Portland NORML News - Thursday, June 25, 1998

NORML Weekly News (California Legislature To Debate Measure
Providing Medical Marijuana Distribution By Local Communities;
Judge Sets Bail At $10,000 For Retired Professor Who Smoked Marijuana;
29th Annual Rally, March, And Concert To End Hemp Prohibition
Takes Place July 4 In Washington, DC)

From: NORMLFNDTN@aol.com
Date: Thu, 25 Jun 1998 19:16:04 EDT
Subject: NORML Press Release 6/25/98 (II)

The NORML Foundation Weekly Press Release

1001 Connecticut Ave., NW
Ste. 710
Washington, DC 20036
202-483-8751 (p)
202-483-0057 (f)

June 25, 1998


California Legislature To Debate Measure Providing Medical Marijuana
Distribution By Local Communities

June 25, 1998, Sacramento, CA: The California Assembly will debate
legislation next week that authorizes local governments to establish
medical marijuana distribution programs.

Senate Bill 1887, recently amended by sponsor John Vasconcellos
(D-Santa Clara), states that "a city ... or county may distribute
marijuana to persons in medical need." The measure makes use of an
untested provision in the federal Controlled Substances Act that
immunizes local officials who comply with local drug laws from federal
sanctions. Supporters of the legislation anticipate this provision to be
tested in federal court.

California NORML Coordinator Dale Gieringer praised the intent of S.B.
1887 and noted that it closely corresponds to the approach proposed by
the organization in May. "Senator Vasconcellos is to be congratulated
for offering a comprehensive, realistic solution to the short-term
medical marijuana distribution problem," he said.

The bill also argues for federal rescheduling of the drug. "There is
widespread consensus among physicians, law enforcement, patients,
providers and other stakeholders that the most effective solution [to the
question of medical marijuana distribution] is for the federal government
to reschedule marijuana so that it can be prescribed under the same
strict protocols as morphine and cocaine," the bill reads.

The Assembly Health Committee will hear S.B. 1887 on Tuesday.

For more information, please contact either Dale Gieringer of
California NORML @ (415) 563-5858 or R. Keith Stroup, Esq. of NORML @
(202) 483-5500.


Judge Sets Bail At $10,000 For Retired Professor Who Smoked Marijuana

June 25, 1998, State College, PA: Retired Penn State chemistry
professor Julian Heicklen was arrested on Monday for smoking a marijuana
cigarette as an act of civil disobedience to protest the state's criminal
marijuana penalties. Bail was set at $10,000 and Heicklen presently sits
in jail awaiting a July 1 hearing.

Since the spring, Heicklen has organized weekly "Marijuana Smoke Outs"
at Penn State University and in front of the Centre County Courthouse to
challenge marijuana prohibition. He is planning a 30-hour demonstration
beginning July 9 which will feature speakers Allen St. Pierre of The
NORML Foundation, Dr. Lester Grinspoon of Harvard Medical School, Dr.
John Morgan of City University of New York Medical School, and others.
Heicklen said he never smoked marijuana before he started organizing the
protests this spring.

For more information, please contact either Tanya Kangas, Esq. of The
NORML Foundation @ (202) 483-8751 or visit marijuananews.com.


				- END -

David Herrick's Sentencing Tomorrow (A Local Correspondent Gives An Update
On The Case Of The Retired San Bernardino County Sheriff's Deputy,
Convicted For His Activities On Behalf Of The Now-Defunct Orange County
Cannabis Co-Op)
Link to earlier story
Date: Thu, 25 Jun 1998 17:04:14 EDT Errors-To: jnr@insightweb.com Reply-To: friends@freecannabis.org Originator: friends@freecannabis.org Sender: friends@freecannabis.org From: Ellen Komp (ekomp@slonet.org) To: Multiple recipients of list (friends@freecannabis.org) Subject: HERRICK SENTENCING TOMORROW David Herrick's sentencing is set for tomorrow morning in Orange County. His PD, Sharon Petrosino, says she isn't certain they'll proceed, since he hasn't seen his probation officer, but they might. She has only received two letters on Dave's behalf, but said there can be brought to court tomorrow. They could probably also be faxed. Her phone is 714-834-2144. Ellen Komp 215 Reporter

If You Got 'Em, Smoke 'Em ('The Shredder' Column In California's 'NewTimes'
Comments On The Bust Of Simi Valley Medical Marijuana Patient Dean Jones)
Link to earlier story
Date: Sun, 28 Jun 1998 02:05:28 -0400 To: mapnews@mapinc.org From: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org (MAPNews) Subject: MN: US CA: Editorial: If You Got 'Em, Smoke 'Em Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org Reply-To: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Jo-D Harrison Pubdate: Thu, 25 Jun 1998 Source: NewTimes (CA) Section: The Shredder Contact: mail@newtimes-slo.com Website: http://newtimes-slo.com/shrdnow.html IF YOU GOT 'EM, SMOKE 'EM THE POT LEGALIZATION CROWD HASN'T had much to celebrate lately. Nobody in law enforcement seems to care much about Prop. 215, the medical marijuana initiative that y'all passed in 1996. Of course, no one's policing the police, so they can do whatever they want. Meanwhile, the golden savior of grass growers everywhere, Dennis Peron, got the 1.3 percent that any blithering fool deserves in the governor's race in June. And those votes probably came from the astute voters who thought he was Evita's husband. The vigilant red eye of the legalization movement finally glimpsed a glimmer of good news this week, though. Seems a judge in Simi Valley ordered the Simi Valley fuzz to return 13 marijuana plants they ripped from the back yard of Dean Jones, a diabetic who had a note from his doctor to smoke pot. Jones headed straight to the Simi Valley Police evidence room, where they handed him some brown paper bags. He said he only got 10 of his 13 plants back. We can only guess what may have happened to the other three. Lost in the shuffle, probably. The plants he did get back hadn't been dried properly. In fact, they hadn't been dried at all. The cops just ripped them out of the ground and stuffed them in bags, so they emerged as moldy balls of decaying muck. Jones is happy that he can go home and grow more pot without fear, but he's decided to seek revenge on the cops who killed his garden and stuffed him in the slam for 14 hours. He's suing them for $4,000 per plant. That may seem like a lot of money, but it happens to be the value placed on the plants by the cops themselves. The police have been attaching inflated values to confiscated marijuana for years. They use some absurd formula in which each sprout equals 2.5 pounds. That way they look good when sycophantic police reporters write about their big busts in the paper: "COPS SEIZE $250,000 IN POT!" a typical headline screams. It's only when you read the small print that you find out they snatched a baggie of stems and seeds from some high school kids. Maybe their outrageously inflated values will come back to bite them where it hurts. Of course, if they have to pay, it's really the rest of us who have to pay for this kind of tomfoolery. But, hey, it could set an interesting precedent. Either plaintiffs in these kinds of cases will win big bucks, or else headlines will start shouting, "COPS SEIZE DIDDLY SQUAT POT!" And I bet police departments that want to avoid lawsuits will have to take better care of the pot plants they confiscate. Tin foil will appear on the walls of police evidence rooms, with high-pressure lights dangling from the ceilings and buckets of water and fertilizer nearby. God knows they've already got the equipment.

Housing Authority Can't Evict Tenants For Outside Crimes
('The San Francisco Examiner' Version Of Yesterday's News
That US District Judge Charles R. Breyer Has Banned The Oakland
Housing Authority From Evicting Tenants For Illegal Drug Activity
Happening Outside Their Homes, Ruling In Favor Of The First Challenge
To The 'One Strike, You're Out' Policy Established By The Clinton
Administration Two Years Ago)

From: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org (MAPNews)
To: "MN" 
Subject: MN: US: CA: Housing Authority Can't Evict Tenants For Outside
Date: Fri, 26 Jun 1998 17:49:09 -0500
Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Reply-To: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/
Newshawk: compassion23@geocities.com (Frank S. World)
Pubdate: Thu, 25 Jun 1998
Source: San Francisco Examiner (CA)
Contact: letters@examiner.com
Website: http://www.examiner.com/
Author: Emelyn Cruz Lat


In a preliminary blow to the federal government's controversial "one-strike"
eviction policy, a federal judge has temporarily stopped the Oakland Housing
Authority from evicting tenants for outside crimes committed by household

The federal policy, which began as a 1996 election-year pledge by President
Clinton to crack down on those who "are destroying the lives of decent
tenants," has been used to evict low-income residents based on the conduct
of family or friends, in or outside federally funded housing.

The ruling issued Friday by District Court Judge Charles Breyer is temporary
and applies only to the Oakland Housing Authority. However, the preliminary
injunction is significant because it may be the first time a federal judge
has moved to block an eviction under "one strike."

In his ruling, Breyer barred the Oakland Housing Authority from ousting
tenants for outside drug activities of household members until a lawsuit
filed by four elderly and disabled tenants against the agency is resolved.

He indicated that in some cases enforcement of the law was unreasonable,
perhaps unconstitutional. Evicting innocent tenants "will not reduce
drug-related activity since the tenant has not engaged in such activity or
knowingly allowed such activity to occur," he said.

The judge said tenants evicted for the criminal activity of others outside
their apartments or control appeared to be "punished merely for their
association with the wrong-doer."

Anne Omura, attorney for the elderly and disabled plaintiffs, hailed the
ruling as a "significant victory."

She said efforts would be made to extend the ruling to cover tenants who had
no knowledge of criminal activity inside their apartments. The judge did not
rule against those evictions, stating that those tenants had some control
over activities in their household.

Gary Lafayette, attorney for the Oakland Housing Authority, said the agency
and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development had not decided
whether to appeal Breyer's ruling.

"This is a first-blush ruling, based on what plaintiffs alleged vs. what the
facts actually are," Lafayette said. "So those are issues we are going to
explore both with agency and HUD. What the court did was keep the case in
status quo position, until the issue is resolved." The plaintiffs: two
grandmothers, 71 and 63, whose grandsons allegedly possessed marijuana in a
parking lot; a 63-year-old woman whose mentally disabled daughter allegedly
possessed cocaine three blocks from her home; and a 75-year-old partially
paralyzed man whose caregiver and her friend were cited for possessing a
crack pipe and cocaine in his apartment.

1998 San Francisco Examiner

Dark Defiance (A Lengthy Excerpt From Gary Webb's New Book, 'Dark Alliance,'
In 'The Metro,' The Silicon Valley Weekly Newspaper, Recounting
His Investigation Of The CIA-Cocaine-Contra Scandal First Uncovered
For 'The 'The San Jose Mercury News')

Date: Mon, 6 Jul 1998 15:16:48 -0700
To: mapnews@mapinc.org
From: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org (MAPNews)
Subject: MN: Dark Defiance
Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Reply-To: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/
Newshawk: Joel W. Johnson (jwjohnson@mapinc.org)
Source: The Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper
Contact: Letters@sjmetro.com
Website: http://www.metroactive.com/metro/
Pubdate: 25 June - July 1, 1998
Author: Gary Webb
Editor note: The article is reprinted from the book 'Dark Alliance' by
permission of Gary Webb.


In his just-released book, 'Dark Alliance,' deposed Mercury News reporter
Gary Webb tells his side of the story behind the award-winning CIA-crack
connection that tanked his career.

IN DECEMBER I gathered up all my notes and files and wrote a four-page
project memo for my editors, outlining the story as I saw it. I proposed
to tell the tale of how the infant L.A. crack market had been fueled by
tons of cocaine brought in by a Contra drug ring, which helped to spread a
deadly new drug habit "through L.A. and from there to the hinterlands."

"This series will show that the dumping of cocaine on L.A.'s street gangs
was the back end of a covert effort to arm and equip the CIA's raging army
of anti-Communist Contra guerrillas," I wrote. "While there has long been
solid -- if largely ignored -- evidence of a CIA-Contra-cocaine connection,
no one has ever asked the question: 'Where did all the cocaine go once it
got here?' Now we know."

I met with [my editor] Dawn [Garcia] and managing editor David Yarnold in
San Jose, and we spent an hour discussing the progress of the investigation
and the proposed series. Yarnold reread the project memo, shook his head
and grinned.

"This is one hell of a story," he said. "How soon do you think you can
finish it?"

I told him I needed to go to Miami and Nicaragua to do some interviews with
[drug trafficker Norwin} Meneses, some former Contras and the Nicaraguan
police. If that came off, we might be able to have the series ready by
March 1996, in time for the [L.A. drug dealer Ricky] Ross trial, which
would give it a hard news angle. But, I said, I wanted to get some
assurances right up front from both of them.

Because the story had what I called a "high unbelievability factor," I
wanted to use the Mercury's Web site, Mercury Center, to help document the
series. I wanted us to put our evidence up on the Internet so that readers
could see our documents and reports, read the grand jury transcripts,
listen to the undercover DEA tapes, check our sources and make up their own
minds about the validity of the story. After seeing the government's
reaction to the Contra-cocaine stories of the 1980's, I didn't want to be
caught in the old officials-say-there's-no-evidence trap.

The technology now exists for journalists to share our evidence with the
world, I told them, and if there was ever a story that needed to be solidly
backed up, it was this one. Not only would it help out the story, I wrote
in my memo, it would hopefully raise the standards of investigative
reporting by forcing the press to play show and tell, rather than hiding
behind faceless sources and whisperings from "senior administration

The editors enthusiastically agreed. It would be a good way to showcase
the Mercury's cutting-edge Web site, they said, and it was good timing --
management directives were coming out to incorporate the Web page into our
print stories whenever possible. We were, after all, the newspaper of the
Silicon Valley. This would be a chance to use the Internet in a way that
had never been done before, they agreed. No problem. What else?

