------------------------------------------------------------------- Thinking About Police And Politics - 'K-News' Story - Police Chiefs Say No To Drug Laws (Or.Politics Newsgroup Subscriber Objects To Law Enforcement Officials Lobbying Against Oregon Marijuana Initiatives) Date: Sat, 18 Apr 1998 02:03:02 GMT From: Robb Topolski (firstname.lastname@example.org) Newsgroups: or.politics Subject: Thinking about police and politics (K-NEWS story - Police Chiefs say NO to drug laws) A K-NEWS report this morning had a story and a clip that chiefs of police are encouraging people not to sign petitions to change drug laws. The clip, purportedly from an area police chief, encouraged voters not to sign the petitions, and if the measures make it on the ballot, to vote against them. I want my chief of police to be dedicated to enforcing the law, without regard to his or her personal convictions about the law. In our system of government, we separate those that would enforce our laws from those that would make our laws and those that act as impartial jurists. But this doesn't prohibit the president for evangalizing his agenda in the congress or the congress for being critical of Supreme Court decisions. So why do I believe that the police chiefs' position is wrong? Every cop has dealt with some citizen with a complaint about a ugly abandoned vehicle that he wanted the cop to tow RIGHT NOW because "I pay your salary." And, at that level, it is lame. No one member of the citizenry pays a cop's salary, and the amount of taxes paid (if any) doesn't make any complainant more or less valid than another. But at this level -- when we're talking about the political process, the will of the people, and state law, it's a different story. We expect the police chief to reasonably enforce all the laws, not pick and choose. This is a bit different from the office of the President, who is expected to have and push an agenda. (But the Department of the Treasury, under that president is not expected to be weilding a political position because of its specific mission.) It's valid to ask the chief of police to provide predictive information about the effects of a measure. And that information should be provided only if it is done in a truthful and scientific manner. But it is an abuse to use their own position to initiate or further a political agenda. They have a responsibility to enforce the law, not interpret or change it. "Shut up guys, we pay your salary."
------------------------------------------------------------------- Smoke Troubles Away? (Staff Editorial By Robert Landauer In 'The Oregonian' Admits Government Has Blocked Medical Marijuana Research, But Then Goes On To Practice Medicine And Pharmacology By Making Numerous Factual Misstatements, Including About Marinol Versus Raw Cannabis, While Ignoring Marinol's Cost Of $7 Or More Per Pill - And Seems To Suggest It Would Be Better For Countless Sick People To Suffer And Die Rather Than That Anyone Should 'Abuse' Cannabis, Though No Evidence Is Offered That A Single Patient Has Ever 'Abused' Medical Marijuana) Date: Sat, 18 Apr 1998 12:12:05 EDT Originator: email@example.com Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org From: Todd Olson (email@example.com) To: Multiple recipients of list
Subject: Marinol Campaign The Oregonian, Saturday, April 18. Editorial by Robert Landauer SMOKE TROUBLES AWAY? If medical-marijuana initiatives reach Oregon ballot, lack of scientific analysis will give emotions full sway Oregonians, alas, soon may be fighting a civil war like the one over physician-assisted suicide. Conscience again will divide husbands and wives, sisters and brothers. The issue is medical marijuana. Oregon's Democratic Party endorses the medical use of the drug. Voters will be asked Nov. 3 whether they want to approve or reject the 1997 Legislature's law recriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana. Possessing less than an ounce of the drug now is a noncriminal violation, punishable by a fine of as much as $1,000. In addition, at least two of five drug-related initiative petitions circulating in coming months will deal directly with marijuana as medicine. One would make it legal for doctors to prescribe marijuana and other seed-bearing plants. Another would allow patients with illnesses such as glaucoma, cancer and AIDS to use marijuana with a doctor's approval. Signatures must be submitted to the secretary of state by July 2 to qualify proposals for the Nov. 3 ballot. One huge difficulty with all this is that personal anecdotes will dominate public discussion. Our neighbors will tell movingly of pain, suffering, tremors, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting that didn't respond to doctors' prescriptions and supposedly could be relieved only by smoking marijuana. Even those of us who have no sympathy for the pipe dreams and trances of recreational drug users will be troubled by responsible citizens' powerful recitations. Few of these cases have been investigated with medical or scientific rigor. The dilemma is that we can't say for certain that they are wrong about marijuana. The government has interfered so long and so thoroughly in blocking tests of marijuana's safety and effectiveness that science is poorly positioned to answer good-faith questions or even to dispute nonsense. We often also can't determine whether tale-tellers are right that other medications don't relieve their physical distress as well as marijuana does. Too few comparative tests have been conducted to let us figure out whether you've been dosed with an ineffective medicine, treated by a doctor who poorly adjusts timing and dosages of effective medicines, or maybe, been aided by compounds in marijuana besides THC that could be isolated and administered safely. A further complication is that much of what is known is misunderstood by many physicians. That problem drew three eminent doctors to Oregon last week to shatter myths about Marinol, a synthetic form of THC, a major active ingredient in marijuana. Dr. Lonnie R. Bristow, past president of the American Medical Association, Dr. David E. Smith, immediate past president of the American Society of Addiction Medicine, and Dr. Gary R. Cohan, an AIDS specialist, came here to tell doctors authoritatively that Marinol does work for its approved uses, despite marijuana smokers' folklore to the contrary. Also, it is much less likely to be abused. It does stimulate appetite and helps counter the weight loss and wasting that can become dangerous complications of AIDS. It does have an effective role to control nausea and vomiting associated with cancer patients' chemotherapy treatments when conventional treatments fail. Patients do not have to be turned into stoned zombies to stop retching and start eating. These doctors are certain, too, that motivations behind some of the claims made for marijuana are disputable. For example, a major argument made for dispensing medical marijuana is that inhaling the smoke gets it working faster for patients than do Marinol capsules. Yet, say the doctors, fully 50 percent of marijuana dispenses in cannabis buyers clubs is sold as brownies, Rice Krispies and cookies--with dosages and potencies that range widely. That's bad medicine. And it's hard to excuse bad medicine as compassionate when our caring could be put to much better use. *** Robert Landauer is editorial columnist of The Oregonian. *** [Portland NORML notes: Landauer would be doing his readers a service if he quit making unqualified and uninformed judgments about what is good and bad medicine, and quit casting aspersions on the credibility of people with life-threatening illnesses and the physicians trying to help them, and instead asked such questions as who is paying the bills for these three 'experts' to travel around to states with pending medical marijuana initiatives in order to plant dubious information in local mass media. As a former employee of the Oakland Cannabis Buyers' Cooperative, Portland NORML webmaster Phil Smith can confidently assert that no cannabis club in California has ever sold anything close to 50 percent of its medical marijuana in the form of baked goods - and it wouldn't mean what 'The Oregonian' thinks even if one had. For example, many chronic pain patients prefer baked goods, and even patients who use cannabis for quelling nausea may do so by eating baked goods to prevent nausea rather than smoking it to stop a sudden attack. Patient and physician surveys coming out of California, as well as the webmaster's numerous interviews with physicians and patients there, suggest the vast majority of patients prefer raw cannabis to Marinol. Tellingly, there has never been a single report of a patient buying a small amount of raw cannabis because he or she could not afford to refill a prescription for Marinol. The Oakland dispensary and several others even sell Marinol-type capsules that utilize genuine cannabis extract rather than synthetic delta-9 THC, because patients find the real thing much more effective than the synthetic alternative, just as many people prefer orange juice to a vitamin C capsule or Tang. Follow the link to "Marinol" above for more details about Marinol versus raw cannabis. And speaking of "folklore," why didn't Landauer mention a single piece of research cited by his three traveling wise men? Apparently, we are just supposed to take their word for it. Has Landauer ever talked to even a single AIDS or cancer patient about the efficacy of medical marijuana versus Marinol? Can he offer any accepted scientific evidence that marijuana's abuse potential exceeds that of other drugs doctors are allowed to prescribe? Exactly who is guilty of promoting "folklore" now? There are many more half truths and outright falsehoods in the above editorial, but a better question might be, what public interest does it serve to imprison and impoverish sick people for using raw cannabis if they find it less expensive and more effective than Marinol? Why do we trust physicians to prescribe opiates and other dangerous drugs with abuse potential, but second-guess their judgment when it comes to cannabis?]
