Portland NORML News - Saturday, January 3, 1998
-------------------------------------------------------------------

US Veterans Administration Hospital In Portland
Says Marijuana Augments Pain Relief From Ibuprofen

Date: Sat, 3 Jan 1998 12:51:56 EST
From: "D. Paul Stanford" (stanford@crrh.org)
To: Multiple recipients of list 

Last week I sprained my ankle for the first time since I was in the US
Army, almost 20 years ago. I am classified as a disabled veteran with 10%
disability based mainly upon a knee injury, but, to a lesser extent, also
on the sprained ankle. I went up to the local Veterans Administration
Hospital and, among other things, I was prescribed ibuprofen. For those of
you who may not know, ibuprofen may cause one to test positive for
marijuana on urinalysis tests. At this federal VA Hospital they gave me
several pages of information on both my injury and my prescriptions. Under
ibuprofen they listed:

"----POSSIBLE INTERACTION WITH OTHER SUBSTANCES (Combined Effect)----
* Alcohol: Possible stomach ulcer or bleeding.
* Marijuana: Increased pain relief from ibuprofen."

These are the only substances that they listed for interactions with
ibuprofen.

So, at this federal hospital they give medical advice that one can expect
"Increased pain relief" from marijuana, while the Drug Czar, also a
veteran, says that the federal government doesn't recognize any medicinal
applications for marijuana. Methinks that the left hand knows not what the
right hand is doing.

Someone should point this out at the National Institute of Medicine panels
on the "Acute and Chronic Effects of Marijuana," Jan. 22-23, 1998 in New
Orleans, LA. If someone is interested, I will fax you my VA Hospital
information package for use as evidence that the federal government does
recognize some medicinal applications for marijuana. FYI.

Sincerely yours,
D. Paul Stanford
Oregon Cannabis Tax Act
http://www.crrh.org/
-------------------------------------------------------------------

A Day In The Life Of Tramp The Junkie
(Verbatim Account By Portland Heroin Addict)

Date: Sat, 3 Jan 1998 18:00:19 EST
From: Anti-Prohibition Lg 
To: Multiple recipients of list 
Subject: 'Tramp the Junkie!'

A day in the life of 'Tramp the Junkie!'

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

Saturday, January 3, 1997

The following is a verbatim and un-edited transcription from an
anonymous 4-page, handwritten manuscript. It was given to the League
by the staff of a local needle exchange, the Harm Reduction Zone. Fact
or fiction? You be the judge. Regardless its veracity, it's a
stunning description of addiction sickness (physical and emotional)
with the folly of drugs prohibition revealed in-between each line.

Thanks to League volunteer Chris Lee for the transcription.

Floyd Ferris Landrath - Director
======================================================================

A day in the life of 'Tramp the Junkie!'

I woke up at 9:15am to the sound of someone banging on the door.
Already being dope sick I'm in the mood to see nobody. Lying next to
me, my friend, who also happens to be a female, groans softly and
curses. Her habbit is larger than mine so I know she is really
hurting. The large three storie house we have permission to be in is
compleatly gutted with no Insulation or walls letting the cold mid-
December wind whip right through it. So I set up a tent for us to
sleep in and it stay about 25 to 30 degrees warmer in there. As I open
the tent door a blast of cold air hits my sweat soaked shirt and chest.
Then halfways down the stairs another attack of dieriea hits me with
all the stomach cramps to go with. I open the front door and even
colder blast of wind hits me. There stands George looking sicker than
Edna and I put together. "Come on get in here" I says. "I need to use
the bathroom or I'm gonna shit my pants" he says. So I let him go
first. Then I quickly shit my guts out. "Let me use your phone to
page the man O.K.?" Asks George "Yeah go ahead" I said hopeing he is
getting enough to kick us down enough to get well. No such luck all he
has is got is $20 so I'll let Edna have the $5 (maybe) that we will get
for letting him use the phone, cop, and fix in my safe and sound
domain. All of a sudden he says "Hey man I got some crystal if you
want it since you gave the brown to Edna." I jump on that saying
"Rite-on anything to take this god awful edge off." So he tosses 10 or
15 cents into my spoon. Smells real good as I put 20 units of water on
it. It is a little hard to mix up but I attribute that to the cold
weather. I draw back 35 units. Very good indeed. In the vein it
goes. 10 seconds. Cough, gag, stomach flip flop and ass hole tighten-
up. No more dieria and I've got a pretty good buzz. George goes out
and meet dope man brings back the dank I help Edna get it in the rig
and in her arm. All of a sudden George cant find his crystal. Him and
I tear apart my room looking for it. After a short time he starts to
think I took it. Even asks, "If you took it give it back and I'll give
you half." "I did not take your dope man." Says I "I dont work that
way. I couldn't stand to look over my shoulder for the rest of my
life." Anyway he ends up calling dope man back and sure enough when he
was in there car he had to show-off his crank and left it lying on the
back seat. At least he apoliges and give Edna 10 or 15 cents of it.
Damn I'm the one who gets accused and she gets the dope. She does not
share the heroin or crank she get yet I still have to fix her. That's
hard. She dosen't even really like crank. And 5 mins. after doing it
is complaining about the headache it has given her. Oh well. I have
to go to work to try and hustle some money. I do. I work for 8 hours,
already owing this person 4 hours. Well it comes time to get paid and
all he has got is $4. Damn what am I supposed to do with $4. I go
home getting sicker by the minute hoping Edna had a better day. But no
she's sicker than I am lying in bed, dying, she says, "I've got $10 is
all." Well that turns out to be $9 and it is too late and too cold for
anyone to be out downtown. Crap, so we both get to suffer. All night
long she says, "There are some guys who come out at 5 or 5:30am
downtown." Yeah, right. Lets see if she goes. I don't think I'll
hold my breath and I am not going, at least not by myself. Not at all
if I can help it. OH yes I will if she asks me, not alone though.
Isn't this drug we do the most wonderful thing in the world. Why do I
do it? Because I hate everything. I'm in love with my car and don't
even have one. Maybe I'll get just a little too much of the really
good stuff someday and have my wish of Going To Sleep And Never Wakeing
UP Come True!
-------------------------------------------------------------------

Editorial - Hemp Make Troubles Go Up In Smoke? (Editor Of 'East Oregonian'
Demonstrates How Cannabis Makes Some People Mentally Unbalanced)

Date: Mon, 12 Jan 1998 22:19:57 -0500
Subject: MN: US OR: Editorial: Hemp Make Troubles Go Up In Smoke?
Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Newshawk: "sburbank" (sburbank@orednet.org)
Source: East Oregonian
Contact: Mail: East Oregonian, PO Box 1089 Pendleton, OR 97801
Phone: 541-276-2211
Pubdate: Saturday, Jan. 3, 1998
Note: Author Richard Hensley is editor of the East Oregonian

HEMP MAKE TROUBLES GO UP IN SMOKE?