The second point I made was something I was sure they were tired of hearing
about. We're going to need space to tell this story, I told them, a lot
more space than the paper usually devotes to its investigative projects.
It was the one issue that drove me crazy about working for the Mercury

After writing for the Plain Dealer for five years and having as much space
as I wanted, I'd found the Mercury's mania for brevity almost unbearable.
My forfeiture series, for example, had been held to two parts, and even
those stories had been chopped up into bite-sized bits. I'd had other
stories held for weeks and even months because I wouldn't give in to
editor's demands to cut them in half.

No one reads long stories, I was told. Our focus groups had shown that
readers wanted our stories to be even shorter than they already were --
"tighter and brighter" was the answer to dwindling readership. Details
were boring. Readers didn't like to having to turn pages to follow jumps.
If you couldn't tell a daily story in 12 inches or less, then maybe it was
too complicated to tell. For a time, we even had a rule: no stories could
be longer than 48 inches. Period. And that was for Sundays.

Daily stories had an absolute max of 36 inches.

"We've got to lay out everything we know," I told Yarnold, "because people
are going to come after us on this, and I don't ever want to be in a
position where I have to say, 'Oh, yeah, we knew that, but we didn't have
the space to put it in the paper.' And I don't think you want to be in
position, either."

You'll get as much space as you need, Yarnold assured me. Don't worry
about it. Just go out and bring this thing home.

IN MID-APRIL I finished the first drafts and sent them up to my editors,
with no clue as to how they would be received. They were like nothing I
had ever written before, and probably unlike anything my editors had ever
grapppled with either: a tale spanning more than a decade, that attempted
to show how two of the defining issues of the 1980s -- the Contra war and
the crack explosion, seemingly unconnected social phenomena -- were
actually intertwined, thanks largely to government meddling.

The four-part series I turned in focused on the relationship between the
Contras and the crack king. It mentioned the CIA's role in passing, noting
that some of the money had gone to a CIA-run army and that there were
federal law enforcement reports suggesting the CIA knew about it. I never
believed, and never wrote, that there was a grand CIA conspiracy behind the
crack plague. Indeed, the more I learned about the agency, the more
certain of that I became. The CIA couldn't even mine a harbor without
getting its trench coat stuck in its fly.

That the Contras' cocaine ended up being turned into crack was a horrible
accident of history, I believed, not someone's evil plan. The Contras just
happened to pick the worst possible time ever to begin peddling cheap
cocaine in black neighborhoods. That, I believed, was the real danger the
CIA has always presented -- unbridled criminal stupidity, cloaked in a
blanket of national security.

"The fact that a government-connected drug ring was dumping tons of cocaine
into the black neighborhoods in L.A. -- and to a lesser extent in San Jose,
Oakland, San Francisco, Portland, Houston, Oklahoma City, Alabama and New
Orleans -- goes a long way toward explaining why crack developed such deep
roots in the black community," I wrote. "It's where the seed was planted."

Looking back, I can barely believe I was permitted to write such a story,
but that was the kind of newspaper the Mercury News was at the time. No
topic was too taboo, or at least if there was one, I never discovered it.
And I was always looking.

The reason I'd left a much larger paper in Cleveland to work for the
Mercury News was because the editors convinced me that they ran one of the
few newspapers in the country with that kind of courage. There were no
sacred cows, they pledged; and for nine years they had been true to their
word. Not one of my stories was ever spiked of significantly watered down;
nearly 300 of them had appeared on the Merc's front page, including many
that wouldn't have stood a chance in hell of being printed in other
mainstream newspapers.

SO WHEN DAWN CALLED me with the official reaction to "Dark Alliance," I was
gratified but not suprised. They loved it, she said happily. They
couldn't wait to get it in the newspaper. They thought it was important,
groundbreaking reporting. Congratulations. But there was one hitch.
"They thought it was too long," she said. It needed to be cut.

The four main stories ranged between 2,400 words and 3,200 words apiece,
and for a major metropolitan daily, that's not a lot of space. For the
Mercury, though, it was as if I'd asked for the moon, a raise, a shower in
my office and an executive parking place all at the same time.

"They're never going to go for four parts," Dawn warned.

"Yarnold told me I could have as much space as I needed," I reminded her.
"I can't do it in less than four parts. I've gotten this thing down as far
as I can get it. You're going to start cutting into its spinal cord if you
cut it any more." The problem was that the believability of the story
hinged on the weight of the evidence. Every fact that was cut would make
the story appear more speculative than it really was.

For weeks we wrangled back and forth, and then I got the word. David
Yarnold, the managing editor, had decreed that it was three parts or

Fine, I said. I stitched the second and third parts together into one long
part and resubmitted the series.

"Gee," Dawn said. "This second part is kind of long. We need to cut it."

This tug-of-war continued throughout the spring of 1996. She would cut the
paragraphs out, I would put them back in. We tried creating sidebars --
small stories that ran alongside the main one -- so we could hit the "magic
numbers," the maximum length the editors had set for stories. It was still
too long. Finally I put my foot down. No more cuts. The editors

"Okay," Dawn said. "You've made your point. Let's try it again as a

I reassembled all the scattered bits and peices and resubmitted it. She
read it, approved it and sent it up the editing chain. I got a call a few
days later.

"Well, they liked it, and Yarnold agreed four parts is fine. But they want
the first part rewritten," she said. "They think it's too feature-y. It
should have a harder edge on it, more news. We need to go through and pull
out all of the information about the CIA and the Contras and put it in the
first day."

"The reason it's got a feature lead is because the series is a feature," I
argued. "It's about the three men who started the L.A. crack market.
That's the story I want to tell. If we turn this thing into a Contra
cocaine story, everyone is going to say, 'Oh, that's old news.' We agreed
on this already, remember?"

"That's what they want," Dawn said. "I'm just telling you what they told me."

"Well I'm not writing it that way. I'm tired of this nonsense."

"Just try it, OK? Give it a quick write-through. And if it doesn't work,
it doesn't work, and we'll go back to the old way. But we've got to give
it a try."

I gritted my teeth. OK. If they wanted a hard edge on this thing, I'd
give them one. I sat down at my computer, and in a few minutes I hammered
out the paragraph that, with a few changes, would open the "Dark Alliance"

"For the better part of a decade, a Bay Area drug ring sold tons of cocaine
to the Crips and Bloods street gangs of Los Angeles and funneled millions
in drug profits to a Latin American guerilla army run by the U.S. Central
Intelligence Agency, a Mercury News investigation has found. This drug
network, federal records show, opened the first pipeline between Colombia's
cocaine cartels and the black neighborhoods of Los Angeles, a city now
known as the crack capital of the world. The cocaine it brought into the
United States fueled the crack explosion in urban America, and the
simultaneous rise in power of the murderous gangs of black L.A."

I hit the transmit button.

Dawn called the next morning. "This is perfect," she said. "This is
exactly what they wanted." The rest of the editing went fairly smoothly,
and by July 26, 1996, the four-part series was done, edited, and ready to
go in the paper, starting Aug. 18.

Late one night, toward the end of July, the phone rang. "Well, I have some
good news and some bad news," Dawn began. "The bad news is that David
Yarnold is no longer the editor on this series. He took a new job with
Knight-Ridder, and he's out of here. The good news is that Paul Van
Slambrouck is the new editor, and I showed him the series today and he
really likes it and thinks we've got a great story here."

"We've got a brand-new editor on this?" I cried. "Now? And he just read it
for the first time today? You're shitting me. So what does this mean?"

"Well, unfortunately, it means it's not going to run on the 18th. He has
some changes he wants to make to it."

I sat up and started laughing. "Really? What kind of changes?"

"He thinks it's too long. We need to make it three parts."

I howled. "You can't be serious, Dawn. This is a joke, right?"

"No, I'm sorry. Maybe you should talk to Paul."

Van Slambrouck, the Mercury's national editor and a smart, thoughtful
journalist, was apologetic. It wasn't the way he wanted to do things,
either. But he thought the series was terrific, and he wanted very much to
get it in the paper and hoped I still felt the same way.

"Dawn said you wanted to make some changes."

It needed to come down in length, he said, and we needed more CIA stuff in
the first day. I was back to square one.

I sat down and fired off an angry memo to Dawn. Van Slambrouck had asked
me to cut 65 inches, I complained. He had suggested that I needed to go
through the story myself and be "ruthless" and I'd be able to find 65
inches to cut, no problem. If there were 65 inches left of fat in these
stories, I wrote to Dawn, "we both ought to resign because we obviously
aren't doing our jobs right."

An additional problem, I reminded Dawn, was that my family and I were in
the midst of moving and were taking our vacation while the new house was
being readied. During the next three weeks I rewrote the series on a
laptop while on "vacation," first in a beach house on the Outer Banks of
North Carolina, then in a motel room in Washington, D.C. and finally in the
basement of my in-laws' house in Indiana. It was horrible. I had no way
of telling what was being cut back at the Mercury, what was being put back
in or what was being rewritten. Five or six different versions were flying
around. Don't these people know what they're dealing with here? I
wondered. Don't they realize the import of what we're printing?

I eventually realized that for the most part they did not, which may have
been the reason the series got in the paper in the first place. It came in
under the radar. Mercury News executive editor Jerry Ceppos would later
tell Newsweek that "he read only part of the story" before it appeared in
print, an amazing admission if true.

Perhaps my editors thought I was exaggerating the story's significance,
trying to gobble up more space than was really justified? It is a common
sight in newsrooms to see reporters hype their stories. I knew reporters
who worked their editors like PR agents, or lobbyists pimping a bill. But
I had never worked that way. I figured my editors know how to read as well
as anyone. My paycheck was the same every week, no matter which page they
put my story on . . . I also know from my research what kind of backlash
would result from a story that dirtied up the CIA, and stressed it
repeatedly to my editors. New York Times reporter Seymour Hersh's 1974
expose of Operation Chaos, a massive illegal CIA domestic spying operation,
had brought on attacks in the Washington Post (he had no "hard" proof) and
Time ("There is a strong likelihood that Hersh's CIA story is considerably
exaggerated"), among many others.

AT 2 AM -- midnight in San Jose -- on Aug. 18 1996, I was at a party at my
best friend's house in Indianapolis. I excused myself, went into a
bedroom, plugged into my laptop, and dialed into the Mercury's Web site. A
picture of a man smoking crack, superimposed upon the seal of the CIA, drew
itself on the screen. After more than a year of work, "Dark Alliance" was
finally out. I emailed [freelance journalist] Georg [Hodel] with the
news, went back out to the party and got drunk. The next morning I flew
back to Sacramento.

Initially, the silence was deafening. Then we realized why. They had
intentionally run the series the week between the Republican and Democratic
national conventions. The national media and the nation's politicians were
on vacation; nobody was paying much attention to anything, and particularly
not a story in a regional Northern California newspaper.

By Aug. 21, though, some radio stations began calling. What was this CIA
story we've been hearing about on the Web?

That combination -- talk radio and the Internet -- is what saved "Dark
Alliance" from slipping silently below the surface and disappearing without
a trace. The Internet wizards at Mercury Center -- Mark Hull, Donna Yanish
and Albert Poon -- had done a brilliant, eye-popping job on the "Dark
Alliance" Web page. It was something right out of the movies: full-color
animanted maps, one click access to uncut source documents, unpublished
photos, audio clips from undercover DEA tapes and [drug trafficker Danilo]
Blandon's federal court testimony, a bibliography, a timeline -- all in far
more depth and detail than we were able to get into the newspaper.

AT THE END of that first week I returned to San Diego for Ricky Ross's
sentencing. That was where I had my first inkling of the firestorm I'd
touched off. Radio stations were blanketing the newspaper with interview
requests. Before heading for the courthouse that morning, I'd done radio
shows in Washington, D.C., Austin, Texas and Detroit.

A haggard-looking L.J. O'Neale, the assistant U.S. attorney, spotted me in
the hallway outside the courtroom.

"Hey there," I said. "You see the story?"

He scowled and pushed by without saying a word. He'd already fought his
way through television camera crews outside the courthouse, and he clearly
wasn't pleased with all the attention. Inside the courtroom, reporters
jostled for seats.

Fenster asked for a postponement of the sentencing, saying the series had
raised significant questions about Blandon and his connections to the CIA.
O'Neale protested angrily, accusing Ross of dreaming up the whole CIA plot
and feeding it to gullible journalist who was spreading the ridiculous
conspiracy theories.

But Judge Huff looked troubled and told O'Neale she wanted some answers
from the CIA before she passed sentencing on Ross and his codefendents.
And she also wanted the Justice Department to begin deportation proceedings
against Blandon immediately. The news made the wires, and the switchboard
at the Mercury News lit up. "This place is going crazy!" Dawn reported.
"The Web page had something like 500,000 hits on it today!"

The Mercury News executive editor, Jerry Ceppos, called and congratulated
me. The TV networks were calling the paper. We were getting phone calls
from all over the world. "Let's stay on top of this," he said. "Anything
you need, you let us know. We want to run with this thing." A few days
later, I got a $500 bonus check in the mail and a note from Ceppos:
"Remarkable series! Thanks for doing this for us."

