Portland NORML News - Saturday, March 14, 1998
-------------------------------------------------------------------

Nevada Ballot Proposal Would Allow Medical Marijuana Use ('Associated Press'
Says A Medical Marijuana Initiative Petition Was Filed Friday In Carson City
By Americans for Medical Rights - AMR Also Filed A Lawsuit In Federal Court
On Monday To Void A Nevada Limit Of $5,000 Per Person Or Organization
For Ballot Question Campaigns)

Date: Sun, 15 Mar 1998 11:56:30 -0500
To: DrugSense News Service 
From: Richard Lake 
Subject: MN: US NV: Wire: Nevada Ballot Proposal Would Allow Medical
Marijuana Use
Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Newshawk: David.Hadorn@vuw.ac.nz (David Hadorn)
Source: The Associated Press
Pubdate: Sat, 14 Mar 1998

NEVADA BALLOT PROPOSAL WOULD ALLOW MEDICAL MARIJUANA USE

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) -- A ballot proposal to allow marijuana use by
Nevadans with serious health problems was filed here Friday -- following a
lawsuit to ensure a lot of money can be spent on the ballot campaign.

The initiative petition was filed by Americans for Medical Rights, which on
Monday had filed suit in federal court, Las Vegas, to void a Nevada limit
of $5,000 per person or organization for ballot question campaigns.

The AMR is the same group that launched a successful 1996 medical marijuana
petition in California. But a big legal battle developed over distribution
through ``cannabis clubs.''

Dan Hart of Las Vegas, who is heading the signature-gathering for the
Nevada initiative, said the problems that occurred in California shouldn't
happen here.

``The way this is worded, once it is passed it will be policed
appropriately,'' Hart said. ``We can all learn from the experience of
California. This is a refined version of what was approved there.''

And even though Nevada's laws against marijuana are much harsher than
California's, Hart predicted the initiative will easily qualify.

``While this state is conservative, it's also fiercely protective of
individual rights,'' he said. ``And this is about an individual who is ill
having the right to use medication that helps with the symptoms of a
disease.''

Hart must collect 46,764 signatures by Aug. 5 to get the proposal on the
ballot. Voters would have to approve the plan this November and again in
November 1990 before the Nevada Constitution could be revised.

Under the plan, marijuana could be used by anyone suffering from cancer,
glaucoma, AIDS, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, or from severe nausea caused
by other ``chronic or debilitating medical conditions.''

A person who wants to use marijuana would have to get a go-ahead from a
doctor, and any use of the drug by a minor would have to be approved in
writing both by a doctor and the minor's parents.

A registry of patients authorized to use marijuana for medical purposes
would be available to police if they needed to verify a claim that it's
being legally used by someone.

A final section says an insurer wouldn't have to reimburse a health care
policyholder for costs of buying marijuana, and an employer wouldn't have
to make accommodations for pot-smoking by sick employees.
-------------------------------------------------------------------

Deportation Shatters Family ('Los Angeles Times'
Says A 17-Year-Old Los Angeles Boy Killed Himself With A Bullet To The Head,
Despondent Since His Father, A Legal Resident Of The United States
For 29 Years, Was Deported In December Because Of A 1989 Conviction
For Selling A $10 Bag Of Marijuana - Enough For One Pot Cigarette -
To A Paid Police Informant)
Link to follow up
Date: Sun, 15 Mar 1998 12:01:35 EST Originator: drctalk@drcnet.org Sender: drctalk@drcnet.org From: Jim Rosenfield To: Multiple recipients of list Subject: art/lat: Deportation tragedy *** This story, which appears in MapNews, today, presents a golden opportunity to highlight the stupidity and tragedy of the "get tough" mentality. It is another "great" example of how our marijuana laws are not really protecting Americans and not really saving our children from this "menace". Please get in your letter to the Times' editors. Newshawk: Jim Rosenfield Source: Los Angeles Times pubdate: March 14, 1998 *** Deportation Shatters Family Tragedy: Teenager kills himself after his father--a legal U.S. resident for 29 years--is sent to Colombia because of $10 marijuana sale in 1989. Grieving mother struggles with effects of strict new U.S. policy. Gerardo Anthony Mosquera Jr. was a good boy in a tough neighborhood, his parents say. He took his studies seriously, enjoyed sports, stayed away from drugs and worked after school to help support his struggling family, which included three younger siblings and an infant son. That the 17-year-old junior at Bell Gardens High School would put a bullet through his brain still seems inconceivable, says his distraught family, except for one painful fact: Gerardo had been despondent since his father--Gerardo Antonio Mosquera Sr., a legal resident of the United States for 29 years--was deported in December back to his native Colombia, part of a rising nationwide tide of such expulsions. The father was removed because of a 1989 conviction for selling a $10 bag of marijuana--enough for one pot cigarette--to a paid police informant.
-------------------------------------------------------------------

Students Lose Rights In Random Searches
(17-Year-Old High School Student's Letter
To Editor Of 'San Jose Mercury News' Says Subjecting Students
Of Milpitas Unified School District To The Use Of Trained Dogs
To Randomly Check For The Presence Of Drugs
Violates US Constitution's Fourth Amendment Protection
Of The Right Of The People To Be Secure In Their Persons,
Houses, Papers, And Effects, Against Unreasonable Searches
And Seizures)

Date: Sun, 15 Mar 1998 13:50:06 -0800
To: mapnews@mapinc.org
From: Olafur Brentmar 
Subject: MN: US CA: PUB LTE: Students Lose Rights In Random Searches
Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Newshawk: Marcus-Mermelstein Family 
Pubdate: Sat, 14 Mar 1998
Source: San Jose Mercury New (CA)
Contact: letters@sjmercury.com

STUDENTS LOSE RIGHTS IN RANDOM SEARCHES

WHILE I am not surprised by it in the least, I cannot help but be appalled
by the stunning disregard for students' rights displayed by Superintendent
Mary Frances Callan of the Milpitas Unified School District in her recent
letter to your paper (``Milpitas schools are proud of anti-drug efforts,''
Opinion, March 2).

While I cannot condone the use of hard drugs by anybody, especially my
fellow high school students, I do not believe that the ``use [of] trained
dogs to randomly check for the presence of drugs on our campuses'' is the
solution. Has Superintendent Callan forgotten the Fourth Amendment to the
Constitution? A document which is taught in the very schools she runs, it
states in part, ``The right of the people to be secure in their persons,
houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures,
shall not be violated.'' I do not see any disclaimer in the Constitution
which reserves these rights for adults. As I understand it, the Fourth
Amendment protects everyone, regardless of age, from ``unreasonable
searches and seizures.'' Those students who are bound by law to attend
school should have the same rights on school property as they would have in
their own homes.