If you could end global warming, fix the environment, provide a source of
income for farmers and rural communities everywhere, provide raw materials
for numerous uses and get this all out of one little plant, would you jump
at the chance to use it? Boy, when you put it like that, who wouldn't?

The only problem with all of this is that the plant required to provide all
the answers to world problems is hemp, i.e. marijuana. At least all of
these benefits are being claimed by the proponents for hemp. Oh yeah, I
almost forgot, you can also get really high on it.

Recently I received a packet from the proponents for hemp. And before the
Pendleton Police want to come checkout this package, let me assure them
that it was only a packet of documents they mailed me. Within these
documents are some pretty impressive claims. However, before I was through
reading it I had the munchies, blood- shot eyes and a strange desire to
listen to reggae music.

They make one heck of a case for using hemp in the propaganda they sent.
Hemp has uses in clothing, paper, power generation, etc. It's easy to
grow, and would be a boon to farmers. It'd also give the bong and
cigarette paper industry a much needed shot in the arm. I imagine the
potato chip industry also would benefit.

Before the pro-hemp folks out there write to tell me that the kind of hemp
used for ll the wonderful things they write about cannot get you high, I
understand all of that. I also understand that many of the people pushing
hemp as an environmental wonder also partake in firing up a big doobie when
the time is right, such as just about anytime.

I find it humorous that the people who make such a serious and legitimate
case for hemp often look like they just stepped out of a Cheech and Chong
movie. That doesn't make their claims illegitimate, but it's why
politicians distance themselves from the movement. If they had people in
three piece suits on Capitol Hill carrying brief cases and campaign money,
perhaps the movement would gain momentum.

While I might question how much some of the hemp proponents really might
want to save the world and how many just want some good smoke. I do
wholeheartedly agree with the folks who want to use marijuana for medical
purposes. If a joint relieves the terrible side effects of chemotherapy,
glaucoma or whatever. for goodness sake, fire it up. I'd feel the same way
about any substance that provides such benefits. But is pushing hemp is
just a way to try to make marijuana more acceptable, then I probably
wouldn't be so enthusiastic about it.

On the other hand, I do think plenty of legal drugs are just as
dangerous-if not more so-than pot. I've known people who smoked pot and
people who drank alcohol, and I'd have to say that alcohol had a much worse
effect on those folks' driving, lives, ability to hold jobs and tendency
toward violence. Also, alcohol abuse, too, is clearly bad news.

The downside of marijuana is that it does lead to harder drugs. If people
who use drugs honestly as themselves how they first got started illegally
altering their mind, they'll most likely say they smoked pot first. But
I'll admit that this conclusion probably isn't fair because someone with
the tendency to artificially "feel Good" would probably find the other
drugs sooner or later. Oh well, a drug expert I'm not.

As for hemp, though, if what they say is true, why not? I'd just like some
advance warning from Washington, D.C., on if they're going to make
something like growing hemp legal.

If so, I have some changes to make in my investment portfolio. Out goes my
stock in polyester, oil and coal, and in goes all my money in paper-Zig Zag
cigarette papers to be exact.

				[End]
Portland NORML quotes:

He who will not reason is a bigot;
he who cannot is a fool;
and he who dares not is a slave. -- William Drummond
-------------------------------------------------------------------

Rx Marijuana Hearing In DC On January 9 (DC Board Of Elections Schedules
Hearings On Medical Marijuana, Voter Initiatives)

Date: Sat, 3 Jan 1998 14:15:18 EST
From: VOTEYES57@aol.com
To: Multiple recipients of list 
Subject: Rx marijuana hearing in DC on Jan 9th

On Friday, January 9th 1998 the DC Board of Elections will hold a series of
hearings on the issue of medical marijuana.

Two of the hearings deal with DC written and sponsored Initiatives. Details
of our strategy at these hearings is being determined. The other hearing
deals with the California written Soros funded initiative that was created to
piggyback off of the work of the scores of DC activists that worked long and
hard for Initiative 57.

Please attend
Friday
January 9th
Board of Elections and Ethics Hearing Room
Room 270 North
441 4th Street NW
One Judiciary Square

for more information call us at 202-547-9404

thanks Steve
Washington DC
-------------------------------------------------------------------

SF Club's Style Rankles Medical Pot Advocates
(One Of The Few Reporters To Just Say No
Seeks Dirt On Peron From Other California CBCs)

San Francisco Chronicle
Saturday, January 3, 1998  Page A1
http://www.sfgate.com/

Sabin Russell, Chronicle Staff Writer

REGION

At the close of a long interview at his Cannabis Cultivators Club in San Francisco,
the affable Dennis Peron offered to roll a reporter a joint.

The offer was politely declined, and the proffered buds of a substance that might
have been marijuana were drawn back to the desk of club founder Peron, who
has recently declared himself a Republican candidate for governor of California.

It was a typical, and not wholly unexpected gesture from the bad boy of pot
politics, but it underscored a tendency that is making Peron's colleagues in the
medical marijuana business very nervous -- he bends the rules, and sometimes,
they break.

Peron's antics and incessant activism have fractured the coalition that in
November 1996 engineered a decisive victory for Proposition 215, which made
legal the personal use of marijuana in California for medical purposes with a
doctor's prescription.

Operators of medical pot centers around California, while lauding him as a
visionary, are now afraid of the heat Dennis Peron is generating -- particularly
Attorney General Dan Lungren's threat to shut down all clubs on January 12. For
them, Peron's 1960s dance of liberation is out of step with the tightly managed
1990s.

``If you don't distance yourself from Dennis Peron, you are almost accused of
being a `Dennis Peron,' said Peter Baez, executive director of the Santa Clara
County Medical Cannabis Center in San Jose. ``How can you support somebody
who doesn't play by the rules?''

The four-story Cannabis Cultivators Club on Market Street has become a
lightning rod for opponents of any use of marijuana. It not only distributes pot but
celebrates it and allows its 8,000 members to smoke it on the premises.

Although provocative to opponents of marijuana use, smoking pot at medical
marijuana clubs is not illegal under Proposition 215. However, only patients with
doctor's prescriptions -- not healthy reporters, for example -- may take the drug
legally. Critics say Peron's medical record-keeping is not thorough enough to
weed out purely recreational users.

With thousands of paper cranes dangling from its ceilings, wall-size murals of
cannabis leaves, and political posters proclaiming Peron for governor, the pot club
is as much a shrine to Peron himself as it is to marijuana.

