Portland NORML News - Friday, May 1, 1998

Placing Blame For Closing (The San Jose Mercury News says Peter Baez and
Jesse Garcia on Thursday blamed San Jose police and prosecutors for the
shut-down of the Santa Clara County Medical Cannabis Center, scheduled next

Date: Sun, 03 May 1998 11:12:11 -0400
To: mapnews@mapinc.org
From: Melodi Cornett (mrhorse@kih.net)
Subject: MN: US CA: Placing Blame For Closing
Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Newshawk: Marcus-Mermelstein Family (mmfamily@ix.netcom.com)
Pubdate: Fri, 1 May 1998
Source: San Jose Mercury News (CA)
Contact: letters@sjmercury.com
Website: http://www.sjmercury.com/
Author: Raoul V. Mowatt


Pot club leader lambastes authorities

Organizers of the Santa Clara County Medical Cannabis Center on Thursday
blasted police and prosecutors for the legal and financial problems they say
will force them out of business next week.

Executive director Peter Baez, who faces six felony charges of selling
marijuana, said the county's only medicinal-marijuana dispensary will be
open today, Monday and Wednesday before shutting its doors for good next Friday.

The move will leave many of the center's 270 clients with few ways to obtain
the marijuana they use to ease the effects of cancer, AIDS and other
ailments. ``Right now the only ones who will benefit from our closing are
the street dealers who the San Jose police don't seem interested in
arresting,'' Baez said.

Before the center closes for the final time, Baez said, many clients plan to
dress in black and hold a memorial service to protest authorities giving the
organization ``a death sentence.'' He said he hoped his cousin, folk singer
Joan Baez, would attend.

Peter Baez and co-founder Jesse Garcia said the decision to close was
difficult but unavoidable after officials froze the center's assets and
accused Baez of an array of misconduct. Authorities, however, reiterated
their support of Proposition 215, the 1996 initiative that allowed medicinal
use of marijuana.

``It sounds to me like it was a business decision,'' said Deputy District
Attorney Denise Raabe. ``I don't see how our action against Peter Baez would
necessitate the closing of the center.''

``It's his decision to close,'' added Lt. Chris Moore, a San Jose police
spokesman. ``If anyone is willing to step up and run a club according to
the permit process set forth by the city, they may do so.''

Unlike some counterparts in other cities, Baez and Garcia had enjoyed a
cordial relationship with officials since opening the San Jose center about
a year ago.

But in March, police arrested Baez, suspecting he sold marijuana to a client
who had not obtained a legitimate recommendation. Authorities angered many
customers of the center by seizing files and freezing $29,000 in assets.

Since the seizure, Baez said, the center has accumulated massive debt --
$1,200 in rent, $15,000 in legal bills and $17,000 owed to what he described
as ``legitimate Bay Area growers.''

Jonathan Holt, a client of the center, said he hoped to try to raise money
to pay its debts. ``In my mind, it's absolutely vital to the health of the

Crack Trade Has Gravitated to 'The Walk' (A San Jose Mercury News reporter
and two narcs can't do anything thing about it as "everyone from street
people to engineers" engages in laissez-faire capitalism on East Santa Clara
Street in San Jose, California.)

Date: Sun, 03 May 1998 11:07:37 -0400
To: mapnews@mapinc.org
From: Melodi Cornett (mrhorse@kih.net)
Subject: MN: US CA: Column: Crack Trade Has Gravitated to `The Walk'
Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Newshawk: Marcus-Mermelstein Family (mmfamily@ix.netcom.com)
Pubdate: Fri, 1 May 1998
Source: San Jose Mercury News (CA)
Contact: letters@sjmercury.com
Website: http://www.sjmercury.com/
Author: Jim Trotter


Even a modest elevation gain in the Santa Clara Valley makes for spectacular
viewing, and standing on this particular rooftop, with the sun coming at the
steep angles of early evening, I am once again impressed. The mountain
ranges are a study of shadow and light. The south end of San Francisco Bay
glimmers through the haze.

However, I'm up here with two guys who don't care about the view -- San Jose
police officers Moses Barreras and David Seminatore. Their binoculars are
trained on the street below.

``Look at this pair right here,'' says Barreras, handing me his glasses.
There is some sort of quick exchange between a man and woman. They separate,
with the woman getting in a car and the man strolling on down East Santa
Clara Street.

Barreras gets on the radio, but by the time the cruiser arrives on the
scene, the woman's car is blocks away, turning west into traffic on East San
Fernando Street.

Still, this kind of surveillance was key in a police department sweep last
month that netted dozens of arrests for selling crack cocaine along one of
San Jose's main drags. And while some police teams have moved on, Barreras
and Seminatore have this stretch of East Santa Clara Street as a
community-policing assignment.

``These are super good guys,'' said their boss, district Sgt. John Lax,
``good policemen and good investigators. The people they work with down
there love them.''

For whatever reason, the crack trade seems to gravitate to East Santa Clara
Street. In the recent sweep, Seminatore said, some 80 percent of those
arrested were from Alameda County. ``It turns out that they were taking BART
down to Fremont and then the 180 express bus to First and Santa Clara,'' he
said. ``Up there drugs and territory are controlled by gangs. That is less
so down here. They looked at this like a free, open market.''

The officers described a scenario in which the dealer might send a ``crack
fiend'' -- someone working for a small chip of the crystallized cocaine --
as a go-between to meet potential buyers in the parking lot at the Lucky
Store or elsewhere along the street.

``You wouldn't believe the span of people we've stopped for buying,'' says
Barreras. ``Everyone from street people to engineers. Yesterday we stopped a
guy who was a nurse. He told us he started doing crack because he heard it's
a good way to lose weight.''

We laugh.

Barreras says they've dubbed the street `the walk'' because that's what the
dealers try to appear to be doing -- just taking a walk.

``They're apprehensive,'' says Seminatore, ``but greed takes a higher
priority. They try to be clever to some degree, but they're too lazy to
actually do it.

``Look at these guys here, coming up. It's just that flagrant.''

As three young men walk below, one looks directly up.

``He made us already,'' says Barreras.

``They'll walk and tell others,'' says Seminatore.

I can't say for sure what the three are up to, but whatever it is, they vanish.

``We confront these guys, say, `Hey, how you doing?' '' says Barreras. ``We
ask them what they're doing here. Without fail, they always say, `Trying to
pick up girls.' At first, we might give them a chance, but they always turn
out to be selling.' ''

There are elementary schools and churches and neighborhoods along the
street. There are community groups that have worked long and hard with
various city agencies to build a healthy place to live and work. That means
reducing the number of the drug dealers, the chronic drunks, the other
dangers and nuisances.

Corporate Lucky Stores joined the fight this week, agreeing to change
alcohol sales policies and to make other positive changes at its store
directly across from Horace Mann Elementary. That was an important gesture
by Lucky, and a big win for the community. Overdue, the officers agree.

But the view from here on the roof is that the battle goes on.

Write Jim Trotter at the San Jose Mercury News, 750 Ridder Park Drive, San
Jose, Calif. 95190; call (408) 920-5024, or e-mail to jtrotter@sjmercury.com
via e-mail.

Drug Statistics (A brief letter to the editor of the Orange County Register
correlates the introduction of DARE in 1989 with an increase in kids' use of
illegal drugs in Orange County, California.)

Date: Sun, 03 May 1998 19:50:50 -0400
To: mapnews@mapinc.org
From: Melodi Cornett (mrhorse@kih.net)
Subject: MN: US CA: PUB LTE: Drug Statistics
Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Newshawk: John W.Black
Pubdate: Fri, 1 May 1998
Source: Orange County Register (CA)
Contact: letters@link.freedom.com
Website: http://www.ocregister.com/


Drug use has doubled among our 8th graders since 1992. In 1989, a drug abuse
resistance program was introduced in 5th and 6th grade classes throughout
Orange County. I D.A.R.E. you to do the math.