I am not saying that they are free from all searches and seizures; if they
were, for instance, to go to an airport, it would be reasonable to expect
that they be searched, as they would be there of their own free will.
However, if they are required by law to go somewhere, any searches
performed on their persons or property without immediate cause would seem
unreasonable to me.

The issue in this case is not teen drug use, but rather an abuse of power
on the part of the school authorities. Superintendent Callan's attitude is
altogether too common among the teachers and faculty of our public schools,
not to mention in the halls of Congress. Right now they are persecuting the
teenagers; you could be next.

-- Jordan Tulin, 17

Saratoga High School
-------------------------------------------------------------------

State Prisons Chief Defends Officers Accused In Fights
('Orange County Register' Quotes California Corrections Department Director
C.A. Terhune Saying Eight Officers Accused Of Staging Gladiator-Style Fights
Among Inmates, Killing One, 'Acted Appropriately' -
His Office Will Provide Lawyers To Defend Guards Against Federal Charges)

Date: Sun, 15 Mar 1998 22:37:49 -0800
To: mapnews@mapinc.org
From: Olafur Brentmar 
Subject: MN: US CA: State Prisons Chief Defends Officers Accused In Fights
Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Newshawk:John W.Black
Pubdate: Sat, 14 Mar 1998
Source: Orange County Register
Section: News / page 4
Contact:(letters@link.freedom.com)
Web:(http://www.ocregister.com)

STATE PRISONS CHIEF DEFENDS OFFICERS ACCUSED IN FIGHTS

The head of California's prison system said Friday that eight officers
accused of staging gladiator-style fights between inmates "acted
appropriately." He said his office would provide lawyers to defend them
against federal charges.

"After reviewing the evidence and statements given under oath, I believe
these officers acted appropriately." He said his office would provide
lawyers to defend them against federal charges.

"After reviewing the evidence and statements given under oath, I believe
these officers acted appropriately. It is important that we support our
officers who put their lives on the line every day they go to work,"
Corrections Department Director C.A. Terhune said in a written statement
distributed by his office.

The eight officers - a prison lieutenant, two sergeants and five
correctional officers - allegedly conspired to brutalize prisoners at
Corcoran State Prison in Kings County. One prisoner was shot in the head by
a guard during an April 1994 fight. Federal investigators said the fight
between rival gang members was deliberately staged but got out of hand.
-------------------------------------------------------------------

The Icky, Inside Story On Drug Abuse ('Washington Post' Article
About Students From Ellen Glasgow Middle School In Fairfax County, Virginia,
Seeing Body Organs Damaged By 'Drug Abuse' Suggests Students
Were Most Impressed By The Organs Subjected To Legal Tobacco Or Alcohol Use)

Date: Sun, 15 Mar 1998 19:42:07 -0500
To: DrugSense News Service 
From: Richard Lake 
Subject: MN: US: WP: The Icky, Inside Story on Drug Abuse
Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Newshawk: rlake@MAPinc.org
Source: Washington Post
Author: Jennifer Lenhart, Washington Post Staff Writer
Pubdate: Saturday, March 14, 1998
Contact: http://washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/edit/letters/letterform.htm
Website: http://www.washingtonpost.com/

THE ICKY, INSIDE STORY ON DRUG ABUSE

Medical Students Use Diseased Organs to Make Their Point at Fairfax School

It was the liver that made the children squeal the loudest.

"Ooh, gross!" shrieked a clump of sixth-grade girls as Neil Segal held up
the pork-chop-size organ in a classroom at Fairfax County's Ellen Glasgow
Middle School yesterday.

Not just any liver. This one, riddled with yellow bumps, belonged to an
alcohol abuser who suffered from cirrhosis, Segal explained.

Segal, 26, who attends Vanderbilt University, was one of 49 medical
students who came to Glasgow to give preteens dramatic proof of the damage
that drugs and alcohol can cause to the body's vital organs.

The medical students, in Washington for a conference of the American
Medical Student Association, brought 70 specimens in all -- livers, lungs,
brains and hearts.

"They flew with us on United," said Eric Berkson, 24, a student at the
University of Chicago's Pritzker School of Medicine.

Berkson and fellow Chicago medical student Charles Samenow, 24, founded the
Adolescent Substance Abuse Prevention program. For three years, they have
wowed students in the Chicago area with their show-and-tell version of
"Just Say No" to drugs. Their visit to Fairfax marked the first time they
had taken the show on the road.

"Seeing a heart or lungs is something they never forget," said Samenow, a
Falls Church native and Glasgow graduate.

The organs -- packed in water-filled plastic containers and later draped on
red plastic plates at the middle school -- belonged to drug and alcohol
abusers who donated their bodies to science.

Before seeing the specimens, the 300 sixth-graders were primed with an
hour-long discussion about the realities and misconceptions about drug and
alcohol use.

Then came the main event. "You might see pictures, you might see movies,"
Samenow told the students. "But this is the real thing."

There were a few rules. Touching the organs wouldn't be allowed, he said.
"We ask you to treat them with respect."

Neeris Maldon, 12, of Falls Church, pointed to the yellow marks on the
cirrhotic liver. "How do these go away?" he asked.

"Can that cause cancer?" Ava Ighanian, 12, of Alexandria, chimed in.

Cirrhosis of the liver can, indeed, lead to cancer, said Segal. And the
bumps, he said, will never go away.

"Even when you stop [drinking]?" asked Keyber Mendez, 13, of Falls Church.

Not even then, said the medical student.

Across the room, Samenow had the rapt attention of a group of boys who were
studying the lung of a cancer victim. The specimen had some healthy tissue,
but the telltale circular splotches of cancer were plain to see.

Samenow showed the students small pockets of black from tar in cigarettes.

Anne Millard, 30, a student at the University of Texas Medical Branch at
Galveston, held a brain in her gloved hands at another table and asked
students how cocaine hurts the body's most complex organ.

The responses were rapid:

"It can make you tired."

"It can make you lose your memory."

Memory is stored here, Millard said, pointing to some pathways in the organ.

"It's pretty neat," said Daryl Anthony, 12, of Annandale. "I learned about
what the drugs did to the heart, lungs, liver and brain. I learned about
how you can lose brain cells."

Zain Javed, 11, of the Alexandria section of Fairfax, said the lesson was
crystal-clear.

"If you don't want your insides to look like that," he said, "don't do drugs."

