Portland NORML News - Monday, May 18, 1998

Medical Pot Needs Supply In Wake Of Federal Decisions
('San Francisco Examiner' Says California Politicians And District Attorneys
From San Francisco To Los Angeles Are Planning A Summit May 26
In Sacramento To Figure Out How To Legally Distribute Medical Marijuana)

Date: Tue, 19 May 1998 12:58:07 -0700
To: mapnews@mapinc.org
From: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org (MAPNews)
Subject: MN: US CA: Medical Pot Needs Supply in Wake of Federal Decisions
Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Newshawk: compassion23@geocities.com (Frank S. World)
Source: San Francisco Examiner (CA)
Contact: letters@examiner.com
Website: http://www.examiner.com/
Pubdate: Mon, 18 May 1998
Author: Emelyn Cruz Lat


State DAs plan summit on legal pot

Even as federal authorities swooped down on Dennis Peron's remote rural pot
farm last week, politicians and district attorneys from San Francisco to
Los Angeles were busily planning a summit to figure out how to legally
distribute medical marijuana.

Local officials have faced the dilemma of carrying out Proposition 215, the
voter-approved measure legalizing medical pot, in the wake of crushing
federal court decisions. The latest ordered the closure of the Cannabis
Healing Center and three other Northern California clubs for violating
federal drug laws.

Good timing

Organizers of the so-called pot summit have been planning the event for
several months and say it was fortuitous that their announcement coincided
with the latest federal court ruling.

It also coincided with the raid on the crops of Peron, the controversial
former operator of San Francisco's original Cannabis Buyers' Club and now a
GOP gubernatorial candidate who is campaigning for the availability of
medicinal marijuana.

State Sen. John Vasconcellos, D-Santa Clara, District Attorney Terence
Hallinan and other officials announced plans for a statewide "Medical
Marijuana Distribution Summit" to be held May 26 at the state Capitol.

Diverse representation

The event, sponsored by the state Senate committee on public safety, which
is chaired by Vasconcellos, would bring together all the stakeholders in
the medical marijuana debate: the sick and dying, their physicians and
health care providers, political representatives, local law enforcement and
district attorneys around the state.

The goal is to find an alternative way to distribute medical marijuana
legally under federal law. So far, a number of approaches have been
discussed, ranging from legislative action to court battles.

Attorneys for the cannabis clubs have said they relish a court battle to
resolve the conflict between state and federal laws. Some recommend new
legislation to facilitate the safe and affordable distribution of medicinal
pot. Others say the ultimate solution is for the federal government to
reschedule marijuana so that it can be prescribed like morphine and other
legal drugs.

Legislature backs medical use

The Legislature is on record supporting the rescheduling of marijuana to a
prescription drug. In 1994, it sent a resolution to Congress and the
president, asking them to make the changes, but it was refused.

Organizers say that continued efforts to push for changes in federal drug
laws, and other states passing similar medicinal marijuana measures, will
mount pressure on the federal government to deal with the issue.

The summit, with its blend of traditional legislative hearings and
discussions between participants and members of the committee, is designed
to arrive at consensus on how to make Prop. 215 work and how to make it
legal under federal drug laws.

1998 San Francisco Examiner

California Officials Set Medical Marijuana Summit ('Reuters' Version)

Date: Tue, 19 May 1998 20:54:22 -0400
To: mapnews@mapinc.org
From: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org (MAPNews)
Subject: MN: US CA: Calif. officials set medical marijuana summit
Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Newshawk: Marcus-Mermelstein Family 
Source: Reuters
Pubdate: Mon, 18 May 1998


SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Faced with a federal drive to close down
California's medical marijuana clubs, state officials Monday announced a
summit next week to discuss new ways to provide the drug to sick people.

The ``Medical Marijuana Distribution Summit'' in Sacramento May 26 will
bring together state law enforcement officials, health agencies and medical
marijuana proponents to examine new distribution options -- including
whether local governments themselves should step in as marijuana suppliers.