Peron's uncompromising advocacy of full legalization of marijuana now irks some
of his former allies. One of the Proposition 215 co- authors with Peron, Los
Angeles Cannabis Resource Center director Scott Imler, has publicly chastised the
San Francisco club as a ``circus'' that threatens the existence of every medical
marijuana provider in California.

``We're sick and tired of spending 90 percent of our time explaining away the
excesses of Dennis Peron and 1444 Market Street,'' said Imler.

``We assured the voters over and over and over that we were talking about
medical marijuana,'' he added. ``The minute the election passed, it was `Let's
smoke a fatty,' and `All use is medical.' Basically, that's a betrayal of everything
the voters did for patients.''

Scanning the polished bar, which serves up pot brownies and capsules of
marijuana tincture to AIDS patients, Peron smiled and said, ``It does kind of look
like a circus, now that I think of it.''

Peron said he follows the rules assiduously and believes there is nothing wrong
with his patients having a little fun.

``I have people with 10 T-cells laughing for maybe the last time in their life,'' said
Peron. ``I will never let people not have a good time.

``I could run this place as just a dispensary,'' he added. ``But then I wouldn't
want to do it, because I want to treat the whole body.''

Although the dispute between Peron and other advocates of medical marijuana
has been brewing for years, the issue has come to a head because of recent
setbacks in his court battle to keep his club open, and his public baiting of
Lungren -- also a Republican candidate for California governor.

The court strategy relies on a novel interpretation of Proposition 215 that Peron
says allows patients to designate a pot club as a ``primary caregiver.'' The
approach initially worked: A San Francisco Superior Court judge ruled one year
ago that the club, which had been shuttered since an August 1996 raid by DEA
agents, could reopen.

But on December 12, a state appeals court tossed out the ruling, and Lungren
promptly declared that every medical marijuana club in the state will be shut
down on January 12.

An expected Supreme Court appeal by Peron could delay the shutdown, and it is
unclear how successful Lungren will be in garnering local law enforcement
support for a statewide shutdown. But pot club operators are angry.

``It's incredibly frustrating,'' said Imler, who fears that Peron is setting dangerous
court precedents that could sink all medical pot clubs. ``He risks ruining
everything we've worked so hard for these last four years.''

Peron has rejected Imler's attempts to establish a code of conduct for medical
marijuana centers. He did not attend an October meeting of ``Medical Cannabis
Providers'' that attempted to set standards for ``legal ethical distribution'' of
medical marijuana.

``I'm glad I didn't go,'' said Peron. ``They are trying to rewrite Proposition 215 to
be stricter than it was.''

Ken Hayes, general manager of the Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana in
Fairfax, said he is saddened by the infighting. ``Dennis has chosen to separate
himself from the rest of the community,'' he said.

Peron does have defenders. ``Dennis has been grandstanding from Day One, and
that's why we've gotten as far as we are today, said Jeff Jones, executive director
of the Cannabis Buyers' Cooperative in Oakland. ``I would never turn my back
on Dennis, unless he did something blatant.''

Jones said the recent legal setback for Peron is just part of the process. He said
most of Peron's legal troubles have occurred because he has chosen to take the
heat. ``When you are being entrapped by the government, there is not much you
can do about it,'' he said.

Peron, too, chalks up the rancor as the price of being a pioneer. ``No matter how
we run this place, Lungren will hate us,'' he said. ``He is not used to losing, so he
will carry this out to its illogical end.''

A reporter pointed out the blank space on his desk calendar for January 12. Peron
took up a pen, and wrote in the space ``Get busted.''
-------------------------------------------------------------------

Alternative Pot Club Shuts Down (CHAMP CBC Closes In San Francisco)

San Francisco Chronicle
Saturday, January 3, 1998  Page A11
http://www.sfgate.com/

Sabin Russell

REGION

Feeling the heat from law enforcement, a leading alternative to Dennis Peron's
Cannabis Cultivator's Club in San Francisco has shut its doors.

Cannabis Helping Alleviate Medical Problems, or CHAMP, which provided
marijuana to 500 members from its headquarters at 194 Church Street, shut
down for good Wednesday.

``We didn't feel a lot of support from the city to support its clubs,'' said Victor
Hernandez, CHAMP executive director.

Hernandez said members of the staff at the club were upset about a two-week
period of surveillance by unidentified plainclothes police, who videotaped outside
the club and trailed staff members.

``The biggest culprit in this thing is Dan Lungren, who refuses to carry out the
will of the voters who passed Proposition 215,'' said Hernandez.

Members of the organization were permitted to smoke marijuana for their medical
conditions at the facility, but it did not foster a night club atmosphere like Peron's
club. Hernandez said he sees nothing wrong with Peron's approach. ``In Dennis'
situation, people seemed to be in much better spirits than they would be
somewhere else,'' he said.

Hernandez said the club offices will be open next week from Wednesday through
Thursday, noon to 7 p.m., for members to pick up their medical records.
-------------------------------------------------------------------

Legalize Drugs (Letter To Editor Of 'San Francisco Chronicle')

Date: Sat, 3 Jan 1998 12:08:44 EST
From: "Tom O'Connell" 
To: Multiple recipients of list 
Subject: LTE, SF Chron-1/3

This wonderfully concise attack on the logic of prohibition
by Randi Givens was published in today's Chronicle

The San Francisco Chronicle
Saturday, January 3, 1998, p. A18

LEGALIZE DRUGS

Editor -- In the real world, drug prohibition abdicates
market control to criminals and corrupted officials.
Prohibition laws control, suppress and regulate very
little, unless you think chasing street level dealers
from one neighborhood to another accomplishes something.
Prohibition has not succeeded in attaining any of its
original goals.

The solution to most of our "drug problems" is to
legalize drugs for adult use and license the dealers and
manufacturers. Legalization won't eliminate drugs, but
it will eliminate all the problems associated with an
illegal black market. A licensing scheme similar to that
used for alcohol would put the criminals out of business
overnight. Bootleggers couldn't compete in the legal
alcohol market after repeal and neither will the drug
cartels be able to compete against licensed drug dealers
regulated by the state.

With legalization, drug use by children could be reduced
considerably because licensed dealers won't risk their
businesses selling to minors. With prohibition, children
are totally vulnerable to drugs, because black market
dealers have nothing to lose by selling to all comers. A
legal market restricted to adults would greatly reduce
drug use among the young, exactly the same way repeal
stopped the epidemic of child drinking that went on
during alcohol prohibition.

The prohibitionists get excited by the word
"legalization," but it really means returning some
measure of control and regulation to society. It's time
to abandon drug prohibition and regulate the drug
market.