(c) Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company
-------------------------------------------------------------------

Clinton Pressures Congress To Pass A Bill On Tobacco
('Orange County Register' Says The Overeating Cigar Smoker
May Threaten To Keep Lawmakers In Session
Until They Pass A Tobacco Bill)

Date: Sun, 15 Mar 1998 22:37:49 -0800
To: mapnews@mapinc.org
From: Olafur Brentmar 
Subject: MN: US: Clinton Pressures Congress To Pass A Bill On Tobacco
Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Newshawk:John W.Black
Pubdate: Sat, 14 Mar 1998
Source:Orange County Register
Section:news / page 12
Contact:(letters@link.freedom.com)
Web:(http://www.ocregister.com)

Escalating election-year pressure on Congress, President Clinton on Friday
said he would consider keeping lawmakers in session until they pass a
tobacco bill.

"I don't think they should leave without resolving the tobacco thing,"
Clinton told reporters, noting that the congressional session this year is
extremely short.

"You can't justify taking another whole year to deal with this. The issues
are somewhat complicated. But they're not that difficult, and they ought to
be dealt with this year," Clinton said.

Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott characterized the comment as "not
helpful" and "counter-productive." Lott, a Mississippi Republican, said,
"Every time he takes a shot like that, it tells me he doesn't want the
solution, he wants the politics."
-------------------------------------------------------------------

Rock Vows Response To Woman's Pot Plea ('London Free Press' In Ontario
Says Canadian Health Minister Allan Rock In Tillsonburg Met Friday
With Lynn Harichy, A Multiple Sclerosis Sufferer, And Told Her
He Is Taking Seriously Her Plea To Legalize Marijuana For Medical Use
And Hopes To Have A Solid Response For Harichy Within Months)

Date: Sat, 14 Mar 1998 09:35:49 -0500
To: DrugSense News Service 
From: Richard Lake 
Subject: MN: Canada: Rock Vows Response To Woman's Pot Plea
Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Newshawk: "Kelly T. Conlon" 
Pubdate: 14 March 1998
Source: London Free Press
Author: John Miner, Free Press Regional Affairs Reporter
Contact: letters@lfpress.com
Website: http://www.canoe.ca/LondonFreePress/home.html

ROCK VOWS RESPONSE TO WOMAN'S POT PLEA

TILLSONBURG -- Federal Health Minister Allan Rock says he is taking
seriously a plea by Londoner Lynn Harichy to legalize marijuana for medical
use.

Harichy, a multiple sclerosis sufferer, met with Rock in Tillsonburg
Friday, asking him to push for legalization for such purposes. She was
pleased with his response. "I'm really happy," Harichy said. Rock said he
and Justice Minister Anne McLellan have asked senior civil servants to
review the implications of legalizing marijuana for medical purposes. He
said he hopes to have a solid response for Harichy within months.

"I told her we are taking her position very seriously," Rock said. Rock was
in Tillsonburg Friday to announce the legalization of industrial hemp, a
close relative of the marijuana plant that has no psychoactive qualities.
Harichy, who is facing charges for possession of marijuana, said she told
Rock of her plan to open a Medical Marijuana Buyers Club in London.

The club will sell marijuana to members who have doctors' letters
confirming they have cancer, AIDS, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis,
paraplegia, quadriplegia, epilepsy, glaucoma and intractable pain. "I told
him I want to give patients an opportunity to get it without having to buy
it off the street. I said I don't want to go to jail for it. He said they
are very, very close to a resolution," Harichy said.

Harichy said if changes aren't made in the law, she will be in court on the
possession charge in June or July. She is raising money for her defence.
Osgoode Hall law professor Alan Young has agreed to defend Harichy on the
charge.
-------------------------------------------------------------------

Minister Of Health Allan Rock Meets With Lynn Harichy (An Account
From Harichy Herself, Plus Background Information From DrugSense)

Date: Sat, 14 Mar 1998 08:02:02 EST
Originator: medmj@drcnet.org
Sender: medmj@drcnet.org
From: Richard Lake (rlake@mapinc.org)
To: Multiple recipients of list (medmj@drcnet.org)
Subject: Minister of Health Allan Rock meets with Lynn Harichy

Lynn Harichy, an MS patient from London, Ontario, Canada sent me the
following about her meeting with the Canadian Health Minister:

***

I am very proud to say I got my meeting with Allan Rock!

I went to Tillsonburg to meet with him. When I got there I was told it was
by invitation only. I said I needed to see him and a big guy came over and
said just hold on.

A while later a girl came over and grabbed my arm and said come with me. I
followed her and said where are you taking me? She opened the glass door
for me to go in and then said 'he's expecting you.' I said who? She said
Allan Rock.

I went in and he came over and said it is so nice to finally meet you, I've
read your e-mail. I said, "Well, here is another just in case." He smiled
shook my hand again and then said "Anne McLennan and I have been working on
this, we are setting up for the pharmaceutical companies to provide
marijuana. We are just working out some things."

I told him in the mean time I will open up the buyer's clubs and provide it
until things change, and I don't want anyone being busted for getting
medication. He said yes and shook my hand again and thanked me for
bringing this issue forward. He said 'we are this close to making it
available for medical purposes' (holding his thumb and finger an inch
apart). I thanked him for listening and let myself out.

I then met with the press to fill them in.

Things are looking good, BUT DON'T STOP THE PRESSURE! I don't want them to
back down now.

Lynn Harichy

***

Matt Elrod, the webmaster for DrugSense, also received the message and
responded:

This is outstanding news Lynn! At first, being the cynic that I am, I
thought it must be too good to be true. But Rock must have known you were
about to speak with the press and surely he wouldn't dare to make empty
promises. Un-smegging-real. We all you owe a big thank-you and a virtual
hug.

Though it remains to be seen what sort of regulations Rock will propose, I
don't expect them to be nearly as restrictive as some of the initiatives
and propositions being tabled in the states. Can you imagine the U.S.
Surgeon General meeting with Laura Kriho, smiling, shaking her hand,
and assuring her that he is close to allowing pharmaceutical companies
to provide medicinal cannabis at the federal level? Un-smegging-real.

Thanks again Lynn,
Matt

***

Lynn is very well known in Canada, having been on national TV and radio,
and written about in many newspapers. About 40 of the articles about Lynn
can be found by searching at the following page on ' Lynn and Harichy ':

http://www.mapinc.org/search.htm

The HempNation website also has an outstanding FOCUS about Lynn's
Constitutional Challenge, currently scheduled to go to court on April 27th
(as well as information on how to donate - there is still a critical need
for funds):

http://www.hempnation.com/focus/focus-0111.html

And you can chat (the next best thing to in person) with Lynn on Saturday
and Sunday nights just by pointing your browser to the following page at
about 6:00 p.m. Pacific or 9:00 p.m. Eastern time and signing in:

http://www.mapinc.org/chat/

Thank you, Lynn, for all that you do! A big 'Way to Go!!!'

