity. The Scotsman, however, is still
unable to name Mr Straw in its London editions.

Mr Straw has also been identified in newspapers abroad and on the Internet.

Last night The Scotsman's editor, Martin Clarke, said: "The Government's
handling of this matter has turned what was a fairly minor criminal issue
involving a 17-year-old youth into a major issue of principle about what
the public are allowed to know about their elected representatives.

"As far as we are concerned, Mr Straw's public wish that he could be named
removed the last obstacle to our telling our readers what every newspaper
executive, politician and broadcaster already knows.

"I think it is crucial that the next time the Home Secretary makes a
pronouncement about youth, crime or drugs then the public, as well as his
fellow politicians, can judge it in the light of what they know about his
personal experience of the issue."

The Scotsman is not subject to the same restrictions, and Mr Straw's name
has already appeared on the Internet and in newspapers abroad.

The Labour-supporting Mirror newspaper first accused an unnamed Cabinet
minister's son of selling Cannabis worth 10 UKP to one of its reporters on
Christmas Eve.

Mr Straw had already taken his son to a police station where he was
arrested and then released on bail.

The situation later descended into a farce, because journalists and
politicians at Westminster together with London's chattering classes,
quickly found out the minister was Mr Straw.

John Morris, the Attorney General, was granted an injunction by the high
court on Tuesday which prevented The Sun from naming Mr Straw.

Although the Sun successfully argued that the automatic anonymity granted
under the 1933 Children and Young Persons Act to anyone under 18 facing
criminal proceedings did not apply until the person had been charged, Mr
Justice Moses issued the injunction on the basis of the 1981 Contempt of
Court Act.

He said the act allowed him to protect the integrity of the course of
justice by protecting the identity of the 17-year-old.

However, Mr Straw was preparing to go public about the extra- ordinary
affair next week.

It is understood that the investigation by the Metropolitan police has
concluded that Mr Straw's son should either face a caution or no action at
all.

Legal experts said if the son was not prosecuted, he could be named.

The Crown Prosecution Service's response to the police report is expected
next week, possibly Monday.

The affair is potentially a huge embarrassment for the Government because
of its tough stance on drugs, and Mr Straw's responsibility for law and order.

The Prime Minister, Tony Blair, has refused to entertain calls for the
legalisation of soft drugs, including cannabis.

Mr Straw reiterated that view at the Labour party conference in October.

To heckles, he told delegates: "We will not decriminilise, legalise or
legitimise the use of drugs.

"At a time when we are trying to limit and control the use of alcohol and
nicotine, how can we possibly justify making it lawful to experiment with
other kinds of dangerous drugs.

"The only certain effects of decriminilisation would be to increase the use
of such drugs and the number of people addicted to them. And make the drugs
barons even richer."

Mr Straw has also made a virtue of repeating the Prime Minister's mantra
that the Government will be tough on crime, and tough on the causes of crime.

He told the party conference he wanted zero tolerance of crime and disorder
in Britain's neighbourhoods: "We said we would be tough on crime. And we are.

"We said we would be tough on the causes of crime. And we are.

"We said we would make Labour the party of law and order. And we did."

Mr Straw will pilot a Crime and Disorder Bill through Commons this year,
which includes fast track punishment for young offenders, together with
curfews to keep children of the streets.

In anonymous interviews to the Mirror and the Sun yesterday, Mr Straw spoke
of how he wanted to go public about the affair. He told the Mirror: "I want
to talk about this in public and reveal my identity but I have been told I
can't.

"Lawyers have said I haven't got any choice.

"That is obviously very frustrating because I am not the sort of person who
normally avoids confronting issues like this publicly."

He insisted he had not sought to influence Mr Morris in his decision to
seek an injunction against the Sun.

"I have asked that my son be treated no differently to anybody else."

Penalties for cannabis offences are not consistent across Britain, but 56
per cent of possession cases in 1995 were dealt with by caution.

Senior detectives spent seven days investigating Mr Straw's son before
sending a report to the Crown Prosecution Service on Wednesday.

The small amount of drugs involved - thought to be 1.92 grammes - and
conflicting versions given by witnesses about how the drugs came to be
bought by Dawn Alford, a Mirror reporter, are understood to be the main
factors behind the report's recommendations.

The report, to be considered by a lawyer from the south London branch of
the CPS, rather than by Dame Barbara Mills, the Director of Public
Prosecutions, prompted a warning from Scotland Against Drugs.

David Macauley, the pressure group's campaigns director, said: "Our
experience in Scotland has been that people want the police to come down
very hard on drug dealers.