Heather Hunt Myers-Santa Ana

Lessons From A Killing (Extra!, published by the group Fairness and Accuracy
in Reporting, describes how the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights got the
San Francisco Chronicle to shift the focus of its racist portrayal of a
victim of a police beating away from his alleged drug problem and criminal

Date: Mon, 11 May 1998 12:00:26 -0700
To: mapnews@mapinc.org
From: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org (MAPNews)
Subject: MN: US: Lessons From a Killing
Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Newshawk: Jim Rosenfield
Source: Extra!
Contact: http://www.fair.org
Fax: 212-727-7668
Pubdate: MAY/JUNE 1998
Author: Van Jones
Our Newshawk writes: "There's something to learn here about manipulating
the media."


Changing News Coverage of Police Brutality in San Francisco

In the fall of 1996, the San Francisco Police Review Commission held
hearings on the death of Aaron Williams, an African-American man suspected
of a $50 pet-store burglary who died in police custody. According to
witnesses and police sources, a team of police led by Officer Marc Andaya
repeatedly kicked Williams in the head and emptied three canisters of
pepper spray into his face. Despite the fact that Williams was having
difficulty breathing, the police finally hog-tied, gagged and left him
unattended in the back of a police van, where he died.

My organization, the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, and our project,
Bay Area PoliceWatch, organized around this case for two years. This is our
experience changing news coverage around the case and how it affected our
organizing campaign for justice for Aaron Williams.

In its first set of hearings, the police commission ruled that no
"excessive force" was used, that the cops' role in beating Aaron Williams
was fine. The police commission was able to get away with such a ruling
because of the abysmal media coverage leading up to the initial hearings on
the case.

The few news reports were ridiculously biased. The coverage made it look
like Aaron Williams hadn't been beaten to death, but died because of a
strange new malady, "sudden in-custody death syndrome" That's how the San
Francisco Chronicle (4/8/96), the Bay Area's leading daily newspaper,
described a new phenomenon in which victims of police beatings inexplicably
die, but it's somehow not a result of those beatings.

As often happens in coverage of police brutality, news reports during the
hearings focused on the background and alleged misdeeds of the victim. In
Williams' case, coverage focused on his alleged drug problem and referred
to him as a parolee.

There was virtually no mention of Andaya's record, which included 3 prior
complaints of police brutality, five lawsuits alleging racism and abuse,
and one other death of an unarmed man of color.

Examining the Message

After we lost the initial hearings, we brought in We Interrupt This
Message, a media activist organization that specializes in working with
groups that face media stereotypes and biased coverage. They asked us to
tell them what our initial media message and organizing goal had been.

Our initial media message had been "the San Francisco police department is
out of control." Not even the progressive press wanted to cover the story
with that message.

The problem was that people had to be completely critical of the San
Francisco police department in order to agree with us that police officers
shouldn't have beaten an unarmed man to death. People in the neighborhoods
with experience with police brutality might agree with that message, but
what about people from communities which rarely suffer from police

What we were really asking people to agree with us about was not
particularly radical at all. Most people would agree that cops shouldn't
beat unarmed people to death. So we focused on that. And we had defined our
goal justice for Aaron Williams and his family. As a media message, that
was too vague. When Kim Deterime from Interrupt asked us what "justice for
Aaron" would look like, what we really wanted the police commission to do,
we said, "Fire Marc Andaya." She said, "Say that."

Like most grassroots groups, we knew exactly what our organizing goal
was-wejust didn't think we could say it to the media. We were thinking of
media as separate from, rather than in support of, our organizing effort.

Strategic Challenges

The next step was to look at the strategic media challenges ahead. Given
the biased media coverage so far, the Ella Baker Center faced three
challenges in achieving good coverage for the second round of hearings on
the case We had to rehumanize Aaron Williams, shift the focus from Williams
to Andaya and establish institutional accountability for what had happened.

We had to rehumanize Williams because he had been demonized in the press.
We had to rehumanize Aaron so people who had heard about the case through
the media could see him as something besides some crackhead parolee who
happened to die, and the loss to Aaron's family was felt by the community
as a whole.

Next, we had to shift the frame and the focus of the story from the
background and history of Aaron Williams, the victim, to the past misdeeds
of Marc Andaya, the perpetrator Shifting the focus of coverage to Andaya's
background and record-which is where it should have been in the first place
- was key to changing public opinion on the case.

Finally, we also had to establish institutional accountability for the
police brutality that was happening in our communities. We had to put a
name and a face to who was responsible for what happened in that
neighborhood. And we needed to turn the tables and hold the police
commission accountable for letting cops get away with murder

Sharpening the Target

We had to find a way to talk about Marc Andaya that let people know he was
a racist cop and a bad apple from the beginning. So we called him a name
that was becoming synonymous. with racist cops: We said, "Marc Andaya is
the Bay Area's Mark Fuhrman."

Since the police commission had the power to fire Andaya and they were
appointed by the mayor, we came up with a much sharper target: Mayor Willie
Brown's police commission. We started putting it in terms of "Willie
Brown's police commission protecting the Bay Area's Mark Fuhrman." "If
Willie Brown's police commission doesn't fire Marc Andaya, Aaron Williams'
blood is on Willie Brown's hands."

Our media strategy became integrated with our organizing campaign. Our
primary tactic was to stop business as usual at the police commission,
bringing 100 to 200 people to every police commission meeting and having
the media there to broadcast it all. This constantly ratcheted up the
pressure on the police commission, and on Mayor Brown to do something about
the commission.

Brown, who had been in the background, was suddenly in the hot seat.
Andaya, who had been presented as this nice police officer who had
unfortunately had somebody die on him with some strange malady, became what
he was, which was a menace and a terror to the African-American community.
And Aaron Williams, who before had been some black crackhead who happened
to die, became a valued member of a community and part of a family that was
devastated by his loss.

Victory for the Community

In a four-week period, we got close to two hours of television coverage.
The story went from being buried to the front page. And it made the front
page repeatedly for several weeks. We also shifted the coverage
dramatically. Both the San Francisco chronicle and the Examiner
editorialized against the police commission for refusing to fire Marc
Andaya. The coverage's focus went from Aaron Williams' background to Marc
Andaya's record to the institutional factors which allow police brutality
to happen-proving that you can use an individual story to talk about
institutional issues.

But more importantly for our communities, we collapsed the police
commission. By the time the campaign was over, all three of the
commissioners who had initially sided with Andaya had been removed or had
quit because of the tidal wave of media and community attention. And as a
result of unprecedented community pressure, Marc Andaya was fired.

On the day that Marc Andaya was finally kicked out of the police
department, the major stations interviewed Williams' aunt, her voice
broke when she said, "Now I can go to my nephew's grave.and tell him we got
some justice for him." For Aaron Williams and the thousands of police
brutality victims across the country, reframing media is a prerequisite to
any kind of coverage is justice.

Van Jones is director of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights in
Cal46rnia. He recently won the Reebok Human Rights Award for his efforts on
behalf of police brutality victims, including Aaron Williams.