Richard Lake
Senior Editor; MAPnews, MAPnews-Digest and DrugNews-Digest
email: rlake@MAPinc.org
http://www.DrugSense.org/drugnews/
For subscription information see:
http://www.MAPinc.org/lists/
Quick sign up for DrugNews-Digest, Focus Alerts or Newsletter:
http://www.DrugSense.org/hurry.htm
-------------------------------------------------------------------

Hemp Industry Given New Life ('London Free Press' In Ontario
Notes Rebirth Of Canada's Hemp Industry, Quoting Health Minister Allan Rock
Saying, 'Legalizing Hemp Production Is Tangible Proof
That The Federal Government Does Look At Issues Through A Rural Lens')

Date: Thu, 19 Mar 1998 18:25:49 -0500
From: "R. Lake" 
Subject: MN: Canada: Hemp Industry Given New Life
To: DrugSense News Service 
Organization: The Media Awareness Project of DrugSense
Newshawk: Joe Hickey 
Source: The London Free Press
Author: John Miner, Free Press Regional Affairs Reporter
Pubdate: 14 Mar 1998
Contact: letters@lfpress.com
Website: http://www.canoe.ca/LondonFreePress/home.html
PHOTO: Health Minister Rock with hemp shirt
CAPTION: "Slipping into a shirt made of hemp, Health Minister Allan Rock
announced in Tillsonburg Friday new regulations that permit the growth and
harvesting of a hemp crop in Southwestern Ontario."

HEMP INDUSTRY GIVEN NEW LIFE

TILLSONBURG-The Canadian hemp industry was reborn here Friday with more than
100 people cramming into an afternoon news conference to watch Federal
Health Minister Allan Rock act as midwife.

"As of today, the cultivation and commercial use of hemp for the first time
in 60 years is now legal in this country," Rock told a vigorously applauding
audience, which included farmers, crop scientists, farm machinery companies
and business people already building hemp-processing plants.

Hemp was banned along with marijuana in 1938 because it contained a small
amount of the same psychoactive ingredient, THC.

The regulations released by Rock Friday to allow farmers to grow hemp put
tight controls on the varieties grown to ensure the hemp has no psychoactive
effect.

Rock, who credited the rural members of Parliament with making him aware of
the value of hemp, extolled the virtues of the crop.

Hemp can be used as a wood substitute, as a textile, in clothing, rope,
automotive parts and as a food source, Rock said.

Rock said hemp will not only be a new crop for farmers, but it will mean new
products and new jobs.

"It is an absolutely remarkable product that, for 60 years, we have not been
able to use in this country because of an outdated philosophy. Thank
goodness those days are gone," Rock said.

Rock, who angered many in rural areas when he was justice minister for
stiffening Canada's gun control laws, emphasized the need to be sensitive to
the rural perspective in Canada.

Legalizing hemp production is tangible proof that the federal government
does look at issues through a rural lens, he said.

Rock was credited by John Finlay, Liberal MP for Oxford, with pushing senior
bureaucrats in his department to have the regulations in place to allow
commercial hemp production this year.

Estimates before Rock took over as health minister were that the regulations
would not be ready until 1999 or 2000.

"We are here today because this minister made it his personal priority,"
Finlay said.

For farmers to grow hemp and businesses to process the crop, they must be
licensed by Health Canada.

Rock said his department is aiming to process applications within 10 days.

The regulations also specify that farmers cannot grow less than four
hectares, that only approved seed can be grown and crop will be tested for
the THC levels.
-------------------------------------------------------------------
US Border Crackdown Keeping Canadians Out - Some Barred Five Years
Or Fined On The Spot (Toronto's 'Globe And Mail' Describes Aftermath
Of Tough New US Law That Took Effect Last April
Which Obliges US Immigration Inspectors To Impose A Five-Year Ban
On People They Judge To Be Misrepresenting The Reasons For Their Visit)

Date: Sat, 14 Mar 1998 14:50:36 -0400 (AST)
Sender: Chris Donald 
From: Chris Donald 
To: mattalk@listserv.islandnet.com
Subject: G&M: U.S. border crackdown keeping Canadians out

U.S. border crackdown keeping Canadians out

Some barred 5 years or fined on the spot

Saturday, March 14, 1998
By Sean Fine
The Globe and Mail

James Horner, a 39-year-old Torontonian accepted into a chiropractic
school in San Jose, Calif., packed up his minivan and headed for the
Sarnia - Port Huron border crossing last October. He never made it
through. A U.S. immigration inspector did not believe his story and
judged his documents from the Palmer College of Chiropractic West
insufficient.

"They held me for five hours, repeatedly saying, 'You're a goddamn
liar, you're a goddamn liar.' It was as if they were trying to behave
like television cops."

Then Mr. Horner was banned for five years from the United States, with
no right of appeal.

His story is not unique. At the world's longest undefended border,
Canadians are running into a new barrier set up by Congress. Under a
tough new law that took effect last April, immigration inspectors must
impose a five-year ban on people they judge to be misrepresenting the
reasons for their visit.

Hundreds of Canadians have been subject to the ban. At the Buffalo
border crossing alone, 300 people, of whom probably 100 are Canadian
citizens, were ordered banned between April and October, according to
Winston Barrus, deputy director of the Buffalo district Immigration
and Naturalization Service. (In all, 23,064 people were hit with the
five-year ban in its first six months, most at the Mexican border.)

But if Canadians are getting into trouble as perceived liars, they
also appear to be encountering some problems for telling the truth. At
preflight inspections by U.S. officials in Calgary, some Canadians are
being asked whether they have ever used marijuana -- and if they say
yes, they are barred indefinitely from the United States, according to
Calgary lawyer Michael Greene.

This week Mr. Greene, who specializes in immigration, was called by a
25-year-old woman who said she was barred after admitting to having
tried marijuana when she was 19.

In another case, U.S. immigration officials alleging to have found
what Mr. Greene calls a "crumb" of marijuana in the cap of a
30-year-old Canadian student told the man that if he paid them $500
cash and signed a document admitting to lying to border officials, he
would not face a fine of $5,000 for attempted drug smuggling. A
customs official escorted the Canadian through the airport concourse
to a bank machine where he withdrew the cash, then to a
currency-exchange counter so it could be converted into U.S. dollars,
Mr. Greene said. (The student is now barred indefinitely from the
United States.)

Kevin Cummings, program manager for the U.S. Customs Service's
passenger operations, said his country's authorities do not want
people bringing drugs with them. Speaking in general about such
incidents, he said: "They want to ensure that once he walks out the
door, he doesn't just go away. He's attempted to make entry to the
United States. He's not free to go."