REDFORD GIVENS
San Francisco
-------------------------------------------------------------------

Jammed Up At The Border (South Texas Businessmen Complain
Of Increasingly Lengthy Delays At The US-Mexico Border
Caused By Searches For Illegal Drugs)

Date: Fri, 09 Jan 1998 20:21:06 -0500
To: DrugSense News Service 
Subject: MN: US TX: Jammed Up At The Border
Newshawk: Kevin Zeese 
Source: Houston Chronicle XContact: viewpoints@chron.com
Pubdate: 3 Jan 1998
Author: James Pinkerton

JAMMED UP AT THE BORDER

PROGRESO -- Free trade has taken a back seat to the war on drugs at border
crossings, complain some South Texas business operators who say inspections
and other delays are costing them money.

The situation is only expected to get worse this week with a new
requirement that suspicious trucks carrying grain and other hard-to-inspect
cargo must be escorted to the town of Pharr, where a huge new X-ray machine
is being used to detect hidden drugs.

"Things aren't working too smoothly right now for commerce," said a glum
Bill Summers, director of a business group called the Rio Grande Valley
Partnership.

"We feel that, sure, they have a job to do on drug interdiction, but they
also have a commitment to honest people to get the trucks through as fast
as they can because some are carrying perishable goods.

"They have to remember it was trade that built these bridges."

Increasingly, many of the Southwest's 37 international bridges along the
2,000-mile Mexican border are being swamped with long lines of cars and
commercial trucks awaiting inspection.

At one of the heaviest traffic points -- Laredo's two international bridges
-- truckers sometimes wait up to eight hours to cross from Mexico into
Texas. Near McAllen, on the Hidalgo bridge, the problem is less severe, but
the average wait for a driver of a passenger car coming from Mexico is 40
minutes.

Officials with the understaffed U.S. Customs Service, which conducts the
vehicle inspections, would like to develop a more organized system of
border crossings, with some bridges restricted to commercial trucks and
others limited to passenger vehicles.

But business leaders fear that approach may severely harm the economies of
some border towns that have depended on a certain amount of commercial
traffic.

When the Customs Service announced last October that it would no longer
allow commercial trucks to cross at Progreso, a small border crossing
between Brownsville and McAllen, the resulting outcry and Washington
lobbying effort forced customs to back down.

Even so, the locals say customs has applied pressure through meticulous
inspections to discourage the 20 or so trucks that cross daily through
Progreso.

"I have an importer of Mexican limes, and during (one) month he brought in
16 truckloads, and they required 100 percent unloading of 10 trucks," said
William Cain, who operates Cain Customs' Brokers in Progreso. The $300
charged by stevedores to unload the cargo cut sharply into his client's
profit.

And all along the border, the inspectors' intensive search for drugs has
sometimes meant damage to trucks and frustration for the shippers.

In searching for hidden compartments where cocaine and other contraband
might be concealed, inspectors often drill holes in expensive trailers but
don't repair the damage or repay the trucking companies.

"They drill the ceilings, the walls, they drill in floors, and they don't
patch them, or tell my guys about them," said the owner of a Valley meat
packing company. "You get a bunch of bloody water seeping into the walls,
and the trailer starts to stink."

"They're drilling all up and down the border," grumbled Cain. "There isn't
as much drilling going on in the oil fields.

"I think the authorities have gone overboard," he added, "and are hurting
legitimate business in their efforts to stop the flow of illegal narcotics."

Customs officials, like Maria Reba, who discussed the problems with
merchants at a recent meeting, say they are "under incredible pressure to
put drugs on the table."

Texas Attorney General Dan Morales told law enforcement officers in
November that the North American Free Trade Agreement is opening the border
to a larger flow of illegal drugs.

"Without thorough inspection of Mexican trucks, these Mexican cartels will
feel like NAFTA means the North American Free Trafficking Agreement,"
Morales said.

Nevertheless, customs remains under pressure from public and private bridge
owners -- and border state congressmen -- to keep bridges open longer and
reduce the waiting time to 20 minutes. Adding to the pressure is the fact
that several new bridges are on the drawing board.

"So when you ask me to open more bridges, which require more staff, you're
essentially preventing my ability to bring the waiting down to 20 minutes,"
said customs official David Higgerson, who oversees operations at the
Progreso and Pharr bridges. "We can't do that, we don't have the resources.
We're stretched very thin."

"They're stretched, but the answer is not closing bridges and shutting off
traffic," said Larry Neal, a spokesman for U.S. Sen. Phil Gramm. "The
solution is better management, and the long-term answer is more people and
better equipment."

This month, Gramm plans to introduce legislation that would allocate $219
million over the next two years to hire 1,705 new customs inspectors, 1,100
of which would be assigned to the Southwest border, with 612 of those going
to Texas, Neal said.

In addition to the new inspectors, Gramm proposes to spend $56 million to
acquire new technology to be installed at border crossings, including
surveillance cameras, mobile and stationary X-ray machines to inspect
trucks, and ultrasonic machines to scan containers.

"We need to do what's necessary to increase the legal trade and shut off
the flow of illegal drugs," Neal said. "That's going to take a great deal
more equipment and people."
-------------------------------------------------------------------

Legalize Pot (Letter To The Editor Of 'Creative Loafing' In Atlanta,
On The Hypocrisy Evidenced By Georgia Senator Abernathy's Pot Bust)

From: jwjohnson@netmagic.net (Joel W. Johnson)
Date: Tue, 6 Jan 1998 22:44:47 -0800
WAY TO GO JAMES HARRIS!!!!!
He hits 2 LTE's in one week, one with a circulation over 180,000
Newshawk: "James W. Harris" (wood@mindspring.com)
Source: Creative Loafing
Contact: letters.atl@creativeloafing.com
Fax: 404-420-1402
Website: http://www.creativeloafing.com
Pubdate: Saturday, 3 Jan 1998

Newshawk (and author) writes: Creative Loafing is a free weekly paper for
the Atlanta area. Readership is 180,000, and it therefore claims to be the
largest "alternative" city weekly in America. My op-ed appeared in their
"Think Tank" editorial section.

LEGALIZE POT

The only thing Ralph David Abernathy III might be guilty of is hypocrisy

I am no fan of state Senator Ralph David Abernathy III. But the
holier-than-thou war being mounted against him for attempting to smuggle a
tiny amount of marijuana through the Atlanta airport is making me sick.

Gov. Miller has denounced Abernathy's act as "outrageous." Lt. Governor
Pierre Howard is working with other oh-so-shocked legislators to craft new
laws to punish lawmakers who commit similar sins.

What's the big deal? Abernathy is an adult. What he chooses to put into his
own body should be his own business.

Some argue that Abernathy should be punished simply because he broke the
law. But bad laws deserve neither our respect nor our obedience. The laws
prohibiting the use, possession and sale of marijuana are similarly idiotic
and despotic.