New, Improved Medical Marijuana Drug Readied For Testing (Oncology Times,
without explaining how something can be both "new" and "improved," notes the
company that makes Marinol, the only form of medical marijuana approved
federally for use in the United States, hopes to be in Phase I clinical
trials of a new pharmaceutical form of marijuana by the second quarter of
this year. Unimed has also petitioned the U.S. Drug Enforcement
Administration to change Marinol from a Schedule II to a Schedule III drug.)
Link to Marinol article
Date: Thu, 11 Jun 1998 01:57:35 -0400 To: mapnews@mapinc.org From: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org (MAPNews) Subject: MN: US: New, Improved Medical Marijuana Drug Readied for Testing Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org Reply-To: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Tom.Barrus@Cahners.com Pubdate: May 1998 Section: Volume XX No. 5 p. 75 Source: Oncology Times Contact: oncologytimes@compuserve.com Author: Peggy Eastman NEW, IMPROVED MEDICAL MARIJUANA DRUG READIED FOR TESTING Washington, DC - The company that makes Marinol - the only medicinal marijuana drug approved in the US - hopes to be in Phase I clinical trials of a new pharmaceutical form of marijuana by the second quarter of this year. A new form of medicinal marijuana would be good news to the patients who say they prefer smoked marijuana to relieve their medical ailments rather than a pill. Some came here recently to the staid National Academy of Sciences building for a scientific workshop on medical marijuana - several in wheelchairs with companion dogs - to state their case. Except for eight patients grandfathered under the federal government's disbanded compassionate use program, smoked marijuana is illegal in every state except California. Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the most active ingredient of the marijuana plant and the one believed to have medicinal value for patients with cancer, AIDS, glaucoma, and a host of other illnesses and conditions. "We are keenly interested in a new formulation for THC," said Robert E. Dudley, PhD, Senior Vice President of Unimed Pharmaceuticals, Inc., in Buffalo Grove, IL, speaking here at the last of three information-gathering workshops sponsored by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. Marinol is taken orally in gel capsules. Dr. Dudley said the company wants to more nearly mimic inhaled marijuana, avoid the first pass through the liver that occurs with the oral formulation, and develop a faster-acting THC product. Drug delivery routes under consideration are sublingual, nasal aerosol, and pulmonary aerosol formulations. Approved Form Marinol was approved in 1985 as an antiemetic for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, and in 1992 it was approved for treatment of anorexia associated with weight loss in AIDS patients. Today, Dr. Dudley said in an interview, about 10 percent of Marinol sales are in oncology and about 90 percent in the HIV/AIDS treatment field. Sales data, he said, are strictly a function of how Marinol is marketed. Considering how much controversy swirls around providing marijuana to patients legally, Dr. Dudley said, "I am always amazed when I meet physicians who don't know that an approved THC product has been on the market for 13 years." He added, "Oncologists don't know much about it; many don't use it much. We need more awareness about Marinol among oncologists." Dr. Dudley said he believes that the fact that Marinol is a controlled substance has proved to be a hindrance to its acceptance by oncologists. In 1995 Unimed petitioned the US Drug Enforcement Administration to change Marinol from a Schedule II to a Schedule III drug, he said. The company is awaiting a US Department of Health and Human Services review of that petition and expects final US Drug Enforcement Administration action on its request this year. Rescheduling, said Dr. Dudley, would provide for improved patient access to Marinol, availability of prescription refills of the drug, increased pharmacy stocking, and a much higher comfort level among physicians. "A lot of physicians are leery of prescribing Schedule I and II drugs," said Dr. Dudley. "They feel they're being watched by the feds. Schedule I and II drugs are viewed very differently from Schedule III drugs and non-scheduled drugs." (Note by Tom Barrus, R.Ph., MBA - The DEA does not allow usual prescribing of schedule I drugs. However, Dr. Dudley is correct about feeling that, doctors who write prescriptions for schedule II drugs are being watched by the feds. The DEA is watching them and counting the kinds and numbers of pills they prescribe.) He said the company knows Marinol is expensive (about $200 a month for the average patient who uses it), but that there is coverage of the drug by third-party payors. The expense of the drug - along with the fact that some patients say smoked marijuana is more effective for them - is one reason consumer advocacy groups such as the Marijuana Policy Project believe patients who smoke marijuana for medicinal reasons should be allowed to do so without risking breaking the law. The Institute of Medicine investigators studying medicinal uses of marijuana will produce a final report - expected to be finished by the end of this year - on the health benefits and risks of the plant. One of the issues they are examining is whether smoked marijuana is a "gateway drug" to other illegal drugs. "There is a tremendous amount of new science" on the medical benefits of marijuana, said John A. Benson, Jr., MD, co-principal investigator of the Institute of Medicine study and Emeritus Professor and Dean at Oregon Health Sciences University. "My hope is that we'll go beyond asking for more research and that we might offer some specific suggestions for research," said Dr. Benson. In an interview, Dr. Benson added, "In general, patients like the plant. They say, why bother [to do more research]? Or they say, 'Let us use the plant while you do your research.' But that's not up to Drs. Benson and Watson." Dr. Benson's co-principal investigator on the Institute of Medicine's marijuana study is Stanley J. Watson, Jr., MD, PhD, Co-Director and Senior Research Scientist at the University of Michigan's Mental Health Research Institute. Difficult Drug to Study The use of medical marijuana is so political and controversial that it has been hard to subject it to rigorous scientific scrutiny. In August, the National Institutes of Health released the report of a panel that met the previous February to review the scientific data on the potential therapeutic benefits of marijuana and the need for, and feasibility of, more research. The NIH panel concluded that the risks linked to marijuana, especially smoked marijuana, must be considered not only in terms of immediate adverse effects on the lung, but also in terms of long-lasting effects in patients with chronic diseases who might use it for long periods of time. The NIH panel felt that frequent and prolonged marijuana use might reduce immune function (especially in patients with compromised immune systems); they were also concerned about the dangerous combustion byproducts of smoked marijuana on patients with chronic diseases. Thus they favored the development of a smoke-free inhaled delivery system that could deliver purer forms of THC or related cannabinoid compounds. NIH Director Harold Varmus, MD, said the NIH is open to receiving research grant applications for studies of the medical efficacy of marijuana, and will put applications through "our normal scientific review." The National Institute on Drug Abuse maintains a contract with the University of Mississippi to grow marijuana for research purposes, according to Institute sources. The Institute also has a contract with Research Triangle Institute to package the product into cigarettes distributed for NIH-approved research to scientists who have an Investigational New Drug clearance from the Food and Drug Administration. A small portion of these cigarettes - which are made according to standardized specifications from marijuana of known origin and quality - go to eight patients legally supplied with marijuana under the government's compassionate use program, which has been discontinued. At the Institute of Medicine workshop, speakers said marijuana's status as a controlled substance discourages scientists from attempting to study its therapeutic benefits. There is a "tremendous bureaucratic tangle to get a protocol approved," said J. Richard Crout, MD, a former FDA official who now runs Crout Consulting. He said that in addition to the constraints of the Drug Enforcement Administration, state agencies may also become involved in controlling marijuana trial protocols. Nevertheless, other speakers said studies of cannabinoids are underway. David Pate, a senior technical officer with HortaPharm, BV, in Amsterdam, said his company is manufacturing a generic THC drug and that he is studying another cannabinoid-like drug that goes to the same receptor as THC. Smokeless Cannabinoids Phyllis I. Gardner, MD, a dean at Stanford University and a consultant to Alza Corporation in Palo Alto, CA, said if she had a choice, she would choose inhalation as her first choice of delivery because it seems to provide the most therapeutic benefit. She said Alza tried to make a cannabinoid transdermal patch in the 1970s, but "it didn't work." She cited transmucosal delivery as a promising route, noting that in general Americans accept nasal delivery but do not accept rectal suppositories as readily as Europeans do. Reid M. Rubsamen, MD, Vice President for Medical Affairs of Aradigm Corporation in Hayward, CA, said he is working on a respiratory-tract drug delivery system for analgesics in which the patient holds a device with a light that tells him how to breathe; a liquid-formulated drug flows through the device in fine-particle, low-velocity aerosolized form. With this system, he noted, more of a given drug goes into the alveoli. Mahmoud A. ElSohly, PhD, President of ElSohly Laboratories, Inc., in Oxford, MS, said he is studying delta-9-THC-hemisuccinate in suppository form as an alternative to oral and smoked THC. He is testing this formulation on patients with spasticity, and said he was "very encouraged" from preliminary results. The Institute of Medicine carefully warned observers at the Washington workshop about the dangers of drawing inferences too hastily about what may be in the final report on medical use of marijuana. It stated that "observers who draw conclusions from the workshop about the Institute of Medicine study, will be doing so prematurely. The goal of this meeting is not to draw conclusions, but to listen to the evidence."