``This summit is to see whether we can find some way to assure safe access
to medical marijuana for sick Californians,'' said state Sen. John
Vasconcellos, chairman of the state Senate Committee on Public Safety and
organizer of the meeting.

The summit marks the first large-scale effort to examine how California can
legally implement Prop. 215, the 1996 state law which legalized the use of
marijuana if prescribed by a doctor to treat symptoms of AIDS, cancer and
other serious diseases.

Since Prop. 215 was passed, California's 20-odd medical marijuana clubs
have faced challenges in both state and federal courts charging them with
violating federal anti-drug laws and peddling marijuana to ``unapproved''

Last week, U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer said he would issue an order
to close six clubs in northern California -- although he hinted that other
methods of distributing the drug might still be legally viable.

Local California officials have lined up behind the clubs, saying they
fulfill the mandate of the 1996 law and provide a safe way for sick people
to obtain the drug.

``I very much resent the fact that the state authorities, and the federal
authorities, are sticking their nose in San Francisco and trying to make it
as difficult as possible for us to fulfill the mandate of Prop. 215,'' San
Francisco District Attorney Terence Hallinan said Monday.

San Francisco officials have floated the idea that if the clubs close, the
city could step in as a distributor of medical marijuana to sick people.

George Kennedy, district attorney for Santa Clara county and president of
the California District Attorneys Association, said the summit next week
would be aimed at ironing out ``technical'' problems that have blocked
implementation of the state law.

``It is very clear to me that, under Prop. 215, the majority of the people
here in California want to have seriously ill people have access to medical
marijuana,'' Kennedy said in Monday's teleconference.

``Unless we come up with sort of uniform standards statewide...almost every
enforcement action risks being politicized,'' said Scott Imler, director of
the Los Angeles Cannabis Buyers Club.

``It seems clear that the government is perhaps prepared to allow local
government agencies to take this by the horns.''

Vasconcellos said the summit would include a presentation by the office of
state District Attorney Dan Lungren, a strong opponent of medical
marijuana, as well as opportunity for public comment.

Federal officials, however, turned down an invitation to attend, he said.

Dave Fratello of the Americans for Medical Rights, a sponsor of Prop. 215,
said the summit could result in a new model for legal marijuana
distribution which would help other states weighing bills to legalize
medical use of the drug.

``We will create a direct role for the health department to essentially
license (medical marijuana providers), and create permits and ID cards,''
Fratello said. ``This could be something of a national model.''

Caretakers Routinely Drug California's Foster Children ('Associated Press'
Recounts An Article In Sunday's 'Los Angeles Times'
Saying Children Are Being Drugged In Combinations And Dosages
That Psychiatric Medication Experts Believe Are Risky
And May Cause Irreparable Harm)
Link to earlier story
Date: Mon, 18 May 1998 01:52:01 EDT Originator: drctalk@drcnet.org Sender: drctalk@drcnet.org From: ltneidow@voyager.net (Lee T. Neidow) To: Multiple recipients of list Subject: Rx Drugs For Kids Paper: Caretakers routinely drug California's foster and LOS ANGELES (AP) - Thousands of children in California's group and foster homes are being given mood-altering medications, many of which have never been tested for use on children, a newspaper reported Sunday. The Los Angeles Times said children are being drugged in combinations and dosages that psychiatric medication experts believe are risky and may cause irreparable harm. The drugs are sometimes given as ``chemical straightjackets,'' just to keep children obedient and docile for their overburdened caretakers, according to the newspaper, which reviewed court files and prescription records, observed group homes and interviewed judges, attorneys and child welfare workers and doctors. No foster children in California are known to have died from excessive or improper medications. But child advocates believe prescription drugs may have been involved in some cases where death was blamed on unexplained heart arrhythmia or other organ failures. Other children have suffered drug-induced psychoses, hallucinations, abnormal heart activity, uncontrollable tremors, liver problems and loss of bowel control, according to health professionals, attorneys and court records. Child welfare officials said they don't know how many of the state's 100,000 foster children are taking the medications, in part because of lack of oversight. Dependency court judges in Los Angeles County, which has nearly half the state's foster children, approved requests last year for more than 400 doctors to medicate more than 4,500 children. But a county grand jury found that nearly half the group home children it examined were drugged without court or parental consent. John Tobin, Los Angeles County's mental health coordinator, said the sheer number of doctors treating children makes quality control nearly impossible. The problem is not exclusive to Los Angeles County, according to experts statewide. ``We sometimes don't know who put kids on drugs and why,'' said Nathan Nishimoto, an Orange County Department of Children and Family Services official. At the Orangewood Children's Home in Orange County, children as young as three have access to the drug cart where they can take medications that control their ``depression'' and ``rage.'' Many psychiatrists defend the use of these medications, saying the benefits of using them outweigh future risks of harm. ``The doctors don't have time to make an assessment. The fastest thing is to use chemical straitjackets on the kids-and some of them probably need it,'' said Stephen M. Stahl, a University of California at San Diego professor who teaches psychopharmacology. ``You're forced to use drugs because the group homes are understaffed and they're unnatural environments.''