Indeed, marijuana is far safer than the most popular legal recreational
drugs in America, alcohol and tobacco. Alcohol and tobacco kill hundreds of
thousands of Americans each year.

Those who today enjoy beer or wine, yet condemn Abernathy for possessing
marijuana, should pause and reflect that, a mere few decades ago, booze --
not marijuana -- was illegal. Alcohol was outlawed between 1920 and 1933.
Eventually the country came to its senses, and booze was re-legalized.

Marijuana was perfectly legal in America well into this century. The
federal government didn't outlaw pot until 1937, and then only after
Congress was bamboozled by a sordid propaganda campaign of outright lies.

Just as our grandparents rebelled against alcohol Prohibition, today
millions of Americans are rebelling against pot prohibition. According to
the federal Department of Health and Human Services, 10 million Americans
smoke marijuana monthly, and about 20 million use it yearly. And many more
Americans like me, who have never touched the stuff, view the war against
it as a terrible injustice.

Rather than attacking Abernathy, we should be aiming our deepest contempt
at politicians like President Clinton, Vice President Al Gore, and House
Speaker Newt Gingrich -- all of whom smoked pot in college, suffered no ill
effects whatsoever from it, and yet today wage a savage (and
politically-motivated) war against others who merely choose, as they
themselves once did, to smoke the same substance.

Which brings me to the one good reason there might be for attacking
Abernathy. Does he favor keeping marijuana illegal? If so, then he should
indeed be booted out of office. Not for smuggling dope, but for outrageous
and disgusting hypocrisy -- a hypocrisy unfortunately shared by many other
politicians.

James Harris
freelance writer; editor, The Liberator and The Liberator Online (both
published by the Advocates for Self-Government)

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

Political Noise Hides Real Issues In Weed And Seed (Three Letters
To The Editor Of 'St. Petersburg Times' On Police Chief Goliath Davis's
Recent Decision To Just Say No To $100,000 From The Government's
'Weed And Seed' Program To Intensify Drug-Related Arrests In Low-Income
Areas Of South St. Petersburg, Florida)

Date: Thu, 8 Jan 1998 20:09:42 EST
From: adbryan@onramp.net
To: Multiple recipients of list 
Subject: LTE's: Political noise hides real issues in Weed and Seed
>From the 1-3-98 St. Petersburg Times
http://www.sptimes.com
letters@sptimes.com

Letters to the Editors

***

Political noise hides real issues in Weed and Seed

Three times the Times has editorially criticized the mayor, police
chief, sheriff, state attorney and U.S. attorney in some way because of
the Weed and Seed controversy. I suppose some criticism is justified in
terms of political and law enforcement decisions being communicated to
the public in a rapid, confusing, uncoordinated and substantively vague
manner. Assumptions of inherently racial tension may have basis in
perception, but the facts underlying the charges were little disclosed
in articulating the policies.

The resulting political noise has obscured the two most important
matters: how to achieve sustained social, physical and economic
improvement in the Challenge 2001 area and how to combat drug
trafficking there and citywide. Drug trafficking and use will be with us
forever, but a combination of prevention/treatment and law enforcement
can force some decline.

At the height of the controversy, police Chief Goliath Davis publicly
stated he would continue to fight street-level drug activity, and there
should have been no reason to doubt this. His commitment is well
reflected in the Dec. 30 story in the Times about 70 drug arrest
warrants originating with an investigation Davis initiated (Street-level
drug arrests are a "wake-up call," police say). Moreover, readers should
note that information for the police operation came from residents
contacting the police. This is no simple matter, if your readers will
recall the past breaking of the Lee and Mathis family cases and drug
dealers in the Tierra Verde area.

America is a consumer of drugs, licit and illicit, and drug use, licit
and illicit, is woven into our social and commercial fabric. Drug
companies are considered sound legal investments, and illegal drug
trafficking probably is the most profitable industry in the world.

In the Dec. 30 story, Assistant Chief Gary Hitchcox stated that he
doubted the 70 arrests would have a major impact on drug activities,
which should tell the reader how difficult it is to reduce drug
trafficking and drug abuse.

This is a sensitive political and law enforcement matter, but openness
is important. Perhaps our local public officials could do a better job
of telling the residents more about the scope of the city's drug
problems and their policies to reduce the destructive and corrupting
activity. A better informed public usually understands and supports
public decisions more readily.

-- James R. Gillespie, St. Petersburg

***

It's not the way to battle drugs

St. Petersburg Police Chief Goliath Davis recently did what no other
police chief in the country has had the guts to do: say "Thanks but no
thanks" to $100,000 from the government's Weed and Seed program. The
funds were to "intensify" drug-related arrests in a targeted area,
specifically low-income areas of south St. Petersburg.

By the political posturing and ballyhoo, you'd have thought the world
was coming to an end. Politicians and law enforcement officials came out
in droves to straighten him out and smooth this thing over. How dare he,
they'd say, a lowly police chief of a medium-size city of mostly
retirees, question the conventional wisdom of our nationally renowned
war on drugs? Not to mention the political damage to the careers of
friends who might stand by him. Even if he was thinking it, why would he
say it?

I hope I know why. I hope he realized that $100,000 is a drop in the
bucket in terms of the law enforcement budget of the city, not to
mention the job at hand. Couple that with a powder keg of race relations
that has been fueled, at least in part, by an overzealous, 24-hour-a-day
police presence, and you have a public relations nightmare.

I hope that he wanted to explain why more of the same would not fix the
problems of south St. Petersburg. I hope he knew that more of the same
would not help the general mistrust of police by a community in which
the residents are incarcerated at a rate far above that of the rest of
the city. I hope he is tired of explaining to black families why a young
family member will serve a much harsher sentence for possession of
cocaine than his white counterpart in another part of the city. I hope
he knew that without a meaningful, honest, unexaggerated dialogue about
the "drug crisis" and the so-called "war on drugs" and the role of law
enforcement with its citizens, little will change in St. Petersburg and
the nation as a whole.

Maybe, just maybe, he thought more isn't always better and maybe the
solution lies deeper than more jail cells. I hope that's what he was
thinking and if so, I applaud him for having the courage to say it.

-- Jeff Beckham, Dunedin

***

A devastating statement

A good portion of reality has been lost.

On Dec. 16, while attending a Weed and Seed community meeting at the
Enoch Davis Center, a statement was made by a black gentleman from the
community. He said that "the sheriff plays golf with the white dope
dealers on Sunday who, in turn, bring the dope into the black
community."

I sat there as some of the audience embraced the statement with cheers.
Sorrow fell upon me from the ignorance in the room. The statement was
insulting at best and made me cringe with fear to where some of our
people have lost touch with reality and the idea of accepting
responsibility for their actions.