I was on National Public Radio the following Monday and, as always, gave
out the Web site address so people could read the series and see our
documents. We had 800,000 hits that day. The synergy was amazing. For
the first time, people could hear about a story and on the radio -- even
one that appeared several weeks earlier and thousands of miles away -- and
immediately read it on their computer screens.

Unlike all the previous stories about the Contras and cocaine, this one
couldn't be killed off in the traditional manner, by Big Media ignoring it
or relegating it to the news briefs. Millions of people were finding out
about "Dark Alliance" anyway -- even though not a word had appeared in the
so-called national press. That phenomenon was newsworthy of by itself.

"The story had serious legs, moving rapidly through the African American
community via email and file downloads, and then into living rooms, offices
and churches, and onto streets and into more mainstream black papers and
radio broadcasts," HotWired magazine wrote in October 1996. "For the first
time, my grandmother asked me to go online and read something. I couldn't
believe it. She wouldn't look at a computer before," one black government
lawyer emailed the magazine. "This story is causing a sensation among
blacks. It's all they're talking about. They are enraged about it, and
they can't believe it isn't on every front page in America."

IF THERE WAS ONE THING scarier to corporate journalism than the series
itself, it was the image of a future where Big Media was unable to control
the national agenda. Irrespective of what the series had said, "Dark
Alliance" proved that the stranglehold a relative few East Coast editors
and producers had on what became news could be broken. "This story
suddenly raises suspicions that the Internet has changed the equation in
support of democracy," author Daniel Brandt ruminated in October 1996 on an
Internet e-zine. "Unless regional newspapers agree to mild-mannered,
regional interest Web sites, all the resources that the elites have
invested in monopolizing the Daily Spin could end up spinning down the

In this case the blend of the Internet and talk radio had made the
tradional media irrelevant. The public was marching on without them, and
the message got through clearly to California's top politicians. The L.A.
City Council unanimously approved a resolution calling for a federal
investigation. Both California senators and a half-dozen congressment
wrote letters to CIA director John Deutch and Attorney General Janet Reno
demanding an official inquiry. Deutch agreed to conduct one, which
infuriated the right-wing Washington Times. Deutch was lambasted on the
front page by unnamed critics for "his efforts to curry favor with liberal
politicians." And on the editorial page, editor-at-large Arnaud de
Borchgrave, a "journalist" with a long history of connections to the
intelligence community and the Contras, fumed that "the same old
pro-Marxist CIA bashers are at it again" and quoted unnamed former
colleagues at "another paper" describing me as "an 'activist' journalist
who would dearly love to see the CIA scuttle itself."

In his column, de Borchgrave claimed Congress had given the Contras $100
million before the Boland Amendments went into effect, and chided me for
being too young to remember that the CIA had no need for illicit Contra
funds in those days. When I appeared on political talk-show host Chris
Matthews' live show on CNBC that evening, Matthews eagerly sprung de
Borchgrave's crazy timeline on me, demanding to know how I could have
written what I did, given the fact that the Contras had plenty of money.
After Jack White of Time and I pointed out that he had his "facts"
backward, Matthews, during a commercial break, began bellowing at his
production assistants, loudly accusing them of attempting to "sabotage" his

Soon after Deutch ordered an internal investigation, Attorney General Janet
Reno -- at the urging of Justice Department Inspector General Michael
Bromwich -- followed suit.

Finally, the national news media dipped a toe into the icy waters.
Newsweek devoted an entire page to the story in late September, calling it
"a powerful series" that had some black leaders "ready to carpet-bomb
Langley." Time that month called it "the hottest topic in black America,"
and said the Web site "provides a plethora of court documents, recorded
interviews and photographs. . . . This is the first time the Internet has
electrified African Americans."

Soon, 60 Minutes called. "Don't talk to anyone else," a producer told me.
"We want this story to ourselves." I got an identical call from Dateline
NBC. I told both of them I thought it was unethical for a reporter to
refuse to talk to the press. The 60 Minutes producer said that was the
most ridiculous thing he'd ever heard. Dateline ended up doing the story.

Over the next few weeks, we got interview requests from Jerry Springer,
Geraldo Rivera, Tom Snyder, Jesse Jackson and Montel Williams. I was on
CNN, C-SPAN, MSNBC, and CBS Morning News. The Mercury printed up 5,000
copies of the series, and they were gone in a matter of weeks. An employee
from the marketing department was assigned full-time to handle press calls.
Each evening she emailed a list of interview requests, and by early
October the list was three pages long and growing. The London Times did a
story. Le Monde in Paris wrote something. Newspapers in Germany, Belgium,
Spain, Colombia and Nicaragua called for interviews.

It's hard to imagine how many radio stations there are in the United States
until they start calling. At home, my phone would begin ringing at 6 a.m.
and not stop until 10 p.m. Talk radio was burning up the airwaves,
spreading the story and the Web site address from coast to coast. One day,
the hits on the Web page climbed over 1,000,000. People in Japan, Bosnia,
Germany and Denmark sent me email.

Meanwhile, we continued advancing the story. I teamed up with Pamela
Kramer, the Mercury's reporter in Los Angeles, and we wrote several stories
about the 1986 police raids on Danilo Blandon's house. We came up with the
entire Gordon search warrant, which showed that the police had several
informants telling them that drug money was going to the Contras. Our
sources provided us with the case file number to the supposedly nonexistent
investigatory file at the L.A. County Sheriff's Office, and Congresswoman
Maxine Waters and her staff marched in and demanded to see it.

"I told them that the only way they were going to get me out of their
office was to give me the file or arrest me," she said. She got the file
-- in it were the police reports about the search of [cocaine dealer]
Ronald Lister's house, his claims of CIA involvement, and the inventory of
strange items seized at his house.

NBC News did a strong follow-up, finally exposing the drug-related entries
in Oliver North's notebooks to a national TV audience, but it was the only
network attempting to advance the story. The establishment papers -- the
New York Times, Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times -- the same
newspapers that had so confidently reported in the 1980s that there was no
truth to these claims of Contra drug trafficking, remained largely silent.

"Where is the rebuttal? Why hasn't the media rose in revolt against this
story?" an exasperated Bernard Kalb, former spokesman for the Reagan State
Department, demanded on CNN's Reliable Sources. "It isn't a story that
simply got lost. It, in fact, has resonated and echoed, and the question
is where is the media knocking it down, when that, too, is a journalistic

Kalb's guest, former Reagan Justice Department spokesman Terry Eastland,
clucked that he "would expect to see this kind of story in a magazine like
In These Times, not in a mainstream newspaper such as the San Jose Mercury
News." No one on Kalb's show bothered to mention that Eastland had a
history of trying to cover up the Contra drug link. In May 1986, his
office had planted a false story in the New York Times stating that the
Justice Department had "cleared" the Contras of any involvement in gun
running and drug smuggling, a statement the Justice Department was later
forced to recant.

One question I was frequently asked during radio appearances was whether I
thought the national media reaction would be different if the series had
appeared in the Washington Post or the New York Times. My stock answer was
that it hadn't appeared in those newspapers because they'd decided in 1986
that there was no story here. My feeling was that those newspapers' very
familiarity with the story made it more difficult for them to report it.
How could they come back 10 years later and admit that the Contras had been
selling cocaine to Americans, when they'd already assured us it wasn't

In early October, I was in New York City getting ready for an appearance on
the Montel Williams Show, which was doing a two-day special on the "Dark
Alliance" series. About 2 a.m. Jerry Ceppos called. The Washington Post
had just moved a story on the wires. It would be in the morning edition,
and it was highly critical of the series. He asked me to take a look at it
and give him my reaction.

"What did they say was wrong?" I asked.

"They don't say any of the facts are wrong," Ceppos said. "They just don't
agree with our conclusions."

"And their evidence is what?"

"A lot of unnamed sources, mainly. It's really a strange piece. I'll send
you a fax of it, and we can talk in the morning."

They story was headlined "The CIA and Crack: Evidence is Lacking of Alleged
Plot." I laughed. What plot?

The reporters, Walter Pincus and Roberto Suro, wrote that their
investigation "does not support the conclusion that the CIA-backed Contras
-- or Nicaraguans in general -- played a major role in the emergence of
crack as a narcotic in widespread use across the United States. Instead,
the available data from arrest records, hospitals, drug treatment centers
and drug-user surveys point to a rise in crack as a broad-based phenomenon
driven in numerous places by players of different nationalities, races and
ethnic groups."

Ah ha. The old tidal wave theory. Here it comes again. I wondered what
"available data" Pincus and Suro had gathered from the 1982-83 era, the
dawn of the L.A. crack market, since the DEA and NIDA had admitted a decade
earlier that there was no such data.

The story grudgingly and often back-handedly admitted that the basic facts
presented in the series were correct, and it buried key admissions deep
inside, such as the fact that "the CIA knew about some of these activities
and did little or nothing to stop them." Toward the end Pincus and Suro
confirmed that Norwin Meneses and Blandon had met with Enrique Bermudez in
Honduras, but without disclosing Bermudez's relationship with the CIA. CIA
agent Adolfo Calero, whom the Post euphemistically described as someone
"who worked closely with the CIA," also admitted to the Post reporters that
he had met with Meneses.

Overall, it was a cleverly crafted piece of disinformation that would set
the stage for the attacks to follow. It falsely claimed that the series
made a "racially charged allegation that the 'CIA army' of Contras
deliberately targeted the black community in an effort to expand the market
for a cheap form of cocaine." And, despite Blandon's testimony that he
sold 200 to 300 kilos of cocaine for Meneses in L.A. and that all the
profits were sent to the Contras, the Post quoted unnamed "law enforcement
officials" as saying "Blandon sold $30,000 to $60,000 worth of cocaine in
two transactions."

The story also dove right through the "window" that O'Neale had opened at
the Ross trial. "If the whole of Blandon's testimony is to be believed,"
Pincus ad Suro wrote, '[then there is no connection] between the Contras
and African American drug dealers because Blandon said he had stopped
sending money to the Contras by the time he met Ross." No mention was made
of the DEA reports and the sheriff's department affidavit that said Blandon
was selling Contra cocaine through 1986, nor of the fact that Ross had been
buying Blandon's cocaine long before he actually met him. "Moreover," the
Post declared, "the mere idea that any one person could have played a
decisive role in the nationwide crack epidemic is rejected out of hand by
academic experts and law enforcement officials." But they identified
neither the academic experts nor the law enforcement officials.

I wrote Ceppos a memo pointing out the holes in the Post's story. "The
Pincus piece," I wrote, "is just silly. It's the kind of story you'd
expect from someone who spent three weeks working on a story, as opposed to
16 months." The fact that the Post's unnamed "experts" would reject a
scenario "out of hand," I wrote, was the whole problem. "None of them --
whoever they are -- has ever studied this before."

To his credit, Ceppos fired off a blistering letter to the Post, pointing
out the factual errors in the piece and calling Pincus' claims of a
"racially charged allegation" a "complete and total mischaracterization."

"The most difficult issue is whether a casual reading of our series leads
to the conclusion that the CIA is directly responsible for the outbreak of
the crack epidemic in Los Angeles. While there is considerable
circumstantial evidence of CIA involvement with the leaders of this drug
ring, we never reached or reported any definitive conclusion on CIA
involvement," Ceppos wrote. "We reported that men selling cocaine in Los
Angeles met with people on the CIA payroll. We reported that they received
fundraising orders from the people on the CIA payroll. We reported that
the money raised was sent to a CIA-run operation. But we did not go
further and took pains to say that clearly."

Ceppos posted the letter on the staff bulletin board, along with a memo
defending the series. "We strongly support the conclusions the series drew
and will until someone proves them wrong. What is even more remarkable is
that four experienced Post reporters, re-reporting our series, could not
find a single factual error. The Post's conclusions are very different --
and I believe, flawed -- but the major facts aren't. I'm not sure how many
of us could sustain such a microscopic examination of our work, and I
believe Gary Webb deserves recognition for surviving unscathed."

The Post held Ceppos' letter for weeks, ordered him to rewrite it, and then
refused to print it.

Shortly afterward I got an email message from a woman in Southern
California. There was a story in the Mercury's archives that I needed to
see, she wrote, and provided a date and a page number. I sent it to our
library and got a photocopy of the story in the mail a day later. It had
run on Feb. 18, 1967."

"How I Traveled Abroad on CIA Subsidy" was the headline. The author was
Walter Pincus of the Washington Post.

After disclosures of CIA infiltration of American student associations had
exploded that year, Pincus had written a long, smug confessional of how,
posing as an American student representative, he'd traveled to several
international youth conferences in the late 1950's and early 1960's,
secretly gathering information for the CIA and smuggling in anti-Communist
propoganda. A CIA recruiter had approached him, he wrote, and he'd agreed
to spy not only on the student delegations from other countries but on his
American colleagues as well. "I had been briefed in Washington on each of
them," Pincus wrote. "None was remotely aware of CIA's interest."