And if he refused to sign the document? "They would probably have
turned him over to the Canadians and let the Canadians criminally
prosecute him, I assume. I don't know what the alternatives would be."

Sean Rowan, a spokesman for the Canadian Foreign Affairs Department,
was unequivocal about U.S. powers of detention in Canadian airports:
There are none. "The American preclearance officials do not have the
right to detain anybody at a Canadian airport. No detention is
allowed."

"It's amazing. It makes my hair rise," said Mr. Greene, who is
national secretary of the Canadian Bar Association's immigration and
citizenship section. "There's no way our police could ever pull this
off. Our customs people could never pull it off. If Canadians were
doing this to Americans, we'd probably have an international incident
on our hands."

How widespread are these incidents? Michael Davis, an immigration
lawyer in Minneapolis who often handles Canadian matters (Mr. Greene
refers people to him), said he has heard of several such episodes, but
only from Calgary.

"Under the zero-tolerance laws, let's say they find a microscopic
speck of something. The government believes that's enough to exclude
somebody."

Mr. Greene said that in the past few weeks he has received several
calls from individuals who said they have been barred from the United
States for admitting to past marijuana use. Suspicion was aroused by a
drug-sniffing dog employed by the Americans, by the traveller's
appearance or by information in computer records.

A 44-year-old Calgary businessman, who owns a film and television
production company, said in an interview that a drug-sniffing dog
singled him out on Jan. 6, 1997. Under questioning he admitted to
having smoked marijuana while in school decades earlier, and was told
he was barred indefinitely.

The U.S. official gave him a form to fill out if he wishes to gain
entry. It requires a letter from the RCMP that he has no criminal
record; for that he must have his fingerprints taken. Also, he must
answer whether he or any members of his family have ever been members
of the Communist Party, he said.

"It's just wild. Remnants of the fifties McCarthyism are still
around."

(He did not want his name used because he was afraid the publicity
would hurt his chances for permission to enter the United States.)

The five-year ban, part of the "expedited removal" provisions of the
Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996,
was designed to stem illegal immigration, especially from Mexico.

Before it took effect, people barred from the country by border
officials could obtain a hearing before a judge. But immigration
officials could do little about people who lied to them or presented
false documents, said Russ Bergeron, a spokesman for the Immigration
and Naturalization Service in Washington.

The officials had two options. They could place the individuals in
formal deportation proceedings, but those would last four to six
months and would mean detaining tens of thousands of people each year;
or they could allow the individuals to withdraw their applications and
go home. But those people could then simply try another border
crossing until they succeeded, he said. "There was no punitive or
deterrence factor."

Although appeals to the courts now are not allowed, "there is a review
process," Mr. Bergeron said. An initial inspector flags concerns for a
second inspector, who interviews the subject and decides whether to
impose the ban. That decision is reviewed by a supervisor.

But critics say low-level immigration officials act as prosecutor,
court reporter and judge, that questioning occurs without a meaningful
chance to respond to allegations, and that the punishment is too
strong for the crime. Those held for questioning have scant rights
while in detention and may be held several hours without food or
access to a washroom, and there is no right to see a lawyer, family or
friends, says the American Immigration Law Foundation in Washington.

The foundation is challenging the law in Federal District Court on
behalf of 18 U.S. aliens, including four Canadian citizens. One of the
Canadians, Steven Williamson of Oakville, Ont., said that when he
wrote in an affidavit that he had been denied counsel, an immigration
officer ripped the paper, threw it at him, began swearing, took off
his jacket and touched his gun. Mr. Williamson said he became afraid
and decided to be more compliant. He was barred for five years for
allegedly misrepresenting his reason for entering the United States.

"From our perspective it's killing a fly with a cannon," Joel
Guberman, a Toronto lawyer who specializes in U.S. immigration, said
of the five-year penalty.

He travelled to Washington last month to press the U.S. government for
changes to the law. Although no appeals to courts are possible, Mr.
Guberman managed to persuade a group of officials monitoring expedited
removal to overturn the five-year ban on Mr. Horner, the prospective
chiropractic student.

In October, while waiting to receive his student visa, Mr. Horner
headed south, hoping to find lodgings and visit relatives, he said.
His plan was to spend a month, then return to Canada and pick up his
visa. But a U.S. immigration official accused him of having no
intention of studying. She said his minivan was packed so full he must
be planning to set up a life in the United States.

"There were other inspectors coming by and applauding her, saying,
'Good work, Marianne,' " Mr. Horner said. "At one point she yelled
across the room to one of the other inspectors, 'I've got one.' They
were sort of clapping each other on the back."

In one case cited by Mr. Guberman to the U.S. government, a Canadian
employee of a large U.S. subsidiary in Canada was travelling to the
United States to train workers and visit friends. She told border
officials only that she was visiting friends, and did not mention the
business purpose until she was questioned further. She was then barred
for five years.

"Business people are fond of the little white lie. 'I'm just going
down for the weekend.' They want to avoid scrutiny. It's almost a
cultural icon for Canadians," Mr. Guberman said. But he asked, "Should
a misrepresentation bar an individual when the truth would not?"

The Canadian government has decided not to oppose the five-year ban,
even though the law does not provide for judicial review, because
Canadian immigration authorities themselves can issue exclusion orders
from which there is no right of review, according to a press spokesman
at the Canadian embassy in Washington. (In some circumstances they can
bar people for a year -- for instance, if a person shows up without a
required visa and insists on being allowed in, the spokesman said.)

"One of the great misconceptions for the public is that lying at a
border where we cross regularly back and forth has no consequences,"
the embassy spokesman said. "We are trying to remind people that when
you talk to a border official, the best thing you can do is to tell
the truth."

Copyright (c) 1998, The Globe and Mail Company
-------------------------------------------------------------------

Swiss Say Evidence Links Salinas Brother To Drug Money (Britain's 'Guardian'
Cites Yesterday's 'Wall Street Journal' Article Saying Swiss Investigators
Have Obtained Sworn Evidence From United States Drug Agents
And Mexican And Colombian Traffickers And Financiers
Constituting 'Firm Evidence' That Raul Salinas, The Exiled And Jailed Brother
Of The Former Mexican President Carlos Salinas,
Made Tens Of Millions Of Dollars In The Early 1990s
As A Crucial Intermediary For Colombian Drug-Trafficking Cartels)

Date: Sat, 14 Mar 1998 06:50:37 -0800
To: maptalk@mapinc.org, mattalk@islandnet.com
From: Pat Dolan 
Newshawk:Pat Dolan
Subject: Swiss say evidence links Salinas brother to drug money
Source: The Guardian, UK
PubDate: Mar 12 1998
Section: EdPage
Contact: ?
Website: http://www.guardian.co.uk/

Swiss say evidence links Salinas brother to drug money

By Martin Kettle in Washington

Saturday March 14, 1998

Swiss investigators believe they have firm evidence that Raul Salinas, the
jailed brother of the former Mexican president Carlos Salinas, made tens of
millions of dollars as a crucial intermediary for Colombian
drug-trafficking cartels in the early 1990s.