Tobacco Black Market Rise Predicted (An Associated Press article in the Los
Angeles Times says new television advertisements sponsored by the tobacco
industry accuse members of Congress and the White House of courting a black
market, increased crime and teen smoking by supporting a Senate tobacco bill.
The White House says "Lawmakers could control any black market for tobacco
products by taking a page from alcohol regulation." If the legislation
passes, $5-a-pack cigarettes are predicted.)

Date: Fri, 01 May 1998 19:32:32 -0400
To: mapnews@mapinc.org
From: Mike Gogulski (syadasti@mapinc.org)
Subject: MN: US: Tobacco Black Market Rise Predicted
Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Newshawk: Jim Rosenfield
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Contact: letters@latimes.com
Website: http://www.latimes.com/
Pubdate: 1 May 1998
Author: Laurie Kellman, Associated Press Writer


WASHINGTON--Answering critics of legislation aimed at curbing teen smoking,
the Clinton administration says lawmakers could control any black market
for tobacco products by taking a page from alcohol regulation, licensing
every link in the chain of distribution. "The creation of a sound
regulatory system -one that will close the distribution chain for tobacco
products -will ensure that the diversion and smuggling of tobacco can be
effectively controlled," Lawrence Summers, deputy secretary of the
Treasury, told a Senate panel Thursday.

But the tobacco industry says otherwise in new television ads that accuse
members of Congress and the White House of courting a black market,
increased crime and teen smoking by supporting a Senate tobacco bill.

Suggesting that beefed-up enforcement would solve the problem is a big step
in the right direction, said industry spokesman Scott Williams. "The
administration just admitted that the threat of a contraband problem is
real," he said of Summers' proposal. Meanwhile, President Clinton extended
an olive branch to the tobacco industry by inviting companies to come back
to the negotiating table to help write legislation to cut teen smoking.

"I would hope that before this is over, they would come back and rejoin the
negotiations," Clinton said. "I think it would be better if they were at
the table."

He also said lawmakers and political parties should not accept
contributions from tobacco companies. "Until we get this matter resolved
with the teen smoking, I think it would be better if none of us did," he
told a news conference.

The chasm between Washington and an industry that for decades wielded
virtually unequaled power here split wide open three weeks ago when tobacco
company executives rejected Congress' leading tobacco bill. Sponsored by
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who chairs the Senate Commerce Committee, the
measure would cost tobacco companies $516 billion over 25 years, sharply
raise cigarette prices and curtail the industry's marketing ability.

Tobacco executives say that bill would drive companies out of business,
make their product unaffordable and spawn a black market beyond the
government's control. Contraband, they say, would cause all manner of
societal ills, from gang members hawking smokes to kids to a spurt in
organized crime.

A federal law adding $1.10 to the price of cigarettes would result in a
pack costing $5, once wholesalers and retailers add their own increases to
make up for reduced demand, the industry says. That $5 is well above the
level at which a black market would be created, cigarette-makers contend.

The Treasury Department disputes that calculation, saying the bill would
result in a price closer to $3.50.

At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Thursday, Democrats and the
administration went further, accusing the industry of participating in the
existing black market.

"Haven't the tobacco companies been shown to be complicitous in some of the
smuggling efforts?" Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., asked. He held up news
reports saying U.S. American tobacco companies and employees were involved
in smuggling.

"In some cases, there was complicity," replied Lawrence Summers, deputy
secretary of the Treasury. "There is no way in our judgment that
substantial smuggling of tobacco products could take place without the
complicity of those in the industry." Williams denied the charge.

"They wouldn't support or condone breaking the law," Williams told
reporters. "The black market hurts the tobacco companies. They lose sales."

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee,
counseled caution. "If the companies become bankrupt or move offshore, it
is a whole new ballgame, and one which we cannot control," he said.

Summers' proposal for strictly licensing all levels of the tobacco industry
did not come with an estimated cost or a way to pay for it. The proposal,
likely to be offered as an amendment to McCain's bill, would target
manufacturers, wholesalers, exporters and importers, requiring federal
licenses. Every retailer would have to get a state license.

The proposal also would require that tobacco products be marked for
domestic distribution or for export, to ensure that excise taxes are

Critics, such as Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., called the proposal
naive, saying other areas of the law already are too weak to prevent
Mexican cigarettes from crossing the border into her state.

Copyright Los Angeles Times

GOP Makes Drug War Congress' Top Priority (An Associated Press article in the Orange County Register quotes House Speaker Newt Gingrich saying at a Republican rally Thursday that winning the war on some drug users by 2002 will have the highest priority in Congress. Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey was "surprised and pleased. They want an acceleration in our own timetable. We will consider their ideas carefully.")

Date: Sun, 03 May 1998 19:54:40 -0400
To: mapnews@mapinc.org
From: Melodi Cornett (mrhorse@kih.net)
Subject: MN: US: Gop Makes Drug War Congress' Top Priority
Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Newshawk:John W.Black
Pubdate: Fri, 1 May 1998
Source: Orange County Register (CA)
Contact: letters@link.freedom.com
Website: http://www.ocregister.com/
Author: Jim Abrams, The Associated Press


POLITICS: Gingrich announces a program aimed at abusers and traffickers.

WASHINGTON- Saying the war on drugs will be the highest priority of the
Republican-led Congress, House Speaker Newt Gingrich led a GOP rally
Thursday outlining a broad legislative agenda to reduce illegal use.

In the next several months, Republican leaders announced, they will bring to
the floor bills to double border patrol guards, link foreign aid to
drug-fighting efforts, increase penalties for methamphetamine traffickers
and money launderers and restrict loan eligibility for students convicted of
drug possession.

Gingrich told a room packed with lawmakers, youngsters and representatives
of anti-drug groups that he would call on the House Appropriations Committee
to make anti-drug money their first priority. "We will cut any other program
we have to cut" to focus on the goal of beginning to win the war on drugs by

Lawmakers wore blue ribbons, the symbol of their campaign, and lined up to
sign a declaration committing to work for a drug-free nation.

Democrats, who did not participate in the task force putting together the
package, accused Republicans of being more interested in scoring
election-year political points than working together to combat drugs.

But Barry McCaffrey, the White House drug policy chief, told the Associated
Press he was "surprised and pleased" at what tone and positive energy that
came out of the GOP rally.

"They want an acceleration in our own timetable," he said. "We will consider
their ideas carefully."

President Clinton in February outlined the administration's plan to cut
illegal drug use in half over the next decade by expanding anti-drug
coalitions, increasing police and border guards, improving treatment
programs and other measures also included in the Republican plan.

Also among the proposed Republican ideas:

Doubling to $20 million the annual budget to help local groups reduce
teen-age drug abuse.

Grants to implement drug-free workplace programs.

Building more fences and doubling guards along the Mexican border.

Providing U.S. assistance for foreign drug-eradication programs and linking
aid to drug-fighting efforts.

Life imprisonment for trafficking in speed, or methamphetamine.

