Portland NORML News - Saturday, June 27, 1998

Portland Jail Gains Beds, But Space Is Still A Dream ('The Oregonian'
Says That, Although 254 Bunk Beds Were Installed At The Downtown Portland
Detention Center Six Months Ago, An Average Of 82 Inmates Each Week
Still Are Released When The Jail Nears Its New Capacity Of 730 -
'The Oregonian' Points The Blame At Other Media For A Dirty Election Campaign
To Build New Jails That The Newspaper Itself Spearheaded,
But Characteristically Omits Pointing Out There Will Never Be Enough
Jail Space For A Significant Proportion Of Illegal Drug Offenders)

The Oregonian
letters to editor:
1320 SW Broadway
Portland, OR 97201
Web: http://www.oregonlive.com/

Portland jail gains beds, but space is still a dream

* Although Multnomah County has lowered the number of inmates it releases
early to ease crowding, jail close-downs continue

Saturday, June 27 1998

By Michelle Roberts
of The Oregonian staff

Despite being touted as a way to end the early release of alleged criminals,
double-bunking at the Justice Center jail has failed to stop the practice of
letting prisoners walk free to make room for more.
Link to earlier story
Nor have the extra beds healed
other longtime overcrowding
problems, including pulling
Portland police off the streets
to watch prisoners until jail
beds empty.

Although the overflow of county
inmates has slowed since 254 bunk
beds were installed at the downtown
detention center six months ago, an
average of 82 inmates each week
still are released when the jail
nears its new maximum capacity of
730, according to jail records.

In 1997, before double-bunking, an
average of 130 inmates were set free each week.

Inmates Todd Bell (top), 36, and Gene E. Maller, 40, pass time reading in
their cell at the Justice Center jail.

"Double-bunking added capacity, which tends to bring down population
release, but it hasn't stopped altogether," said Multnomah County Sheriff
Dan Noelle. He had the beds built in January after persuading a judge to
lift a federal court order that capped the number of inmates at 476.

"The court system does not have the ability to keep up with what the cops
are doing on the street, and the jail is the sponge in between," Noelle said.

Noelle told voters this spring that double-bunking had cut early inmate
releases in half. But records show releases have gone down slightly more
than a third since double-bunking and other jail expansion projects have begun.

Whenever jail population breaches legal capacity, a formula called "matrix"
is used to release the least-dangerous offenders, making room for those
charged with more serious crimes. Inmates score points in Matrix depending
on charges against them, behavior and whether they have a criminal record.

"I like honesty to the public," said jail Sgt. Darcy Bjork, president of the
Multnomah County Corrections Officers Association. "Double-bunking was
billed as the end to matrix. But the justice system is so overburdened, as
soon as we double-bunked, we were back to where we started.

"No one is opposed to stacking (prisoners) in here like cordwood, but the
public had better know what's happening," Bjork said.

Noelle said he won't allow the release of anyone with a matrix score of 100
or higher. Class C felonies such as burglary, arson and rape are worth 50
points, and negligent homicide is 80 points. Most prisoners charged with
those crimes often breach the 100 limit after points are added for a history
of arrests, violence or failure to appear. All Measure 11 crimes, including
murder and first-degree assault, are assigned 150 points.

A slight restructuring of the matrix system in the fall made it more
difficult for people accused of certain crimes, including gang members
charged with gun violations, to get out of jail. Drunken drivers and
domestic batterers are rarely released using matrix, jail officials said.

Corrections officials said there hasn't been a significant decrease in the
seriousness of crimes allegedly committed by people released through matrix
since double-bunking began. Most inmates so released are those accused of
property crimes and drug possession.

"I think we're letting out the same level of offender as before," jail Capt.
David Chambers said. "I wouldn't go so far to say we're letting out less
serious ones, just fewer."

The early release of prisoners through matrix has long been a kickball in
local justice politics.

