------------------------------------------------------------------- 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 Friday.) Date: Sun, 03 May 1998 11:12:11 -0400 To: email@example.com From: Melodi Cornett (firstname.lastname@example.org) Subject: MN: US CA: Placing Blame For Closing Sender: email@example.com Newshawk: Marcus-Mermelstein Family (firstname.lastname@example.org) Pubdate: Fri, 1 May 1998 Source: San Jose Mercury News (CA) Contact: email@example.com Website: http://www.sjmercury.com/ Author: Raoul V. Mowatt PLACING BLAME FOR CLOSING 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 community.''
------------------------------------------------------------------- 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: firstname.lastname@example.org From: Melodi Cornett (email@example.com) Subject: MN: US CA: Column: Crack Trade Has Gravitated to `The Walk' Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Newshawk: Marcus-Mermelstein Family (email@example.com) Pubdate: Fri, 1 May 1998 Source: San Jose Mercury News (CA) Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.sjmercury.com/ Author: Jim Trotter CRACK TRADE HAS GRAVITATED TO `THE WALK' 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 email@example.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: firstname.lastname@example.org From: Melodi Cornett (email@example.com) Subject: MN: US CA: PUB LTE: Drug Statistics Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Newshawk: John W.Black Pubdate: Fri, 1 May 1998 Source: Orange County Register (CA) Contact: email@example.com Website: http://www.ocregister.com/ DRUG STATISTICS 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 record.) Date: Mon, 11 May 1998 12:00:26 -0700 To: firstname.lastname@example.org From: email@example.com (MAPNews) Subject: MN: US: Lessons From a Killing Sender: firstname.lastname@example.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." LESSONS FROM A KILLING 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 brutality? 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.)Date: Thu, 11 Jun 1998 01:57:35 -0400 To: email@example.com From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) Subject: MN: US: New, Improved Medical Marijuana Drug Readied for Testing Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.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: email@example.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: firstname.lastname@example.org From: Mike Gogulski (email@example.com) Subject: MN: US: Tobacco Black Market Rise Predicted Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Newshawk: Jim Rosenfield Source: Los Angeles Times (CA) Contact: email@example.com Website: http://www.latimes.com/ Pubdate: 1 May 1998 Author: Laurie Kellman, Associated Press Writer TOBACCO BLACK MARKET RISE PREDICTED 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 collected. 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: firstname.lastname@example.org From: Melodi Cornett (email@example.com) Subject: MN: US: Gop Makes Drug War Congress' Top Priority Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Newshawk:John W.Black Pubdate: Fri, 1 May 1998 Source: Orange County Register (CA) Contact: email@example.com Website: http://www.ocregister.com/ Author: Jim Abrams, The Associated Press GOP MAKES DRUG WAR CONGRESS' TOP PRIORITY 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 2002. 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: firstname.lastname@example.org From: Melodi Cornett (email@example.com) Subject: MN: US: WIRE: House GOP Unveil Drug War Strategy Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Newshawk: Kevin Zeese Pubdate: Fri, 01 May 1998 Source: Associated Press HOUSE GOP UNVEIL DRUG WAR STRATEGY 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 responsibility. 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 trafficking.
------------------------------------------------------------------- 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 (email@example.com) From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) Subject: MN: US: Casualties of War Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Newshawk: John E. Dvorak, Managing Editor, Hemp Magazine Source: Hemp Magazine Author: Nora Callahan, Director of The November Coalition Pubdate: May, 1998 Contact: email@example.com CASUALTIES OF WAR 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 despair. 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 Representatives. 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: firstname.lastname@example.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 (email@example.com) From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) Subject: MN: US: Display a Light in Your Window Campaign Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Newshawk: John E. Dvorak, Managing Editor, Hemp Magazine Source: Hemp Magazine Author: Nora Callahan, Director of The November Coalition Pubdate: May, 1998 Contact: email@example.com Editors note: The November Coalition contacts are: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Website: http://www.november.org DISPLAY A LIGHT IN YOUR WINDOW CAMPAIGN 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: email@example.com From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) Subject: MN: Canada: PUB ARTICLE: The Right Wing Is On Drugs Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Dr. Kate (Kathy Galbraith) Source: THIS magazine Pubdate: May/June 1998 Contact: email@example.com 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: http://www.islandnet.com/~creator/cmap/ THE RIGHT WING IS ON DRUGS 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 buildings. 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 operations. 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: firstname.lastname@example.org (Matt Elrod) To: email@example.com Subject: Canada: Police arrest 72-year-old suspected of trafficking Date: Fri, 01 May 1998 10:02:38 -0700 Newshawk: firstname.lastname@example.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 hours. 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 stories.'' The police will continue their investigation into Mr. Ethier today. -------------------------------------------------------------------
The articles posted here are generally copyrighted by the source publications. They are reproduced here for educational purposes under the Fair Use Doctrine (17 U.S.C., section 107). NORML is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit educational organization. The views of the authors and/or source publications are not necessarily those of NORML. The articles and information included here are not for sale or resale.
Comments, questions and suggestions.Reporters and researchers are welcome at the world's largest online library of drug-policy information, sponsored by the Drug Reform Coordination Network at: http://www.druglibrary.org/
Next page of today's news
Previous page of today's news
Next day's news
Previous day's news
to 1998 Daily News index for April 30-May 6
to Portland NORML news archive directory
to 1998 Daily News index (long)
This URL: http://www.pdxnorml.org/980501a.html