House GOP Unveils Drug War Strategy (A different Associated Press version)

Date: Wed, 06 May 1998 00:15:52 -0400
To: mapnews@mapinc.org
From: Melodi Cornett (mrhorse@kih.net)
Subject: MN: US: WIRE: House GOP Unveil Drug War Strategy
Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Newshawk: Kevin Zeese
Pubdate: Fri, 01 May 1998
Source: Associated Press


WASHINGTON (AP) -- House Republicans donned blue ribbons and signed a pledge
to pass legislation this year that they said will finally put America on the
path toward winning the war on drugs.

``We must commit ourselves to total victory,'' House Speaker Newt Gingrich
said Thursday at a GOP rally to kick off a broad legislative plan to reduce
drug use by deterring demand, cutting off supplies and increasing personal

No Democrats participated in the task force that came up with the plan or
joined the rally, and Democrats complained that Republicans were ignoring
the president's 10-year strategy for cutting illegal drug use in half in
order to score political points in an election year.

``There are no winners from a protracted political battle on these issues,''
House Democratic leader Dick Gephardt said this week. ``There are only
losers, the kids who are failed by congressional inaction.''

But on Thursday, both sides tried to keep the political sniping at a
minimum. Gingrich again pointed out that drug use, which fell during the
Reagan and Bush administrations, ``has gone back up in every single
category'' since President Clinton took office. But he avoided direct
criticism of the administration's anti-drug policies.

And White House drug policy chief Barry McCaffrey, in an interview, said he
was ``surprised and pleased at the bipartisan tone and the positive energy''
at the Republican gathering.

``President Clinton told me to work this as a bipartisan strategy,'' he
said. ``We welcome new thinking, new energy.''

Gingrich said he would ask House appropriators, the lawmakers who decide how
federal money will be spent, to make financing for drug programs ``the
highest single priority. We will cut any other program we have to cut'' to
keep the focus on the war on drugs, he said.

``Today is our call to arms,'' said Rep. Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., the head of the

task force, saying the goal is to help create a drug-free America by 2002.

Task force co-chairman Rep. Bill McCollum, R-Fla., who as head of the
Judiciary crime subcommittee is in charge of interdiction programs, said he
hoped to slash supplies of illegal drugs by 80 percent in the next three years.

Among the Republican ideas:

--Building more fences and doubling border guards along the Mexican border.

--Providing U.S. assistance for foreign drug-eradication programs, and
linking aid to drug-fighting efforts.

--Life imprisonment for trafficking in speed or methamphetamine.

--A blue ribbon campaign week in September to raise national awareness of
the drug problem.

--Encouraging lawmakers to help establish community-based anti-drug coalitions.

--Doubling to $20 million the annual budget for the drug-free community act
to help local groups reduce teenage substance abuse.

--Grants to implement drug-free workplace programs.

--Restricting federal loans for students convicted of drug possession or

Casualties Of War (An essay in Hemp Magazine by Nora Callahan, director of
the November Coalition, recounts how the war on some drug users has
devastated her and her family. She says if every victim of this war in
America opposed it, it would end.)

Date: Sat, 30 May 1998 10:49:44 -0400
To: DrugSense News Service (mapnews@mapinc.org)
From: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org (MAPNews)
Subject: MN: US: Casualties of War
Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Reply-To: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Newshawk: John E. Dvorak, Managing Editor, Hemp Magazine
Source: Hemp Magazine
Author: Nora Callahan, Director of The November Coalition
Pubdate: May, 1998
Contact: boston.hemp@pobox.com


My own evolution to activism on the Drug War Front has been a long and
painful road. The mighty arm of the Drug War has slammed almost every area
of my life. In 1989, my brother was arrested for drug law violations. My
step-son struggled with drug addiction and my father began to loose a
twenty-year battle with cancer.

What is wrong with prohibition? I had to ask myself this question as War in
America pounded down with the fury that war always brings to society. For
five years, I was pulled down in the wake of destruction and drowning in

My step-son wanted and needed drug treatment. We had no financial reserves
to pay for it. In defeat, I took my own two children and abandoned David
and his father.

Chemotherapy began taking a terrible toll on my father. The pain of cancer
overwhelmed him. He fought valiantly, but the medicine that could ease his
suffering were illegal for his physicians to prescribe or recommend. As the
last convulsion came over him, I was at his side telling him gently, "It's
okay if you leave us, dad. It's okay to leave." Inside of my heart, I was
screaming and begging for death to come.

A few months after that agonizing separation, my brother lost at trial. He
was sentenced to more than twenty-seven years in federal prison. I was
stunned, grief-struck and riddled with questions.

What is wrong with prohibition? Where is the Drug War taking us as a
nation? Where did sensibility, compassion and forgiveness go? Will it ever
return to America?

War is destruction and I was an emotional casualty of war - a victim along
with what has fast become an incalculable number of American citizens.

The casualties of the War on Drugs are no longer calculable. There are
simply too many of us to count anymore. And so we go, a broken, tattered,
powerless lot, into the abyss of misery.

Last year, I began to rise above the ashes of despair, however, and I have
a question for the people that are reading my personal story.

What would happen if every victim of this war in America opposed it? It
would end.

I am now the Director of The November Coalition at the request of POW
David Perk and my brother Gary. Our organization is made up of the
casualties of the Drug War. Many of us are imprisoned. Others mourn for
loved ones in prison. Still others that have joined our efforts know that
their rights as free people are precarious. They know that America is
being destroyed by a drug civil war. We are weary of being victims and are
uniting a voice of opposition. Today there are many groups that are working
feverishly for drug law reform. Please join us in opposing this war.

For thirty years, our federal and state legislators have been deaf to the
prisoners' thin, fragmented cry. The Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich,
has introduced legislation that will send a person with so little as a
couple pounds of a harmless plant to the federal gallows. Gingrich's "Death
Penalty Importation Act" has the support of 33 members of the House of

Many of you may not believe that it will come to this-that executions for
possessing marijuana will ever take place. But let me ask you this, who
among you believed two decades ago that growing marijuana could bring a
sentence of life in prison? It has for many. We are headed down a
dangerous, deadly road and if we do not stop this war-who will?

United, we can stand strong, demand peace and end this futile and
destructive policy. Divided, we can not. The stakes are higher than mere
personal choice-it is now life or death. I urge you to find a place in the
drug reform movement and help us bring peace and healing to this nation.
Our lives and freedom depend on it.

We publish a bi-monthly newspaper that chronicles the destruction of war
and directs people who are willing to oppose it.

Our contact information is:

The November Coalition
PO Box 309
Colville, WA 99114

Phone: (509) 684-1550 or Conseulo at (509) 738-4444
Email: moreinfo@november.org.
Website: http://www.november.org/

Display A Light In Your Window Campaign (Nora Callahan in Hemp Magazine urges
you to burn a candle in a window until the drug war is over and all the
prisoners are freed. The campaign was initiated in the 1997 Christmas season
by the Delaware Cannabis Society.)

Date: Sat, 30 May 1998 11:08:56 -0400
To: DrugSense News Service (mapnews@mapinc.org)
From: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org (MAPNews)
Subject: MN: US: Display a Light in Your Window Campaign
Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Reply-To: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Newshawk: John E. Dvorak, Managing Editor, Hemp Magazine
Source: Hemp Magazine
Author: Nora Callahan, Director of The November Coalition
Pubdate: May, 1998
Contact: boston.hemp@pobox.com
Editors note: The November Coalition contacts are:
Email: moreinfo@november.org.
Website: http://www.november.org


Before Christmas, the November Coalition was made aware of the Delaware
Cannabis Society's (DCS) "Light in the Window Campaign." Richard J.
Schimelfenig of DCS explains, "Burning a candle in our windows is a symbol
of a vigil for the return of loved ones that has a long history. It is
mentioned in the Bible, as well as many other revered documents. This
campaign touches an elemental part of each person, helping middle America
to find empathy for the many families hurt by the government's Civil War on
drug users. It is a primeval reminder that there are real people being
hurt, not for harming anyone else, but for making a choice that others
moralize about and demonize. It will help each person to reflect on their
own reasons for ending this war on ourselves."