Former Sheriff Fred Pearce once invited reporters to watch him set free a
group of inmates. Pearce "created a giant furor," Noelle said. "The inmates
came out cheering, yelling and running up this ramp to freedom."

"That video, in and of itself, probably passed the initial bond to construct
the Inverness Jail," Noelle said. "It frightened and educated the public."

Noelle was elected in 1995 and again last month on his promise to increase
jail space so prisoners would not be released early.

With the expansion of Inverness Jail to be completed in the fall, Noelle
said county bed capacity will have increased from about 1,400 to 2,100 in
less than four years. Noelle also is working to get the proper permits to
begin construction on a jail that eventually will house 2,000 more inmates
near North Portland's Delta Park.

Noelle said he is optimistic he can end matrix and other overcrowding
problems in the fall when the Inverness expansion is complete. In the
meantime, a daily spillover of inmates regularly forces the downtown jail to
turn away new inmates for hours. As a result, police say, they often don't
arrest people for minor charges if they know the jail is full, or they wind
up "baby-sitting" prisoners in a parking lot across the street until jail
beds empty.

"We were told the jail was going to increase their bed space and that should
alleviate a lot of the backlog, but I haven't seen that yet," Portland
Police Sgt. Ricardo Barton said. "A three- or four-hour wait is the rule. It
pulls our people off the street when they should be out there working."

Double-bunking has reduced the number of times each month the jail is forced
to close down altogether, but it still happens, jail Sgt. Paul Blackburn
said. "When we hit total gridlock, we still have to close our doors until we
can catch up." Before double-bunking, the jail closed as many as four times
a week. Now, complete shut-downs happen only once or twice a month,
Blackburn said.

"It creates tension between the agencies," Bjork said.

The jail was forced to close its doors again Thursday after Portland police
brought in a large group of people arrested during an undercover operation.

For the time being, using a matrix system is the only way jail officials can
cope with overcrowding, Bjork and Blackburn agreed.

"Dan Noelle has done more than any other sheriff to open up beds," Blackburn
said. "But as soon as we open beds, other agencies scramble to fill them up
again. Matrix will deflate, but I don't think it will ever end."

Noelle blames a large part of the overcrowding problem on a state law that
went into effect last year requiring counties to be responsible for
prisoners with sentences of less than one year.

Multnomah County now rents 200 beds at $45 a day from the Oregon Department
of Corrections and Grant County to house inmate overflow.

The county also rents 160 beds at $93 a day to the federal government to
house illegal immigrants and U.S. Marshal inmates at the jail. Despite
criticism that the county should not be renting out space when it can't meet
its own needs, Noelle said he depends on the money the federal contract
brings in every year.

The difference between what Noelle pays to rent beds and how much he makes
renting out beds to federal agencies equals almost $6,000 a day. Noelle
plans to use the money to hire staff for the Inverness expansion.

"The key right now is whether we will have enough money to continue to rent
beds until the new jail site comes online," Noelle said. "If we can do that,
by November we will probably see a virtual end to matrixing.

"If we lose the rentals, we won't solve the problem of matrixing until the
new jail comes online -- and we're at least a couple years out on that project."

Michelle Roberts covers prison and corrections issues for The Oregonian's
Crime, Justice and Public Safety Team. She can be reached by phone at
294-5041; by mail at 1320 S.W. Broadway, Portland, Ore. 97201; or by e-mail
at michelleroberts@news.oregonian.com

Atascadero Woman Sues Over Wrong Home Search
('The San Luis Obispo Telegram-Tribune' Says A Local Woman
Filed Suit Thursday Against The San Luis Obispo County, California,
Narcotics Task Force, Claiming The Agency Deliberately Raided
The Wrong Home While Serving A Search Warrant Last July)

Date: Sun, 28 Jun 1998 10:50:33 -0400
To: mapnews@mapinc.org
From: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org (MAPNews)
Subject: MN: US CA: Atascadero Woman Sues Over Wrong Home Search
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: Sat, 27 Jun 1998
Source: San Luis Obispo Telegram-Tribune (CA)
Section: Front Page
Contact: slott@slnt01.sanluisobispo.com
Website: http://www.sanluisobispo.com
Author: Matt Lazier, Telegram-Tribune


ATASCADERO -- An Atascadero woman has sued the county's Narcotics Task
Force, claiming the agency deliberately raided the wrong home while serving
a search warrant last July.