Drug Policy Chief Is Facing Some New Foes ('Washington Post'
Says Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey May Have Won The Battle
On Needle Exchange, But He Made A Lot Of New Enemies In The Process)
Link to follow-up
Date: Tue, 19 May 1998 21:09:13 -0400 To: mapnews@mapinc.org From: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org (MAPNews) Subject: MN: US: Drug Policy Chief Is Facing Some New Foes Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org Newshawk: kevzeese@laser.net (kevin b. zeese) Source: Washington Post Contact: http://washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/edit/letters/letterform.htm Website: http://www.washingtonpost.com/ Pubdate: Mon, 18 May 1998 Author: Terry M. Neal, Washington Post Staff Writer Drug Policy Chief Is Facing Some New Foes * McCaffrey's 'Tactics' on Needle Exchange Program Prompt Anger Among Advocates By Terry M. Neal Washington Post Staff Writer National drug policy chief Barry R. McCaffrey staked out his position on needle exchange programs, made his point to President Clinton and won his battle last month. But the retired general may have made new enemies. While Clinton did endorse needle exchanges as a means of curbing the spread of AIDS, supporters were dismayed that he took McCaffrey's advice to leave in place a ban on federal funds to finance the programs. Health and Human Services Secretary Donna E. Shalala, who announced the president's decision, and others had argued that the programs can slow the spread of disease without increasing drug abuse. Some in the administration were outraged when they learned McCaffrey had enlisted Republicans in his effort. Five members of the Congressional Black Caucus called for his resignation. On a recent afternoon, McCaffrey, who believes that needle exchange programs send the wrong message to children and encourage drug abuse, was not ready to give an inch. "I feel very comfortable with Secretary Shalala's decision, because I think it took the culture war out of the issue," he said, playing down his own influence over Clinton's decision as well as Shalala's difference of opinion. "And by the way, money was never at the heart of the debate." When asked why needle exchange supporters were angry if funding was not an issue, McCaffrey persisted: "It wasn't. What was really the debate was whether the government gave legitimacy to this approach." It was a curious answer that reflected what some detractors say is his worst personality trait: unwillingness to acknowledge differences of opinion. In calling on McCaffrey to resign, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) used battlefield terminology to accuse McCaffrey of using "brutal tactics within the administration to subvert a decision to fund needle exchange programs that he must have learned in wars with real enemies. We put him on notice that he has now made a new enemy. He started a new war with us, and we intend to fight back." Countered McCaffrey: "Drug policy is more than a function of the narrowest possible analytical view of an event. That drug policy has ramifications that are not only tactical but operational and strategic." That was McCaffrey's way of explaining that it is his job to fight illegal drug activity and his duty to weigh the implications of all policy decisions related to drugs. McCaffrey's words and actions during his two-year tenure as drug policy chief have proved him to be one of the more enigmatic and unpredictable members of the Clinton administration. His critics charge that he is often intractable and self-righteous. Yet many of them also say he has raised the profile of the position and brought credibility to the administration's anti-drug efforts. Two years ago, Clinton tapped him for the civilian job as director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. A hero of the Vietnam War and Operation Desert Storm -- he was the most highly decorated and youngest four-star general, having been awarded three Purple Hearts for being wounded in action -- McCaffrey was an ideal choice for at least two reasons: "Because I was confirmable by the Senate and . . . I would take the job," he chuckled. McCaffrey said his decision to take the job was extremely difficult. "My wife and I both couldn't sleep for two weeks," he said. "Both of us are Army brats. I've been in uniform since I was 17." But he said he has adjusted well to civilian life. One of the most commonly told stories about McCaffrey is his 1969 wounding in Vietnam, where he commanded a rifle company. A heavy-caliber bullet shattered bone and left his right arm dangling by the flesh. Refusing to be evacuated, he insisted on fighting through the day until the next morning, when he finally passed out. McCaffrey also led the famed "left hook" operation that trapped the Iraqi army's Republican Guard in Operation Desert Storm. Further, he had bipartisan political experience, working for the Joint Chiefs of Staff under Presidents George Bush and Clinton. McCaffrey headed the U.S. Southern Command in Panama, which, among other things, led drug interdiction efforts in Latin America, when Clinton nominated him for the drug policy post. Few anticipated then that McCaffrey would be so politically canny and exhibit such an independent streak. McCaffrey began using his leverage even before he took the job, exacting a promise from Clinton to restore the office to its previous staff size of about 150. A victim of early 1990s budget cuts, the office was down to fewer than 40 employees under its previous