This particular campaign began when the wife of one of our country's
cannabis prisoners contacted Richard after her two young sons had asked
that a Christmas "candle" (electric light on a candlestick) not be packed
away after Christmas, but left in the window. "We are leaving the light on
for Dad," say Dane and Drew.

Lights are being placed in windows all over the country and we ask that you
would join us in this demonstration. Many of us have followed up with a
letter to our editors, explaining why the light burns, and for whom they
burn. Some place a light for the AIDs victim who cannot use cannabis
legally, some for a loved-one imprisoned. They are all a visible protest of
our country's destructive policy of war. Please join us and place a light
in your window.

In this country, the land of the free,
They took my dad, far away from me.

During his life, in this land of Liberty,
"Never hurt anyone," is what he taught me.

So tell me, from sea to shining sea,
Nonviolent people are imprisoned, how can this be?

When weapons are legal, a plant is not,
It makes no sense, when guns get you shot.

He sits behind bars now....oh amber waves of grain,
Send my dad home, stop my tears, heal my pain.

-Dane, Child of War


Copyright 1998 Hemp Magazine. Redistributed by The Media Awareness Project
of DrugSense by permission.

The Right Wing Is On Drugs (This magazine finds marijuana law reformers in
Canada tend to have a conservative outlook.)

Date: Sat, 04 Jul 1998 22:56:31 -0400
To: maptalk@mapinc.org
From: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org (MAPNews)
Subject: MN: Canada: PUB ARTICLE: The Right Wing Is On Drugs
Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Reply-To: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/
Newshawk: Dr. Kate (Kathy Galbraith)
Source: THIS magazine
Pubdate: May/June 1998
Contact: thismag@web.net
Website: http://www.THISmag.org/
Author: Nate Hendley
Editors note: Journalist Nate Hendley is a long time participant in the
Canadian Media Awareness Project and their email list - MATTALK:


How Conservatives Tuned In, Turned On And Took Over The Legalization Debate
In Canada

Patrick Basham's been thinking a lot about drugs lately, which is something
you can't really avoid when you live in Vancouver. As Canada's opiate and
marijuana capital, Vancouver has the highest rate of HIV infection among
intravenous drug users in the Western world and some of the strongest pot
in North America. It's also one of the few places in Canada where needle
drug users openly spike in the streets, especially in the squalid 40 square
blocks that make up the down town eastside.

Basham, who used to live near the eastside, recalls seeing people injecting
heroin and cocaine, "literally every day...at eight in the morning, people
would be shooting up, making sales. At the office, I'd tell people the
latest thing I was offered for sale."

Last fall, Basham attended a drug-policy conference organized by the Hoover
Institute, a prestigious American think-tank. That conference combined
with his daily experience seeing addicts in his neighborhood, convinced him
that "something had to be done and soon."

"I used to believe the costs of legalization outweighed the benefits" he
recalls. "Then I moved to the other side."

So Basham put together a recent one-day conference where speakers discussed
"Sensible Solutions to the Urban Drug Problem" and debated the merits of
legalization, decriminalization and harm reduction. But despite all the
dope-talk, it was no West Coast hippie-fest. That's because the conference
was sponsored by the Fraser Institute. A hard-right B.C.-based policy
centre, the Fraser is better known for opposing the welfare state than
supporting progressive drug policy.

Basham, who works as a director of the institute's social affairs centre,
points out that all his organization is doing is playing catch-up with the
United States. A number of American right-wing individuals and groups have
preached the legalization line for years.

Like the Fraser Institute, these right-wing reformers are less interested
in dropping acid than rescinding what they consider dangerously expanded
state powers, unclogging courts and saving money in incarceration costs.
But most rightist reformers are fueled by anti-government ideology, not any
sympathy for drug addicts, and some of their proposals seem as amazingly
awful as the Drug War itself.

Still, right-wingers do hold one major advantage over the type of people
who've populated the reform movement until recently. When it comes to
talking about legal hash and heroin, conservatives in suits are generally
taken more seriously than tie-dyed hippies or liberals with mushy notions
of law and order. "The Fraser Institute is seen as a very creditable
organization." says Basham. "Which is one of the reasons we decided to hold
this conference. We want to make drug legalization a creditable debate."

Marc Emery's also concerned about credibility, which is why he takes care
to keep his hair short, wear a suit jacket in public and talk intelligently
when pontificating on drug policy matters. "When you're watching TV, and
it shows a bunch of hippies smoking pot in a public park, that's not likely
to impress many older viewers," he says.

In spite of his concerns about public image, Emery has little fear of
making a complete ass of himself if it helps the anti-Drug War cause.
Probably the nation's best-known drug activist, he's been kicked out of
courtrooms for heckling judges and handed out joints in front of court

A self-described "Ayn Rand stripe libertarian," Emery believes that
government "has no useful social purpose except to make people's lives more
miserable." He opposes unions, the welfare state, universal health care and
people who think it's immoral to make money off drugs.

Back in 1994, Emery opened a Vancouver shop called HempBC, a business that
aimed to be a head shop with a difference. Emery's timing was good: by the
early nineties, drug law reform was slowly re-entering public consciousness
after lying dormant for more than a decade.

North America's brief fling with drug reform- 11 U.S. states decriminalized
marijuana in the seventies and Canada seemed on the verge of doing the
same- died abruptly after Ronald Reagan was elected president. Reagan
ignited America's War on Drugs in 1981, and Canada followed suit three
years later with Brian Mulroney's election.

The Drug War was so pervasive by the time HempBC got off the ground that a
lot of the items Emery sold- such as pot growing books and magazines like
High Times- were technically illegal. That didn't bother Emery much, and
last year he opened a companion business in Vancouver called the Cannabis
Cafe. The cafe was North America's first Amsterdam-style hash bar, where
patrons could munch on veggie food and take advantage of vaporizers at
their tables should they feel the need to take a toke.

Emery grossed $3.5 million in sales last year and at one point employed 43
people at his HempBC store. American journalists were so impressed they
put Emery on the cover of the Wall Street Journal and featured him in
Rolling Stone.

But Vancouver police were less impressed and raided HempBC twice. This
spring, Emery, who is facing 17 pot-related charges, lost his business
license and was forced to sell the cafe and store to his employees. Since
then, he's focused on selling marijuana seeds and publishing Cannabis
Canada magazine, the great White North's answer to High times.

Wildly optimistic, Emery predicts "medical marijuana will be decriminalized
this year....followed by full decriminalization a year later." The federal
liberals, however, don't seem to be on the same time line. Last year, they
proclaimed the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (Bill C-8) into law,
making a six-month jail term the maximum for simple marijuana possession.
The same bill allows police to seize property where a single pot plant is
found, and proscribes seven-year stretches for people caught with cocaine
or heroin.

Meanwhile, roughly 600,000 Canadians hold criminal records for pot
possession, which can make it impossible to cross the border or get certain
jobs. And our government spends about half a billion a year on drug law
enforcement, with few signs of letting people like Emery run legal drug

Some federal politicians do support reform, but it's unlikely many would
have endorsed the platform Emery used during his 1996 mayoral bid. Emery
promised to turn Vancouver's welfare recipients into pot grower's, provided
they stop accepting social assistance benefits. "Anyone can grow pot."
Emery notes. "Invalids, old people. we'd set them up."