In a suit filed Thursday, Carole Ann Martin claims the task force searched
the wrong San Gabriel Road home and placed her under false arrest on drug
charges without probable cause.

The suit names the task force, San Luis Obispo County, Sheriff's Detective
Nick Fontecchio and Deputy David Marquez as defendants.

"The lawsuit is pretty clear," said David Fisher, attorney for Carole
Martin. "Normally, with good lawyering, we try to make them more general,
without such specific facts, but this is so outrageous that we wanted people
to know what this was about."

Martin seeks restitution of legal fees and as-yet undetermined damages for
mental anguish and harm to her reputation within the community.

According to her account of the July 8, 1997 incident, Martin was in bed
asleep with her infant daughter at about 6:30 a.m. when officers burst
through her door and windows, awakening her and the baby.

Some officers, clad in what Martin called combat gear and toting automatic
weapons, allegedly held her and the child at gunpoint on the bed while
others searched her home, the lawsuit says.

Marquez and Fontecchio could not be reached for comment Friday.

The suit further states that Martin's property was damaged and broken in the
incident and that, throughout the ordeal, she was naked and was not allowed
to dress.

Martin said the ordeal caused mental suffering and fear. She has asked for
monetary damages, the amounts of which would be left to the discretion of
the court.

Martin, an 11-year Atascadero resident, lives at 1901 San Gabriel. However,
the search warrant served last July was for a nearby residence at 1905 San

Martin contends no probable cause existed for the police to search her home
and arrest her.

Officers found some methamphetamine during the search and Martin was
arrested for possession of a controlled substance, but the charges were
later dropped by the county court when the search was deemed unlawful.

Martin is also seeking compensation for legal fees incurred when she had to
fight the 1997 drug charge.

The suit says the officers knew they were searching the wrong house and, in
fact, served the search warrant at the correct residence before moving on to
Martin's house.

Although the houses are located within close proximity, Martin said officers
had been there previously and should have known which residence was the one
listed on the search warrant.

Martin further charges Marquez, Fontecchio and the county Sheriff's
Department did not effectively supervise the other officers who took part in
the search.

Marquez and Fontecchio could not be reached for comment Friday.

Wyatt Cash, chief deputy counsel for San Luis Obispo County, said county
lawyers had not looked at the suit Friday and could not comment.

Fisher said no trial date has been set for the case.