------------------------------------------------------------------- Pharmacists Accept Right To Legal Lethal Dose ('The Oregonian' Says The American Pharmaceutical Association Approved A Resolution At Its National Meeting In Miami Last Month That Both Allows Pharmacists To Refuse To Fill Prescriptions For Such Practices As Assisted Suicide, While Recognizing The Right Of Patients To Get A Legal Lethal Prescription Filled By A Pharmacist Willing To Do So) The Oregonian letters to editor: firstname.lastname@example.org 1320 SW Broadway Portland, OR 97201 Web: http://www.oregonlive.com/ April 18, 1998 Pharmacists accept right to legal lethal dose A national group smooths the way for Oregon pharmacists willing to take part in physician-assisted suicide, but wrangling over the law is far from over By Erin Hoover of The Oregonian staff Oregon pharmacists have won clearance from their national association to choose whether to participate in physician-assisted suicide, one of several strides the profession has made in defining its role under the state's law. But health professionals still must knock down other barriers in making the assisted-suicide law work smoothly. The American Pharmaceutical Association approved a resolution at its national meeting in Miami late last month that does two things: It lets pharmacists refuse to fill prescriptions for such practices as assisted suicide. But it also recognizes the right of patients to get a legal lethal prescription filled by a pharmacist willing to do so. Last year, the association decided to support pharmacists' right to make an informed decision on how to handle physician-assisted suicide cases. The association did not adopt a particular moral stance on the issue, said Susan Winckler, director of policy and legislation for the American Pharmaceutical Association in Washington, D.C. Winckler said the policy reflects the gray area inherent in the assisted suicide issue. "We're not going to put the entire profession on one side or the other of that line when the line doesn't really exist," Winckler said. "It's supporting more the autonomy of the pharmacist and not prescribing what it is they must do." The association's stance is in stark contrast to the American Medical Association's policy that "physician-assisted suicide is fundamentally inconsistent with the physician's professional role." The AMA supports better medical and psychiatric care for dying patients as well as attention to spiritual and emotional needs. "Requests for physician-assisted suicide should be a signal to the physician that the patients' needs are unmet," the policy says. The Oregon Medical Association fought passage of the Oregon Death With Dignity Act, arguing that parts of it are flawed. But the association has maintained a neutral stance on the larger issue of assisted suicide, despite the AMA's stand. Paige Clark, an Oregon pharmacist who was on the American Pharmaceutical Association committee that drafted this latest resolution, lobbied hard for national recognition of the situation of Oregon pharmacists. "The AMA has sort of left the Oregon Medical Association walking a plank and, I have to say, I'm very very pleased with the American Pharmaceutical Association," Clark said. "We need national language that says we appreciate the fact that this is legal in Oregon and patients need to be able to access this service. But individual pharmacists' rights need to be protected as well." The issue of assisted suicide has been no less contentious for the national pharmacists' group than for the doctors' association. After Oregonians approved the Death With Dignity Act in 1994, the pharmacists tried to come to a consensus on the issue but achieved only "uncontrolled chaos," Clark said. The matter was tabled. The association, with 50,000 members, is the oldest and largest professional organization of pharmacists in the country. It is viewed among pharmacists as the establishment voice, just as doctors view the AMA. But decisions by the pharmacists' association on assisted suicide have remained consistent with its reputation for policies that favor patients' rights to access legal therapies, noted Joe Schnabel, a member of the Oregon Board of Pharmacy. The American Pharmaceutical Association's resolution on assisted suicide pleased Schnabel, who represents the Board of Pharmacy on a task force of health professionals who wrote a guidebook on the Death With Dignity Act. "Patients in Oregon have expressed very clearly their desire to have this option," Schnabel said. "It's the responsibility of pharmacists and other health care providers to implement it in the best and most thoughtful and careful way possible and do all they can to keep people from wanting to exercise it - such as excellent care for terminally ill patients." The resolution supports Oregon's system for connecting patients pursuing assisted suicide and their doctors with a pharmacist willing to participate. Pharmacists for Death With Dignity formed in January and now has 70 members statewide, about half of whom are licensed to dispense medication. The group is an offshoot of the Oregon Death With Dignity Legal Defense and Education Center in Portland. That organization defended the assisted suicide law in court and is helping medical professionals involved in assisted suicide cases connect with each other. Patients seeking assisted suicide can consult the organization Compassion in Dying or the Hemlock Society for counseling and referral to a physician. The Oregon Death With Dignity group maintains a list of doctors who will serve as consulting physicians, as well as a list of pharmacists. This is not the first time pharmacists and doctors have taken different tacks on this issue. The OMA and the Oregon Board of Pharmacy have tangled about how to let a pharmacist know when a prescription is for life-ending medication yet still maintain patient confidentiality. The Board of Medical Examiners expects a hearing in May on a proposed rule mandating that physicians either dispense the lethal medication themselves or contact the pharmacist to discuss the purpose of the medication and arrange for the patient to get it. The rule is expected to end the dispute between pharmacists and doctors. But the OMA wants to make certain that doctors are not required to write the purpose of lethal medication on the prescription, which is what the pharmacists initially wanted and the doctors thought would jeopardize patient privacy. The association wants to get a clear statement on this issue written into the Death With Dignity Act. This is one of several proposals the OMA might take to an interim legislative committee charged with fine-tuning the law. Such proposals could include: * A requirement that patients reside for six months in Oregon before they can make a request for lethal medication under the act. * Wording that clarifies which health care practitioners should determine whether a patient requesting assisted suicide is mentally competent. The law simply requires "counseling" if a patient's judgment is impaired by depression. * Wording that protects physicians' ability to respond to a patient's request for assisted suicide, even if that request occurs in a hospital where participation in assisted suicide is prohibited. Robert Dernedde, executive director of the OMA, said some physicians fear discipline for even discussing with a hospitalized patient his or her request for assistance in suicide. Proposals for legislative action will be discussed by the OMA at its annual delegates meeting at the Oregon Coast next weekend.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Marvin Chavez Needs Support (Local Correspondent Notes Bail For Orange County Medical Marijuana Activist Has Been Reduced From $250,000 To $100,000 - Here's An Address To Write Him A Letter Of Support) Date: Mon, 20 Apr 1998 06:10:51 EDT Originator: email@example.com Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org From: FilmMakerZ
To: Multiple recipients of list Subject: Marvin Chavez needs support 4-18-98 From the Info Center in Hayward Marvin Chavez of the Orange County Cannabis Co-op is still in jail. Bail has been reduced from $250,000.00 to $100,000.00 Marvin needs your help and contributions to his defense fund. Call Jack Shachter at 714-537-4880 for more information. You can write to Marvin at Marvin Chavez, Booking #1809199, F32-5, Mens Central Jail, 550 N. Flower, Santa Ana, Ca. 92073. Please write Marvin and give him your support.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Pot Club In Oakland Enduring ('San Francisco Chronicle' Says The Oakland Cannabis Buyers Cooperative Appears To Be The Last One Standing Relatively Clear And Easy In The Bay Area) Date: Sat, 18 Apr 1998 09:01:06 -0700 To: email@example.com From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Joel W. Johnson) Subject: MN: US CA: Pot Club in Oakland Enduring Sender: email@example.com Newshawk: "Frank S. World"
Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA) Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.sfgate.com/chronicle/ Pubdate: Sat, 18 Apr 1998 Author: Chip Johnson POT CLUB IN OAKLAND ENDURING Director not worried by recent court rulings In the midst of legal actions taken against medical marijuana clubs in San Jose and San Francisco recently, Oakland's pot club appears to be the last one standing clear and easy -- in a manner of speaking -- in the Bay Area. Unintimidated by a recent court ruling ordering the closure of the San Francisco club and the recent arrest of San Jose director Peter Baez on drug dealing charges, Jeff Jones, executive director of the Oakland club, says his organization will endure -- one way or the other. ``So far we've been allowed to operate publicly with full city approval,'' he said. ``The police have helped regulate.'' Should the legal status of the Oakland Cannabis Buyers Club ever change, however, the mission would remain the same, Jones said. ``If they want to start attacking us, we will go underground, go door-to-door, and they'd have a hell of a time catching us,'' he vowed. Oakland's club is not without its own problems. Federal agents posing as primary caregivers beat the Oakland club's security measures, and used their pot purchase to initiate a criminal case against it that is still pending. The most recent federal order to close the San Francisco club also sent its clients scurrying to the Oakland club, Jones said. ``The last time they closed we had 600 calls for membership in three days,'' Jones said. Dennis Peron, who ran the San Francisco club, has left the club and handed over the reins to Hazel Rogers, 78, a card-carrying member. 1998 San Francisco Chronicle
------------------------------------------------------------------- Verdict Against Customs Agents Upheld By Judge ('San Francisco Examiner' Says A Federal Judge Has Upheld A Jury's $451,002 Verdict Against US Customs Employees Who Strip-Searched, X-Rayed And Forced An Airline Passenger To Repeatedly Take Powerful Laxatives In An Unsuccessful Search For Drugs)Date: Sun, 19 Apr 1998 00:17:08 -0700 To: email@example.com From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Joel W. Johnson) Subject: MN: US CA: Verdict Against Customs Agents Upheld by Judge Sender: email@example.com Newshawk: "Frank S. World"