director, Lee P. Brown. Then McCaffrey bucked the tough-guy military stereotype by declaring the term "war on drugs" a misnomer and vociferously promoting prevention and treatment programs as a crucial element of the nation's anti-drug effort. "Is there a general in charge? Will we achieve total victory? Who is the enemy? How will we focus violence and surprise in a lightning campaign? None of these aspects of the metaphor are useful to organized thinking on what is a very complex social, legal, international and health policy issue," McCaffrey, 55, said. A more useful metaphor, he said, is to compare the problem to cancer. Most people have "seen it in their families. Thank God, they haven't seen war." In the job, McCaffrey has successfully pushed for budget and staff increases, and championed tougher border control efforts. He led the push for congressional approval last year of $195 million for the first year of a five-year national anti-drug media campaign. "Without [McCaffrey], and without the bipartisan support of Congress, this wouldn't have happened," said Steve Dnistrian, senior vice president of the nonprofit Partnership for a Drug-Free America, which worked with McCaffrey on the media plan. Dnistrian admits there was skepticism about appointing a general as head of the drug policy office, but said, "We were so pleasantly surprised when we got to know the man, his experience and his intellect." But others remain angry about his efforts to block federal funding for needle exchange programs. "It's one thing to have a view on a policy decision and argue for it internally. It's quite another to go to the Hill and Republican members and get them to do something while it's still being discussed internally," said an HHS official who asked not to be identified. "That was not particularly loyal or useful." McCaffrey defended his actions: "Let me be absolutely blunt now. By law, I am a nonpolitical officer of government. And the president of the United States told me to work these issues with a bipartisan approach." His opposition to the funding also caused a rift with an important ally of his office, the Congressional Black Caucus. In one recent conversation, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) said, McCaffrey repeatedly interjected comments about his membership in the NAACP as she explained the importance of needle exchange funding in urban black communities. A letter he wrote to Waters in March said that in previous conversations, she had "derided my membership in the NAACP" and "belittled my leadership experience in the Armed Forces." Officials in his office said last week that he is working to mend any rifts with the caucus. Some caucus members have praised McCaffrey while complaining that the Clinton White House has not given him the support he needs to do the job. "I'm not happy with the job the administration is doing. But I don't blame him for that," said Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.). Clinton senior adviser Rahm Emanuel said McCaffrey didn't do anything unusual in the needle exchange debate. "He made it clear that he would support whatever position the president made," Emanuel said. The needle exchange issue wasn't McCaffrey's first clash with administration officials. In November, McCaffrey challenged his former employer, the Pentagon, when he refused to certify its proposed fiscal 1999 budget. He sought $141 million more for fighting illegal drugs and drug abuse than the $809 million Defense Secretary William S. Cohen had proposed. McCaffrey enlisted key Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill, who called Cohen's budget "inadequate." Eventually, the two sides compromised, with the Pentagon adding about $73 million. McCaffrey has been criticized and praised for efforts to build coalitions with South and Central American governments. In one case, McCaffrey was host to Gen. Jesus Gutierrez Rebollo, then director of Mexico's anti-drug effort, at the White House; soon after, the Mexican government acknowledged that Gutierrez Rebollo had ties to Mexico's premier drug cartel. "These are the people who are out there," a Pentagon official said in his defense. "You can't embrace them, but on the other hand you can't shun them. That's just how the world works." Gen. Colin L. Powell, who promoted McCaffrey to be his top assistant when Powell was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called him "one of the smartest officers I've known" and said he wasn't surprised that McCaffrey has emerged as a forceful personality in his current job. Said Powell: "He will do what he thinks is right and take the consequences for it." PLAYERS Barry R. McCaffrey Title: Director, Office of National Drug Control Policy. Age: 55 Education: Bachelor's degree in engineering, U.S. Military Academy; master's in civil engineering, American University. Family: Married, with three grown children. Previous jobs: General, Army; commander-in-chief of U.S. Army Southern Command; director of long-range planning, Joint Chiefs of Staff; commanding officer, 24th Infantry Division. Hobbies: Running, reading. On the fight against drug abuse: "That metaphor, 'War on Drugs,' I thought was unhelpful to conceptually organizing an effort on the drug issue. I tell people, I know all about war. I've been studying it or involved in it since I was 17. ... The last thing it is is a war. "All metaphors break down under intensive analysis. But a more useful one is looking at cancer." (c) Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