A Drug Problem In Amish Country (An 'Associated Press' Article
In 'The San Luis Obispo Telegram-Tribune' Responds To The Recent Cocaine Bust
Of Two Amish Men By Looking For Trouble In Intercourse, Pennsylvania -
Some Simply Associate Motorcycles With 'The Problem')
Link to an interesting later article
Date: Sun, 28 Jun 1998 12:28:42 -0700 To: mapnews@mapinc.org From: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org (MAPNews) Subject: MN: US PA: A Drug Problem in Amish Country Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org Reply-To: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Jo-D Harrison Source: San Luis Obispo Telegram-Tribune (CA) Contact: slott@slnt01.sanluisobispo.com Pubdate: Sat, 27 Jun 1998 Author: Peter Durantine Associated Press A DRUG PROBLEM IN AMISH COUNTRY Recent arrests reveal a closed society's long-held secret [image, Associated Press] caption: SIMPLE LIFE: In a benign example of old-meets-new, an Amish boy on inline skates is tugged by a horse-drawn cart Friday in Bird In Hand, Pa. News of a more serious modern encroachment - drugs - is troubling the Amish community here. INTERCOURSE, Pa. - Across the rolling farmland, idyllic scenes play out one after another: a bearded man in a straw hat driving horses and buggy pulling a lad in black Rollerblades down a country lane. A woman, wearing long sleeves in the summer heat, hanging laundry on an outdoor line. The peaceful southeastern Pennsylvania setting has long charmed the outside world with its simple ways and innocence was shaken last week by a jarring truth little known beyond parts of Lancaster County: The Amish have a drug problem. "People here have known that there has been a lot of drug problems with Amish youth, and with liquor, too," said Jack Meyer, a local businessman and member of the Brethren, a sect similar to the Amish. Meyer, who offers tourists horse-and-buggy rides, and other observers say the Amish had until recently dealt with the problem quietly - not as a group, but within individual families. No more. News that two Amish men were charged with dealing cocaine in their communities - and for a motorcycle gang called the Pagans, no less - has the leaders of the county's 22,000 Old Order Amish, the most conservative Anabaptist sect, sadly acknowledging a struggle with drugs for at least a decade. "I'm scared," said an 81-year-old local bishop, reading his Bible on a hot afternoon. "I'm really scared about what has happened." Alcohol and marijuana had long troubled the community, but then several months ago people started hearing talk about Amish youths using harder drugs. The bishops sent a letter to all the churches, warning about the cocaine. Abner Stoltzfus, 24, and Abner King Stoltzfus, 23, are not related, but their names are as common around here as shoofly pie. The federal indictment against them unveiled troubles that the Amish, typically portrayed as separate from the world and content that way, did not want known. An Amish farmer who stood on a ladder picking cherries from a tree underscored this, asking a reporter if people were disappointed with them. "The big thing about Amish people," Meyer said, "is they want to set a good example." Also charged were eight members of the Pagans, who sold drugs to the two Stolzfuses. The Amish men then distributed the drugs to members of youth groups known as the Crickets, The Antiques and the Pilgrims at hoedowns between 1993 and 1997. State troopers in Lancaster, who patrol much of this area's Amish country, say the Pagans have always ridden on the same roads as the Amish, who rarely call the police. Many Amish were willing to stop work on farms and in shops to talk about the arrests, but they flatly refused to give their names. That, too, reflects their desire to be left alone. Some simply associated motorcycles with the problem. "My neighbor has a motorcycle. I'll try to stay friends with him," said a 74-year-old retired farmer, driving his buggy up to the White Horse Machine Shop outside Intercourse. "Hope he'll do the same." For the past few years, reporters have been quoting the Amish by name, contrary to the group's longheld religious rules. But after an article appeared in the March issue of Forbes magazine, many the county's 84 bishops told parishioners to stop giving out names. "It really created a stir in the community," said Louise Stoltzfus, a former member of the Old Order and author of "Traces of Wisdom: Amish Women and the Pursuit of Life's Simple Pleasures." "People in the community felt they shouldn't brag about making money." The 45-year-old Stoltzfus, who is not related to the two men, believes substance abuse problems in the community are more than a decade old. "When I was in my 20s, I knew of some Amish youth involved with drugs," she said. "When they say 10 years, they're saying the problem is growing." Despite appearances that the modern world is rapidly closing in, the Amish, who run more than 1,000 small businesses in the county, have long been tied to the outside. "There's a myth that these are innocent, barefoot peasants," said Donald Kraybill, author of "The Riddle of Amish Culture" and provost of Messiah College in Grantham, Pa. "People don't realize how much they interact with the outside world." Much of the Amish aversion to technology is also a myth. True, they eschew electricity because wires would connect them to the outside, but they use gas-powered washing machines, refrigerators and other appliances. They don't own or drive automobiles, but they sometimes hire people to transport them around the county. They do patronize non-Amish banks and stores. The Amish turn to modern treatments for severe psychiatric problems, but it is unclear whether they use substance abuse programs. Kraybill said the Amish in Indiana experienced drug problems a few years ago and programs were set up by the state. The bishops say they can only warn families about drugs - and Amish parents say their children already know about such dangers. After the arrest of the Stoltzfus men, however, it seems other measures may be necessary. "I think it really will have a sobering impact on them," Kraybill said. "Church leaders may become more active in urging parents to be on the lookout for this kind of thing and in urging parents to put more restrictions on their children."