Source: San Francisco Examiner (CA) Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.examiner.com/ Pubdate: Sat, 18 Apr 1998 Author: Emelyn Cruz Lat of the Examiner Staff VERDICT AGAINST CUSTOMS AGENTS UPHELD BY JUDGE Woman at SFO was X-rayed and strip-searched A federal judge has upheld a jury verdict against U.S. Customs employees who strip-searched, X-rayed and forced an airline passenger to repeatedly take powerful laxatives in an unsuccessful search for drugs. U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker on Friday refused to throw out the jury's $451,002 verdict, saying the customs agents' actions were unjustified, intrusive and clearly unlawful. "It was indisputably known to customs agents that they had to have increasing suspicion in order to escalate their search," Walker said in his ruling. The agents subjected the passenger, 52-year-old Amanda Buritica, "to increasingly unconstitutional searches" despite the fact that previous searches indicated no evidence of criminal activity, the judge said. Buritica, of Port Chester, N.Y., was detained by agents at San Francisco International Airport upon arrival from Hong Kong on Sept. 22, 1994. Authorities conducted a pat search, a strip search, a body-cavity search, an X-ray examination and then took her to a hospital where they forced her to take a potent purgative that induced 28 bowel movements. Authorities found no illegal drugs in her body and she was later released. The judge's ruling leaves intact the decision of a seven-member jury in February which unanimously awarded Buritica damages for personal injury and civil-rights violations against four of five customs agents who participated in the search. The verdict included $1,000 in punitive damages for malicious conduct against John Petrin, chief customs inspector at the airport. The judge has yet to rule on whether the Customs Service will be held responsible for damages and whether additional compensation should go to Buritica. The judge must also decide whether to grant an injunction requiring the Customs Service to change its policies and improve training and procedures for agents. Assistant U.S. Attorney Gail Killefer, who represented the government, had argued that the agents should not be held liable since they were simply following department procedures and orders from superiors. She also contended the agents were only responding accordingly to Buritica's "evasive answers and somewhat bizarre representations." "The law exempts all those agents unless their actions were plainly incompetent or malicious," Killefer said. "The defendants were just doing their job and could have believed their actions were lawful." She had asked the judge to overturn the verdict and dismiss the case for insufficient evidence. Buritica's lawyers argued that the customs agents should have known their actions were improper. Lawyers also contended that the strip search was unnecessary and that agents coerced Buritica into signing a consent form for X-rays. "She was crying, confused and kept saying, "Why are you doing this to me?"' said Buritica's attorney Nancy Huneke. Gregory Fox, also on Buritica's legal team, said agents arbitrarily singled her out because she was a middle-aged woman born in Colombia and traveling alone. During trial in February, agents said Buritica raised their suspicions because she had flown from Hong Kong to San Francisco on Singapore Airlines on a flight frequently used by drug smugglers. They noted she wore loose clothing, rubbed her stomach and refused to answer agents' questions. Fox said the agents' actions illustrated serious problems with policies and procedures used by the U.S. Customs Service at SFO. He also contends cash incentives paid to agents for searches and successful drug seizures sends the wrong message. Last year, 64 customs agents in San Francisco were awarded a total of $24,474. Twenty-six inspectors got "on-the-spot" cash awards totaling $5,750, of which 10 were for narcotics seizures, court records said. "It gives them incentives to search more and more people and to use increasingly invasive methods," Fox said. 1998 San Francisco Examiner
------------------------------------------------------------------- Award Upheld On Agents Who Fed Woman Laxative ('San Jose Mercury News' Version) Date: Sun, 19 Apr 1998 00:17:26 -0700 To: email@example.com From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Joel W. Johnson) Subject: MN: US CA: Award Upheld on Agents Who Fed Woman Laxative Sender: email@example.com Newshawk: Marcus-Mermelstein Family
Source: San Jose Mercury News (CA) Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.sjmercury.com Pubdate: Sat, 18 Apr 1998 AWARD UPHELD ON AGENTS WHO FED WOMAN LAXATIVE SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- A federal judge upheld $450,000 in damages Friday for a woman who was held for 22 hours by airport Customs agents, strip-searched and forced to take repeated doses of a laxative in a fruitless search for drugs. U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker rejected a government lawyer's argument that the agents had acted reasonably. He also said the damages were not excessive or punitive. Amanda Buritica, 50, of Port Chester, N.Y., a Colombian-born U.S. citizen, was returning from a round-the-world trip when she was detained at San Francisco International Airport in September 1994. After a luggage search, she was patted down, strip-searched, X-rayed, then sent to a hospital for administration of a strong purgative. She testified she was told she would be forcibly fed the purgative if she refused to drink it. Two agents watched her continuously while she used a portable toilet repeatedly during an eight-hour period, she said. After finally concluding she had no drugs in her system, the agents left the room, but no one told her she was free to leave for six to eight hours, she said. Her lawyer, Gregory M. Fox, told the jury that agents had no reason to suspect Buritica of being a drug courier. He also said they intensified their search when they found no evidence and ignored the fact she was already suffering from diarrhea. Agents found anti-diarrhea medicine in their initial search. The jury found the search unreasonable and awarded $225,000 in damages against each of two Customs agents.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Damages Upheld In Passenger's Search ('Orange County Register' Version) Date: Sun, 19 Apr 1998 00:17:31 -0700 To: email@example.com From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Joel W. Johnson) Subject: MN: US CA: Damages Upheld in Passenger's Search Sender: email@example.com Newshawk: John W.Black Source: Orange County Register (CA) Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.ocregister.com/ Pubdate: Sat, 18 Apr 1998 DAMAGES UPHELD IN PASSENGER'S SEARCH A federal judge in San Francisco upheld $450,000 in damages Friday for a woman who was held for 22 hours by airport Customs agents, strip-searched and forced to take repeated doses of a laxative in a fruitless search for drugs. U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker rejected a government lawyer;s argument that the agents had acted reasonably. He also said the damages were not excessive or punitive. Amanda Buritica, 50, of Port Chester, N.Y., a Colombian-born U.S. citizen, was returning from Hong Kong, part of a round-the-world trip when she was detained at San Francisco International Airport in September 1994. After a luggage search, she was patted down, strip-searched, X-rayed, then sent to a hospital.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Court Rejects Religious Pot Defense ('The Daily Olympian' Says The Washington State Court Of Appeals In Tacoma On Friday Threw Out The Defense Bid Of Gene Balzer, A Littlerock Shaman Who Belonged To Two Religious Groups, The Rastafarians And The Rainbow Family Of Living Light) From: "W.H.E.N."
To: "Talk" Subject: HT: WA appeals court rejects religious pot defense Date: Sat, 18 Apr 1998 19:25:22 -0700 Sender: email@example.com Court rejects religious pot defense April 18, 1998 By Joel Coffidis The Daily Olympian * APPEAL: Gene Balzer claimed his role as a shaman using pot as a sacrament shields him from prosecution. TACOMA - A Littlerock man who defended his possession of marijuana on religious grounds was dealt a legal setback Friday. The state Court of Appeals in Tacoma threw out the religious freedom defense in a year-old case that prosecutors said was a threat to topple the state's drug laws. The ruling sends the case back to Thurston County Superior Court for a possible retrial - although it might first be appealed to the state Supreme Court. * Gene Balzer, 33, had claimed his role as a shaman who used marijuana as a sacrament should excuse him from prosecution. Olympia police say Balzer had 1 pound of marijuana in his car when he was arrested Nov. 24,1996. Prosecutors later charged him with possession of marijuana and cocaine, and possession of marijuana with intent to deliver. Last year, as Balzer's trial was winding down, Thurston County Superior Court Judge Richard Hicks ruled that jurors could consider Balzer's religious beliefs when weighing evidence on the marijuana-possession charge. But Hicks restricted the religious defense to the marijuana. The defense was based on Balzer's contention that he is a member of two religious groups, the Rastafarians and the Rainbow Family of Living Light. He argued that marijuana was central to his spiritual message as a shaman or medicine man. The appeals court said Judge Hicks erred. The court said there are necessary limits to religious freedom. "Although Balzer's freedom to believe in the religious use of marijuana is unfettered and absolute ... his use and distribution of the drug contravenes laws specifically and properly enacted for the health, morals, safety and general welfare of the people of the state. "Accordingly, Balzer's free exercise of religion must yield to the 'peace and safety of the state,' " wrote Appeals Judge Elaine Houghton, author of the ruling. The court also ruled that Hicks erred in instructing the jury regarding another of Balzer's defenses, that he unknowingly possessed the cocaine. Balzer said he will meet with his appeals lawyer, Tom Doyle, on Monday. Balzer said Doyle told him Friday that he will appeal the ruling to the state Supreme Court. "We're feeling pretty positive that it's going to a higher court," Balzer said. Jon Tunheim, a Thurston County deputy prosecutor, said he was not surprised by Friday's ruling. But if the appeals court ruled in favor of Balzer, it could have toppled the state's marijuana laws, Tunheim said. "I'm glad the Court of Appeals has closed that door," Tunheim said. In the meantime, the jury that heard the case against Balzer has been in limbo since April 4, 1997, awaiting the higher court's review. Jim Powers, the county's chief deputy prosecutor, said his office will review whether to seek a mistrial because jurors, who have yet to begin deliberations, have gone so long since hearing the evidence. Joel Coffidis covers courts for The Olympian. He can be reached at 754-5447.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Lawyer Convicted Of Extortion - Payoff Scheme Involved Police, Former Clients ('Boston Globe' Says A Jury Convicted Attorney Joseph P. Murphy Yesterday Of Brokering Payoffs From A Seller Of Illegal Drugs To Two Former Boston Police Detectives) Date: Sat, 18 Apr 1998 19:06:57 -0400 From: Mike Gogulski