That statement implies that our people have immunity from being looked
upon as dope dealers in the community because we don't bring in the
dope. That statement says that it is "okay" to sell dope to our own
people, addicting them for profit and repeat customers. That statement
says we as black people don't know right from wrong, have no morals or
values, and that we would addict our own people because someone brings
it into the community. That statement says black people cannot "say no"
to the obvious risks of selling dope openly on the community corners.
That statement says it is "okay" to recruit our youth for look-outs and
runners with rewards of new designer gym shoes.

In essence, it says the gold chains around our necks, gold rings on
every finger, gold inlay over perfectly good teeth, lime-green and
orange metal flake paint jobs and $2,000 wheel rims are more important
to our people than family values, going to school and keeping a job.

That gentleman's statement was devastating, and you don't have to have a
high school education to know that one of the senior members of our
community has given the green light to our youth, coupled with older
adults, that "it's not your fault" that you sell dope to your own
people.

As mentioned before, it breaks my heart and goes against everything my
parents taught me at an early age. So, all that I, along with the other
good citizens of St. Petersburg, can do is observe and read about the
continued damage we do to each other and then blame the results on the
white community.

In closing, I refer you to a passage in the Bible in which Jesus states
that "the love of man will wax cold" before he returns. He states, "Be
not alarmed, for the end is not yet." I say to our people, keep your
attention upon Christ, not man, or our black leaders, for our true
adversary delights in our division.

-- Calvin Dennie, St. Petersburg
-------------------------------------------------------------------

North American Streets Getting Safer (Canadian Trend Similar To That In US)

From: creator@islandnet.com (Matt Elrod)
To: mattalk@listserv.islandnet.com
Subject: North American streets getting safer
Date: Sat, 03 Jan 1998 10:36:57 -0800
Lines: 116

Source: Globe and Mail (Toronto)
Globe and Mail (Toronto) [http://www.GlobeAndMail.CA/]
Contact: letters@globeandmail.ca

North American streets getting safer

Homicides and violent crimes fewer in 1997, but fraud
and theft increase as criminals look for easy money

Saturday, January 3, 1998
By Isabel Vincent
Crime Reporter

It may well be the safest time in decades to walk the streets of many
major North American cities, but you'd better be really careful when
you park your car or use a credit card.

That's the story borne out by criminal experts and 1997 crime
statistics that show a steady, and sometimes marked decrease in
homicide and violent crime rates in many major North American cities,
but a significant increase in commercial crime such as drug
trafficking, car theft and fraud.

An economic upturn coupled with better policing may have discouraged
violent crimes throughout North America in the last year, but they
have had little effect on just about every other criminal activity,
crime experts say.

"Why are we seeing an increase in commercial crime? Quite simply
because it is easier to do than other kinds of crimes," said Sergeant
Bryan Boulanger, a spokesman for the Edmonton Police Department, where
officials were swamped with fraud and property offence cases.

"You don't have to get a gun to rob a bank. Now we're looking at an
increase in things that are much more difficult to patrol, such as
fraudulent credit card use."

Sgt. Boulanger said Edmonton police have seen such a significant
increase in commercial criminal cases that the turnaround time for
investigations now averages between three months and two years.

"What we are seeing is a huge increase in property offences and
frauds," Toronto criminal lawyer John Rosen said. "The homicide rate
in this country is pretty steady and for the last 10 years it's been
pretty much declining, but there seems to be a lot of pressure out
there to make easy money."

In Canada, homicide rates in the most populous cities either decreased
in 1997 or remained stable compared with rates for the past several
years.

Police in Montreal reported 49 homicides in 1997 down from 54 in 1996.
The decrease was attributed to a concerted effort by Montreal police,
the RCMP and the Quebec provincial police to work together to solve
homicides and prevent others from happening, said Constable Michel
Fontaine, a Montreal police spokesman.

Of the 49 homicides committed in Montreal almost half were related to
the war between rival motorcycle gangs, which claimed 21 lives last
year, Constable Fontaine said.

Similarly in Edmonton, where police found that many of last year's 22
homicides were committed as a result of family disputes, police
launched the Family Protection Service Division, which paired police
officers with social workers to monitor severe cases of domestic abuse
that they feared might end in homicide.

Edmonton police also instituted a program two years ago whereby
officers investigating a disturbance or crime can seize children if
they are deemed to be in any sort of danger, such as from adults who
have been drinking or using drugs.

In Toronto, police reported 61 homicides in 1997, which represented a
2-per-cent increase over 1996.

"Homicide rates throughout North America have plateaued since about
1975," said Neil Boyd, professor of criminology at Simon Fraser
University in Vancouver.

He added that the generational impact of such events as the Vietnam
war, the hippie movement and the expansion of illegal drugs led to a
boom in homicides in most Western countries' cities between 1966 and
1975.

However, Prof. Boyd said greater economic and political stability has
led to a decrease in violent crime.

"But we can't draw too many inferences about Canada's crime rate
declining just yet," he said. "We have to examine things like changes
to police procedure and the courts, and remember that the statistics
we are seeing may be influenced by other factors."

For instance, in the 1980s the RCMP decided to curtail their efforts
to apprehend marijuana users in Vancouver, and go after distributors
instead. This resulted in about half the rate of convictions for drug
users but did not necessarily mean that drug use was down in the city,
Prof. Boyd said.

Moreover, Ontario Provincial Police recently reported a 20-per-cent
increase in drinking and driving offences in the province in 1997. But
many speculate that the increase reflects recent crackdowns on
impaired driving.

"When we look at the statistics we must remember that they do not
reflect crime as experienced by Canadians but crime as it is reported
by and to police," he said.

Other critics cite cutbacks to law enforcement organizations
throughout the country as a factor in weighing crime statistics.

"There is more going on out there than ever gets reported," Toronto
criminal lawyer Randall Barrs said, adding that cutbacks to law
enforcement in areas such as commercial crime are contributing to the
increase in these types of crimes.

"Police simply don't have the budgets to do sophisticated surveillance
of large-scale drug trafficking and theft operations in this country,"
he said.
-------------------------------------------------------------------

We're Losing Drugs War, Police Admit (Australia's Police Chiefs Endorse
Report By Australian Bureau Of Criminal Intelligence Conceding Police Have
Almost No Impact On Drug Trade And Sometimes Make The Situation Worse)

Date: Sat, 3 Jan 1998 09:56:13 EST
From: adbryan@onramp.net
To: Multiple recipients of list 
Subject: ART: AU-We're losing drugs war, police admit
>From the 1-3-98 Financial Review (AU)
http://www.afr.com.au/
edletters@afr.fairfax.com.au

We're losing drugs war, police admit

By a staff writer

Australia's police chiefs have endorsed a milestone report which
concedes that police are having almost no impact on the trade in illegal
drugs and in many cases are making the situation worse.