A report in the Wall Street Journal yesterday says the Swiss team, which
froze $120 million (75 million) in Swiss bank accounts controlled by Raul
Salinas at the start of the investigation in 1995, have obtained sworn
evidence from United States drug agents and Mexican and Colombian
traffickers and financiers which reveals a multi-million dollar network of
links between the drug cartels and Mexican politicians, with Mr Salinas at
its centre. Mr Salinas is in prison in Mexico for conspiring to murder a
political opponent and still faces possible charges of "inexplicable
enrichment". He has always denied that his wealth comes from the drugs
trade, but one witness told investigators that the Colombian cartels paid
$80 million to Mexican politicians between 1990 and 1993 and that half the
money went directly to Mr Salinas.

The witness, Guillermo Pallomari, was chief personal adviser to Miguel
Rodriguez, one of the four Cali cartel chiefs, from 1990 to 1994, before
turning himself over to the authorities. Mr Pallomari says that Mr Salinas
was paid directly by Amado Carillo Fuentes, who was then the head of
Mexico's largest cocaine network. He has provided investigators with
documents supporting his allegations.

Mr Pallomari says that Mr Salinas received money, watches, paintings and
jewels in return for facilitating drug flights into and out of Mexico and
arranging for the return of drug hauls seized by the authorities. According
to Mr Pallomari, Mr Salinas was known by the cartel as chupa sangre - the
bloodsucker.

On one occasion, investigators have been told, Mr Salinas arranged for the
return of 3,000kg of cocaine to the Cali cartel after 5,000kg had been
seized by Mexican drug enforcement authorities in Acapulco.

Mr Salinas continues to claim that his fortune consisted of money given to
him by others for investment. But the Swiss investigators are said to have
obtained detailed ledgers from the cartels which record payments to Mr
Salinas and other politicians and officials.

Interview: Michael Palin Mexico has indicated that it is unlikely to agree
to the extradition of Mr Salinas to stand trial in any other country, but a
spokesman for the attorney-general, Jorge Madrazo, said yesterday that his
office would like to work with the Swiss authorities once the
investigations there had been completed.

The evidence does not directly implicate Carlos Salinas, Mexico's president
between 1988 and 1995. He left the country after his brother was charged
with involvement in the assassination of a leading political opponent, Luis
Donaldo Colosio. Carlos, who has lived in Dublin for much of the time since
then, says he did not know about his brother's activities.

However, some of the witnesses have told the investigators that the
Colombian cartels thought that their payments to Raul Salinas were a way to
buy influence with the president.

As well as the Swiss inquiries into Raul Salinas's financial affairs, other
investigations have been taking place in the US, Mexico, France and Britain.

As well as the cartel in Cali, Mr Salinas has been linked to two others -
one of them Colombian, the other Mexican. Part of the investigation also
centres on how Mr Salinas was able to transfer millions of dollars into
Swiss accounts from a Citibank private account based in Mexico.

Copyright Guardian Media Group 1998
-------------------------------------------------------------------

Police Raid Massive Moonshine Operation ('Ottawa Citizen'
Says Quebec Bootleggers Supplied Bars, Individuals -
Industry Insiders Have Said As Much As 27 Per Cent Of Alcohol Sales
In The Province Involve Illegal Liquor)

From: creator@islandnet.com (Matt Elrod)
To: mattalk@listserv.islandnet.com
Subject: Canada: Police raid massive moonshine operation
Date: Sat, 14 Mar 1998 10:41:45 -0800
Newshawk: creator@mapinc.org
Source: Ottawa Citizen
Contact: letters@thecitizen.southam.ca
Pubdate: Saturday 14 March 1998
Author: Don Campbell

POLICE RAID MASSIVE MOONSHINE OPERATION

Quebec bootleggers supplied bars, police say

NAMUR, Quebec -- Tucked away in the rolling Laurentian hills, a
dilapidated barn houses a homemade distillery for what could be the
largest and most sophisticated bootlegging operation ever uncovered in
Quebec.

Surete du Quebec officers from Hull raided the rural farm on Highway
363 yesterday, halfway between Namur and Notre-Dame-de-la-Paix, about
22 kilometres north of Montebello. The raid was part of a massive
undercover operation nicknamed Operation Baboche (Operation Bootleg),
which also targeted several locations in the Montreal and St-Jerome
areas.

Eighty-three provincial police officers swooped down on nine locations
in Quebec at 10 a.m. yesterday, capping a one-month investigation into
an elaborate organization that produced, bottled and sold illegal
alcohol to bars as well as individuals.

Police have not yet determined how much money the operation was
bringing in, but say it might have been worth millions.

The massive investigation began in earnest late last month, after an
informant told police about the operation.

Inspectors with Quebec's liquor board, the Regie des alcools, have
stepped up their efforts to locate illegal booze in licensed
establishments in recent months, reacting to suggestions by industry
insiders that as much as 27 per cent of alcohol sales in the province
involve illegal liquor.

In the raid near Namur, police arrested a 52-year-old man and a
53-year-old woman at the rented farm, which includes a quaint chalet.

The two were still being questioned last night at provincial police
headquarters in Papineauville. Charges involving fraud and the
production and distribution of contraband alcohol were pending.

Seasoned investigators marvelled at the organization's complexity and
its attention to detail; they were especially impressed by the
distillery's capabilities.

>From the road, the two-storey distillery looks like a weathered,
slightly leaning barn. But the barn features living quarters for
workers and extensive hydro hookups for the numerous kettles used to
produce alcohol that police estimate was 92-per-cent pure.

The alcohol was then shipped to a location closer to St-Jerome. The
finished product eventually found its way to bars on the Kanawake
Reserve and in the St- Jerome area.

Police were also amazed at the quality of the labels the organization
allegedly produced for the contraband alcohol and are trying to trace
the labels' origin.

"If I brought one of the bottles of liquor they produced and you
looked at it, you wouldn't know the difference from a legal bottle,"
said Capt. Richard Begin, head of the provincial police's organized
crime unit, which works out of St-Jerome.

Raids on warehouses near St-Jerome netted 10,000 litres of alcohol in
large plastic containers, waiting to be bottled. It represented some
4,800 1.5-litre bottles with a street value approaching $150,000.