This just cannot be true, I thought. The Washington Post's veteran
national security reporter -- a former CIA operative and propogandist?
Unwilling to believe this piece of information until I dug it up for
myself, I went to the state library and got out the microfilm. The story
was there. This was the man who was questioning my ethics for giving
[Ross's attorney] Alan Fenster questions to ask a government witness about
the Contras and drugs? Jesus, I'd certainly never spied on American

THE L.A. TIMES and New York Times struck next. On Oct. 20, 1996, both ran
long stories attacking my reporting and the series. They took the same
tack the Washington Post had several weeks earlier: admitting that the
basic facts were true and then complaining that the facts didn't mean a

Relying again mostly on unnamed sources, these two newspapers of record
claimed Blandon and Meneses hadn't had "official positions" with the
Contras. Drug money had been sent, but not millions; it was only tens of
thousands, according to unnamed sources. And experts scoffed at the notion
that one drug ring could have supplied enough cocaine to feed the tidal
wave of crack that engulfed American, a ridiculous claim I'd never made.

The papers found no need to mention the mass of historical evidence that
supported the series' findings. Without anything approaching
documentation, the papers just flatly declared that I was wrong.

"The crack epidemic in Los Angeles followed no blueprint or master plan.
It was not orchestrated by the Contras or the CIA. No one trafficker, even
kingpins who sold thousands of kilos and pocketed millions of dollars, ever
came close to monopolizing the drug trade," the L.A. Times assured its
readers in the lead paragraph of a three-day series.

THE NEXT DAY, the L.A. Times absolved the CIA of any involvement with
Blandon and Meneses. Its authoritative sources: former CIA director Robert
Gates, former CIA official Vincent Cannistraro and current CIA director
John Deutch. "Like good little boys and girls, the Times, the Washington
Post et al., toddled off to the CIA and asked the agency if it had ever
done such a thing. When the CIA said 'no' the papers solemnly printed it
-- just as though the CIA hadn't previously denied any number of illegal
operations in which it was later caugh red-handed," columnist Molly Ivins

Buried deep within the L.A. Times story were admissions by CIA officials
that Contra supporters "were involved in drug running, but they bought
villas and did not put it into the FDN." And the story conceded, "the
allegation that some elements of the CIA-sponsored Contra army cooperated
with drug traffickers has been well documented for years." But the story
dismissed the idea that "millions" went to the Contras from the
Nicaraguans' drug sales. Unnamed sources said it was around $50,000 or
$60,000, which caused former Meneses distributor Rafael Cornejo some mirth.

"Sixty thousand?" he scoffed. "You can raise that in an afternoon."

According to another unnamed source the Times quoted, Blandon and Meneses
were making only $15,000 a kilo in profits.

Unmentioned was Blandon's testimony that he'd sold 200 to 300 kilos for
Meneses during the time they were sending money to the Contras, and his
admission that all of the profits were being sent to the rebels. Using the
Times' own profit figures, that would mean between $3 million and $4.5
million went to the Contras just from Blandon's sales.

And that didn't include the money Meneses' organization -- through Cabezas
and Renato Pena in San Francisco -- was sending. Lost in the debate over
whether it was millions or tens of thousands, was the inanity of the idea
that a reasonably accurate number could ever be found in a business that
deals in cash and eschews written records -- it is just as possible that
the amounts could have been in the tens of millions.

"No solid evidence has emerged that either Meneses or Blandon contributed
any money to the rebels after 1984," the story declared, ignoring the 1986
sheriff's affidavit and the 1986 DEA reports. The story also quoted
another unnamed associate who claimed, apparently with a straight face,
that the profit margin in the cocaine business in 1982-84 -- when coke was
selling for $60,000 a kilo -- were just too slim to allow million-dollar
donations to the FDN.

THE UNPRECENDENTED attacks by three major newspapers alarmed the Mercury's
editors. I was called to a meeting with Ceppos and the other editors and
told that I should quit trying to advance the story. We needed to start
working on a written response to the other newspapers, he said. I
vehemently disagreed. "The best way to shut them up is to put the rest of
what we know in the paper and keep plowing ahead," I argued. "Let's run a
story about Walter Pincus' CIA connections. Let's write about how the L.A.
Times has been booting this story since 1987." I told them of my discovery
that the L.A. Times Washington bureau had been sent a copy of the notes
found in Ronald Lister's house in 1990 and had thrown them away. Ceppos

"I don't want to go to war with them," he said.

Fortunately, both Dawn Garcia and Paul Van Slambrouck agreed that we should
continue developing the story.

"The best way to answer our critics," Van Slambrouck told Ceppos, "is to
advance the story. Let's go out and get some more evidence of drug money
being sent to the Contras. Let's get more evidence of this drug ring's
dealings with the Contras." Ceppos relented, authorizing another reporting
trip to Central America. He also assigned L.A. bureau reporter Pamela
Kramer and Pete Carey, an investigative reporter, to gather information
about the start of the L.A. crack market. He also made another decision:
He was changing the logo that the series had used on the Internet and in
the reprints. The CIA's seal was coming off.

"What's the point of doing that?" I asked. "We documented that these
traffickers were meeting with CIA agents. If you change the logo, the rest
of the media is going to accuse us of backing away from the story."

But Ceppos wouldn't budge. Thousands of reprints with the CIA-crack smoker
logo were gathered up and burned, and a CD-ROM version of the series --
which had been pressed and ready for distribution -- was also destroyed.
The Post and L.A. Times immediately crowed that the Mercury was retreating
from the series.

Georg and I flew to Costa Rica and began interviewing police officials,
lawyers, prosecutors and ex-Contras about Meneses' activities there,
fleshing out his role as a DEA informant and his drug operation's
connections to Oliver North's re-supply network on the Southern Front. In
Managua, we interviews police and Blandon's suspected money launderer,
Orlando Murillo. I flew back and started writing the follow-up stories;
Georg continued hunting for other members of the Meneses drug ring.

He called me in December 1996, barely able to contain his excitement. He'd
found Carlos Cabezas, who admitted that he had in fact delivered millions
of dollars in drug money to the Contras. Cabezas had names, dates and
amounts, Georg said, and pages from his drug ledgers. He'd identified a
CIA agent, Ivan Gomez, as having had direct knowledge of it all.

"We've got it," Georg cried. "Cabezas is willing to talk on the record."

A week later Georg called me with more good news. Enrique Miranda, the
former Meneses aide who'd escaped a year earlier, had been found in Miami
and tossed on a plane to Nicaragua. Georg had visited him in prison, and
Miranda started talking. Meneses' relationship with the CIA and the
Contras was deeper than we'd ever realized, Georg said. "We didn't know
how right we were," he laughed. "I can't wait to see what the Washington
Post does with this." I could have kissed him.

In January 1997, I sent first drafts of four follow-up stories to Dawn,
written as a two-day series. The first part dealt with Meneses' DEA
connections and his Costa Rican operation, along with the interviews Georg
had done with Carlos Cabezas and Enrique Miranda. I wrote a sidebar about
the drug-dealing Costa Rican shrimp company North and the Cuban CIA
operatives were using to funnel aid to the Contras.

The second part was a story about the parallel investigations of Contra
drug-trafficking done in the summer of 1986 by DEA agent Celering Castillo
at Ilopango and L.A. County Sheriff's Deputy Tom Gordon, drawing on
recently declassified FBI and CIA records at the National Archives and
3.000 pages of once-secret documents about the Blandon raids that had just
been released by the L.A. County Sheriff's Office. I also wrote a sidebar
on Joe Kelso's attempts to investigate allegations of DEA drug trafficking
in Costa Rica. Altogether the drafts ran 16,000 words.

We'd done it. We had an eyewitness, on the record, who'd delivered the
drug money. We had DEA records saying Blandon had sent money to the
Contras far longer than we'd previously reported. We had a top CIA
official admitting the agency had reports of drug trafficking at Ilopango.
We had evidence Ronald Lister had been meeting with the CIA's former head
of covert operations. I expected the editors to be beside themselves with

I heard absolutely nothing. Aside from Dawn, no one called to tell me
they'd read the new stories. No one called with questions. No one even
suggested that we begin editing them. They sat.

EXECUTIVE EDITOR Jerry Ceppos called me at home on March 25, 1997, to
inform me that he'd made "a very difficult decision." Mistakes had been
made in the series, he said, and the newspaper was going to print a letter
to its readers saying so.

"Is this a fait accompli?" I asked. "Or do I get a chance to say something?"

"The decision has been made," Ceppos said. "I'll fax you a draft of what
we're considering."

According to Ceppos' proposed column, we should have said that Blandon
claimed he quit dealing with the Contras in 1983 -- something that the
editors had cut to save space. We had "insufficient proof" to say millions
went to the Contras; we should have said it was an estimate. We should
have said that we didn't find proof of involvement of "CIA
decision-makers," whatever that meant. We should have said Ricky Ross
wasn't the only crack supplier in L.A. -- but we hadn't said that. And,
finally, Ceppos wrote, the experts were unanimous in saying that the
Contras had not played a major role in the crack trade and that the series
had "oversimplified" how crack had become a problem. Strangley, Ceppos had
borrowed his conclusions from Pete Carey's never-published crack story.

I brought a written response to San Jose with me the next day when I met
with Ceppos and the other editors in the ornate conference room near the
editors' offices. "That 'experts' would disagree with the findings of
original research is one of the perils of doing it, as any researcher can
tell you," I wrote. "But just because they have a differing opinion -- and
when you get down to it, that's all it is -- is a pretty shoddy reason to
take a swan dive on a story . . . . How can we honestly say that we don't
know millions went to the Contras, or that the CIA didn't know about this,
when we've got an eyewitness telling us that he personally gave drug money
to a CIA agent? What are we going to do about all that other inconvenient
information in the follow-ups? We're going to look awful god-damned stupid
running this apology and then printing stories that directly contradict

The other editors looked at the table uncomfortably.

"We are going to print those other stories, aren't we?"

Ceppos shook his head slightly.

"We're not" I asked incredulously. "Why not?"

"They're a quarter-turn of the screw," he said. "We're not going to print
anything else unless it's a major advance."

I exploded. "You think the fact that the head of this Contra drug ring was
working for the DEA is a quarter-turn of a screw?" I shouted. "You don't
think the fact that the DEA helped an accused CIA drug trafficker escape
criminal charges is a major advance? You've got to be kidding me. Are we
even going to pursue this story any more?"

"No," Ceppos said.

"Let me get this straight," I said. "We're killing the other stories.
We're not going to do any more investigation of this topic. And we're
going to run this mealy-mouthed column that pretends we don't know anything
else, tuck our tails between our legs and slink off into the sunset.
That's what you've got in mind?"

"You and I have very different views of this situation," he said quietly.

"You got that right."

The result of the stormy meeting was that Ceppos rewrote his column,
removing the obvious factual errors but leaving the rest virtually

"No matter how many times the words and phrases are tweaked, the end result
is still a sham," I responded in a memo. "You're sitting on information
that supports what I wrote and pretending to be unaware of it."

AT A FINAL MEETING before the column ran, I predicted that the mainstream
press would read the column as a retraction, one that covered everything
the series had revealed. "You run this, and all we'll hear is, 'The
Mercury News has admitted it isn't true! The Contras weren't dealing
cocaine! The CIA had nothing to do with it!" And you know as well as I
do, that's not true."

Ceppos' column ran on May 11, 1997, and if there was ever a chance to
getting to the bottom of the CIA's involvement with drug traffickers, it
died on that day. The New York Times, which hadn't found the original
story newsworthy enough to mention, splashed Ceppos's apology on its front
page. An editorial lauded Ceppos for his courage and declared that he'd
set a brave new standard for dealing with "egregious errors."

Howard Kurtz, the media critic for the Washington Post, called for a
comment. "It's nauseating," I told him. I had never been more disgusted
with my profession in my life. It wasn't because outrages were unknown in
the newspaper business. They weren't. Shortly before I arrived at the
Plain-Dealer, the paper printed a front-page retraction of a story that had
appeared more than a year earlier, revealing that former Teamsters Union
president Jackie Presser was an FBI informant.

Presser was indeed an informant, as the FBI confirmed years later. But
truth had taken a back seat to realpolitik. Court records later revealed
that the paper had been pressured into retracting the story by New York mob
boss Anthony "Fat Tony" Salerno, who'd asked his attorney, Roy Cohn, to
intercede with the Newhouse family, which owned the Plain Dealer.

Whether similar pressures were applied to Ceppos from outside the newspaper
is something I do not know, not do I particularly want to. I would prefer
to believe the theory advanced by my editor, Dawn Garcia, who suggested
that Ceppos's treatment for prostrate cancer in the winter of 1996-97 had
been a factor. That extended illness, combined with pressure from other
editors, had taken their toll, she believed.

It's a plausible explanation, because there really were only two ways the
newspaper could have gone with "Dark Alliance" at that point -- forward or
backward. The series had created such a superheated controversy that it
had become impossible to simply do nothing. Ceppos, who had stood by the
story bravely at key moments, simply may not have had the endurance, at
that period of his life, to ride the story out.

If the Mercury continued pursuing the story and publishing follow-ups,
editor Jon Krim worried in a memo, the editors needed to be ready "to deal
with the firestorm of criticism that is sure to follow." The other way out
was to back out: confess to some "shortcomings," take some quick lumps and
move on, which is the course Ceppos chose. It was certainly the course of
least resistance, as the happy reaction of the national media proved.