Two Dead In Tennessee Helicopter Crash ('The Associated Press'
Notes Two Prohibitionists Lost Their Lives Wednesday
Trying To Eradicate Marijuana, A Plant That Never Killed Anyone)

Date: Sun, 28 Jun 1998 02:47:06 -0400
To: mapnews@mapinc.org
From: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org (MAPNews)
Subject: MN: US TN: Wire: Two Dead In Tenn. Helicopter Crash
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)
Pubdate: Sat, 27 Jun 1998
Source: Associated Press


BLOUNTVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Searchers found the wreckage of a National Guard
helicopter on a northeastern Tennessee mountain Saturday, three days after
it crashed while its two-man crew searched for marijuana plants.

Both crew members were killed, Tennessee National Guard Col. Larry Shelton said.

The pilot was Capt. Charles Harvey, 37, of Nashville, and the passenger was
Stephen Allen Bowman, 44, a Forest Service law enforcement officer from

The helicopter was last heard from Wednesday afternoon, when Harvey told
controllers he was flying into turbulent weather. About 135 people searched
for the helicopter.

The crash site, near the Virginia line, is about 100 miles northeast of

Nominee Approved As Envoy To Mexico ('The San Jose Mercury News'
Notes The US Senate On Thursday Confirmed The Appointment
Of Career Diplomat Jeffrey Davidow)
Link to earlier story
Date: Sun, 28 Jun 1998 00:29:52 -0400 To: mapnews@mapinc.org From: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org (MAPNews) Subject: MN: US: Nominee Approved As Envoy To Mexico Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org Reply-To: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Marcus-Mermelstein Family Pubdate: Sat, 27 Jun 1998 Source: San Jose Mercury News (CA) Contact: letters@sjmercury.com Website: http://www.sjmercury.com/ NOMINEE APPROVED AS ENVOY TO MEXICO WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Senate confirmed career diplomat Jeffrey Davidow as ambassador to Mexico on Friday, filling a key diplomatic post that has been vacant for a year. The Senate approved the nomination by voice vote and without debate. The Mexico City post has been vacant since the June 1997 departure of former Rep. James Jones, D-Okla. Opposition by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jesse Helms, R-N.C., blocked the confirmation of Clinton's first choice to replace Jones, former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld, a Republican. Davidow, a native of Boston, currently directs the State Department's Latin America bureau. He is a former ambassador to Venezuela and Zambia and also held diplomatic posts in Guatemala, Chile, South Africa and Zimbabwe. He has spent 29 years in the Foreign Service. Davidow was one of a batch of ambassadorial nominations confirmed Friday by the Senate. Also confirmed were: Nancy Halliday Ely-Raphel as ambassador to Slovenia, William David Clarke as ambassador to Eritrea, George Williford Boyce Haley as ambassador to Gambia, Katherine Hubay Peterson as ambassador to Lesotho, John O'Leary as ambassador to Chile, Michael Craig Lemmon as ambassador to Armenia and Rudolf Vilemk Perina as ambassador to Moldova. Also, Shirley Elizabeth Barnes as ambassador to Madagascar, Charles Richard Stith as ambassador to Tanzania, Eric S. Edelman as ambassador to Finland, Paul L. Cejas as ambassador to Belgium, Cynthia Perrin Schneider as ambassador to the Netherlands and Kenneth Spencer Yalowitz as ambassador to Georgia. Meanwhile, Davidow offered written responses to questions asked by Helms as part of the confirmation process. Several of the questions related to the anti-money-laundering operation carried out by U.S. undercover agents in Mexico that led to the arrests of a number of Mexican bankers in the United States and the recovery of millions of dollars in drug money. The probe, code-named ``Operation Casablanca,'' infuriated Mexican officials on grounds that the agents carried out their duties in Mexico without the authorization of the Mexican government. There have been calls in Mexico for the extradition of the U.S. agents to Mexico, but Davidow, in response to a question from Helms, said he had seen nothing in the case that would lead him to recommend the extradition of any U.S. agent who ``acted in good faith to carry out his official duties.'' Asked whether the United States owed Mexico an apology for the operation, Davidow did not answer directly. ``I believe that the U.S. has the right and obligation to carry out aggressive investigations of drug traffickers and the money launderers that assist them,'' Davidow said. ``In the case of Operation Casablanca, I believe we could have communicated and coordinated better with the government of Mexico, and we have expressed this view publicly.''