Police also seized 140 bottles ready for sale, in addition to
countless bogus stickers for rum and vodka.

"We haven't been able to calculate the potential profit because what
these people were selling for between $15 and $20 would cost $40 to
$50 at the Regie des Alcools," Capt. Begin said.

"We had a big bust last spring near Mont-Laurier and this certainly
compares in every area, except the capacity to produce. This is by
far, much larger."

Capt. Begin said he believes the organization had been in operation
since last September. He said he thought it had just completed a
shipment and was preparing to embark on another when the police
conducted their raid.

He said his investigators found no link with organized crime, such as
motorcycle gangs. He did say the investigation was far from over, and
the police may make more arrests.

Police netted seven suspects during yesterday's raid; investigators
believe the ring may involve as many as 100 people. Several of those
arrested yesterday are known to police.

Inspectors will also be combing bars and nightclubs in the St-Jerome
area, looking for illegal booze already on the shelves.

"This involved a lot of money," said Capt. Begin, while officers
searched the chalet and distillery.

Capt. Begin remarked that " a message should go out to people who
insist on buying illegal booze E That is, that we have no control over
the quality or quantity of what is being produced illegally and that
could be dangerous."

Copyright 1998 The Ottawa Citizen
-------------------------------------------------------------------

Untying The Drug Knot ('The Age' Notes Police In Victoria, Australia,
Are Experimenting With A System Of 'Cautions' That Reduces Penalties
For Pot Possession - Not To Be Confused With Decriminalisation)

Date: Sun, 15 Mar 1998 22:37:49 -0800
To: mapnews@mapinc.org
From: Olafur Brentmar 
Subject: MN: Australia: Untying The Drug Knot
Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Newshawk: "Russell, Ken KW" 
Pubdate: Sat, 14 Mar 1998
Source: Age, The (Australia)
Author: Paul Heinrichs
Contact: editorial@theage.com.au
Website: http://www.theage.com.au/

UNTYING THE DRUG KNOT

Just 100 young pot smokers are at the core of the Victoria Police's
step-by-step attempt to cut the Gordian knot that has made drug law reform
almost impossible in this state.

The offenders, mostly men aged 17 to 21, became the "guinea pigs" of a
six-month cannabis cautioning system on trial in Melbourne's northern
suburbs, aimed at diverting them away from court appearances and towards
health advice centres.

Under the trial, the 100 were allowed to go uncharged for using or
possessing cannabis, provided they met tight criteria and they consented to
a caution, a formal process in police stations with a police sergeant or
more senior officer present.

Although people were eligible for the cautions for carrying up to 50 grams
of cannabis (a bag that might cost $600) for personal use, more than 80 of
those involved had only 5 grams or less, enough for a couple of joints.

The scheme is being evaluated for a report to the chief commissioner, Mr
Neil Comrie, within weeks. It has already been lifted for a statewide trial
in Western Australia, and is being examined by other forces.

Mr Comrie said this week that he had been encouraged by initial reports of
the trial in Broadmeadows and would consider whether to extend it
statewide. "We will then start turning our minds to whether or not we ought
to include other drugs in that program," he said.

Although the northern suburbs scheme is only a small step in policing, it
is a giant leap for the philosophical approach to drug law enforcement.

It amounts to a de facto decriminalisation of cannabis for low-level users
who are not trying to deal or committing other offences, a position that
was not obtainable less than two years ago. "It's a step in the right
direction, and an important step," says the drugs expert Professor David
Penington.

It was only in June 1996 that the proposal by Professor Penington, head of
the Premier's Drug Advisory Council, for decriminalisation of minor
cannabis usage was overwhelmingly rejected by the coalition. This was
despite the recommendation having come forward after a long inquiry and
report, and being made for two significant reasons.

The first was to eliminate the waste of police and court resources involved
in prosecuting minor users of cannabis. The second was that in order to
reach young people at risk of harm from using more serious drugs like
heroin, it was necessary to establish and maintain credibility. The inquiry
judged that was impossible while the law still criminalised the use of a
substance widely accepted in the community and recognised as much less
dangerous than tobacco or alcohol.

"In fact," says Professor Penington, "the Government judged it couldn't
proceed with our recommendations, because there wasn't sufficient public
support. There was too much public concern about it. If in fact we are
moving in this direction, the community is getting used to looking at
things in a different way."

The Penington approach to heroin was that first-offence heroin users should
not be taken to court but get an official warning and referred to
counselling. It did not involve changing the criminal status of heroin.

Now working on drug law issues for Australia's capital city lord mayors,
Professor Penington believes there has been a substantial change in police
attitudes and the trial was "an attempt to find a way to implement the sort
of approach we had recommended. But it was done in their own way, and not
using the words we used".

The most crucial aspect of the trial was that it could be instituted under
police operating rules, a procedure which did not require fresh legislative
authority. It could be instituted by Mr Comrie himself, although the Police
Minister would have been informed or consulted. Two senior police are in
charge of the trial: Superintendent Peter Macievic (policy branch), and
Chief Superintendent Peter Driver, in charge of I District, covering
suburbs from Brunswick to Broadmeadows and Essendon.

As well as being in line with the Penington thinking, it was an extension
of the police caution system that had worked successfully for many years
for a variety of offenders under 17 and for adults caught shop-stealing.

Mr Macievic said the trial required extensive preparation time in testing
and design. Criteria also required offenders had no prior drug offences, or
any other offence at the time of apprehension.This is why just 100 people
were eligible out of the thousands of police contacts over the trial period.

According to Ms Angie Laussel, acting executive director of the Court
Network support service, keeping young people out of courts is crucial if
at all possible. She says that convictions for minor cannabis use still
could have serious consequences in people being blocked from a number of
career paths. It also could lead to shame and banishment for people in
traditional families.

The trial began on 21 July last year, and is continuing in that area. A key
element of the caution is that people are given a form with comprehensive
information on cannabis's effects and dangers, especially for long-term
users.

Mr Driver said the trial had been well accepted by the police involved, who
were often constables of a similar age to the people caught with cannabis.
-------------------------------------------------------------------

Smokescreens - The World Health Organization Is Showing Signs
Of Allowing Politics To Get In The Way Of The Truth ('The Economist'
Says In Recent Weeks The Reputation Of WHO Has Suffered A Number Of Blows -
One Instance Emerged This Week When It Was Revealed WHO Suppressed
A Controversial Secondhand Tobacco Smoke Study That Found Non-Smokers
Married To, Working With Or Growing Up With Smokers
Were Not Significantly More At Risk From Lung Cancer Than Anyone Else)

Date: Sun, 22 Mar 1998 06:34:49 -0800 (PST)
To: mattalk@listserv.islandnet.com
From: arandell@islandnet.com (Alan Randell)
Subject: WHO showing signs of allowing politics to get in the way of the truth
Newshawk: Alan Randell
Pubdate: March 14, 1998
Source: The Economist (U. K.)
Contact: letters@economist.com

Science and Technology

Smokescreens

The World Health Organization is showing signs of allowing politics to
get in the way of the truth.