"While as an organisation our view would be that decisions to prosecute are
a matter for the criminal justice system, many members of the public could
be critical of any decision that appears to be taking a soft approach
towards supplying drugs."

Meanwhile, Keith Hellawell, the so-called drugs tsar appointed by the
Government to co-ordinate its policies on drugs, ruled out legalisation of
cannabis in the next decade, saying it was a red herring.
-------------------------------------------------------------------

Editorial - Turning A Problem Into A Farce ('The Scotsman' On Jack
Straw Scandal)

Subj: UK: Editorial: Turning A Problem Into A Farce
From: Zosimos 
Date: Fri, 02 Jan 1998 20:22:08 -0500
Source: The Scotsman, Edinburgh, UK
Contact: Letters_ts@scotsman.com
Pubdate: Fri, 02 Jan 1998

TURNING A PROBLEM INTO A FARCE

THAT, we are invited to believe, is that. The affair may have involved a
minister of the Crown, a national newspaper, the Attorney General, a key
Government policy and allegations of political censorship. Now, according
to reports, the 17-year-old politician's son accused by the Mirror of
dealing in cannabis is to face, at best, a caution.

Given that the alleged crime involved a sum of only 10, this might seem a
sensible conclusion, though we must wonder with what seriousness we are now
supposed to treat the Government's attitude towards drugs trafficking.
People such as Jack Straw, the Home Secretary and the minister responsible
for drugs policy, have long asserted that dealing is very much worse than
mere possession and the police have followed that lead. Now the offence,
albeit on a trivial scale, is being treated as something no worse than a
misdemeanour.

Perhaps we should not be too surprised, given the farce that has preceded
this conclusion. Yet if it has been a fuss over next-to-nothing - a
judgment many would, of course, dispute - it has been a fuss of the
Government's making. It has hidden behind legal technicalities to protect a
senior minister who would have done himself a favour if he had revealed his
identity at the outset. It has gagged the press in a matter of legitimate
public interest. Worse than that, it has reduced its vaunted drugs policy
to mere shambolic rhetoric.

All that being so, it is hard to see what credibility the minister in
question can hope to retain after he has been identified. He claims to be
frustrated by the anonymity forced, so he says, upon him. With the greatest
of respect, we doubt that very much, just as we doubt the Attorney
General's claim that it was necessary to gag the entire English press in
order to prevent contempt being committed.

Had the Government not avoided such punitive methods, indeed, the argument
for the boy's privacy might have been easier to respect. Instead, the
affair has been turned into an argument over press freedom and the public
interest. Yet again, New Labour has turned a small problem into a
fair-sized political crisis.

We can only hope the youth at the centre of the affair has learned his
lesson even if his elders have not. His lifestyle has scarcely been of the
sort desirable for any young man, far less a minister's son. If nothing
else he has made a small mockery of the Government's chatter about "family
values".
-------------------------------------------------------------------

No Special Treatment For Son Who Sold Hashish,
British Cabinet Member Says (US Version)

Date: Sat, 3 Jan 1998 09:56:27 EST
From: adbryan@onramp.net
To: Multiple recipients of list 
Subject: ART: No special treatment for son who sold hashish

Perhaps Mr. Straw should send his son to the gallows.

>From the 1-2-98 Ft. Worth Star Telegram.

http://www.startext.net
letters@star-telegram.com

No special treatment for son who sold hashish, British Cabinet member says

By The Associated Press

LONDON -- The British Cabinet minister responsible for law enforcement
in Britain was identified yesterday as the father of a teen- ager
accused of selling hashish to a newspaper reporter.

"My son went voluntarily with me to the police. He did not, and should
not, expect any favors from the legal process," Home Secretary Jack
Straw said, after a judge lifted an order barring English newspapers
from identifying the suspect, 17-year-old William Straw.

"He will accept and suffer any sanctions which arise, though of course
like any parents, we stand by him," said Jack Straw, who has a role
similar to that of the U.S. attorney general. Straw has taken a strong
stand against liberalizing drug laws.

On Dec. 24, The Mirror, a mass- circulation London tabloid, published an
article saying that a reporter bought $16.50 worth of hashish from the
son of a Cabinet minister.

Though the younger Straw was not identified by the paper and English law
bars the identification of anyone under 18 facing court charges, his
identity quickly became Britain's worst-kept political secret.
Mirror reporter Dawn Alford said she posed as a real estate agent who
was looking for drugs and purchased slightly less than one-tenth of an
ounce. Alford, 30, was charged with possession of hashish. No dates have
been set for any court hearings.