Phony War (Letter To The Editor Of 'The Washington Times'
Responds To House Speaker Newt Gingrich's Recent Op-Ed
Pretending He's Going To Impact The $400 Billion Illegal Drug Industry
By Adding $.01 Billion To The War On Some Drug Users
And Asking All 'True Americans' To Wear A Colored Ribbon)

Date: Thu, 21 May 1998 00:02:56 -0400
To: mapnews@mapinc.org
From: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org (MAPNews)
Subject: MN: US: PUB LTE: Phony War
Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Newshawk: Uncle Hempy
Source: The Washington Times-National Weekly Edition
Pubdate: May 18-24, 1998
Contact: nated@wt.infi.net
Fax: 202-832-8285
Website: http://www.WashTimes-Weekly.com


Even after the big yawn Bob Dole got from the drug issue in 1996, House
Speaker Newt Gingrich seems to think he can squeeze it for some
election-year mileage ("Winning the War on Drugs," Commentary, May 4-10 edition).

The drug cartels take in over $400 billion per year. So far the federal
government has only been willing to spend $16 billion on the drug war. Now
Gingrich pretends he's going to accomplish something by adding .01 billion
to some "Drug-Free" program and asking all True Americans to wear a colored

A government cannot control what its people do to themselves on purpose in
private. How much more money will we throw at the drug war before we notice
it doesn't work?