The 160-page report, compiled by the Australian Bureau of Criminal
Intelligence, looks at decriminalisation and more police tolerance of
drug use. It also warns that "policing cannabis may be pushing cannabis
users towards harder drugs".

The Australian Illicit Drug Report gives a comprehensive overview of the
drug scene, noting the cost of abuse is estimated at $1.6 billion.

Meanwhile, the price of most drugs has remained stable or fallen and
supplies have been steady or grown -- strong indications of the
ineffectiveness of police activity.

The ABCI's board comprises all of Australia's police chiefs and is
chaired by the Victorian Police Commissioner, Mr Neil Comrie.

In a foreword, Mr Comrie says the ABCI "is in the best position to
provide comprehensive information [on] illegal drugs", and that the
report is "the main vehicle for law enforcement reporting on the
effectiveness of strategies being used to combat illegal drugs".

But the report repeatedly questions the effectiveness of those
strategies, particularly in relation to cannabis, heroin and
amphetamines. It notes that police face a constant dilemma in dealing
with drugs, especially at street level. "On one hand, there is the
public expectation that they will uphold the law and proceed against
drug offenders; on the other hand, it is widely recognised that
street-level policing can actually lead to harm to both drug users and
society." Police are questioning the effectiveness of traditional
methods. For instance, Operation Noah -- which encourages people to
anonymously call police with information about drug users and dealers --
has been hailed a success since it began in 1982. But, according to the
ABCI report, "several police services have recently decided not to
participate", in the wake of criticism that it is counter-productive.

Likewise, the traditional police strategy of trying to reduce drug
supplies by targeting dealers has been criticised. And, according to the
report, it appears to have been singularly ineffective.

Time and again, the report found, policing has had little effect on drug
supplies or prices -- in part because demand is constant or growing.

Cannabis
"There is little evidence of any reduction in the availability of
cannabis as a result of law enforcement actions."
"Targeting of cannabis production [during one period in Western
Australia] had an effect on the supply of cannabis, but not the use."
"The availability of herbal cannabis was high during 1996-97."

Heroin
"Heroin remains generally available in Australia and anecdotal evidence
suggests that law enforcement efforts are having only a limited effect
on the amount of heroin offered at street level."
"Few shortages were reported anywhere and law enforcement activity did
not appear to affect prices on the street."

Amphetamines
"Amphetamines appear to be at least as available now as they were five
years ago, despite tighter legislation and increased law enforcement
efforts . . . Perceptions are that amphetamine use and availability have
been increasing."
"Domestic seizures appear to have had little impact on the availability
of amphetamines."

Cocaine
"The availability of cocaine is reported to have risen in Victoria and
South Australia, and in areas such as the Gold Coast and Sydney's Kings
Cross."
-------------------------------------------------------------------

Straw The Father Steps Out From The Shadows (British Anti-Drugs
Minister Whose Son Was Busted Makes Public Statement)

Subj: UK: Straw The Father Steps Out From The Shadows
From: shug 
Date: Sat, 03 Jan 1998 15:35:57 -0500
Pubdate: Sat, 3 Jan 1998
Source: The Scotsman, Edinburgh, UK
Author: Andrew Parker - Political Correspondent
Contact: Letters_ts@scotsman.com
Website: http://www.scotsman.com/

STRAW THE FATHER STEPS OUT FROM THE SHADOWS

English judge lifts injunction after The Scotsman names Home Secretary

JACK STRAW last night told of his anguish and embarrassment after learning
that his 17-year-old son had been accused of drug dealing.

The Home Secretary was able to go public about the extraordinary affair
after a judge scrapped the injunction which banned newspapers in England
from identifying Mr Straw and his son William.

The Scotsman and two other Scottish newspapers yesterday precipitated the
judge's decision by naming Mr Straw north of the Border after ten days of
legal farce. He was also named yesterday by newspapers in Ireland and
France, and on the Internet.

At the High Court in London, Mr Justice Toulson said that it was neither
sensible nor appropriate to maintain an injunction which allowed people in
Greenock to know the identity of Mr Straw, but not those in Carlisle.

Tony Blair immediately threw his full weight behind Mr Straw, and insisted
there was no question of him resigning or moving to another ministerial
brief.

Mr Straw, who has taken a particularly tough stance against legalisation of
soft drugs, said he had never considered resigning. He said: "What it has
done is strengthened my conviction against legalisation of soft drugs."

The Mirror newspaper first claimed on Christmas Eve that a senior Cabinet
minister's son had sold cannabis worth 10 UKP to one of its reporters in a
London pub, but did not identify the father or the son. Mr Straw had
already taken his son to a police station, where the youth was arrested and
released on bail.

Mr Straw spoke anonymously to the Mirror and the Sun on Wednesday and
expressed profound frustration that he could not go public because of
English law which provides anonymity to anyone under 18 facing legal
proceedings.

Speaking after the injunction had been lifted, the Home Secretary said that
his son could expect no favours from the legal system, but should not
suffer additionally for being the child of a prominent politician.

He told a hastily convened press conference: "When the Daily Mirror first
spoke to me I felt the same emotions as any parent would in such
circumstances - shock and concern.

"Being a parent means giving love and support and - where it's necessary -
confronting children with their wrongdoing.

"When a child does wrong, I believe it to be the duty of a parent to act
promptly. That is what I sought to do.

"My son went voluntarily with me to the police. He did not and should not
expect any favours from the legal process.

"He will accept and suffer any sanctions which arise, though of course like
any parents we stand by him."

He added: "Of course I was embarrassed by this. Any parent would be
embarrassed by the information I was given.

"We had a good Christmas, although it would have been a better Christmas
without this, but there you go - that's life."

Mr Straw refused to go into detail about the discussions he had had with
his son, who, it emerged, had been offered a conditional place at Oxford
University on the same day that the Mirror accused of him of drug dealing.
The police are expected to either caution or take no action against William
early next week.

William later posed for pooled press pictures in the kitchen of the
family's London home. His father was present during the photo shoot but did
not pose with him and both looked tense throughout.

On Tuesday, John Morris, the Attorney General, obtained an injunction in
the High Court preventing the Sun from naming Mr Straw.

The Scotsman was able to identify him because the injunction did not apply
in Scotland.

Mr Straw confirmed last night that the Government was reviewing the law in
England which preserves the anonymity of children facing legal proceedings.

But he insisted his ability to speak out about drugs, good parenting and
youth crime in his capacity as Home Secretary had not been adversely
affected by his son's actions.