Justice Roger Toulson ruled that the teen's identity could be released
hours after he was identified by newspapers in Scotland, which has a
separate legal system.

Jack Straw has opposed any move to relax laws on marijuana and often has
said that parents need to take greater responsibility for their
children's behavior.

"Of course I was embarrassed by this. I think any parent would be
embarrassed by the information which I was given by the Mirror, " he
said at a news conference. "But it doesn't change my attitude."

Straw said he had no intention of resigning, and Prime Minister Tony
Blair's office said Straw has Blair's full support.
-------------------------------------------------------------------

Teach Infants The Danger Of Drugs Says New Tsar
(Keith Hellawell Assumes Job Of Britain's Anti-Drugs
Co-Ordinator On January 5)

Subj: UK: Teach Infants The Danger Of Drugs Says New Tsar
From: Zosimos 
Date: Sat, 03 Jan 1998 14:18:33 -0500
Source: The Independent
Contact: letters@independent.co.uk
Pubdate: Fri, 02 Jan 1998

TEACH INFANTS THE DANGER OF DRUGS, SAYS NEW 'TSAR'

Children as young as four should be taught about the dangers of narcotics,
says the new drugs "tsar" in his first full interview. JASON BENNETTO,
Crime Correspondent, hears Keith Hellawell's plans for a new national drugs
strategy for the millennium. 

The problem of dealers who deliberate lure young people into addiction by
selling them cheap heroin is among the new drugs tsar's most pressing
concerns.

Keith Hellawell, 55, who takes over the post as UK Anti-drugs Co-ordinator
on Monday, also wants more education in schools to tell children about the
consequences of taking illegal substances.

He told The Independent: "Some work should start as early as four.

"There are some young people who begin primary school who have a drug
addict and regular drug taker in their family. [They] have a substantial
knowledge of drugs and their effects at the age of four.

"There are others at nine years who do not know the first thing about drugs.

"It's because of that sort of complexity that we cannot give a blanket
treatment.

"We are now starting to see that there's a need for young people to
understand the effects of drugs on their bodies at an early age," he added.

He said he was surprised at the naivety of some children he had spoken to,
citing the example of a recent visit to two schools in which pupils thought
it was legal to take drugs such as cannabis and ecstasy.

He argued that a better understanding could help children "delay
experimentation with drugs".

Considered a controversial, but forward thinking person, Mr Hellawell,
currently the Chief Constable of West Yorkshire, will be aided by his
deputy, Michael Trace, 36, currently Director of the Rehabilitation for
Addicted Prisoners' Trust, and a staff of just six. The drug chief will
have direct access to the Prime Minister but no new money.

After 36 years as a policeman, Mr Hellawell has made a flying start to his
new 102,000- a-year job. Last month he met ministers to present
preliminary findings about government spending on drugs. He plans to
propose a national drugs strategy in April. "I felt it was important we had
something to take forward into the millennium.

"I'm not going to come out with motherhood and apple pie statements. It
will be sharp and realistic and objective. You have got to deliver."

It will be followed in about a year with targets for agencies and
departments.

He added: "The question is, what is the vision? Where do we want to go in
five or ten years time?" And he called for a "holistic" approach to
treatment. He said future strategies should include targeting homes,
schools, colleges, and work and leisure places.

One of his greatest concerns is the rise in the popularity and availability
of heroin.

"It's becoming the drug of the first choice among many young people and the
cost in many of our cities is sometimes lower than cannabis, ecstasy and
LSD," he said. "The dealers like heroin because young people get addicted
to it relatively quickly, get hooked and keep coming back for more."

Mr Hellawell also wants to examine the expansion of the use of treatment
centres and counselling for addicts.

He believes addictive drugs are one of the biggest problems. "In the first
instance we need to look at areas where we can have the biggest pay-off -
with crack cocaine and heroin users."

But, dismissing any suggestion that he supports the decriminalisation of
drugs, he stressed: "This does not mean we should ignore other areas such
as cannabis and ecstasy use."
-------------------------------------------------------------------

Inaction On Drugs (Two Letters To Editor Of 'Irish Times'
On Government's Reduction In Anti-Drug Budget)

Subj: Ireland: LTEs: Inaction On Drugs
From: Zosimos 
Date: Fri, 02 Jan 1998 21:24:55 -0500
Source: Irish Times Contact: lettersed@irish-times.ie
Section: Letters to the Editor
Pubdate: Fri, 02 Jan 1998
Contact: Letters to Editor, The Irish Times,11-15 D'Olier St, Dublin 2,
Ireland
Fax: ++ 353 1 671 9407

INACTION ON DRUGS

Sir, - Promises, promises. Last May, during the election campaign, Fianna
Fail promised zero tolerance on the drug problem. It would have no mercy on
the drug barons and much compassion and services for the addicted.