THE CONTROVERSY raged for another month, and the issue gradually became
what Ceppos reportedly had dreaded: he was being accused of suppressing
information. He was convering things up. Talk radio had a field day. In
Washington, DJ Joe Madison, who'd been making hay with the story for
months, urged the listeners of his 50,000-watt station to call Ceppos and
demand that he print the stories he was suppressing. Letters and email
from outraged readers began pouring in.

Ceppos, who'd not spoken to me since his column ran, called me at home in
early June. He was killing the follow-ups, he shouted. I was off the
story for good. He couldn't trust me anymore because I'd "aligned myself
with one side of the issue."

"Which side is that, Jerry? The side that wants the truth to come out?"

He wasn't getting into a debate, he told me. I was to report to his office
in two days "to discuss your future at the Mercury News."

It was a very one-sided discussion. Reading from a prepared statement,
Ceppos told me that my editors had lost faith in me. I needed closer
supervision, which I couldn't get in Sacramento. I needed to regain their
faith and thier trust, and the only way to do that was to accept a transfer
to the main office in San Jose. If I refused, I would be transfered
against my will to the West Bureau in Cupertino, the newspaper's version of
Siberia -- a somnolent training ground for new reporters and a pasture for
older ones who'd fallen from favor. It made little sense, because the
reporters there had no direct supervision, either. Whichever I decided, I
had to report in 30 days.

And by the way, Ceppos said, Pete Carey was going to take over the Contra
drug story, and I was to give him all the cooperation he requested.

That night I sat down with my wife, Sue, and my children and gave them the
news. In one month, I was going to have to start working in Cupertino, 150
miles away. I'd have to drive there on Mondays and come home on Fridays.
In the meantime, I'd fight the transfer through the Newspaper Guild.

My 6-year-old daughter looked at me strangely. "Are you still going to
sleep here?"

"No, I won't be able to," I told her. "I have to live in another place
during the week. But I'll be home on the weekends." She got up, went into
her room, and closed the door.

RELUCTANTLY I WENT, spending July and part of August in the Cupertino
bureau under protest. I was assigned such pressing matters as the death of
a police horse, clothing collections for Polish flood victims and summer
school computer classes. I went on a byline strike, refusing to put my
name on any story written while I was working under protest.

To the chagrin of my editors, who were under orders to keep me away from
any decent assignments, I turned a press release rewrite about a San Jose
landfill into a front-page story. It was the last piece I wrote for the
Mercury -- a page-one story with no one's name on it, which reportedly
infuriated Ceppos.

Occasionally, Pete Carey would call with a question or two. He wasn't
having much luck corroborating Carlos Cabezas' statements, he told me.
He'd been trying to locate the Venezuelan CIA agent Cabezas said he worked
with, Ivan Gomez, but couldn't. He'd tried directory assistance in Caracas
and complained about how many Ivan Gomezes there were in the phone book. I
felt saddened that my two-year investigation had come to this.

I never heard another word from him about it, and none of the follow-up
stories ever ran. On Nov. 19, 1997, the Mercury News agreed to settle my
arbitration but, amusingly, required me to sign a confidentiality agreement
swearing that I would never disclose its terms. Nineteen years after
becoming a reporter, I quit the newspaper business.

Bob Parry, the AP reporter who first broke the Contra drug story in 1985,
sent me a note of condolence. "Like you, I grew up in this business
thinking our job really was to tell the public the truth," he wrote.
"Maybe that was the mission at one time. Maybe there was that Awakening in
the 1970's with Watergate, the Pentagon Papers, the CIA scandals, etc.

"But something very bad happened to the news media in the 1980's. Part of
it was the 'public diplomacy' pressures from the outside. But part of it
was the smug, snotty, sophmoric crowd that came to dominate the national
media from the inside. These characters fell in love with their power to
define reality, not their responsibility to uncover the facts. By the
1990's, the media had become the monster.

"I wish it weren't so. All I ever wanted to do was report and write
interesting stories -- while getting paid for it. But that really isn't
possible anymore and there's no use crying over it.

"Hang in there," he concluded. "You're not alone."

Medtox Scientific Submits New Profiler-II Test To The FDA
(A Company Press Release Posted To PRNewswire Says Medtox Diagnostics, Inc.,
A Subsidiary Of Medtox Scientific, Inc., Of St. Paul, Minnesota,
Has Submitted Its New Illegal-Drug-Test Device To The Food And Drug
Administration For Approval)

Date: Tue, 30 Jun 1998 01:35:37 -0400 (EDT)
From: theHEMPEROR@webtv.net (JR Irvin)
To: NTList@fornits.com
From: ntlist
Subject: [ntlist] New drug test!
Sender: urine-test@calyx.net
From: nick@calyx.net (Nicholas Merrill)
Date: Mon, Jun 29, 1998, 8:01pm
Scientific Submits new "Profiler-II"

sorry about the formatting problems :(

US MN: Wire: Medtox Scientific Submits New Profiler-II Test to the FDA
Newshawk: Patrick Henry

Pubdate: Thu, 25 Jun 1998
Source: PRNewswire

ST. PAUL, Minn.-- MEDTOX Scientific, Inc. (Amex: TOX) announced today that its
subsidiary, MEDTOX Diagnostics, Inc., has submitted its newly developed
PROFILE-II product to the United States Food and Drug Administration
for 510( k) pre-market clearance.

The PROFILE-II device is the first of a new generation of on-site test kits
being developed by MEDTOX Diagnostics. It is intended for use in the
detection of multiple drugs of abuse.

PROFILE-II will allow the end user to perform an on-site screen for the
presence of five of the most commonly abused drugs -- cocaine, amphetamines,
cannabinoids (marijuana), opiates, and phencyclidine (PCP). The screen is a
one-step process that produces results in five minutes.

PROFILE-II will be sold as both a stand-alone product and more significantly
as part of a comprehensive testing system utilizing the stringent standards
followed by MEDTOX's federally certified drug testing laboratory.

The comprehensive system for employment drug testing will utilize the
PROFILE-II device, trained and certified collectors/testers, a chain of
custody form for each donor, split specimen collections kits, automatic
laboratory ( GC/MS) confirmation on non-negative on-site screening results,
and centralized data management for clients' tests results.

This system will provide clients with the most comprehensive, legally and
forensically defensible on-site screening system available in the market

Response from clients and focus groups bas been extremely positive. It is
estimated that there are currently over 30 million laboratory employment
drug tests performed annually in the United States. The Company concurs
with other industry experts who believe that twenty to thirty percent of
these tests could eventually be conducted on site within the next three

The Company also believes that the ease and immediate turnaround time of
on-site testing should expand the drug testing market.

Additionally, a number of states have introduced regulations that provide
for a discount in workers compensation premiums for employers that adopt
drug testing programs.

This will encourage many smaller employers who do not currently test to
adopt programs. The quick turnaround time of a high quality comprehensive
on-site system should appeal to this new segment of the drug testing market.
Currently no other company can complement a federally certified laboratory
and all of its resources with its own patented on-site device packaged in a
high quality comprehensive system.

PROFILE-II and its comprehensive system will provide added value to the
market place for a price comparable to current laboratory testing.

While pricing will be competitive for the customer the Company expects to
achieve gross margins more in line with medical device manufacturers, as
opposed to gross margins realized from laboratory services.

The Company believes it can be a market leader in making the transition from
laboratory employment drug testing to on-site screening for drugs of abuse.

The PROFILE-II product is the twelfth product to be submitted by the Company
to the United States Food and Drug Administration. The prior eleven product
submissions received 510( k) pre-market clearance in an average time of 72
days, with a maximum of 141 days and a minimum of 20 days. Although no
maximum statutory response time has been set for review of a 51O( k)
submission, as a matter of policy the United States Food and Drug
Administration attempts to complete review of 510( k) submissions within 90

MEDTOX Scientific, Inc. is headquartered in St. Paul, MN. Through its
MEDTOX Laboratories subsidiary, it is a leader in providing esoteric
toxicology services to hospitals and laboratories nationwide. The subsidiary
also provides employment drug testing and occupational health testing,
including biological monitoring for exposure to industrial chemicals, heavy
metals and solvents.

Its MEDTOX Diagnostics subsidiary develops and manufactures diagnostic
devices for quick and economical on-site analysis for drugs of abuse,
agricultural toxins, and antibiotic residues.

Additionally, the diagnostics subsidiary provides contract manufacturing
utilizing its patented technology and proprietary manufacturing processes.


Nicholas Merrill
New York City - Amsterdam
Voice: 212-966-1900 President / CEO
www.calyx.net - www.calyx.nl
Pager: 917-381-0500
Calyx Internet Access
13-17 Laight St. NY, NY 10013
Email: nick@calyx.net


Non-Testers List (NTList) news list.

A consumer guide to anti-drug testing companies.

To Join or Leave NTList send "join ntlist" or "leave ntlist" in the TEXT
area to: ntlist-request@fornits.com Don't forget "ntlist" in your
command. For Help, just send "help". List owner: thehemperor@webtv.net
(JR Irvin)

Announcement Of Class Action Lawsuit (Medical Marijuana Patients
Are Asked To Join The Federal Lawsuit - Includes Contact Information
For Potential Oregon Plaintiffs - Lawrence Elliott Hirsch, Chief Counsel
Of Hirsch And Caplan Public Interest Law Firm, Will File The Case June 29
In Philadelphia)

Date: Thu, 25 Jun 1998 02:13:12 -0700
From: Bob Kiselosky (oriongraf@presys.com)
Reply-To: oriongraf@presys.com
Organization: Orion Graphics

The Action Class for Freedom of Therapeutic Cannabis


- To institute The Action Class for Freedom of Therapeutic Cannabis.

- To restore to and to reinvest in The People the fundamental,
inalienable rights, freedoms, and liberties which have been
unjustifiably and unconstitutionally prohibited, denied, and suppressed
since 1937 by unjust statutes and policies of the government of the
United States of America.

- To redefine "marijuana" and to communicate the truth about this
natural, non-toxic herb cannabis which has been used therapeutically for
5,000 years. Cannabis was freely and legally available in the United
States for a wide range of medicinal uses until the federal politicians
desecrated, demonized, defamed, prohibited, and criminalized what many
cultures considered to be an invaluable natural resource. The
government's arbitrary, hypocritical classification of cannabis as the
most dangerous drug in America continues to be the law and policy of the
United States of America, thus criminalizing the sick and powerless.

- To inform and educate the public about the established benefits and
proven virtues of cannabis as a therapeutic agent for each and every
health condition for which cannabis is helpful.

- To achieve Justice and Judgment declaring that therapeutic cannabis
prohibition is unconstitutional and that The People are free to use it
for their health without control or interference by the government of
the United States of America.


- The Action Class for Freedom of Therapeutic Cannabis complaint will
be filed in the United States District Court in Philadelphia on June 29,

- Lawrence Elliott Hirsch, chief counsel of Hirsch & Caplan Public
Interest Law Firm will represent the plaintiff class representatives
from every state who have health conditions for which cannabis is
therapeutic and improves or may improve or could improve the quality of
their lives.

- Each named plaintiff will represent the rights and interests of a
class in their State, as well as 97 million Americans who could benefit
from therapeutic cannabis, and other Americans who value their First
Amendment right of privacy - the right to be let alone by the government
- the right most valued by civilized society.

- Each named plaintiff is a person of great moral courage. "Moral
courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great
intelligence. Yet it is one, essential vital quality for those who seek
to change a world that yields most painfully to change." (Robert F.
Kennedy, 1967)

- Activate alliances and network with individuals, groups, and
organizations to execute The Mission.

In Oregon you may contact your representative plaintiff, Bob Kiselosky,
by email at oriongraf@presys.com, or phone 541-547-3980, for additional
information about this lawsuit, or to offer your comments and support of
this historic challenge to the suppression of our Constitutional rights.
WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT to stop the unjust criminalization and jailing of
our fellow citizens whose only crime is that they have health problems
and seek to improve the quality of their lives by use of a natural,
therapeutic herb.

Mandatory Minimums For Whitewater Rafting (A List Subscriber
Notes The 11 People Who Drowned While Rafting In Colorado
In The Past Month Probably Outnumbered The People Who Died
From Illegal Drugs, And Sarcastically Mimics The Knee-Jerk Response
Of Prohibitionists)

Date: Thu, 25 Jun 1998 10:03:35 EDT
Errors-To: manager@drcnet.org
Reply-To: adbryan@onramp.net
Originator: drctalk@drcnet.org
Sender: drctalk@drcnet.org
From: adbryan@onramp.net
To: Multiple recipients of list (drctalk@drcnet.org)
Subject: MM's for Whitewater Rafting

I just heard on the Today Show that 11 people have lost their
lives while whitewater rafting in Colorado this year. Considering
that the rafting season is a little over a month old, I would have
to guess that whitewater rafting has caused more deaths than all
illicit drug overdoses in Colorado for the same period of time.

With that in mind, I think those of you in Colorado should ask
your legislators to outlaw whitewater rafting. Anyone attempting
this endeavor should face a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years.

The "dealers" (those who provide the guides and rafts) should face
a life sentence. Newspapers and travel guides that promote these
"dealers" should be labeled as co-conspiritors.