To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: US MA: Lawyer convicted of extortion Sender: email@example.com Newshawk: "Dick Evans" Source: Boston Globe (MA) Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.boston.com/globe/ Pubdate: Sat, 18 Apr 1998 Author: Patricia Nealon, Globe Staff LAWYER CONVICTED OF EXTORTION Payoff scheme involved police, former clients A Boston lawyer was convicted yesterday of brokering payoffs from a drug-dealer client to two former Boston police detectives who demanded the money to dismiss cases or get the drug traffickers released from jail. Joseph P. Murphy, a former assistant clerk magistrate at West Roxbury District Court, was convicted of conspiring with former detectives Walter F. Robinson Jr. and Kenneth Acerra to extort $52,000 from his clients. Robinson and Acerra, who were charged in a federal indictment last year with stealing more than $200,000 from drug dealers and others during police raids, pleaded guilty last month to three charges and face up to three years in prison and repayment of up to $100,000 each when they are sentenced next month. However, the extortion charges involving Murphy were not among the charges to which Robinson and Acerra have pleaded guilty. A jury of nine women and three men deliberated about 6 1/2 hours over two days before returning the verdict late yesterday morning. Murphy faces up to 20 years in prison on each of three counts when he is sentenced July 2 by US District Judge Douglas P. Woodlock. The charges against Murphy, 48, of Milton, and the two former detectives were an outgrowth of a Globe Spotlight Team report in February 1996. Murphy ''crossed the line from defending his client to brokering extortion payoffs to corrupt cops for the release of drug dealers,'' US Attorney Donald K. Stern said. ''The jury's verdict makes plain that a lawyer who violates his oath in this way may end up in federal prison.'' The case was prosecuted by assistant US attorneys S. Theodore Merritt and Ben T. Clements of Stern's public corruption and special prosecutions unit. Murphy's lawyer, federal defender E. Peter Parker, called the verdict ''very disappointing'' and said he would appeal. During the two-week trial, government prosecutors presented evidence that Murphy acted as a go-between, telling a client and his co-defendant how much Robinson and Acerra were demanding to dismiss charges or derail indictments. The two extortions stemmed from drug raids by the two detectives in May 1992. Since Robinson and Acerra have pleaded guilty to avoid trial, Murphy's trial offered the only public glimpse into a corrupt world of phony search warrants and stolen drug money. Some of the most damning testimony came from Boston Police Detective John Brazil, a former partner of Robinson and Acerra in Area E-5, which covers Hyde Park, Jamaica Plain, Roslindale, and West Roxbury. Brazil, who testified under a grant of immunity, described how his mentors on the night shift coached him to make up informants for search warrants and lie about the surveillance of suspects. Brazil also described finding a strongbox stuffed with at least $8,000 in cash while on a drug raid with Robinson and Acerra in late May 1992. He said he gave the money to Robinson, who never listed it on department reports. Brazil testified that he overheard Robinson and Acerra talking about the money in the detective squad room. Robinson said he knew Murphy, who was the lawyer for one of the men arrested on the raid, cab driver and convicted drug dealer Bruno Machore. ''I'll talk to him,'' Robinson said, according to Brazil. ''We can work this out.'' When investigators and Globe reporters asked about the missing money in 1996, Murphy backed up Robinson and Acerra's claim that no money was found during that search of a West Roxbury drug den. The cache of drug money, which prosecutors said could be twice as much as the $8,000 estimated by Brazil, was apparently pocketed by Robinson and Acerra. In the weeks after that drug raid, Murphy visited one of Machore's co-defendants in prison four times and told him that for $50,000 - $25,000 each for Robinson and Acerra - he would be released from jail pending trial. Machore testified that Murphy made the same offer to him. Though neither paid the money, both were released after Robinson and Acerra repeatedly failed to appear to testify before the grand jury that would eventually indict them. Machore fled after he was released, and his co-defendant and alleged drug boss, Saturnino Garcia, was later acquitted. In a second extortion, Machore testified that Murphy told him he could have charges dismissed stemming from a Jamaica Plain drug raid in early May 1992 if he paid Robinson and Acerra $1,000 each. According to trial evidence, Robinson lied to a judge, claiming that Machore was not a target of the search and that the $7,500 seized from his cab was merely taken by police for ''safekeeping.'' That same day, Murphy filed a motion in court seeking the return of the money. He received a check from Boston police the same day. He kept $1,500 for his legal fee and withdrew $6,000 in cash, according to prosecutors.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Drug Research On Kids Attacked As Racist, Risky ('Associated Press' Story In 'Orange County Register' Adds Details To Previous Article About Testing Of Fenfluramine, Or Fen-Phen, On New York Children)Date: Sun, 19 Apr 1998 00:16:37 -0700 To: email@example.com From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Joel W. Johnson) Subject: MN: US: Drug Research On Kids Attacked As Racist, Risky Sender: email@example.com Newshawk: John W.Black Source: Orange County Register (CA) Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.ocregister.com/ Pubdate: Sat, 18 Apr1998 Author: Verena Dobnik - The Associated Press DRUG RESEARCH ON KIDS ATTACKED AS RACIST, RISKY Fenfluramine, the fen in the off the market 'fen-phen,' was being tested on black and Hispanic boys in two studies. NEW YORK - A government-funded study in which poor black and Hispanic boys were given a now-recalled diet drug to test for violent tendencies is being criticized as risky and racist. The federal government has launched an investigation. Scientists at an institute affiliated with Columbia University were testing the brain chemistry of 34 boys using fenfluramine, which has since been taken off the market because of suspected links to heart-valve damage in adults. It is the fen in the diet-drug combination "fen-phen." Critics say the experiments, conducted in 1994 and 1995, offered no medical benefits and put the children at risk. "These racist and morally offensive studies put minority children at risk of harm in order to prove they are generally predisposed to be violent in the future," said Vera Hassner Sharav, director of Citizens for Responsible Care in Psychiatry and Research. The researchers defended their efforts as a legitimate attempt to understand the roots of violence. The children were given a single fenfluramine pill and were kept in a hospital bed for at least five hours with a catheter in their arm while blood samples were taken. They were without food for at least 17 hours. The boys all had older brothers who were juvenile delinquents, and the scientists wanted to know whether levels of serotonin in the brain could signal aggression. Fenfluramine induces the brain to release serotonin. The boys' parents sighed consent forms for the research at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. Similar research, conducted by Queens College and Mount Sinai School of Medicine, is also under fire. That project used fenfluramine on 66 boys of various ethnicities who had been treated for attention-deficit disorder. The institute, which reached no firm conclusions in a study published in September, issued a statement Thursday saying its research tried to identify factors that could trigger aggression "in a population at risk for the development of antisocial behavior." Fenfluramine and a chemically similar diet drug, Redux, were pulled from the market because they were linked to potentially deadly heart valve damage. Earlier this month, however, a large study found no sign that brief use of Redux causes dangerous heart valve problems. Queens College, which is part of the City University of New York, said its study "posed no danger to children. ... No child was harmed in any way." Mount Sinai said the research complied with federal regulations. Its subjects were one-third black, one-third Hispanic and one-third white. Two nonprofit legal groups filed complaints about both experiments with the federal Office of Protection from Research Risks in Rockville, Md. Members of the state's congressional delegation, the New York City Council and activist minister Al Sharpton are among those demanding investigations. The institute's experiment, which was partially federally funded, was conducted on boys ages 6 to 10. They were chosen through Family Court records, and came from mostly low-income, troubled families in Manhattan and the Bronx. "The question is, what were the parents told, and what did they understand when they signed the consent form?" Sharav said. "These were just kids with no history of misbehavior, whose brothers were in trouble." The research on attention-deficit disorder was conducted at Mount Sinai's medical school over three years, ending in 1996. Those children, ages 7 to 11, were given fenfluramine after treatment for the disorder. Because all 100 boys received only small, one-time doses of fenfluramine, "it's highly unlikely it would cause any problems," said Dr. Emil Coccaro, a psychiatrist at the Medical College of Pennsylvania who pioneered the use of fenfluramine for adult brain studies.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Mayors Urge Funding For Needle Exchanges ('Orange County Register' Says The Mayors Of San Francisco, Detroit, Seattle, Baltimore And New Haven Urged The Clinton Administration Friday To Allow Federal Funds To Be Used For Needle Exchange Programs) Date: Sun, 19 Apr 1998 00:16:47 -0700 To: email@example.com From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Joel W. Johnson) Subject: MN: US: Mayors Urge Funding For Needle Exchanges Sender: email@example.com Newshawk: John W.Black Source: Orange County Register (CA) Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.ocregister.com/ Pubdate: Sat, 18 Apr 1998 MAYORS URGE FUNDING FOR NEEDLE EXCHANGES The mayors of five big U.S. cities urged the Clinton administration Friday to allow federal funds to be used for needle exchange programs for drug abusers, but a key congressman said he would act to stop it. The mayors of San Francisco, Detroit, Seattle, Baltimore and New Haven, Conn., said in a joint letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala that 33 Americans become infected with the AIDS virus every day as a result of injecting illegal drugs. But Rep. Jerry Solomon, R-N.Y., chairman of the House Rules Committee, said in a statement that he would work to pass legislation permanently banning such payments, arguing that they would subsidize the habits of drug addicts. The Republican-led Congress had imposed a six-month moratorium, which ended March 31, on the use of federal funds for needle programs.