Just seven months later, the idea has been derailed. Before the last
government left office it had promised 20 million to the community-based
anti-drug projects around Dublin. But this Government has scrubbed the
idea. It is putting the miserly sum of 250,000 into this serious problem
this year. When it saw 20 million going begging in the State coffers,
which deserving cause did it try to help? The GAA!

When the next general election is called, this U-turn will read very well
on advertising hoardings in the areas affected most by drugs. Poverty and
drugs are not high on the agenda of this Government, that's for sure. It is
a revelation to walk or drive through north inner Dublin to see how little
is spent on the living environment of the disadvantaged in our society. For
disadvantaged, read "forgotten by politicians".

Currently, a Christmas tree with the names of over 100 young people
attached stands in Dublin central. All of theses people died through
drug-related illness. Wouldn't it have been fitting to spend 20 million on
this constituency to make up for some of the neglect and lack of interest
in the area over decades? It's only too obvious that the Budget cake is
divided among those who vote. Those who don't have no clout. - Yours, etc.,

KATHRYN MULREADY, Calderwood Road, Dublin 9.

***

Sir, - Two headlines from The Irish Times of December 19th, 1997: Page 2:
"Agencies claim Government has cut funding for antidrugs projects." Page 6:
"Treatment of teenage drug-abuse triples in Dublin, report says." Need I
say more? - Yours, etc.,

MARY ELLEN McCANN, Director, Ballymun Youth Action Project, Balcurris Road,
Dublin 11.
-------------------------------------------------------------------

Record Cannabis Haul In Tuen Mun (China)

Subj: South China Morning Post
From: adbryan@onramp.net
Date: Fri, 2 Jan 1998 09:44:55 -0600 (CST)

OK, who wants to be the first to have a letter
printed in a Chinese paper? I found this using
the news search tool -- http://www.newsindex.com/

I like the way the used the term "herbal cannabis".
Maybe they're distinguishing it from that artificial stuff -- marinol. :)

>From the 1-2-98 South China Morning Post

http://www.scmp.com/news/
scmplet@scmp.com
Friday January 2 1998
Record cannabis haul in Tuen Mun

CLIFFORD LO

Customs officers seized half a tonne of herbal cannabis worth $25
million from a Tuen Mun house on New Year's Eve.

It was the biggest seizure of cannabis intended for local consumption.

After a two-month investigation, about 50 Customs officers raided a
house at Siu Hang Tsuen at about 7 pm and seized 435 slabs of cannabis
in a mezzanine-floor room.

A man aged 24 was arrested outside the house. Customs officers are
looking for other suspects.

Acting Superintendent Ng Wai-ming from the Customs Drug Investigation
Bureau said the drugs had arrived by sea from Thailand three weeks ago.

"We believe the drugs are for local consumption and mainly for supply to
the places like karaoke lounges, game centres and nightclubs in the new
towns in the New Territories," he said.

"It appears more youngsters take cannabis because it is cheaper than
drugs such as heroin.

"Demand for it rises during the festive period."

The find follows the discovery of 300 kg of cannabis in a San Po Kong
factory on December 20.

"The two incidents are not linked," Mr Ng said.

"But we believe our operations have struck a heavy blow against the
supply of cannabis in Hong Kong," he said.

Last year, Customs seized about 900 kg of cannabis, including the New
Year's Eve haul.

Customs officers' biggest cannabis seizure was in 1996.

About 7.2 tonnes of the drug were seized, but the cannabis was intended
for use overseas.
-------------------------------------------------------------------

Antiprohibition Resolution (From Portland's American Antiprohibition League)

Date: Fri, 2 Jan 1998 17:25:25 EST
From: Anti-Prohibition Lg 
To: Multiple recipients of list 
Subject: Antiprohibition Resolution

The AMERICAN ANTIPROHIBITION LEAGUE
Sponsors of the
OREGON DRUGS CONTROL AMENDMENT
http://ns2.calyx.net/~odca

"Drug War, or Drug Peace?"
3125 SE BELMONT STREET PORTLAND OREGON 97214
503-235-4524/fax:503-234-1330/Email:AAL@InetArena.com

The Antiprohibition Resolution

Whereas the individual harm and social expense of drug abuse, combined
with the even more harmful and expensive nature of adult drugs
prohibition, claims increasing numbers of innocent victims of drug
market-related crime and violence each year;