Emery ended up in fifth place with 1500 votes. Unsuccessful as a
politician, Emery's provided a far more valuable service for the reform
cause: by running HempBC and the Cannabis Cafe for as long as he did, he
gave Canada a glimpse at what post-Drug War society might look like.

"Our intent was to pretend marijuana was legal," explains Emery. "our motto
was "Revolution through Retail." We figured retail sales would pay us to
promote our point of view."

To find out where Marc Emery developed his singular world view, it's
necessary to go to London, Ontario, where he ran a used book store called
City Lights in the eighties.

Outraged that the Criminal Code outlawed literature that "promoted" drug
use, Emery unsuccessfully tried to get himself arrested by stocking his
store with High Times . He also took time in 1984 to help found the
Freedom Party of Ontario. (FP), an organization that remains the "only
political party that supports legalizing drugs," in the words of leader
Robert Metz.

The Freedom Party is small- it garnered only one to two-and-a half per cent
of the vote in the dozen ridings it contested in the 1995 provincial
election- but its presence helps explain right-wing support for
legalization. Like the split between social democrats and revolutionaries
on the left, the right houses at least two overlapping but often
antagonistic bodies: libertarians and social conservatives.

Social conservatives, says Osgoode Hall law professor and drug law activist
Alan Young, "tend to be motivated by what they call "family values." Their
general approach to drug use is that it's destructive to families and kids."

Libertarians, as their name implies, view individual liberties as paramount
and big government as satanic. they also believe, as Metz does, that
people have the "right to intoxicate themselves with any substance... As
long as they're not harming anyone else, the state shouldn't interfere."
Metz, who thinks marijuana should have the same legal status as asparagus."
says his views are widely shared among right-wingers, but that most of them
won't talk about it.

The Freedom Party, however, feels so strongly about drug policy that they
offered financial support when fellow Londoner Chris Clay tried to overturn
Canada's pot laws. In 1995, Clay was hit with possession and trafficking
charges after an undercover officer bought cannabis plants at his store,
Hemp Nation. With activist Alan Young, Clay launched a constitutional
challenge that stated pot had been arbitrarily placed in Canada's Criminal
Code and wasn't harmful enough to criminalize.

To fund his challenge, Clay sold $25. "victory bonds" redeemable for a
quarter ounce of pot once marijuana was legalized. The Freedom Party
bought a thousand bucks worth of them.

Despite this support, Clay ended up losing his case- receiving probation
and a small fine- and anyway, it's doubtful the FP's assistance counts for
much. Not only is it a fringe party, libertarianism has always been
regarded as suspicious by Canadian voters.

But libertarian arguments against the Drug War have been making their way
into some pretty major Canadian news media lately. Last year, the Ottawa
citizen (with Neil Reynolds, former president of the Libertarian party of
Canada, in the editor's chair) surprised readers with a series of
editorials that endorsed legalizing all drugs. The Citizen based its
arguments on a premise Metz or Emery would have no quarrel with: drug
prohibition is immoral because it implies that "free human beings are not
capable of making their own decisions about what they should ingest into
their own bodies."

Coming as more of a shock was the ultrareactionary Alberta Report
magazine's sympathetic cover story on Chris Clay's trial. The Report's
story on Clay didn't quite come out and say pot is good for you, but it
editorialized strongly against the excesses of the Drug War.

As harsh as Canada's War on Drugs has been, we've got nothing on our
cousins to the south. In the United States, you can lose your house, bank
account and driver's license for even minor marijuana offences.

The U.S. spends more than $30 billion on anti-drug efforts and sets the
death penalty for non-violent drug crimes such as large-scale pot
cultivation. Back in 1980, about one in 15 prisoners entering state jails
had been charged with drug offences; 13 years later, that figure was
roughly one in three. And most U.S. drug prisoners are non-white-- a
reflection of laws that call for federal penalties 100 more times severe
for crack cocaine (primarily considered a "black drug", than powder
cocaine(used primarily by whites).

As a result of these extreme policies, there is a far more radical reaction
against the Drug war in the U.S. than anything you'd find in Canada. Take
judge Jim Gray a conservative Republican in Orange County, California.
Judge Gray wants to allow the' sale of marijuana, heroin, and cocaine In a
"strictly controlled, regulated fashion" to adults.

The products would be sold in pharmacies, wrapped in a plain brown paper
and wouldn't be advertised. Such a regulatory system, says the judge,
would eliminate the black market for drugs, drastically clear court dockets
and jail space, and "drive the criminals out of the business."

Judge Gray isn't the only right-winger in America with these ideas:
libertarian economist Milton Friedman was talking about legalizing heroin
back in the seventies. Ultra-conservative publisher William F. Buckley has
used his National Review magazine to publish pro-legalization cover
stories. And a conservative comrade of Buckley's named Dick Cowan used to
head up the National Organization for reform Of Marijuana Laws (NORML)

Billionaire currency speculator George Soros has poured a small fortune
into American drug reform initiatives under the auspices of his
libertarian-oriented Open Society Institute. The U.S. Libertarian Party,
which wants to legalize all drugs, has elected nearly 200 officials, and
former leader Ron Paul, currently sits as a Republican congressman from Texas.

For the most part, the U.S. Congress remains bitterly opposed to
legalization, but in Europe dramatic changes have been going on. Spain,
Italy, and Germany all recently decriminalized marijuana or other drugs.
France is contemplating wide-scale legal reforms and there is growing
pressure in Britain to decriminalize pot. Even in the U.S., two states-
Arizona and California passed referendums that legalized medical marijuana
in 1996. indeed, Young insists he's seen "greater movement (toward
legalizing drugs) in the past five years," and many would agree with him.

This March, the Canadian government officially lifted a 60-yr.-old ban on
growing commercial hemp, the non-intoxicating sister plant of marijuana.
used to make rope and clothes, not joints, help was demonized for years
because of its association with pot. the Liberals legalized the stuff
because of fierce lobbying efforts from an unlikely coalition of farmers
and bankers. Farmers, especially those who grow tobacco, were looking for
a new, low-maintenance crop. Bank of Montreal, which sponsored a pro-hemp
symposium in Vancouver, scented profits in the wind from a legal commercial
hemp industry.

And although the liberals introduced the extremely punitive controlled
Drugs and Substances Act last year, there was opposition. Weirdly enough,
it came from the hidebound senate. After the bill passed the house of
commons in the fall of 1995, it went to the Senate, where a legal committee
recommended criminal sanctions on pot be dropped. This led to one of the
more amusing media stories of recent times: elderly Senators endorsing
decrim while their supposedly more progressive Commons counterparts offered
feeble excuses as to why it couldn't be done.

C-8 was made law without the pot provisions recommended by the Senate but
since then, it's been a Reform MP, Jim Hart of Okanagan-Coquihalla, B.C.,
who has done the most to keep the decrim debate before the House. Last
fall, Hart put forward a private member's motion to investigate the
possibility of legalizing medical marijuana. Motion M-260 would allow
people with serious ailments such as cancer, AIDS, glaucoma and epilepsy to
use medical cannabis without fear of going to jail.

Hart launched the motion after meeting with a constituent with a skull
fracture who found "marijuana was the only thing that offers him any
relief". Asked if his support for medical pot contradicts social
conservative cant that all illicit drug use is immoral, Hart says, "The
conservatism I believe in is listening to the grassroots, responding in a
compassionate manner." He opposes recreational pot use but says most of his
fellow Reformers feel (M-260) was a worthwhile motion"

Alan Young is buoyed by these signs of conservative support, but bristles
at the notion that the drug reform movement's been taken over by
right-wingers. "This issue transcends traditional political stances," he
insists. "Anyone with the proper education will support decriminalization
or legalization"

The War on Drugs was started by conservatives , so the fact that so many
right-wingers are defecting from the cause might be a sign the battles
really coming to a close. That's good news for people who worry about the
police kicking in their doors, but bad news if the kind of proposals
proffered by the right are actually put into place.