Bob Ramsey Irving, Texas

Newt World Order (A Second Letter To The Editor Of 'The Washington Times'
In Response To Newt Gingrich's War-Mongering Asks Gingrich To Delineate
What It Would Cost Taxpayers To Lock Up All The Millions Of People
Involved With Illegal Drugs)

Date: Wed, 20 May 1998 20:49:55 -0400
To: mapnews@mapinc.org
From: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org (MAPNews)
Subject: MN: US: LTE: Newt World Order
Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Newshawk: Uncle Hempy 
Source: Washington Times Weekly Edition
Contact: nated@wt.infi.net
Website: http://www.WashTimes-Weekly.com
Fax: 202-832-8285
Pubdate: 18-24 May 1998


Newt doesn't have the necessary forthrightness to tell us how many people
he is willing to incarcerate and for how long to reduce demand for drugs.
Some estimate 10 million Americans use cannabis on a regular basis and
others estimate the number is closer to 50 million. Come on Newt, tell us,
how many Americans need to be put away? How many rail cars and how much
barbed wire would he order? Inquiring minds want to know.

Gerald M. Sutliff Emeryville, California

Amnesty International - Human Rights Abuses On The Border ('Associated Press'
Says The Group Will Release A Report This Week On Human Rights Abuses
By Immigration And Naturalization Service Agents On The US-Mexico Border
On The First Anniversary Of The Death Of A Texas Teenager Shot And Killed
By A Camouflaged Marine On The Mexican Border - The Immigration Law
Enforcement Monitoring Project Has Documented 139 Civil Rights Abuses
From January 1997 To August 1997, When The Border Patrol
Launched Operation Rio Grande, And The Count Increased To 192
In The First Eight Months Of The Operation)

Date: Thu, 21 May 1998 00:14:27 -0400
To: mapnews@mapinc.org
From: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org (MAPNews)
Subject: MN: US TX: Wire: Amnesty International
Human Rights Abuses on the Border
Reply-To: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Newshawk: kevzeese@laser.net
Pubdate: Mon, May 18 1998
Source: The Associated Press
Author: Madeline Baro, AP writer


HARLINGEN, Texas (AP) -- Amnesty International [ http://www.amnesty.org/ ]
will release its first-ever report this week on human rights abuses by
Immigration and Naturalization Service agents on the U.S-Mexico border.

The report's international release will coincide with the first anniversary
of the death of Esequiel Hernandez -- the Texas teenager shot and killed by
a Marine patrolling the Mexican border.

"This is the first time that the whole focus is on border abuses," said
Kerry McGrath, deputy director of Amnesty International's regional office in
Atlanta. "Amnesty is concerned about the human rights abuses that are
occurring there."

Other immigrant rights organizations, including Centro de Apoyo al Migrante
of Reynosa, the Civil Rights Project and the Immigration Law Enforcement
Monitoring Project, are joining Amnesty International representatives at a
news conference in McAllen on Wednesday. Another news conference will be
held in Chicago, Ms. McGrath said, and the report will be made available to
news organizations around the world.

Amnesty International officials would not go into detail about the report,
citing an embargo. The Immigration Law Enforcement Monitoring Project,
however, has documented 139 civil rights abuses reported from January 1997
to August 1997, when the Border Patrol launched Operation Rio Grande. The
initiative funneled more manpower and technology to the border to crack down
on illegal immigration.

In the first eight months after the operation began, September 1997 to April
1998, the number of reported abuses increased to 192, the group contends,
saying 96 percent of the people claiming abuse are of Hispanic origin.

The death of Hernandez, 18, a 10th-grader from the border town of Redford,
became a rallying point for immigrant rights groups. A grand jury declined
to indict Cpl. Clemente Banuelos after concluding he thought he was
protecting a fellow serviceman when he shot Hernandez.

"Human rights abuses and his death are inextricably tied together," said

Nathan Selzer, of the Immigration Law Enforcement Monitoring Project.
"They're both results of increased militarization of our borders."

McAllen Sector Chief Border Patrol Agent Joe Garza said Monday that few, if
any, abuse complaints against his agents have been substantiated.