Whereas older drug addicts are declining in number but younger addicts
are increasing and on average are getting younger because the
availability of dangerous drugs and marijuana has not been reduced and
are in fact more potent and cheaper, despite enormous expenditures of
the public's money for drug law enforcement and historically high
levels of interdiction and incarceration;

Whereas public confidence in federal, state and local law enforcement,
along with respect for the law in general, continues to erode amid
frequent reports of drugs corruption and the obvious failure to have
any lasting, meaningful impact on stopping drugs;

Whereas the cycle of abuse, crime, and arrest goes unbroken because
voluntary, on-demand drug treatment for the indigent and uninsured is
non-existent, government's reliance upon "zero tolerance" forced
compliance programs have very low success rates over the long-term and
contribute to recidivism, flight and the break-up of families;

Whereas a highly disproportionate number of those arrested and
convicted for drugs are poor and minorities, exposing on the one hand
the institutional racism of government's drug war and on the other hand
the economic elitism of most elected representatives, which it must be
added, has resulted in the dis-enfranchisement of millions of poor
people;

Whereas adult cannabis consumers, even those with a legitimate medical
need, are routinely subjected to a state-sponsored reign of terror
which ignores even the most basic human and Constitutional rights;

Whereas the public level of discourse on matters drug remains mired in
an apriori assumption by the corporate controlled press and media,
resulting in widespread misconceptions and distorted facts, otherwise
rational dialogue is further hindered by fear, intimidation and
isolation of opposing views;

Whereas today's adult drugs prohibition has neither been decided by
popular mandate, or more importantly, based on any Constitutional
foundation, and in fact represents the only issue upon which Repeal of
an Amendment has ever came to pass in the history of our Constitutional
Republic, i.e. Alcohol Prohibition;

So therefore let it be resolved:

That in order to preserve the commonweal, for society to better control
illegal drugs, (primarily to keep them away from children), to reduce
the crime and violence associated with their distribution, to severely
limit the currently out of control drugs black-market and its attendant
corruption, a regulatory environment with limited yet legal access to
now illegal drugs must be set-up as soon as possible;

And let it be further resolved, regardless current drug laws and the
quasi-judicial atmosphere surrounding them, a social choice of evils
must be made which, at a minimum, puts harm reduction and treatment on
an equal footing with enforcement and punishment, especially in regards
to the indigent and working poor;

And let it be further resolved, the hundreds of thousands of non-
violent drug users, small-scale dealers and cannabis growers now
incarcerated, on parole or on probation should be set free, their
records expunged, seized property (or its fair market value) returned,
and their civil rights restored;

And let it be further resolved, those who suffer from illness, disease
(including addiction) and chronic pain and those who attend them within
the medical and healing arts should not be unduly restricted in the use
of any natural or refined substance which can bring relief from
suffering, aid the healing process, and/or lift up the spirits of those
so afflicted.
***

The American Antiprohibition League declares a domestic and
international emergency now exist, due primarily to a leadership
crisis. Hence we advocate a grass-roots movement which demands rapid,
comprehensive reform of federal and state drug laws. We call it "Drug
Peace!"

We register voters, thousands every year. We sponsor the Oregon
Drugs Control Amendment. We support ballot drives like the recently
successful petition to stop "recriminalization" of small amounts of
cannabis in Oregon. We lobby state and federal legislators to support
reform and provide assistance to antiprohibition candidates across the
country. We're an all-volunteer organization. Please help support
this vital work. Do what ever you can, as soon as you can. Tomorrow
is too late.

1 year membership/subscription is $25
(complete confidentiality/discretion assured)

THE AMERICAN ANTIPROHIBITION LEAGUE

"Drug War, or Drug Peace?"
3125 SE BELMONT STREET PORTLAND OREGON 97214
503-235-4524/fax:503-234-1330/Email:AAL@InetArena.com

-------------------------------------------------------------------

[End]

Top
The articles posted here are generally copyrighted by the source publications. They are reproduced here for educational purposes under the Fair Use Doctrine (17 U.S.C., section 107). NORML is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit educational organization. The views of the authors and/or source publications are not necessarily those of NORML. The articles and information included here are not for sale or resale.

Comments, questions and suggestions. E-mail

Reporters and researchers are welcome at the world's largest online library of drug-policy information, sponsored by the Drug Reform Coordination Network at: http://www.druglibrary.org/

Next day's news
Previous day's news

Back to 1998 Daily News index for January 1-7

Back to Portland NORML news archive directory

Back to 1998 Daily News index (long)

This URL: http://www.pdxnorml.org/980102.html

Home