Currently, in both Canada and the U.S., the poor bear the worst brunt of
the Drug War; statistics show that they're far more likely to be arrested
on flimsy drug charges and sentenced to long terms than middle-class users.
Libertarian reforms would end the police-state tactics that people in
low-income neighborhoods currently endure but wouldn't do much for them if
they got addicted.

The "right to self-intoxication" that Metz talks about comes with its own
self-correcting corollary: get stoned if you want, but don't expect free
treatment if you get high too often. Libertarians would privatize health
care, including rehab, which means state-run needle exchanges, methadone
clinics and treatment centres offering low or no-cost services would no
longer exist. Private rehab would still flourish, but how many street
addicts could come up with the cash for a high-priced detox bed?

Even if you could care less about the health and well-being of drug users,
public-health treatment programs make good fiscal sense. Providing clean
needles to prevent the spread of HIV is a lot cheaper than treating AIDS
patients. Even Margaret Thatcher recognized this reality, which is why she
legalized needle exchanges in England back in the eighties.

Offering free methadone, which heroin addicts use to ease the pain of
withdrawal, might seem obscene to non-drug users, except that methadone
spares everyone a lot of misery. On methadone, opiate addicts are far more
likely to hold down jobs and maintain normal family lives. Also, methadone
patients commit fewer crimes because they don't have to rob people to pay
for expensive smack habits.

If they're blind to the benefits of public health, libertarians also have
some pretty bad ideas about how a legal drug market might operate. In
Europe, the model has been toward state regulation: the pot-head haven of
Amsterdam, for example, operates under strict government rules that
prohibit hash bars from advertising their wares, making sales to minors and
selling hard drugs. In places such as Switzerland, opiate addicts can get
legal heroin, but only if they register and inject at state clinics. These
kinds of initiatives- however successful they've been in eliminating black
markets and lowering crime and HIV among needle users- are anathema to
libertarians who view any degree of government control as an affront to
individual liberty.

"Never let the government regulate drugs," snaps Emery, "That's maybe more
insidious than keeping it illegal. The government shouldn't decide what is
dangerous and what isn't." Emery believes the free market's more than up to
the task of selling coke and cannabis.

But one has only to look to the example of tobacco and alcohol companies to
realizes how problematic this is. Until very recently, both industries
have taken a completely hands-off attitude to the potential harms of their
products. U.S. tobacco companies, in fact, denied for decades that there
could be any health problems associated with cigarettes.

"I'm a little uneasy about heroin brought to you by Nike," says Neev
Tapiero. "If someone were in a position to make money of heroin, it
wouldn't be beneath corporations to do it.."

Tapiero lives in Toronto and acts as spokesperson for the Medical Marijuana
Centeres on Ontario, an above-ground but highly illegal collective of pot
clubs. He supports the legalization of all drugs- provided the government
plays a role in how they're sold- and an extensive social-services net.
primarily concerned with getting medical pot to his clients, not arguing
about ideology, Tapiero insists drug policy reform is "not a left-wing or a
right-wing issue."

Patrick Basham agrees. "On this issue, we might find our greatest allies
on what used to be the traditional left."

Combine the left's traditional support for the disadvantaged with the
right's mistrust of ill-considered state spending and you could have a
powerful anti-Drug War mix. But you'd also have a very tenuous one: the
legalizers might unite, but that's only because the War on Drugs is such a
clear and present danger that reformers would be foolish not to seek
alliances. Once it's over it's doubtful all the various advocates of
legalization could agree on the terms of withdrawal.

The choices range from well-regulated access to narcotics and widespread,
accessible treatment, to a laissez-faire model where the free market rules
and government does nothing. Drug peace, orderly distribution and good
health care, or the right to pursue individual happiness with a syringe and
no safety net for burnouts. In the end, the real problem might not be in
ending the Drug War, but in securing the most humane peace.

Police Arrest 72-Year-Old Suspected of Trafficking (The Guardian, in
Charlottetown, says police from Surete Du Quebec arrested the Canadian man
for selling cannabis to teenagers at a nearby high school. But Wally Ethier
says, "I don't sell to anyone. I use [marijuana] for medical reasons. I have
arthritis and nervousness.")

From: creator@islandnet.com (Matt Elrod)
To: mattalk@listserv.islandnet.com
Subject: Canada: Police arrest 72-year-old suspected of trafficking
Date: Fri, 01 May 1998 10:02:38 -0700
Newshawk: creator@mapinc.org
Source: The Guardian (Charlottetown)
Pubdate: Fri 01 May 1998
Section: News A1 / Front
Author: Jeremy Mercer

Police arrest 72-year-old suspected of trafficking

Surete du Quebec officers rousted Wally Ethier from his room at a
senior citizens' residence on Sacre-Coeur Boulevard in Hull yesterday
and confronted the 72-year-old man with allegations that he had sold
marijuana to teenagers from a nearby high school.

They seized about 30 grams of marijuana and roughly $350 in cash at
his apartment. The officers questioned Mr. Ethier for almost four

Police expect to lay charges as early as today. ``He was arrested
after a thorough investigation,'' Sgt. Michel Lepine said. ``There
will be charges against him.''

But a tired and frail Mr. Ethier denounced the allegations against him
and said he is simply a sick old man who smokes marijuana to treat his
rheumatoid arthritis and poor circulation.

``I don't sell to anyone,'' Mr. Ethier said during a brief interview
before he went to bed. ``I use (marijuana) for medical reasons. I have
arthritis and nervousness.''

Mr. Ethier, who walks with the assistance of a cane, said he would
fight the investigation, but didn't want to say anything else until he
had talked to a lawyer.

Mr. Ethier said police seized marijuana and money from his apartment
yesterday afternoon.

The investigation appears to be the latest chapter in a battle between
police forces trying to uphold the nation's drug laws and a growing
community of medical experts and patients who assert that marijuana is
a necessary and valuable medicine.

In a similar case last fall, the RCMP raided the apartment of another
Hull man, Jean Charles Pariseau, and seized several dozen marijuana
plants. He was charged with possession and the cultivation of an
illegal drug.

Mr. Pariseau has AIDS and was smoking marijuana on the advice of his
physician, Dr. Don Kilby, to help stimulate his appetite.

Mr. Pariseau continues to fight the charges on the basis that he needs
the marijuana for his health.

``If someone is using marijuana for their own purposes, and I'm not
talking about someone who is selling to minors, but someone who uses
it for the drug's perceived medical benefit, then it's an absurdity to
keep bringing the law into it,'' says Eugene Oscapella, a founding
member of the Canadian Foundation for Drug Policy, a group that
supports the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes.

``We continue to waste resources and we continue to go after people
who should be left alone. He's a grown man and the state shouldn't be
telling him how to run his life.''

However, the Surete du Quebec said it is entirely police matter.

``A lot of people claim they use (marijuana) for medicine now,'' says
Sgt. Lepine. ``This is a police investigation.''

Adds Const. Gilles Couture, a Surete du Quebec spokesman, ``If there
were kids involved, it is even more serious.''

Other residents at 50 Sacre-Coeur Blvd., a high-rise that caters to
people over the age of 55, were shocked at Mr. Ethier's arrest.

``He's an A1 guy, a great person,'' said George Frechette, who's known
Mr. Ethier for six years.

``He doesn't sell dope and if he smokes it, it's for his leg. You know
what it is? There are some good people in this building and bad people
... Some of the bad people are upset because Ethier has visitors who
sometimes take their bikes across the grass. They probably made up the

The police will continue their investigation into Mr. Ethier today.



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