The Border Patrol tries to maintain a ratio of seven agents to one
supervisory agent, Garza said. Border Patrol agents have to work under tough
circumstances while subject to intense public scrutiny, he said, adding that
agents are given sensitivity training and abuse complaints are thoroughly

"We stress that we must treat everyone with courtesy, respect and dignity,"
Garza said. "I don't believe that the Border Patrol goes out and
deliberately abuses people."

Ms. McGrath said the report reflects Amnesty International's ongoing efforts
to highlight violations of human rights and international law. She added

that she could not compare immigrant abuses in the United States to abuses
in other countries.

"Amnesty does not make comparisons between countries," she said, noting that
the United States is among more than 140 countries accused of human rights
abuses in group's annual human rights report. "We speak out on abuses
wherever they occur and whenever they occur."

Waging War Against AIDS ('Calgary Sun' Columnist Bill Kaufmann
Says The War Is Being Complicated By Complacency And Misconceptions
About AIDS Being A 'Gay Disease' - When Twice As Many New Cases
Are Caused By Infected Needles)

From: creator@islandnet.com (Matt Elrod)
To: mattalk@listserv.islandnet.com
Subject: Waging war against AIDS
Date: Mon, 18 May 1998 06:18:43 -0700
Lines: 80
Newshawk: creator@mapinc.org
Source: Calgary Sun
Contact: callet@sunpub.com
Pubdate: May 18, 1998
Author: BILL KAUFMANN -- Calgary Sun



His is the emerging face of AIDS in Calgary. And Richard
Hollingsworth can only wonder how many -- if any -- lives he himself
has destroyed "when I didn't hold to moral practices."

The former Calgarian said he slept with numerous women and shared
dirty needles with many others for four years in the early 1990s while
he unknowingly harbored the HIV virus.

"God only knows how many times I might have infected someone else,"
says Hollingsworth, 44, now a crusader for responsible behavior and
AIDS awareness.

"When you're in a hotel room with six other people sharing needles,
you don't know who's getting what ... I can't undo that."

Quite understandably, Hollingsworth's received death threats from
those who obviously feel any amends he makes pale in significance to
his former recklessness.

Churches, he said, "have been strangely silent" in supporting his

That might not be surprising, given Hollingsworth's suggestion
churches hand out free syringes to reduce the spread of infection.

Of more concern to Hollingsworth is a general public complacency over
AIDS, rooted in the perception the disease has been defeated.

Dr. John Gill, the director of the Foothills Hospital's HIV clinic,
echoed the ex-addict's sentiments, adding intravenous drug users are
the fastest-growing body of HIV-infected in Calgary -- more than 50%
of new cases.

Needle-borne infections lead inevitably to HIV transmission through
mainly heterosexual sex, says Gill, as if reading Hollingsworth's

Homosexual males, by contrast, make up less than 25% of the new local

"(Homosexual infection) is a diminishing part of the problem but it
isn't eradicated," said Gill.

In the past few years, many gay males have embraced safer sexual
practices, but that void of tragedy is being filled by others, he

And Gill said he's troubled by preliminary results of Vancouver's
clean needle exchange initiative -- noting intravenous HIV infection
has exploded into pandemic proportions since the program's
introduction. "It might actually be making things worse," he said.

The jury is still out on Calgary's own, smaller needle exchange
program, adds Gill, although the spiralling statistics on local
IV-related infection should perhaps ring alarm bells.

Meanwhile, Gill took on assertions that resources devoted to AIDS
research is grossly out of proportion to the small number of victims.

Out of $300 million distributed each year by the Medical Research
Council of Canada, $10 million is spent putting AIDS under the
microscope, he says.

That hardly sounds like a politically-inflated figure for a disease
that freshly afflicts 3,000 Canadians a year -- and those are just the
known cases.

The battle against a scourge with fading credentials as a "gay
disease" rages on.