Let the war against whitewater rafting begin. ;)

Alan Bryan

Driver In Fatal Train-Truck Accident Tested Positive For Marijuana
(Sensationally Biased Article In 'The New York Times'
Omits The Actuarial Odds Of Such Drivers Testing Positive For Cannabis,
And Fails To Say Whether The Driver In Portage, Indiana, Also Tested Positive
For Other Drugs Such As Alcohol, But Notes The Driver's Equipment
Didn't Meet Legal Standards Either)
Link to earlier story
Date: Thu, 25 Jun 1998 20:17:19 -0400 To: DrugSense News Service From: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org (MAPNews) Subject: MN: US IN: NYT: Driver in Fatal Train-Truck Accident Tested Positive for Marijuana Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org Reply-To: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: creator@mapinc.org Source: New York Times Contact: letters@nytimes.com Website: http://www.nytimes.com/ Pubdate: 25 Jun 1998 DRIVER IN FATAL TRAIN-TRUCK ACCIDENT TESTED POSITIVE FOR MARIJUANA CHICAGO -- The driver of a truck involved in a fatal commuter train wreck last week has tested positive for marijuana, authorities say. Keith Lintz, 39, of Niles, Mich., was driving a double tractor-trailer into a steel mill in Portage, Ind., on June 18 when the truck, carrying three 40,000 pound steel coils, became trapped between two parallel train tracks. While Lintz was stopped for a freight train on one of the tracks, a Chicago-bound commuter train on the other tracks crashed into the rear trailer. The impact hurled one of the coils into the front car of the two-car train, killing three passengers and injuring six others. Chief David Reynolds of the Portage police said tests found marijuana in Lintz's urine. Blood tests were still pending. He could not say how much marijuana the tests found or that it contributed to the cause of the crash. "Unlike some other drugs, marijuana stays in your system for quite a while, so it may be a case where he took some marijuana several weeks ago and it's just still in his system," Reynolds said. Lintz, whose driving record shows he has received two warning letters from the Michigan secretary of state's office in the last five years for accumulating points on his license, was cited for four violations at the time of the crash. The most serious included a failure to properly secure the coils, and an overweight violation, which meant Lintz should not have been pulling the second trailer. Reynolds said evidence was being formally presented to prosecutors Wednesday, who would have the final decision on whether Lintz will face criminal charges. Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board re-created the crash Saturday. Matthew Furman, a spokesman for the agency, said preliminary findings from the re-enactment show the train engineer saw the trailer only five to seven seconds before impact. After applying the emergency brake, the engineer was able to slow the train from 68 mph to 43 mph at the point of impact. Furman said the full investigation would take about year to complete. Lintz has told investigators the freight train on the parallel tracks in front of him and the crossing gates behind him boxed him in, preventing him from moving. The 90-mile-long South Shore line shuttles more than 12,000 passengers daily between South Bend, Ind., and Chicago. Portage, Ind., a town of about 30,000 is 30 miles southeast of Chicago. Copyright 1998 The New York Times Company

Police Say Test Shows Drug Use By Trucker In Train Crash
(According To 'The Chicago Tribune' Version, Northwestern University
Professor Ian Savage, Who Specializes In Truck Safety Regulation,
Said That Even If A Driver Is Determined To Have Marijuana In His System,
The Finding 'May Be A Red Herring')
Link to earlier story
From: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org (MAPNews) To: "MN" (mapnews@mapinc.org) Subject: MN: US: IL: Police Say Test Shows Drug Use By Trucker In Train Crash Date: Fri, 26 Jun 1998 17:50:45 -0500 Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org Reply-To: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Steve Young (theyoungfamily@worldnet.att.net) Pubdate: 25 June 1998 Source: Chicago Tribune (IL) Contact: tribletter@aol.com Website: http://www.chicago.tribune.com/ Author: Jon Hilkevitch POLICE SAY TEST SHOWS DRUG USE BY TRUCKER IN TRAIN CRASH By Jon Hilkevitch, Tribune Transportation Writer. Tribune staff writer Steve Mills contributed to this report. June 25, 1998 Police said Wednesday that the trucker involved in last week's fatal crash of a Chicago-bound commuter train in Indiana has tested positive for marijuana, but it remained unclear when he may have used the drug or if it contributed to the accident. "The toxicology test we performed doesn't indicate when the marijuana was used or the quantity involved," said Officer Lisa Duncan, a spokeswoman for the Portage, Ind., Police Department. Portage police declined to disclose specific test result data-- for instance, whether the positive test results came from blood or urine samples--but said the driver, Keith J. Lintz, 39, of Niles, Mich., tested negative for alcohol. No criminal charges have been filed against Lintz in the accident that killed three people and injured six aboard the South Shore Railroad train at a crossing near the Midwest Steel Co. plant in Portage. The National Transportation Safety Board said that it has requested Lintz's blood and urine samples from Portage police in order to conduct more sophisticated testing but that the local authorities have not complied. Portage police would not comment about why the specimens, taken in the immediate aftermath of the crash, had not been forwarded to the NTSB. Tests performed by the NTSB can determine whether marijuana was used during the previous 12 hours and how much was ingested, federal officials said. Safety board investigators typically arrive at an accident site after police and rely on local authorities' cooperation and evidence-gathering techniques. They say they will remain stymied until they receive part of the samples taken from Lintz. "We don't have a sample yet from the police department, but we do have subpoena powers to get it," said Matt Furman, a NTSB spokesman in Washington. "It's important because our test would have been indicative of when and how much marijuana was used." A federal source in the Department of Transportation said "negotiations" were under way with the Portage Police Department to provide samples to the NTSB. The source said local police officials, the Indiana State Police and the Porter County prosecutor's office were concerned that the samples taken from Lintz were insufficient to conduct a series of tests and that enough of the collected blood and urine must be preserved for possible testing by experts working for the truck driver's defense. The accident occurred before dawn June 18 when the South Shore train plowed into the rear of Lintz's dual-trailer truck, which moments before impact was boxed in between the two sets of commuter tracks and a pair of parallel Conrail freight tracks. Upon impact, a 20-ton steel coil on the truck snapped from its rigging and smashed into the lead car of the two-car train where the victims were riding. Portage police were first to respond to the 4:30 a.m. accident and, as required under federal commercial carrier regulations, obtained blood and urine samples from Lintz. Portage Police Chief David Reynolds said Wednesday that toxicology tests indicated that Lintz "tested positive for marijuana and negative for alcohol." Medical literature states that the psychoactive chemical in marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, can be detected in blood tests and in urinalysis for up to three weeks after use, but experts differ on the reliability of the tests. Lintz and his attorney were unavailable for comment Wednesday. Officials at Eastern Express Inc., of Griffith, Ind., whose name was listed on the door of Lintz's truck, did not return phone calls. Indiana State Police Cpl. Lennie Frye, who is assigned to a toll road unit, said a motorist can be charged with operating a motor vehicle with a controlled substance if blood tests show that marijuana was in the system. "Until all the reports are completed by the various agencies and reviewed, we can't determine if there will be criminal charges against the driver," said Kathy Minick, a spokeswoman for the prosecutor's office. Edward Cone, a chemist at the National Institute of Drug Abuse, one of the National Institutes of Health, said it is hard to pinpoint through blood or urine testing when someone used marijuana or how much they used. "From a single specimen, you can't really tell how much drug has been ingested," said Cone. "If you're not sure when the person used the drug, then you can't say how much. You really need some definitive times to do that." Cone said that marijuana generally clears the bloodstream in 24 hours or less and the urine in one to five days--unless the person is a heavy user. Then, said Cone, it can linger for a few weeks. Much depends on an individual's metabolism. Still, it is extremely difficult to describe a person's usage with any certainty, he said. "If we found a certain amount of the drug during testing," Cone said, "we still might not be able to determine whether you smoked one joint or four joints." He said that a teaspoon or so of blood or urine is enough to conduct a test. In the late 1980s, the NTSB examined 182 accidents involving large trucks in which a total of 210 people had died. Of the truckers tested for drug use, 13 percent had used marijuana, 13 percent had consumed alcohol and 7 percent to 9 percent had used cocaine, stimulants and amphetamines. Lintz was ticketed June 18 for allegedly improperly securing the coils to his trailer, exceeding the allowable gross-weight load for the type of truck he was driving, being 28 days behind in his log book and having faulty brakes. In the last six years, he received four speeding tickets, according to the Michigan secretary of state's office. Investigators have yet to determine whether Lintz drove around a lowered crossing gate and pulled onto the tracks or if the gate-crossing system malfunctioned. Authorities said Lintz told them that he was stopped and waiting for the Conrail train to pass when he saw the South Shore track gates come down behind him. A spokesman for the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District, owners of the South Shore, said both sets of gates are supposed to lower simultaneously. Lintz's dual-trailer truck, which was 72 feet long, was several feet longer than the space between the parallel tracks. Northwestern University professor Ian Savage, who specializes in truck safety regulation, said that even if a driver is determined to have marijuana in his system, the finding "may be a red herring." "There are more important questions that can be explained by biorhythms," Savage said. "The Portage crash happened just before dawn, when the preponderance of truck accidents occur. "The fact is, the human body and motor skills are at their lowest point between 2 and 4 a.m. and marijuana usage has a minimal influence after a few hours."

Amish Drug Arrests Sadden Staid Culture ('The San Jose Mercury News'
Runs A 'Los Angeles Times' Article About Last Week's Bust Of Two Amish Men
For Selling Cocaine)

Date: Tue, 30 Jun 1998 20:14:41 -0400
To: DrugSense News Service (mapnews@mapinc.org)
From: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org (MAPNews)
Subject: MN: US PA: Amish Drug Arrests Sadden Staid Culture
Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Reply-To: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/
Newshawk: Marcus-Mermelstein Family (mmfamily@ix.netcom.com)
Source: San Jose Mercury News (CA)
Contact: letters@sjmercury.com
Website: http://www.sjmercury.com/
Pubdate: Thu, 25 Jun 1998
Author: Mark Fritz, Los Angeles Times


Two Men Indicted For Dealing At Hoedowns In Pennsylvania

GAP, Pa. -- Some Amish drink their share of beer when they're young, a
taste of temptation that is a rite of passage even in a place as mythically
moral as Amish country. But selling cocaine? Mingling with a motorcycle
gang called the Pagans? With bikers known as ``Twisted'' and ``Fathead''?

Amish residents of this eastern Pennsylvania town picked up their
newspapers Wednesday morning and read about two of their own: young Amish
men from Gap with the most common last name in town, Stoltzfus. Young men
reared in a strict but increasingly threatened culture in which people
abstain from material pleasures and adhere to a spartan life of decency and

These two young men, however, were indicted in federal court in
Philadelphia on Tuesday on charges that they bought cocaine and
methamphetamine from members of another local subculture -- the Pagans --
and then sold the drugs to youths at Amish hoedowns in Gap and other
Lancaster County communities. According to the indictment, they were cogs
in a drug ring that united two seemingly incompatible cultures for five years.

Abner Stoltzfus, 24, and Abner King Stoltzfus, 23 -- who are not related --
were at home with their families, declining to comment while awaiting
arraignment next week on charges that could send them to prison for life.
Eight Pagans were also indicted.

``I guess it goes to show you we're human beings, just like everyone
else,'' observed Abram Stoltzfus -- no relation to the defendants -- as he
stood on the stoop of his immaculate white farmhouse. ``These things are
going to happen. It's sad.''

At the time of the alleged drug-dealing, both young men were in a period of
their lives that the Amish call a ``timeout,'' when young men are
encouraged to sow their wild oats before deciding whether to rejoin the
faith for the rest of their lives.

``I'm not suggesting that the Amish hierarchy condones drug use or anything
like that, but they're going through a period of time when they are allowed
to be rebellious,'' said John Pyfer, the attorney for Abner Stoltzfus.
Pyfer said his client would plead not guilty.

The indictment of two Amish men on charges of pushing drugs on Amish kids
is particularly jolting because many Americans consider the Amish something
of a national treasure, a plain-living, hard-working and God-fearing people
who eschew such luxuries as cars, electricity and colorful clothing in
favor of family and faith.

Yet people who study the Amish culture, and even the normally reticent
Amish themselves, say it's getting harder for members of this Anabaptist
religious sect to maintain their way of life, particularly in a place like
Lancaster County, where suburban sprawl and outlet malls are leaving too
little land for the Amish to farm and too little room on the road for their
horse-drawn buggies.

``It's a big myth of Amish society being perfect, a bunch of puritans
living an idyllic life out in the country,'' said Daniel Lee, a Penn State
University professor who has researched the Amish. ``To put it plainly,
they are very normal people.''

Chopper With Two On Board Missing In Tennessee ('Reuters'
Says The Army National Guard Helicopter Was Believed To Have Crashed
After Flying Into Bad Weather Wednesday Evening To Search For Marijuana
In Rugged Mountains)

Date: Thu, 25 Jun 1998 20:28:41 -0400
To: DrugSense News Service 
From: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org (MAPNews)
Subject: MN: US TN: Wire: Chopper With 2 On Board Missing In Tenn.
Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Reply-To: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/
Newshawk: isenberd@DynCorp.com (Isenberg, David)
Source: Reuters
Pubdate: Thu, 25 Jun 1998


An Army National Guard helicopter with two people on board was believed to
have crashed after flying into bad weather during a search for marijuana
plantings in the rugged east Tennessee mountains, officials said Thursday.

The pilot reported deteriorating weather conditions just before contact
with the OH-58 Kiowa was lost Wednesday evening, said Randy Harris of the
Tennessee Army National Guard. He said search efforts for the craft were
halted at dark and resumed Thursday, but were being hampered by fog. He
said the craft carried a Guard pilot and a federal law enforcement official
who was scouring the remote area for illegal marijuana fields.