Is the body that wiped smallpox and has done so much to promote mass
vaccination losing its way? In recent weeks the reputation of the
World Health Organisation (WHO) has suffered a number of blows, as
critics have accused it of bowing to political pressures rather than
publishing unpalatable research findings.

One instance emerged this week. A controversial study which looked for
links between lung cancer and passive smoking found that non-smokers
married to, working with or growing up with smokers were not
significantly more at risk from lung cancer than anyone else. The
research, commissioned by Rodolfo Saracci of the WHO's International
Agency for Research on Cancer, involved in a seven a seven-year-long
study of 650 lung-cancer patients. Since it was one of biggest single
pieces of research conducted into the issue, its results were eagerly
awaited by the medical world and lobby groups. But instead of being
released with a fanfare they were summarised in three short paragraphs
and buried in a bulky WHO internal document.

Those paragraphs emerged in the British press - undoubtedly tipped off
by the country's tobacco lobby - and were accompanied by gleeful
assertions that the WHO was trying to suppress the findings. Certainly
the conclusions will have been an embarrassment for the organisation.
Though the WHO has long admitted that the links between lung cancer
and passive smoking are weak, it has nonetheless used the perceived
danger to rally public support against the tobacco industry,
particularly in pressing for a worldwide ban on smoking in public
places. Surely, say its critics, if this study had supported the WHO's
current anti-smoking positions, it would have trumpeted the fact.

But the study not only clashes with the tenor of WHO's own anti-
tobacco campaign, it also appears to undermine the American
government's war on public smoking. Unsurprisingly, many fear that the
WHO's agenda is no longer governed solely by scientific principles.
Rather, they suspect, it is influenced by its biggest paymaster - the
United States. This view is reinforced by the stance the WHO has
seemed to take on another awkward issue: the links between radiation
and thyroid cancer.

Sources close to the organisation allege that Keith Baverstock, a
leading scientist at the WHO, has been under unrelenting pressure to
leave the organisation following his work on the incidence of thyroid
cancer after the Chernobyl nuclear accident in 1986. This research,
which found cancer rates that were more than 100 times normal in some
areas of the Ukraine and Belarus, conflicts with work done by the
American government in its own study dangers to public health from
nuclear testing in Nevada in the 1950s.

That study, published by the government's National Cancer Institute
(NCI) last year, was inconclusive, and failed to tackle the issue of
cancer risk. Indeed, it left out a vital piece of research by NCI's
own scientists. This had found a high incidence of thyroid cancer
associated with radioactive iodine. An independent committee was set
up by America's National Academy of Sciences to look at the NCI
conclusions about health risks from nuclear testing. Dr Baverstock is
the only WHO employee on that committee.

A smoking gun?

Why should Dr Baverstock be under such pressure? One explanation is
that, if the health risks associated with nuclear tests and accidents
have been underestimated or understated, the American government could
face new lawsuits on everything from the Nevada tests to the Three
Mile Island nuclear accident in 1979.

And there is a third instance where the WHO has apparently been
embarrassed by its own findings, and embarrassed America into the
bargain. On February 21st New Scientist claimed that the WHO had
"caved in to political pressure" by failing to include data suggesting
that cannabis is less harmful than alcohol or tobacco when it
published a report on the effects of the drug. New Scientist alleged
that the WHO was persuaded not to publish by warnings from America's
National Institute on Drug Abuse, and also from the United Nations
that its findings would play into the hands of groups campaigning to
legalise pot.

The WHO has countered some of these accusations though it would not
comment on the case of Dr Baverstock, saying the issue is between him
and his regional director. In the case of the passive smoking study,
Richard Peto, an epidemiologist at Oxford University who advises the
WHO, says that accusations of a cover-up are nonsense. The WHO tried
to get its findings published by the British Medical Journal late last
year, but they were rejected on the grounds that the BMJ had just
published a much bigger "meta-analysis" study on passive smoking,
collating almost 40 research papers on more than 4,000 cancer
patients.

This larger study came to the conclusion that there was indeed an
increased risk of lung cancer from passive smoking (25% higher than
for those living in a smoke-free environment), but that tiny compared
with the 2,000% increased risk for active smokers. The BMJ therefore
decided that the WHO's results were not noteworthy enough to print.
The WHO says it is still trying to have the study published. It
submitted the research to the Journal of the National Cancer Institute
in February and is waiting for it to be peer-reviewed.

As for the study of the impact of cannabis, the organisation denies
accusations of suppressing data. Alan Lopez, who manages its substance
abuse programme, says the decision to withhold the findings on
cannabis was because epidemiological data on the drug are less
reliable than those for alcohol and tobacco.

There are lessons, though, in the ease with which the WHO's motives
have been impugned by sceptics. It is dangerous to become involved in
campaigns that are not solidly based on scientific evidence. For
instance, even the small ill-effects of passive smoking found by
meta-analysis were the result of chronic pressure at home or at work,
not casual whiffs in a pub. Although passive smoking is unpleasant and
irritating for non-smokers, that alone cannot justify banning it in
public places.

The danger, if the WHO appears to be campaigning against passive
smoking primarily for political reasons, is that it will weaken the
message about the real risks of smoking (which causes 6% of all deaths
and is the world's fastest-growing killer after AIDS). The
organisation ought rather to concentrate on where its research, rather
than politics, leads it.

Unfortunately the structure of the WHO makes this difficult. It exists
at the pleasure of its 191 member states, which finance it but
demonstrate no real understanding how to run it. Its regional
directors are appointed not by the organisation's director-general but
independently by health ministries in each country. Because the member
countries pay the fees and appoint the directors, the WHO could find
it difficult to resist pressure to support their political agenda.
Critics claim that the result is an organisation which is dispirited,
confused and lacking in vision.

The WHO needs once again to become a neutral arbiter of health
information, ready to put its advice into practice, as it did in its
fight to eradicate smallpox. There are hints of change. The new
director-general, Gro Harlem Brundtland, who will replace Hiroshi
Nakajima this summer, is considering altering the way regional
directors are appointed to make them more directly answerable to the
organisation. With the WHO turning 50 this year, it needs to overcome
its mid-life crisis.

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

[End]

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