------------------------------------------------------------------- GOP Balks At Idea Of Lifting Ban On Needle Funding ('San Francisco Chronicle' Says Conservatives Reacted Angrily Yesterday To News That The Clinton Administration Was On The Verge Of Lifting A 10-Year-Old Ban On Using Federal Funds For Needle Exchange Programs To Prevent The Spread Of AIDS) Date: Sun, 19 Apr 1998 00:16:19 -0700 To: email@example.com From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Joel W. Johnson) Subject: MN: US: GOP Balks at Idea of Lifting Ban on Needle Funding Sender: email@example.com Newshawk: "Frank S. World"
Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA) Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.sfgate.com/chronicle/ Pubdate: Sat, 18 Apr 1998 Author: Louis Freedberg, Chronicle Washington Bureau GOP BALKS AT IDEA OF LIFTING BAN ON NEEDLE FUNDING Conservatives threaten bills to prevent White House action Conservatives reacted angrily yesterday to reports that the Clinton administration is on the verge of lifting a 10-year-old ban on using federal funds for needle exchange programs to prevent the spread of AIDS. As one Republican lawmaker said he would introduce legislation on Monday to reimpose a moratorium on the use of federal funds for such programs, advocates of needle exchange programs privately expressed concern that the criticism might lead the administration to lose its nerve and ultimately leave the ban in place. The chorus of opposition suggests that Republicans will try to make the ban a major campaign issue if it is lifted. ``Our message on drug use ought to be clear and unambiguous -- not a wink and a nod and `I would have inhaled if I could have,' '' said Republican National Committee Chairman Jim Nicholson, a clear reference to President Clinton. Nicholson said using federal funds for needle exchanges amounts ``to giving aid and comfort to the enemy in the war on drugs.'' Senator Paul Coverdell, R-Ga., who initiated a program in his home state called Operation Drug Free Georgia and who is a prominent voice in the effort to curb international drug sales, said he will introduce legislation that would bar Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala from lifting the ban even if she wanted to. ``I find it difficult to comprehend how we can ask other nations to help us in our fight when at home we are handing out free needles in our neighborhoods to drug addicts,'' Coverdell wrote in a letter he sent to President Clinton in Chile, where the president is attending a summit meeting of 34 Latin American leaders. ``By allowing taxpayer dollars to subsidize these programs, we are de facto decriminalizing intravenous drug use.'' To buttress their arguments, critics cited the opposition of retired General Barry McCaffrey, President Clinton's ``drug czar,'' to needle exchange programs. Some argued that it was a moral decision as well a question of policy. ``Needle exchange is a terrible and morally indefensible policy,'' said William Bennett, executive director of Empower America and a former drug czar in the Reagan administration. ``The problem isn't dirty needles, the problem is heroin and drug addiction.'' And Robert Maginnis of the Family Research Council, another leading conservative organization, said lifting the ban would be a ``national disgrace.'' ``It promotes a culture of death by condemning addicts to the killing fields of heroin,'' he said. To blunt some of the criticism, San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown sent a letter co-signed by mayors of five cities, including Baltimore and Detroit, to Shalala yesterday. ``We are not requesting additional federal funding for needle exchanges,'' the mayors wrote. ``We are simply asking the federal government to allow local governments the discretion to use existing federal funding for HIV prevention to support needle programs in our cities.'' Nationally, about 100 communities operate their own needle exchange programs without using federal funds. San Francisco runs the largest program, handing out 2.2 million needles each year, using private and city funds. Numerous reports prepared for the nation's leading scientific organizations have concluded that needle exchange programs help prevent the spread of AIDS and do not encourage drug use. 1998 San Francisco Chronicle
------------------------------------------------------------------- Prohibition Won't Win Drug War (Five Letters To The Editor Of 'The New York Times' Respond To AM Rosenthal's Ignorant Rant Urging A Continuation Of The War On Some Drug Users) Date: Sat, 18 Apr 1998 07:46:31 EDT Originator: email@example.com Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org From: Richard Lake
To: Multiple recipients of list Subject: US: NYT: 5 PUB LTEs: Prohibition Won't Win Drug War Newshawk: email@example.com Source: The New York Times Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Section: Letters to the Editor Authors: Joseph D. Mc Namara, David Borden, Harry G. Levine, Mark Mc Namara, Judith D. Wallach Website: http://www.nytimes.com/ Pubdate: April 18, 1998 Editor's note: It is a pleasure to know that the efforts of our newshawks and all who receive and respond to the news items we distribute, or to our DrugSense FOCUS alerts, had a part in this success. Five of six published letters in today's NYT responding superbly to Mr. Rosenthal's rant is what keeps many of us doing what we do. - Richard Lake, Sr. Editor, DrugSense News Service. p.s.: The Rosenthal column is at: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v98.n269.a09.html PROHIBITION WON'T WIN DRUG WAR To the Editor: A. M. Rosenthal's attack on Dr. Ethan Nadelmann -- for suggesting the right to "possess and consume" drugs responsibly may be better understood in the future -- smacks of the fanaticism that has long marked America's ill-chosen war on drugs (column, April 14). As a career police officer for 35 years (including terms as deputy inspector of the New York Police Department and as police chief of Kansas City, Mo., and San Jose, Calif.) I have seen the racism, violence, corruption and failure to curb drug abuse that stems from government policies. Mr. Rosenthal fails to mention that before 1914 Americans had the right to possess and use drugs. Of course there were abuses, but there was no $400 million black market or widespread corruption and violence, nor was there the vastly disproportionate incarceration of non-whites, until the Harrison Act of 1914 criminalized drugs. Prohibition does not work; new approaches are needed. JOSEPH D. MC NAMARA Stanford, Calif., April 15, 1998 The writer is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution. *** No 'Backdoor' Debate To the Editor: A.M. Rosenthal's notion (column, April 14) of "backdoor legalization" of drugs is odd. How could such a major change occur unnoticed? Ending prohibition would require votes taken in the halls of power or the ballot box -- the front door. Perhaps medical marijuana will spark a rethinking of drug policy. But open debate is the lifeblood of democracy, and should be welcomed, not feared or denounced. DAVID BORDEN Executive Director, Drug Reform Coordination Network, Washington, April 14, 1998 *** Prisons Aren't Answer To the Editor: A. M. Rosenthal (column, April 14) suggests that all opponents of United States drug policy are "legalizers." Many of us support decriminalization, not legalization -- an important distinction. Legalization conjures up images of cocaine and heroin sold in liquor stores. Decriminalization and other forms involve moving addiction and drug problems away from the police and prisons and placing them in the hands of doctors and public health officials. In recent years most Western countries have been reducing or eliminating arrests, prosecutions and prison sentences for possession of small quantities of illegal drugs. As Europe has shown, protecting public health doesn't require imprisoning hundreds of thousands of impoverished drug addicts each year. Medical and other services are less expensive and more effective than prisons. HARRY G. LEVINE New York, April 14, 1998 The writer is a professor of sociology at Queens College, CUNY. *** An Obvious Solution To the Editor: I am encouraged by A.M. Rosenthal's April 14 column, "Lean Back or Fight." Every time a vehemently pro-prohibition article is published in a major newspaper, more people are driven to ask the question, How do we control drug abuse? How do we best control alcohol use? License sellers, enforce strict laws restricting access by minors, limit the locations where use is permitted, tax the billions spent on it each year. How do we best control tobacco use? License sellers, enforce strict laws restricting access by minors, limit the locations where use is permitted, tax the billions spent on it each year. So how do we best control drug use? The answer seems obvious, doesn't it? MARK MC NAMARA St. Louis, April 14, 1998 *** More Education Needed To the Editor: Despite the suggestion to the contrary in A.M. Rosenthal's April 14 column, the moral high ground has room for more than one position on drug legalization. The statement that "legalizers use euphemisms and back doors" tars many individuals and organizations that are forthright and articulate about their stand. I agree with Mr. Rosenthal that society must invest far more heavily in drug rehabilitation and therapy, in and outside of prison. Furthermore, money and effort must go into widespread education for children and adults -- honest, open education that acknowledges the need for a continuing search for answers. JUDITH D. WALLACH New York, April 14, 1998 Copyright 1998 The New York Times Company
------------------------------------------------------------------- Pelosi Wants Laws On Sale Of US Tobacco Abroad ('San Francisco Chronicle' Says US Representative Nancy Pelosi, A Democrat From San Francisco, And Richard Durbin, The Democratic US Senator From Illinois, Tried To Drum Up Support In Chinatown Yesterday For A Set Of Rules For International Marketing To Be Included In Any Comprehensive Federal Tobacco Legislation) Date: Sun, 19 Apr 1998 10:28:07 -0700 To: email@example.com From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Joel W. Johnson) Subject: MN: US CA: Pelosi Wants Laws on Sale of U.S. Tobacco Abroad Sender: email@example.com Newshawk: "Frank S. World"
Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA) Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.sfgate.com/chronicle/ Pubdate: Sat, 18 Apr 1998 Author: Sabin Russell, Chronicle Staff Writer PELOSI WANTS LAWS ON SALE OF U.S. TOBACCO ABROAD Country's worldwide image is at stake, she says With a backdrop of American cigarette ads and posters from around the globe, San Francisco Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi called yesterday for tough new restrictions on U.S. tobacco marketing overseas. At a Chinatown press conference, the San Francisco Democrat, together with Richard Durbin, D-Ill., a key opponent of the tobacco industry in the U.S. Senate, tried to drum up support for a set of rules for international marketing to be included in any comprehensive federal tobacco legislation. "The cowboy that has run roughshod over children in America is now doing so overseas," said Durbin, pointing to a Marlboro ad used in Asia. "These are God's children. They need protection all around the world, and we should accept that responsibility." Pelosi warned that America's image abroad is at stake. "How can we say that tobacco is not OK for our young people, and then say it is OK for young people overseas?" she said. "This is a very important issue. We must stop having the icons of America closely tied to smoking." But the lawmakers stopped short of declaring they would not vote for a bill that left out the desired international provisions -- a section the tobacco industry is fighting to delete from bipartisan legislation under debate in Washington, D.C. "I'd have to think long and hard about a bill that (was) good for Americans but not for the children of other countries," said Pelosi. The provisions would bar government aid in marketing tobacco products abroad, fund anti-smoking advertisements overseas, require warning labels to be placed on cigarette packs sold in other countries and levy a tax on tobacco firms of 2 cents on each pack of cigarettes sold abroad in order to finance such efforts. Steve Duchesne, a spokesman for a coalition of the five largest American tobacco companies, said such restrictions are totally unacceptable. "Congress cannot make the law for other countries," he said. "You simply cannot export the law." Although tobacco companies have pledged not to sell their products to children in the United States, Duchesne said that in some other countries there are no minimum ages for tobacco use. "Clearly, tobacco use is viewed differently from culture to culture outside the U.S.," he said. ``It is unfair to subject U.S. companies to different rules and regulations than other companies functioning in foreign markets." The international regulations sought by Congress, he said, would "effectively eliminate exports" of U.S. tobacco products, cutting American tobacco production by one-third and eliminating thousands of jobs. "It will merely shift the business to foreign competitors, most of which are state-run monopolies," said Duchesne. But at the San Francisco Chinatown setting, chosen as a symbol of America's diverse international heritage, critics said it would be the height of hypocrisy for Congress to pass laws restricting the marketing of U.S. tobacco products to American teenagers but to permit it in less developed parts of the world. "The U.S. government, and U.S. taxpayers, should not be a part of any deal to underwrite or subsidize the export of deadly products overseas," said Durbin, who as a congressman led the fight to ban cigarettes from airliners. A panel of international tobacco experts emphasized that half of American tobacco company profits are now made overseas, and that cigarettes are becoming a symbol of American marketing power in China and the former communist countries of Europe. Pelosi said she was astonished by two Filipino calendar posters featuring the Virgin Mary and St. Theresa, and below them an assortment of American cigarette packs. Mark Palmer, a former U.S. ambassador to Hungary while it was still under communist control, told the news gathering that he was shocked at how U.S. tobacco companies used advertisements to equate American cigarettes with freedom. He called tobacco marketing abroad "the biggest damage the U.S. has done to other societies" and an affront conducted "on a massive scale." Asked if U.S. tobacco companies are marketing directly to children, Palmer produced a recent advertisement for R.J. Reynolds' Camel brand released in Poland, which featured a carload of smiling teenagers smoking cigarettes. The ad is linked to a music concert series sponsored by the tobacco company that Palmer said is aimed at children ages 12 to 17. "Every half-hour, kids pass out free cigarettes to kids," he said. "They are taking our own value system and the love of Poles for America and corrupting it for their own immoral and unethical purposes," said Palmer. Lawmakers said that Americans should be concerned about how U.S. companies represent our culture abroad. "We in the U.S. are going to be held accountable for this," said Durbin. "It is shameful, disgraceful and unacceptable." Tobacco industry spokesman Duchesne said the arguments against international marketing may well be moot, because the industry has walked away from talks on federal tobacco legislation. "What began as a noble purpose to reduce youth smoking has degenerated into politicians seeking a measure of revenge against these companies, and to extract higher taxes against smokers," he said. Tobacco makers ``disengaged'' from the debate in Congress when lawmakers increased the settlement costs to more than $500 million, above the $328 million agreed to in settlement talks with states' attorneys general. The international provisions were not included in the earlier proposed settlement. 1998 San Francisco Chronicle
------------------------------------------------------------------- Drug Smugglers Use Body Parts ('Reuters' Article In 'Seattle Times' Notes US Border Patrol At Falfurrias, Texas, Gets A Leg Up On Smugglers Of Marijuana, Cocaine) Date: Sat, 18 Apr 1998 09:50:43 -0800 To: email@example.com From: Olafur Brentmar
Subject: MN: US TX: Drug Smugglers Use Body Parts Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Newshawk: John Smith Pubdate: Sat, 18 Apr 1998 Source: Seattle-Times (WA) Contact: email@example.com Website: http://seattletimes.com/ Author: Reuters DRUG SMUGGLERS USE BODY PARTS FALFURRIAS, Texas - U.S. Border Patrol agents found $5.5 million worth of marijuana and cocaine stashed among body parts in the back of a truck in South Texas, a Border Patrol spokeswoman said yesterday. Agents made the discovery Wednesday while searching bins full of dirty hospital laundry in the truck after a drug-sniffing dog went after it, said Border Patrol spokesman Leti Garza. "They found an amputated leg, intestines and other muck," she said of the bust at a Border Patrol stop in Falfurrias, 80 miles north of the Rio Grande. "This is one of the most unusual cases we've ever come across. He (the agent on the case) was totally shocked and weirded out about it," Garza said. She said the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency believes the body parts came from hospitals in South Texas and were used to try to mask the smell of the drugs. The discovery raised fears that drug smugglers are using increasingly bizarre means to get their illicit goods from Mexico into the United States, Garza said. "We think this is a new trend in the transport of illegal drugs. The drug smugglers appear to be taking extreme measures to get drugs smuggled up north where they are worth a lot more money. "They've used the traditional methods of hidden compartments, loads of produce and other ways to ship drugs, now it looks like they're going into biomedical materials," Garza said. The agents seized 2,367 pounds of marijuana and 114 pounds of cocaine. Garza said the driver of the truck was arrested on drug charges and is in jail in Corpus Christi, Texas.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Drug Probe Spotlights Corruption In Mexico ('Orange County Register' Version Of Last Week's 'New York Times' Story About The US Pursuit Of Rafael Munoz Talavera, A Mexican Multimillionaire Accused Of Running A Cartel That Smuggled Tons Of Cocaine Into California Several Years Ago) Date: Sun, 19 Apr 1998 10:11:04 -0700 To: firstname.lastname@example.org From: email@example.com (Joel W. Johnson) Subject: MN: Mexico: Drug Probe Spotlights Corruption In Mexico Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Newshawk: John W.Black Source: Orange County Register (CA) Contact: email@example.com Website: http://www.ocregister.com/ Pubdate: Sat, 18 Apr 1998 Author: Sam Dillon and Craig Pyes - The New York Times DRUG PROBE SPOTLIGHTS CORRUPTION IN MEXICO JUSTICE? Despite strong evidence provided by the U.S., a drug trafficker goes free. CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico - For nearly a decade, the U.S. government has been trying to prosecute a Mexican Multimillionaire accused of running a cartel that smuggled tons of cocaine into California several years ago. When U.S. drug agents raided one of his warehouses, it was the largest single drug bust in history U.S. agents thought it was an open and shut case against the suspect, Rafael Munoz Talavera, because several traffickers arrested after the drug seizure identified him as their leader. But despite two trials, one conviction and what U.S. prosecutors say is overwhelming evidence against him, Munoz is free. Authorities say he is directing a violent campaign to seize control of a major part of the Mexican drug trade. Neither government has ever publicly explained the collapse of the lengthy effort to convict Munoz. But the story of the investigation based on interviews with law-enforcement officials, judges who tried Munoz and an examination of documents - reveals a Mexican criminal justice system rife with chaos, corruption and mismanagement. In the first trial, the police and prosecutors, who were later accused of accepting bribes from the drug cartel that officials say was run by Munoz, steered a watered-down package of evidence to a friendly judge. A second trial, bolstered by evidence from investigators in the United States, ended in a conviction. But a Mexican appeals court freed Munoz, ruling that he had been illegally tried twice on the same criminal charges. During the trials, Munoz was lodged in comfortable suites in Mexican federal prisons. "We knew he was going to walk from the date of his arrest," said a U.S. official who spoke on condition of anonymity. "In Mexico, the guy with the biggest pocketbook always wins." Now Munox is back in Ciudad Jauraz, just across the border from El Paso, Texas, and U.S. prosecutors are working to assemble another case against him. Munoz did not respond to requests to discuss his legal fight. But in December, in a newspaper advertisement, he denied any involvement in drug trafficking and described himself as a "simple, hard-working man." The lawyer who defended Munoz in his seven-year legal battle, Sergio Roldan Ramos, was murdered in Ciudad Jaurez in October. And Roldan's partners and other lawyers who have worked for Munoz did not respond to interview requests. Munoz's release and criminal comeback dramatize the legal crisis threatening Mexico's modernization. The economy has opened up and opposition political parties are finding a voice. But criminal syndicates are casting a widening shadow, and the widely held belief is that the justice system is riddled with graft and incompetence, mired in archaic procedures and shielded from accountability. Mexican hold every element involved in disrepute - from the police and prosecutors to judges and jailers. A 1996 United Nations survey asked Mexicans how much confidence they had in their judicial system, and 80 percent responded "little" or "none," the worst showing of any Latin American country. "We have a justice system immersed in the routine violation of every basic principle," said Eduardo Lopez Betancourt, a law professor at the national university. "Nothing is respected. Prosecutors rig evidence and judges sell verdicts according to the highest bidder, without delay, favoring every kind of criminal from drug traffickers to car thieves." Confronted with this crisis, U.S. prosecutors routinely press to extradite traffickers for trial in U.S. courts. Although the extradition of Mexicans is constitutionally barred, officials in Washington say Mexico has recently vowed to honor future extradition requests. Still, the U.S. government has never successfully extradited a major Mexican drug dealer. Four years ago, Mexican President Ernest Zedillo replace the entire Supreme Court and established a Judicial Council to attack corruption. By requiring competitive examinations, the reform cleaned up the previous system of judicial appointments, based on cronyism. But otherwise the council has been timid. Many of the forces that foiled the prosecution of Munoz are embedded in the