Search efforts were centered in Carter and Sullivan counties east of
Johnson City near the North Carolina state line.

Doctor Enjoyed Respect Of Peers ('The Tallahassee Democrat'
Says Dr. Brence Sell, A Local Anesthesiologist, Was Arrested Tuesday
And Held Without Bail On Charges Of Growing Marijuana And Trying To Bribe
The Detectives Who Busted Him - According To Police, He Begged Detectives
To Kill Him And Said His Life Was Over)

Date: Sun, 28 Jun 1998 01:47:59 -0400
To: mapnews@mapinc.org
From: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org (MAPNews)
Subject: MN: US FL: Doctor Enjoyed Respect Of Peers
Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Reply-To: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/
Newshawk: compassion23@geocities.com (Frank S. World)
Pubdate: Thu, 25 Jun 1998
Source: Tallahassee Democrat
Contact: tdedit@tdo.infi.net
Website: http://www.tdo.com/index.htm
Author: Noel Holton, Democrat Staff Writer


After Brence Sell was arrested on drug and bribery charges, he said his life
was over and begged detectives to kill him.

Local anesthesiologist Dr. Brence Sell, who was arrested Tuesday on charges
of growing marijuana and trying to bribe detectives, was denied bail Wednesday.

He has also been put on leave at Anesthesiology Associates, where he has
worked for 10 years, pending the outcome of the criminal investigation.

"We are very concerned regarding the allegations made against Dr. Sell,"
said Joseph Wilson, practice manager at Anesthesiology Associates. "While we
feel it would be premature to make any further comment on the situation
before all of the facts are established, we want to assure our surgery
patients that their safety remains our primary mission."

Anesthesiology Associates of Tallahassee, a professional group of 24
anesthesiologists, offers surgical services at all of the medical facilities
in the area.

Leon County sheriff's detectives said after Sell was arrested Tuesday
afternoon he asked them to kill him because his life had just ended. The
arresting deputy said Sell also asked if they would shoot him if he ran.

Sell had no previous criminal record and enjoyed the esteem of his peers.

"Sell has been a very good doctor and a well-respected member of the local
medical community," said Mollie Hill, executive director of the Capital
Medical Society. "We have seen no impact on his medical performance and he
is such an exceptional doctor, I would not have hesitated to have him as my
anesthesiologist. We will provide him with any support we can."

Sheriff's detectives said they received a tip Friday that Sell was growing
marijuana on the back porch of his apartment in the 1700 block of Hermitage
Boulevard. They said they discovered 36 marijuana plants after Sell gave
them permission to search. They said they also found more marijuana in his
bedroom, along with pipes, rolling papers and other drug paraphernalia.

Sell told detectives the plants did not belong to him but he had been caring
for them for someone named Rob. He later admitted to planting some of the
smaller plants, detectives said.

Sheriff's spokesman David Gilmore said it appeared Sell was growing
marijuana for his own use and not to sell.

Detectives said Sell set up a meeting with two detectives on Monday and
offered them $10,000 each to "lose the case." The detectives went along with
Sell and agreed to another meeting.

At 2 p.m. Tuesday, when Sell showed up at the parking lot of Beef O'Brady's
restaurant with a plastic Barnes & Noble bag with two envelopes containing
$10,000 each, detectives said he was arrested on charges of marijuana
cultivation and bribery of a public official.

Both charges are third-degree felonies, each carrying a maximum penalty of
five years in prison.

A native of Albany, Ga., Sell graduated from the Emory University School of
Medicine in 1981. He then completed a fellowship in neurosurgical anesthesia
at Johns Hopkins University Hospital in Baltimore.

He has been licensed to practice in Florida since 1988.

Noel Holton covers health and business issues. She can be reached at 599-2172.

Gene Mutation Helps Some Resist Nicotine Addiction
('The San Jose Mercury News' Says Research At The University Of Toronto
Reported In Today's Issue Of 'Nature' Suggests About One-Fifth
Of The Non-Smoking Population Carries A Genetic Lucky Strike -
A Mutation That Makes Them Feel Lousy When They Try Their First Cigarette,
And Less Likely To Become Addicted To Nicotine)

Date: Tue, 30 Jun 1998 21:59:17 -0400
To: DrugSense News Service (mapnews@mapinc.org)
From: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org (MAPNews)
Subject: MN: US: Gene Mutation Helps Some Resist Nicotine Addiction
Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Reply-To: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/
Newshawk: Marcus-Mermelstein Family (mmfamily@ix.netcom.com)
Source: San Jose Mercury News (CA)
Contact: letters@sjmercury.com
Website: http://www.sjmercury.com/
Pubdate: Thu, 25 Jun 1998
Author: Lisa M. Krieger, Mercury News Staff Writer
Note: Our newshawk writes: "There's an important quote in this article: Dr.
Alan I. Leshner, director of the federal National Institute of Drug Abuse,
which funded the new study says, ``Addiction is a brain disease.'' Here is
government funded SCIENCE that the government ignores as it continues to
imprison those addicted to "illegal" drugs!"


Metabolism: Finding Could Help Smokers Quit; If Medicines Can Inhibit The
Breakdown Of Nicotine, Perhaps They Can Treat The Addiction.

Scientists have found that some people carry a genetic Lucky Strike: a
mutation that makes them feel lousy when they try their first cigarette --
and less likely to become addicted to nicotine.

The mutation, estimated to be carried by one-fifth of the non-smoking
population, impairs the ability to metabolize nicotine, the active
ingredient in tobacco products, said researcher Dr. Edward Sellers of the
University of Toronto.

New Target

The study offers a new target for developing more effective medicines to
help smokers quit. If medicines can inhibit the breakdown of nicotine, they
could prevent or treat the addiction.

``This in an interesting and important finding,'' said Dr. Alan I. Leshner,
director of the federal National Institute of Drug Abuse, which funded the
new study. ``Addiction is a brain disease. This study shows not only that
genetics are involved, but the mechanism through which genetics are acting.''

If people with the mutated gene persist in smoking, they need fewer
cigarettes to get the same satisfaction from nicotine as people without the
mutation, he said.

``They can become smokers, but they have to work really hard at it,'' said

The discovery, reported in today's issue of the journal Nature, helps
explain why some people are never attracted to smoking -- or if they do
smoke, why their addiction is mild and they can easily quit.

Nicotine, a plant product, is broken down by an enzyme in the liver called
CYP2A6. A defect in the gene that controls this enzyme interferes with the
metabolism of nicotine. The enzyme is thought to have been important
millions of years ago, when early mammals ate plants and needed help
metabolizing them.

The gene defect causes nicotine to be metabolized more slowly. For
first-time smokers, it exaggerates normal feelings of dizziness and nausea,
said Sellers.

Because nicotine sticks around longer in these people, they do not smoke as
much, or inhale as deeply, he said.

The new study is part of the investigation into the genetics of smoking
addiction, but is the first to identify an aversion to nicotine.

Previous research found a genetic variation that is linked to smoking at a
young age. That work by researchers at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in
Houston found a gene that enhances the pleasurable feelings created by
nicotine. In a separate finding, scientists at the University of
California-San Francisco discovered that nicotine appears to stimulate
brain cells in nearly the same way cocaine does.

More Applications

Genetics also may explain other factors connected to drug abuse in general,
such as the origin of pleasure-seeking and stress-reducing behaviors. But
the latest discovery is particularly significant to solving the puzzle of
the biology of tobacco addiction.

``Individual people vary in their vulnerability to becoming addicted -- and
there is a large genetic component to this vulnerability,'' Leshner said.
``This study identifies a gene involved in these individual differences.''

The Toronto researchers found that 20 percent of non-smokers carry the
mutated version of the gene that regulates nicotine metabolism, compared
with 10 percent of smokers. They also found that smokers with the defective
gene smoked 20 percent fewer cigarettes a week.

``This gene is not complete protection. It's relative protection,'' said

The study also explains what some anti-smoking activists already have

``We know that some people have a much easier time quitting than others,''
said Margo Leathers, executive director of the American Lung Association of
Santa Clara County. ``Rarely, you hear of people who smoke only on
weekends, or only after dinner.

``But this news won't change the people who start smoking -- kids --
because they never think they'll become addicted.''

Cigarette smoking is responsible for one in five deaths in the United
States -- more than 400,000 deaths a year, according to the federal Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention. It accounts for 87 percent of all
American lung-cancer deaths.

California's Low Rate

In California, 18.7 percent of adults smoke, one of the lowest rates in the

Some medical experts worried that the news might take the pressure off the
tobacco industry by blaming biology, not marketing, for the smoking epidemic.

``It is a little bit scary if we adopt the view that humans emerged out of
the primordial slime with a smoking gene -- and 3 billion years later, Joe
Camel and the Marlboro cowboy have nothing to do with it,'' said
cardiologist Dr. Stan Glantz of UC-San Francisco.

Said Dr. John Slade, a professor of medicine at the University of New
Jersey School of Medicine: ``It could be something for tobacco companies to
hide behind. Nicotine still causes nicotine addiction.''

DrugSense Focus Alert Number 70 - Nightline - Reform Goes Mainstream
(DrugSense Asks You To Write A Quick Letter Thanking ABC
For Supporting An Open And Honest Discussion Of Drug Policy)

Date: Thu, 25 Jun 1998 11:18:44 -0700
To: mgreer@mapinc.org
From: Mark Greer (MGreer@mapinc.org)
Subject: Focus Alert No. 70 Nightline

FOCUS Alert No. 70 Nightline. Reform goes mainstream

Kevin Zeese, Mike Gray, and Ethan Nadelmann joined forces to put on a
terrific show on Nightline last Monday night 6/22. This show was broadcast
worldwide to millions of viewers. We believe that the media activism that
many reform groups have engaged in over the last 2 years, combined with the
impressive UNGASS efforts, NY Times ads, and CNN ads, etc. have all combined
to light a fire under the media. All indications are that the mainstream
media is beginning to swing our way. we should all give ourselves a group
pat on the back.

We need to encourage such important and unprecedented coverage. Please
write a letter and thank ABC using the contact info below.


Just DO it!


Phone, fax etc.)

Please post your letters or report your action to the MAPTalk list if you
are subscribed, or return a copy to this address by simply hitting
REPLY to this FOCUS Alert or E-mailing to MGreer@mapinc.org



Write Nightline at:


There is also a feedback form at:


Tom Bettag, Exec Producer
ABC News
1717 DeSales Street NW
DC 20036-4407


Call and leave a personal thank you for Tom Bettag Executive Producer of
Nightline. It costs about 30 cents max.


Nightline now Online

For anyone who missed the Nightline show or wants to review it is now
available online using RealVideo at:


RealVideo can be downloaded for free at the
same site or by going to



Sample Letter (SENT 6/25)

Dear Nightline:

Sincere thanks for an outstanding show with Forrest Sawyer on "The War on
Drugs." It's about time for the mainstream media to catch on to the
incredible negatives and destruction that has been caused by this expensive
and ineffective "war on citizens."

Please continue this type of coverage. In my view helping to end this
charade is the single most patriotic thing you can do.

For more info on the drug war please direct your researchers to:
http://www.drugsense.org and http://www.mapinc.org

for a searchable archive of over 10,000 news article on drug policy topics
see: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/

Mark Greer
Executive Director


Mark Greer
Media Awareness Project (MAP) inc.
d/b/a DrugSense

Mexican Ex-Police Chief Admits Taking Drug Money ('Reuters'
Says Adrian Carrera Fuentes, The Jailed Former Chief
Of The Federal Judicial Police, Admitted Under Police 'Interrogation'
To Taking Bribes From Illegal Drug Traffickers, According To
Court Documents Published In Mexican Newspapers Thursday)

Date: Thu, 25 Jun 1998 21:28:00 -0400
To: DrugSense News Service (mapnews@mapinc.org)
From: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org (MAPNews)
Subject: MN: Mexico: Wire: Mexican Ex-Police Chief Admits Taking Drug Money
Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Reply-To: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/
Newshawk: isenberd@DynCorp.com (Isenberg, David)
Source: Reuters
Pubdate: Thu, 25 Jun 1998


MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - The jailed former chief of Mexico's top police
force admitted taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes from drug
traffickers in exchange for protection, according to court documents
published in Mexican newspapers Thursday.

Adrian Carrera Fuentes in the early 1990s ran the Federal Judicial Police,
an investigative unit similar to the FBI in the United States but with
special responsibility to combat the multi-billion dollar illegal drugs
trade between Mexico and the United States.

According to court documents published by Mexican newspapers, Carrera
accepted a series of bribes of up to $300,000 each time or a new Cadillac
from the late Amado Carrillo Fuentes.

Carrera was arrested in March and held without bail, making him the second
high-ranking official in a year who was accused of being on Carrillo
Fuentes' payroll. Carrillo Fuentes died last year following plastic surgery
and liposuction.

In 1997, Mexico's top anti-drugs warrior, Gen. Jesus Gutierrez Rebollo, was
jailed and later convicted for having sold out to Carrillo Fuentes, also
known as ``The Lord of the Skies'' for his ability to ship tons of cocaine
in jumbo jets.