"This episode has not in any sense compromised my very firm belief about
the legalisation of cannabis and other soft drugs. Cannabis is a dangerous
drug which is internationally accepted as dangerous. It may not be as
dangerous as some other drugs, but there is no question that it is
dangerous and has narcotic qualities," he said.

"It's a matter of incontrovertible evidence that there are plain links
between the use and selling of drugs and the incidence of acquisitive
crimes."

Downing Street said: "The Prime Minister thinks Mr Straw has acted
honourably and correctly throughout. It's been a difficult time for him and
his family. The Prime Minister has given his full support throughout and
continues to do so."

During a day of dramatic developments, Downing Street initially said
yesterday that the decision by The Scotsman and two other newspapers to
identify Mr Straw had no bearing on the situation in England.

A spokesman for Mr Straw said there was no question of him issuing a
statement in response to the disclosure of his identity in the Scottish
media.

But hours later Mr Morris announced he was taking the case involving the
Sun back to the High Court, after the newspaper decided to appeal.

Mr Justice Toulson refused Mr Morris's request to maintain the injunction.
He said in his judgement: "I have to ask myself whether it is sensible or
appropriate for the court to maintain a position in which matters can be
freely published in Greenock but not in Carlisle."

Asked by The Scotsman if he welcomed the newspaper's decision to identify
him, Mr Straw said: "It's not for me to comment on the process of the law
in this case either in respect of the Scottish media or in other matters.
What I have sought to do throughout this is strictly to observe the law and
the legal advice I have been offered."

He confirmed he had spoken to Mr Morris when the Mirror first informed him
of the allegations against his son.

Mr Morris, along with other legal advisers, is thought to have told Mr
Straw he could not go public because the 1933 Children and Young Persons
Act provided anonymity to children facing legal proceedings in England. But
Mr Straw stressed that he had no discussion with Mr Morris about the
injunction obtained on Tuesday.

There had been claims that Mr Morris, who acts independently of the
Government, had been put under political pressure to seek the injunction.
-------------------------------------------------------------------

British Marijuana Law Comes Under Attack (Hypocrisy Exposed
Begins To Inspire Open And Honest Discussion In England)

Date: Thu, 8 Jan 1998 20:09:31 EST
From: adbryan@onramp.net
To: Multiple recipients of list 
Subject: ART: British marijuana law comes under attack
>From the 1-3-98 St. Petersburg Times (Florida)
http://www.sptimes.com
letters@sptimes.com

British marijuana law comes under attack

By SUSAN TAYLOR MARTIN Times Senior Correspondent

If ever there were an example of the hysteria over marijuana, it is a
case in England that involves the press, the courts, the highest levels
of British government and last, but certainly not least, a 17-year-old
boy.

Like politicians all over the Western world, Britain's new Labor
government has been struggling with this question: Does it make sense to
treat marijuana users as criminals when millions of people are legally
harming themselves -- and potentially endangering others -- with their
consumption of alcohol and tobacco?

In private, many Labor politicians say no. In public, Prime Minister
Tony Blair and his Cabinet have taken a hard line against
decriminalizing pot, contending it is a "gateway" drug that can lead to
heroin and cocaine addiction.

So it was big news recently when an undercover reporter for the Mirror,
one of England's leading tabloids, went into a pub and bought some
marijuana from the 17-year-old son of a senior British Cabinet minister.

The Mirror contacted the official but did not identify him publicly
because the boy is a juvenile. According to the paper, the minister took
his son to a London police station and insisted that he receive no
special privileges.

The story ignited the debate over marijuana decriminalization, which has
been spearheaded by another daily newspaper, the Independent.

In an open letter to Home Secretary Jack Straw, the man in charge of
Britain's criminal justice system, the Independent's editor urged the
government to reconsider "how stupid the law is" and how much police and
court time are tied up prosecuting people for pot possession.

"As Home Secretary you must come across all sorts of terrible examples
of violence and social breakdown. What proportion of them are caused by
alcohol and how many are due to cannabis use? I am certain I know the
answer. Yet society will reprimand this boy for possessing cannabis but
ignore the fact that as a 17-year-old old he was in a pub where alcohol
was being consumed."

Straw's reply was swift -- he strongly reiterated the government's
anti-pot position:

"The more I examine the evidence, I am less and less convinced of the
cause for decriminalization. . . . Drug abuse of all kinds, including
abuse of cannabis, lies behind a huge amount of crime in this country.
It would be utterly irresponsible to go down the road of
decriminalization or legalization."

The government was further embarrassed when one Labor member of
Parliament acknowledged smoking marijuana as a teenager.

Militant advocates of decriminalization have threatened to "out" other
Labor politicians who also have used pot.

In its decriminalization campaign, the Independent has the support of
many notables, including Paul McCartney, billionaire Richard Branson,
playwright Harold Pinter and even Howard Brookes-Baker, publisher of
Burke's Peerage.

A former member of the Greater Manchester Drugs Squad, one of the
biggest in Britain, echoed the view of many that marijuana usage should
be considered a public health problem, not a criminal one.

"Toward the end of my service I saw that this was really a medicinal
issue," said former Detective Chief Inspector Ron Clarke, stressing his
own abhorrence of drugs and the drug culture.

"I got tired of seeing otherwise innocent young kids from all walks of
life getting criminal records for, in effect, doing nothing more than
millions of other people in society were doing with alcohol."

Advocates of decriminalization frequently point to Holland, where usage
of "hard drugs" like heroin and cocaine actually dropped after marijuana
was decriminalized. Moreover, glue sniffing and other forms of
lethal-solvent abuse are rare among Dutch teens.

In the past few days, the case has taken several bizarre turns. Police
arrested the Mirror reporter, 30-year-old Dawn Alford, on suspicion of
possessing cannabis. That prompted cries of outrage from the paper and
allegations that the case, contrary to the minister's pleas, was in fact
being handled very differently from others.

Prosecutors have not decided whether to pursue criminal charges against
the minister's son.

Detectives purportedly have recommended he either be cautioned or face
no action at all, given the small amount of marijuana involved.

While the minister's identity quickly became known in government, media
and Internet circles, no English news organization has yet named him
because it would be tantamount to identifying his son. British law bans
identification of suspects under 18.

On Friday, however, three Scottish newspaper printed the minister's name
on the grounds that Scottish law sets 16 as the minimum age for
identifying juvenile suspects.

"The situation has rapidly descended into farce," said the editor of
Scotland's Daily Record. "It is time this whole story was out in the
open so the public can make up its own mind."

So, just who is the minister? None other than Britain's most ardent defender
of strong marijuana laws -- Home Secretary Jack Straw.

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

[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/980103.html

Home