nation's justice system. Graft is considered rampant. In the Munoz case, only the police and a prosecutor were accused in U.S. testimony of corruption, but many judges are also suspect. Judges allow thousands of fugitives to avoid arrest. The police commander who led the arrest of Munoz was later charged with taking bribes from the drug cartel. But he was never arrested because he got an amparo, or writ, barring his detention. Court papers are secret, inhibiting accountability or independent scrutiny. Officials at the five Mexican courts that heard the various stages of Munoz's case refused to allow reporters to read the trial record, citing laws that keep document from scholars and journalist. The system is poorly managed. The judge in Munoz's second trial found him guilty, only to be reversed on appeal because he was tried twice for the same alleged offense. The Mexican attorney general's office was in such disorder that 10 successive federal attorneys were assigned to oversee his second 30-month trial. Until late 1989, Munoz, 45, was known in Juarez as a sober, even taciturn restaurateur from a leading local family. Agents for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration were suspicious of a $3 million estate he had built in El Paso, but he was not known as a major trafficker. Then drug agents received a tip about suspicious comings and goings at a warehouse in the Los Angeles suburb of Sylmar. With a search warrant, they sliced off a $5 padlock and discovered 36 wooden pallets stacked with boxes of cocaine. The hoard, weighing 21.4 tons, was the size of two school buses. Ledger books showed that billions of dollars of cocaine - hundreds of tons - had passed through the warehouse. The seizure caused what a cable from the U.S. Embassy in Mexico called "an earthquake" that redefined Washington's understanding of the drug war by high-lighting the growing role of Mexican smugglers. Not only was it clear that Mexican smugglers were significant new players, but a dozen traffickers arrested at Sylmar identified Munoz as their leader. "We knew the dope came from Munoz Talavera," said James P. Walsh, the assistant U.S. attorney who supervised the investigation. As a result, the clamor for Munoz's detention became intense. Five weeks later, Mexico's federal police arrested him in a dingy Ciudad Juarez hotel in possession of several rifles and handguns. Police said they had seized a small bag of cocaine during a raid on one of his houses. He was initially arraigned on drug possession and weapons violations, which were broadened to include drug trafficking charges. Mexican prosecutors announced triumphantly that he was facing 60 years. But his case went before a judge with a reputation for leniency. From the beginning, the circumstances of Munoz's arrest aroused suspicions among U.S. officials that the prosecution was rigged. First, authorities announced his arrest in advance, inviting reporters to film Munoz as police escorted him handcuffed out of the hotel. Then the hotel manager said that the room in which Munoz was arrested had been rented not by Munoz, but by police a week earlier. Later, more disturbing information emerged. Two Mexican officials involved in Munoz's arrest and trial were accused in U.S. court testimony of receiving huge bribes from Munoz's drug organization. Elias Ramirez Ruiz was the powerful federal police commander in Chihuahua, the state in which Ciudad Juarez is located, who orchestrated Munoz's arrest and assembled the initial evidence. Javier Coello Trejo was Mexico's deputy attorney general, based in Mexico City, who channeled evidence received from U.S. officials to Mexican prosecutors in Ciudad Juarez, and supervised the Munoz case. In late 1990, even before Munoz's first trial ended, Ramirez and Coello were driven from office by a barrage of corruption charges. Since his resignation, several witnesses in at least three federal trials in Texas have detailed how Coello received suitcases of cash from the Ciudad Juarez and other drug cartels. Mexican press reports accused Ramirez of staging several phony cocaine seizures as window dressing for Mexico's anti-drug effort. And two years later, Ramirez was charged with narcotics smuggling and racketeering. Federal prosecutors sought his arrest, but he obtained an amparo from a judge and has never been detained. A year ago in a Houston courtroom, a former police officer working for Ramirez in Ciudad Jaurez at the time of Munoz's arrest and trial testified that both Ramirez and Coello were working with Munoz's organization. Cesar Dominguez Becerra was asked to describe his duties. Dominguez testified that he had personally delivered bundles of cash from the cartel to Coello. "Where did you deliver this money to Coello Trejo?" he was asked. "Sometimes in the federa police office itself," he said. In an interview, Coello denied that he had accepted drug bribes, saying "no trafficker has ever paid me one cent." He scoffed at assertions that U.S. officials suspected him of corruption, reeling off names of U.S. agents with whom he had worked closely.
------------------------------------------------------------------- British Columbian Border Is New Focus For Pot Trade ('Associated Press' Article From 'The Herald' In Everett, Washington, Says US Customs Service Has Nearly Doubled Its Marijuana Interdiction Effort Along The Canadian Border) Date: Sat, 18 Apr 1998 09:50:43 -0800 To: firstname.lastname@example.org From: Olafur Brentmar
Subject: MN: US WA: BC Border Is New Focus For Pot Trade Sender: email@example.com Newshawk: John Smith Pubdate: Sat, 18 Apr 1998 Source: The Herald, Everett (WA) Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.heraldnet.com/ Author: David Crary, Associated Press Writer BC BORDER IS NEW FOCUS FOR POT TRADE In the past, Canada's high-profile exports to the United States featured hockey players and comedians. Now there's a cash crop on the list -- homegrown marijuana that ranks among the priciest and most potent in the world. The pot is so coveted on the West Coast that it sometimes trades pound-for-pound for cocaine, officials say. Stepped-up searches for it have led to vexing backups at some border crossings. Although the United States border with Mexico remains its No. 1 smuggling zone, U.S. Customs Service has nearly doubled its enforcement effort there because of a surge of marijuana smuggled in from British Columbia. "The price of B.C. marijuana has become very high," said Gene Kervan, customs director at the busy border crossing at Blaine. "It's the drug of choice in many locations." Much of the prized pot is grown indoors by the increasingly popular hydroponic method -- using bright artificial light and nutrient-laced water, but no soil. Kervan said the product can earn as much as $6,000 a pound in parts of California -- 10 times the typical for marijuana from Mexico. Kervan's officers have been searching more and more vehicles coming south from the Vancouver area, and uncovering more and more pot -- a change that has sometimes resulted in two-hour backups for motorists trying to enter the United States. The border crackdown in Washington has pushed some trafficers east into Idaho. Customs officers there conducted a two-week operation in March that resulted in eight drug arrests -- about the number usually made in a year. Marijuana is believed to rank now as British Columbia's most lucrative agricultural product --with illegal revenues estimated at anywhere from $400 million to more htan $3 billion. Kervan said there is no typical pot smuggler. "That's the toughest part for us," he said, recounting one border bust involving a husband and wife carrying 17 pounds of marijuana along with their two young children. That same day, a couple in their 70s were arrested for carrying 24 pounds of marijuana in their truck.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Judge Blames Booze ('Calgary Sun' Says A Judge Has Rejected A Canadian Woman's Defence That A Combination Of Two Drinks And Going Without Her Anti-Depressant, Paxil, Caused Her Incapacitation That Led To Another Motorist's Death) From: email@example.com (Matt Elrod) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Judge blames booze Date: Sat, 18 Apr 1998 08:32:55 -0700 Newshawk: email@example.com Source: Calgary Sun Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Pubdate: April 18, 1998 Author: KEVIN MARTIN -- Calgary Sun JUDGE BLAMES BOOZE Boozing -- not a robotic state -- caused a city woman to drive the wrong way on Deerfoot Tr. and kill another motorist, a judge ruled yesterday. Justice John MacKenzie rejected Amber Abel's defence that a combination of anti-depressant pill withdrawal and two drinks triggered a robot-like state. MacKenzie said Abel's inability to remember the hours leading up to the fatal crash didn't clear her of criminal responsibility. He found the former restaurateur guilty of criminal negligence causing death in the Nov. 3, 1995 crash which killed Neita McEachern, 35. The Court of Queen's Bench judge dismissed medical evidence suggesting Abel, 37, was suffering paxil withdrawal which triggered an alcohol blackout. "I would find the theories of Dr. (Howard) Cappell and Dr. (Robert) Hill to be speculative and nothing more," MacKenzie said. He said Abel's alcohol-induced amnesia didn't excuse her actions. "All people know that alcohol is an intoxicant -- when we choose to consume it, we are responsible for its effects upon us," MacKenzie said. Following the verdict, relieved members of McEachern's family said they had been concerned the defence would succeed in their tactics. "It was just a charade," said her father, Mel. Added brother Rick: "That kind of thing can't be allowed -- it sort of opens the door that nobody's responsible for their actions." Abel, who remains free on bail, will be sentenced June 22.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Killer Cocktail Fear For Addicts (Australia's 'Herald Sun' Says A Lethal Additive In Street Heroin Almost Killed More Than 30 People Thursday Night In One Of The Worst Heroin 'Overdose' Outbreaks In Melbourne) Newshawk: Ken Russell Pubdate: Sat, 18 Apr 1998 Source: Herald Sun Contact: email@example.com Website: http://www.sjmercury.com/ Author: Tanya Giles KILLER COCKTAIL FEAR FOR ADDICTS A HORROR drug cocktail almost killed more than 30 drug addicts in one of the worst heroin overdose outbreaks in Melbourne on Thursday night. Ambulance officers yesterday blamed the epidemic on a new super-potent batch of heroin cut with a potentially lethal additive. Doctors used the anti-heroin drug Narcan to revive 31 collapsed heroin users during the night, compared with the usual average of about five a day. The lethal cocktail caused drug addicts to collapse in laneways, nightclubs, hotel stairways and railway stations, unaware they could lose their lives. Some of the addicts reported a burning sensation in their arm and a metallic taste in their mouth, symptoms of the new cocktail. One drug addict was so concerned about his condition, he stumbled to the police booth at Flinders St station to ask for help. Often overdose victims abuse ambulance crews when they are revived and want no police involvement. Ambulance spokesman John Fasham said while ambulance officers did not condone the use of heroin, he urged users to be aware of what they were injecting, particularly when using the latest heroin batch. "You just don't know what is in the heroin," he warned. Ambulance duty team manager Trevor Fewster said the killer drug was "knocking people over" on Melbourne's streets. He warned heroin users they risked their lives if they did not give up the habit. "All I can say is, don't do it, just don't do it," he said. "You are dicing with death when you inject heroin. Death lasts for a long time." Mr Fewster said the ambulance officers were called out all around Melbourne including Yarraville, Cranbourne, Broadmeadows and the city. In previous years, overdoses have been mainly confined to the inner city, but are now increasingly extending to the outer suburbs. And with each overdose response costing about $700, the eight-hour heroin emergency bill came to more than $20,000. The fight against heroin stepped up in February when the State Government announced all ambulances would carry the life-saving anti-narcotic Narcan.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Calm Before The Storm (Britain's 'New Scientist' Discusses The Science Behind Ritalin, Or Methylphenidate - This Autumn, The US National Institutes Of Health Will Sponsor A Conference Focusing On The Popular Remedy For Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder) Date: Sat, 18 Apr 1998 12:27:15 +0000 To: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com From: Peter Webster