What Are G8 Leaders Smoking? (Staff Editorial In The Toronto 'Globe And Mail'
Does A Nice Job Summing Up The Case Against Prohibition)

From: creator@islandnet.com (Matt Elrod)
To: mattalk@listserv.islandnet.com
Subject: Canada: What are G8 leaders smoking?
Date: Mon, 18 May 1998 06:17:22 -0700
Lines: 87
Newshawk: creator@mapinc.org
Source: Globe and Mail
Contact: letters@globeandmail.ca
Pubdate: Monday, May 18, 1998

What are G8 leaders smoking?

Monday, May 18, 1998

There is something very special about illicit drugs. If they don't
always make the drug user behave irrationally, they certainly cause
many non-users to behave that way. -- Harvard professor of medicine
Lester Grinspoon.

IRRATIONALITY is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting
different results. Judged by this yardstick, the illicit-drug policies
of most Western governments are indeed irrational. These policies do
not achieve their stated aims -- reducing the supply of drugs, cutting
crime, making citizens safer or weakening organized crime -- but
rather the reverse. And yet British Prime Minister Tony Blair put a
more vigorous prosecution of the international war on drugs high in
the agenda of the leaders of the G8 nations meeting this past weekend
in Birmingham.

Illicit-drug prices show a long-term decline, indicating plentiful and
growing supply of a commodity that the UN estimates represents about 8
per cent of international trade. At the same time, prohibition makes
drugs far more expensive than their cost of production. The price of
pure heroin for medicinal purposes is about one-30th of the street
price, and the difference goes straight to organized crime, a
state-dictated subsidy to gangsterism.

The criminalization of drug use has massively increased crime,
particularly of the victimless variety. Thousands of people in North
America are in prison solely because they bought, sold or were in
possession of illicit drugs. Many real crimes against persons and
property are carried out by people whom drug-criminalization has
marginalized and who have no other way of paying the
prohibition-inflated costs of their drugs. In countries like Canada,
citizens are endangered by street violence and the rise of blood-borne
diseases like HIV and hepatitis C. Internationally, armed
insurrections have been financed by drug money in countries like Peru,
Afghanistan and Cambodia, and in Latin America and the Caribbean,
judges, ministers, police and even presidential candidates are
murdered by drug cartels.

Throughout the world, drug money finances corruption on a massive
scale, undermining the rule of law and transferring power to those
segments of the population brutal, clever and ruthless enough to
supply a need that governments have naively tried to suppress. Raise
the stakes by stepping up the war effort, and the outcome must be more
lives ruined for victimless crimes and even fatter profits for even
scarier people.

Of course drugs are harmful and their use has social costs, but
reasonable people weigh these against the human and social cost of
prohibition, which is measured not only in dollars, but in lost
liberty, the coarsening of the law, the courts, the police and the
prisons. According to one recent Canadian university study, the total
cost of illicit drugs to the Canadian economy is a small fraction of
the cost of alcohol use ($7.5-billion) or tobacco use ($9.6-billion).
Many of the ills we traditionally associate with drug use are in fact
the fruit of our drug policy, and a calmer policy would meliorate
these ills.

Fortunately, a few courageous governments are beginning to say that
the drug-war general has no clothes. Recent Swiss experiments with
medically controlled heroin use, for example, show that many addicts
were able to participate fully in society while paying the cost of
their habit. Decriminalization allows strategies of harm reduction
through regulation to be used with success, such as needle exchanges,
making access for underage users more difficult and restricting
sources of supply and acceptable venues for use.

Even in the United States, popular revulsion against the excesses of
the war on drugs is making inroads. Four states now allow medical use
of marijuana. Two of them -- Arizona and California -- decided this
policy recently by strong popular votes in referendums.

Prohibition does not work and cannot work, and its costs are higher
than those of a policy of properly supervised and regulated access to
drugs. Given that the elimination of drugs from our society is not an
option, the G8 leaders should have been asking themselves how they can
minimize the harm that drugs represent. As it is, their policies
maximize the damage.

Copyright (c) 1998, The Globe and Mail Company



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