Carrera, the former police chief, appeared in court Wednesday, caged but
wearing civilian clothes. He refused to testify but results of previous
police interrogations were made public at the hearing.

``In October 1993, he (Carrera) had an interview with Amado Carrillo
Fuentes in which he (Carrillo) asked him if he was going to help by
granting protection so that he could continue his drug trafficking
activities, and he (Carrera) answered that he was going to commission
judicial police to escort him, promising not to pursue him and to let him
keep working,'' the court documents said, according to El Universal newspaper.

In another meeting between the police chief and the drug lord, Carrillo
allegedly barked out orders to an assistant that he buy the most luxurious
model of Cadillac available for Carrera.

``Moreover, upon saying goodbye, (an assistant) handed over a suitcase in
the house which he (Carrera) opened up and discovered it contained more
than $300,000,'' the documents said.

Other interrogations of the police chief revealed he allegedly held
meetings with other drug traffickers during which cash payments of $200,000
or $100,000 changed hands. The money was invested in a chain of home
furnishing stores that operated without paying taxes, El Universal said.

Cops Unearth Buried Pot Plantation ('The Edmonton Sun'
Says The Royal Canadian Mounted Police 'Green Team'
Made Its Biggest Bust Of The Year Yesterday, Finding 500 Plants
Police Said Were Worth Up To $400,000, Hidden Underneath
A Mobile Home Near Abee, Alberta)

From: creator@islandnet.com (Matt Elrod)
To: mattalk@listserv.islandnet.com
Subject: Canada: Cops unearth buried pot plantation
Date: Thu, 25 Jun 1998 09:08:24 -0700
Lines: 66
Newshawk: creator@mapinc.org
Source: Edmonton Sun
Contact: sun.letters@ccinet.ab.ca
Pubdate: June 25, 1998
Author: By IAN MCDOUGALL -- Staff Writer


A million-dollar marijuana operation was shut down yesterday by
members of the RCMP "Green Team'' squad in its biggest bust so far
this year.

Cops found nearly 500 plants growing underneath a mobile home on an
acreage south of Abee, 105 km northeast of Edmonton, said Const.
Dennis Hartl of the RCMP Edmonton Drug Section.

Members of the RCMP Green Team - which targets hydroponic marijuana
operations - and Redwater RCMP raided the secluded spot about 9:30

When police arrived they discovered a sophisticated underground dope
operation capable of generating between $1 million and $2 million a
year in profits, Hartl said, adding the farm had probably run for a
couple of years.

The plants seized yesterday could be worth up to $400,000, he added.

Police brought along an electrician to help them dismantle the
complex electrical wiring used in the operation, he said.

The grower went to great lengths to keep the farm a secret, said RCMP
Cpl. Bob Simmonds, adding drug farmers like out-of-the- way spots for
their crops.

"These are the types of locations that traditionally house larger
operations,'' Simmonds said.

A generator powering 10 1,000-watt light bulbs illuminating the
plants was buried in a grove of trees so it couldn't be spotted on the
ground or from the air, he said.

The "greenhouse'' housing the plants and growing tables was hidden
underneath the mobile home. A search revealed the door to the grow
room was hidden in a shed attached to the home.

"When you walked into the shed it just looked like a tool shed,''
Hartl said. "There was a false wall and a false door behind the

The plants were watered by a system of pipes fed by a well on the

The grower probably had to tend to his crops once or twice a day to
make sure they were getting adequate water, RCMP said.

Police carted away about $15,000 worth of growing equipment after the

Plant samples will be sent to a lab in Burnaby, B.C., where they will
be tested for THC levels - marijuana's active ingredient, Simmonds

Rheal LaRouche, 47 has been charged with possession of a controlled
substance for the purpose of trafficking and production of a
controlled substance.

Evidence Gone To Pot ('The Calgary Sun' Notes A Calgary Judge
Has Ruled There Is No Evidence A Banff Resident Obstructed Police
By Swallowing His Roach)

Date: Sat, 27 Jun 1998 02:58:56 -0400
To: mapnews@mapinc.org
From: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org (MAPNews)
Subject: MN: Canada: Evidence Gone To Pot
Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Reply-To: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/
Newshawk: creator@mapinc.org
Pubdate: Thu, 25 Jun 1998
Source: Calgary Sun (Canada)
Contact: callet@sunpub.com
Website: http://www.canoe.ca/CalgarySun/
Author: Kevin Martin, Calgary Sun


Maybe Banff resident Ryan McNeil simply had a case of the munchies.

What McNeil didn't have was an intent to obstruct a police officer when he
chowed down a suspected marijuana cigarette, a Calgary judge has ruled.

Justice Peter McIntyre, in a written ruling obtained yesterday by the Sun,
said McNeil wasn't guilty because not all the evidence was destroyed.

"The police had the opportunity to prove the accused was in possession of a
narcotic, but chose not to do so," he said, noting remnants of a leaf were
not brought in for analysis.

McIntyre agreed with a lower court decision acquitting McNeil. McNeil was
charged last Aug. 9 after RCMP Cpl. W.F. Young spotted him and others males
sharing a "small cigarette."

When Young approached, McNeil extinguished the cigarette and put it in his

Designer Spins Hemp Into Grassroots Business (A Feature In 'The Toronto Star'
On Hemp Clothes Designer Candice Levine, Who Views The Manufacture Of Hemp
Clothing As A Way To Both Make A Modest Profit And Save The Planet)

Date: Sat, 27 Jun 1998 02:49:44 -0400
To: mapnews@mapinc.org
From: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org (MAPNews)
Subject: MN: Canada: Designer Spins Hemp Into Grassroots Business
Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Reply-To: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/
Newshawk: Dave Haans
Pubdate: Thu, 25 Jun 1998
Source: Toronto Star (Canada)
Contact: lettertoed@thestar.com
Website: http://www.thestar.com/
Author: Gil Kezwer


Candice Levine wants the whole world to turn on to marijuana - not the kind
you smoke but the kind you wear.

While the buds of the cannabis sativa plant are well known for their illegal
recreational use, the cloth woven from the stalk of the plant, hemp, is
enjoying a renaissance after decades of prohibition.

Levine, 26, president of her privately owned company, For World Spirit,
views the manufacture of hemp clothing as a way to both make a modest profit
and save the planet.

She is hopeful the durability and comfort of her hemp creations, and a '90s
consciousness about the environment, will help the textile enter the
mainstream despite of its distant relationship with banned marijuana.

Hemp fabric breathes like cotton but is 10 times stronger, she notes. It
won't mildew - hence its traditional use for sails and rope - and is
resistant to stains. Because the plant grows like a weed, it requires
neither pesticides nor fertilizers.

The fibres and seeds have a wide variety of other applications, she adds,
and can be turned into paper, salad dressing, construction material and even

But don't bother smoking the stuff.

Although hemp and marijuana are both from the cannabis family, one hemp
plant produces only about 0.3 percent of mind-altering tetrahydrocannabinol

A marijuana plant, by comparison, produces between 18 per cent to 48 per
cent THC, she says.

"If you smoke that hemp shirt, the only effect you'll get is ruining a
perfectly good shirt."

After studying fashion at the Par-sons School of Design in New York, Levine
returned to her native Toronto in 1994 and landed a job with a Queen St.
clothing manufacturer. She opened the For World Spirit store on Harbord St.
last April to sell her designs made from hemp and micro-fibres like Lycra.

Levine sold $60,000 worth of clothing in nine months, mostly loose fitting
women's casual designs made from hemp.

"In the end I became a retailer of other people's designs," she says,
explaining her decision to close the store and concentrate on manufacturing.
Her new premises on Walnut Ave. in the trendy King/Niagara district serve as
her home, workshop, showroom and office. She's turning out a line of
high-fashion clothing, including items of 100 per cent hemp and 60-40
hemp/silk that come with a linen-like finish.

For World Spirit's wash-and-wear designs begin at $40 for a tank top and go
to $180 for a full-length dress. Levine also makes shirts, draw-string
pants, jackets and ties.

"1 have a stigma about expensive clothing," Levine observes. "I'd rather
have people love it and buy it. Popularizing hemp is the one tangible thing
I can do something about. I'm changing people's attitudes."

Notwithstanding her environmental consciousness, she uses synthetic as well
as natural dyes. "Natural (dye) sounds better and the colours are beautiful.
But they aren't really better for the environment, because of the nickel or
tin fixatives they require," she says.

Who are her customers?

"Young people buy hempwear as a political and environmental statement," she
says. "Older people don't care about the fabric. They just like the look and
feel of my clothes."

Levine buys her hemp bales from China, Romania and Hungary, but that could
soon change. Health Canada regulations which took effect in March now
pertmit commercial cultivation of hemp by licence holders. The first 1,200
hectares of Ontario farmland should be harvested this fall.

Weekly Action Report On Drug Policies, Year 4, Number 17
(Summary Of International Drug Policy News, From CORA In Italy)

Date: Fri, 26 Jun 1998 08:57:05 +0000
Sender: owner-hemp@efn.org
From: cora.belgique@agora.stm.it
To: "CORAFax -EN-" (cora.news@agora.it)
Subject: CORAFax 17 (EN)


Year 4 No. 17, June 25 1998


Weekly Action Report on Drug Policies

Edited by the CORA - Radical Antiprohibitionist Coordination,
federated to

- TRP-Transnational Radical Party (NGO, consultive status, I)

- The Global Coalition for Alternatives to the Drug War


director: Vincenzo Donvito

All rights reserved








Following the request of Mayors and local administrators who ask to
introduce a controlled form of distribution of heroin, as already has
been done in Switzerland.



In the opinion of the secretary of the Transnational Radical Party,
Olivier Dupuis, this could be an effective step towards opening a real
debate within the European Parliament. It could, on the other hand,
just be another occasion that will end up being archived.



The CORA criticizes the decision of intensifying the war aginst drugs
and of using it as a way to bring the people closer to the European



This document, which bares the first signatures of Lucio Berte' and
Giorgio Inzani, can be freely consulted at our editorial office.



The majority is in favor of legalizing cannabis, against the
persecution of drug consumers and for prescribing heroin under medical
surveillance. The referendum has been organized by the Radical Party.




000106 22/06/98
E.U. / GB

Gw Pharmaceuticals has been allowed to produce cannabis for
therapeutic use. It will be produced secretly in the South of England.


000100 19/06/98

The Roques report on drugs is still causing debate within the
government, which is contrary to depenalization, and great criticism
on the part of the opposition.


000092 19/06/98

800 supporters of the depenalization of cannabis, holding forth the
Roques report which says cannabis is less harmful than alcohol or
tobacco, have had their annual meeting on the 18th of June (the so
called 18th joint). The Police had vetoed the event.


000093 22/06/98

A broad section of the political world agrees that a controlled
distribution of heroin can fight the illegal and criminal drug market.
61% of the 1005 interviewed are favourable; 36% are against and 3% did
not answer.


000105 24/06/98

The European Union is about to take measures towards cultivators of
cannabis for textile use who are asking for subsidies. It is alleged
that they could eventually produce Marijuana.


000104 23/06/98

A 28 year old Philippine citizen who was arrested in 1996 for
possessing 811 grams of hashish has been condemned to death. The
execution has been suspended, but the Government still follows a
strict 'free from drugs within ten years' policy.


000094 18/06/98
E.U. / GB

Sir George Martin, former producer of the Beatles, intends to create
an 'Ethical Committee' whose task should be that of fighting pop music
industry's encouragement of drug use.


000095 22/06/98

'Liquid Ecstasy' has arrived either from the USA or from Italy. The
Government says that in the first five months of its diffusion deaths
from drug use have been 635 against the 539 of the same period in
1997. It is an increment of +17,8%.


000096 24/06/98

Roche, the pharmaceutical industry, has changed the colouring agent
used in Rhoypnol, the sleeping drug. In this way the product cannot be
used on someone without their knowing about it.


000097 13/06/98

Secretary of Health Mr. Kouchner says he still has many doubts
regarding the hypothesis of reforming the law on cannabis.


000098 19/06/98

The Commission on Apartheid has discovered that in 1993 the Government
dumped tons of various kinds of drugs in the ocean. The drugs were to
be used to 'control' the black population.


000099 22/06/98

On request of the USA, the Government agrees to experiment use of
Tebutiurone, a weed killer, to destroy coca cultivations. It could,
although, pollute underground water reservoires.


000101 19/06/98

David Musto, who teaches history of medicine at Yale University, has
criticized the American strategy for fighting drugs that has taken
shape after the UN summit.


000102 22/06/98

After reciprocal criticism because of undue interference, Mexico and
the USA have agreed to collaborate on investigations of banking
accounts used in coverage of drug traffic.


000103 18/06/98

After long indecision, the Cabinet has nominated the Magistrate Nicole
Maestracci President of the MILDT (an interministerial commission for
the war against drugs).




GERMANY - Horst Kruse, head of Police in Bielefeld, says that "Present
strategies against drugs have failed". Dierk H. Scnitzler, President
of Police Forces in Bonn, says that "Through repression we will never
win over the illegal drug market". For Manfred Rommel, former Mayor of
Stuttgart, "Police persecution in antidrug strategies is useless".

ITALY - The daily newspaper "L'Opinione" has published an article by
Carmelo Palma, representative of the Cora, intitled "A Lesson from




Federated with the Transnational Radical Party NGO
with category I consultative status at the UN






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. E-mail

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/

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