Subject: New Scientist Newshawk: Peter Webster Source: New Scientist Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.newscientist.com/ Pubdate: 18 April 1998 Author: Alison Motluk CALM BEFORE THE STORM This autumn, the US National Institutes of Health will host a conference that will focus on a drug regularly taken by millions of American children. It is in crucial ways similar to cocaine, and some experts fear it could encourage substance abuse in later life. But this is not the latest street drug--it is prescribed by doctors. Methylphenidate, better known as Ritalin, is the leading treatment for a neurological condition known as attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), which prevents children--mostly boys--from focusing their mental energies. Sufferers find it impossible to concentrate on a task for more than a few seconds, constantly move around and are impulsive and jittery. Scientists have little idea what causes the disorder, although they believe it involves the failure of certain receptors in the brain to respond to the neurotransmitter dopamine. Ritalin has transformed the lives of ADHD children. It has become by far the most popular drug for dealing with the condition, with a 90 per cent share of the market. According to the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), production of Ritalin in the US increased almost fivefold in the five years to 1995. RAPID RISE Ritalin has been around for more than forty years, and was originally used to treat the sleeping illness narcolepsy. Its increased use is mainly due to the rapid rise in the number of people diagnosed with ADHD, especially in the US. Some doctors claim that up to 5 per cent of all boys and 2 per cent of girls worldwide--and a large number of adults--suffer from the condition. Outside the US, doctors are more sceptical about ADHD, but even those who believe Ritalin is being overprescribed agree that it is a genuine disorder and that Ritalin really does help. But over the past few years there have been growing fears about its long-term effects. Ritalin is a stimulant that works by making dopamine more available in the brain. Its effects in the brain are very similar to cocaine, and some researchers are warning that regularly giving children a cocaine-like substance might prime them for drug abuse later in life. They also say that children on Ritalin are more likely to smoke. Fears such as these have put Ritalin firmly on the agenda for the National Institutes of Health conference on ADHD, scheduled for November. Concerns about Ritalin began to emerge in 1995, with a study in the Archives of General Psychiatry entitled "Is methylphenidate like cocaine?". The paper concluded that it was. Its lead author, Nora Volkow, director of nuclear medicine at the Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, New York, used positron emission tomography (PET) scans to look at where and how quickly Ritalin acts in the human brain. In Volkow's study, eight healthy male volunteers were injected with the drug. Their scans were then compared with those of subjects in previous studies who had been injected with cocaine. The authors reported that the distribution of Ritalin in the human brain was "almost identical to that of cocaine". The drugs' effects also peaked at almost the same time--between 4 and 10 minutes in the case of Ritalin, and 2 to 8 minutes for cocaine. Even the highs were similar. "We've given it to cocaine users and they say it's almost indistinguishable," says Volkow. The only significant difference was that Ritalin took over four times as long--90 minutes--to leave the body. "We're dealing with a drug that does have properties very similar to cocaine." This is obviously worrying. "Cocaine is one of the most addictive substances of abuse," says Volkow. "Ritalin we give to children." She stresses, however, that taking a stimulant orally is very different to injecting or snorting it. Intravenous caffeine also resembles cocaine, she points out. Her paper warned that similarities between cocaine and Ritalin "should not be used as an argument against the use of methylphenidate". And she admits that there is no evidence of a link between Ritalin use and cocaine abuse. But she adds: "We do have evidence that if we don't treat them, then they will turn to self-medication." She says that 10 to 30 per cent of cocaine abusers take cocaine because they have ADHD. "When we give them Ritalin, the cocaine problem is resolved." Volkow's results came on top of earlier animal experiments suggesting that prolonged exposure to some stimulants made rats more likely to become addicted to cocaine. One such study by Susan Schenk, a psychopharmacologist at Texas A&M University in College Station, involved rats that pressed a lever to give themselves cocaine. The experiment showed that rats given amphetamines for nine consecutive days were more likely to give themselves cocaine than rats that had been given saline solution. The fear is that, like amphetamines, Ritalin primes the brain so that any later use of cocaine has a bigger effect than it would otherwise. If so, Ritalin may make people more likely to abuse cocaine or other stimulants, rather than experiment with them once or twice. To find out whether her findings had implications for children taking Ritalin, Schenk teamed up with Nadine Lambert, a developmental psychologist at the University of California at Berkeley. Lambert followed the progress of 5000 children with ADHD in the San Francisco area from adolescence into adulthood to discover whether the drug has any effect on tobacco, alcohol and illicit drug use in later life. In a paper to be published in October in the Journal of Learning Disabilities, Lambert claims that children who take Ritalin are more likely to smoke as adults. Other data, which Schenk presented at a meeting held by the DEA in December 1996 and are being revised for publication, suggest that they are no more likely to abuse alcohol or marijuana, but are three times more likely to develop a taste for cocaine. Not everyone is convinced. Alan Zametkin, a psychiatrist at the National Institute of Mental Health near Washington DC, says that the team's research design was flawed because their subjects were not assigned at random. Those sufferers on medication were probably more severe cases than those who were not, he says. Schenk admits that there are uncertainties in the team's study, but points out that whether or not the children were treated had little to do with the severity of their condition. For instance, those not on medication may have had parents who were against the use of drugs such as Ritalin. Another attempt to monitor children taking Ritalin into early adulthood supports Zametkin's scepticism. Lily Hechtman, a psychiatrist at the Montreal Children's Hospital, looked at people who had taken Ritalin for three to five years, and compared them with people who were not hyperactive and people who had been diagnosed with ADHD but not given the drug. She found no significant differences in patterns of substance abuse among the three groups. Zametkin goes further. He believes that sufferers who are given Ritalin are less--not more--likely to abuse drugs later in life. "My theory is that stimulant use allows kids to be more successful and therefore they develop fewer antisocial behaviours," he says. "So it's less likely they'll become drug addicts." Schenk, too, accepts that Ritalin is a useful drug. In a cost-benefit analysis, she says, any side effects would probably pale in comparison to the good it does. But that does not mean that you should not look for them, she says. "You still have to know what the costs are." New Scientist, 18 April 1998
------------------------------------------------------------------- Legal Heroin (Letter To Editor Of Britain's 'Independent' By A Reverend Who Has Worked With Heroin Addicts For 35 Years Supports Another Reverend's Public Call For Legal Heroin, And Suggests A Return To Britain's Rolleston Principles Allowing Prescribed Use, Which Governed British Heroin Policy From The 1920s Until The Late 1960s) Subject: The Independent/Legal heroin Return-Path: email@example.com From: firstname.lastname@example.org Date: Tue, 21 Apr 98 15:35:43 EST Sender: email@example.com The Independent (London) April 18, 1998, Saturday COMMENT; Page 18 LENGTH: 363 words Letter: Legal heroin The Rev Kenneth Leech THE Rev Peter Green has called on the Government "to consider legalising heroin" (report, 15 April). Heroin has never been illegal in the UK. It is used regularly in the treatment of terminal pain. The 1967 Act and accompanying regulations did not make the prescribing of heroin for addicts illegal, but restricted such prescribing to those doctors with a licence from the Secretary of State. It was the reduction of heroin prescribing, on the advice of certain doctors at the Department of Health, which led to the present situation. Where doctors have reverted to the Rolleston principles, which governed British heroin policy from the 1920s until the late 1960s, and have prescribed heroin, the crime rate, the incidence of HIV infection and in some cases the rate of new addicts have declined significantly. By contrast, the policy of prohibition has, as some of us warned 30 years ago, led to the escalation of the criminal market. In spite of earlier warnings, Britain has followed American policies in this area where they have most conspicuously failed. Heroin is a safe drug when administered in clean conditions. Having worked with heroin addicts for 35 years, I have never known anyone die from heroin as such. I have known hundreds who have died from the adulterated material, the impurities, and the social conditions in which the illicit material is taken. The case for bringing heroin back within the framework of what we were once proud to call the "British system" is a strong one. Apart from an information pack produced by the Board for Social Responsibility in 1986, the last publication on drugs from an official Church of England source was my own booklet The Drug Subculture: a Christian Analysis, in 1969, which warned of the dangers of abandoning heroin prescribing. Scrutiny of the General Synod index of papers for the period from 1975 onwards yields no reference to drugs at all. In the absence of any official view, Fr Green's view is therefore one Anglican viewpoint which hopefully will contribute to a long-overdue debate. The Rev KENNETH LEECH St Botolph's Church -------------------------------------------------------------------
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