British Columbia's Grass Really Is Greener ('The Toronto Star'
Says Home-Grown, Highly Potent Marijuana Is Now As Important
Economically To The Province As Logging)

Date: Mon, 29 Jun 1998 09:33:16 -0400
To: mattalk@islandnet.com
From: Dave Haans (haans@chass.utoronto.ca)
Subject: TorStar: B.C.'s grass really is greener
Newshawk: Dave Haans
Source: The Toronto Star
Pages: E1, E4
Pubdate: Saturday, June 27, 1998
Website: http://www.thestar.ca
Contact: LetterToEd@thestar.ca
Author: Thomas Walkom

B.C.'s grass really is greener

Home-grown, highly potent marijuana is now as economically important to the
province as logging




WALK DOWN the creaking stairs into the basement of the man who calls
himself Ken Black and there it is, the wave of the future, the saviour of
the creaky British Columbian economy, the newest Canadian export success

Dope. Also known as grass.

A.k.a pot.

Real name, marijuana.

Green gold.

B.C. marijuana plantations are no longer just isolated plots located deep
in the province's interior.

Now, most B.C. dope is cultivated indoors in Greater Vancouver - usually in
private homes.

Black (who, for obvious reasons, prefers to use a pseudonym) is a
small-scale grower. His 65 plants, growing under high-intensity lamps in an
otherwise unremarkable Vancouver house, will produce about six pounds of
prilne B.C. marijuana this year.

That six pounds will be worth $18,000.

"Most of it will be for me and my friends," he says. "But I'd like to sell
a couple of ounces a month just to cover expenses."

Black is typical. In B.C.'s lower Mainland, marijuana cultivation has
become a wide-spread and lucrative cottage industry.

Stroll down any street, particularly in Surrey, a bedroom suburb situated
right smack against the U.S. border, and you're sure to run into what is
called a grow house.

If the heavily curtained windows don't give away what's inside, the whir of
fans and the occasional skunky-sweet smell of maturing marijuana plants will.

Constable Vince Arsenault, of the RCMP's Surrey drug squad, estimates a
sophisticated grower can produce $150,000 worth of marijuana in his
basement every three months - on an initial $8,000 investment.

He also estimates that on some streets in his city of 325,000 every second
home is a grow house.

"It's absolutely phenomenal," says Arsenault. "We average one (bust) per
shift - and we're focusing only on the commercial-level, large-scale

"We're just scratching the surface."

The value of the B.C. marijuana crop is equally phenomenal. Officially, the
RCMP estimates the crop is worth about $1 billion a year. But Constable
Scott Rintoul of the RCMP's drug awareness branch says the real number
could be closer to $2 billion.

That would make pot as economically important to B.C. as logging, and
roughly twice as important as the entire pulp and paper industry.

Salmon fishing, which has captured so many headlines recently, doesn't hold
a candle. According to Statistics Canada, the entire B.C. fishery was worth
less than $300 million last year.

Throughout B.C., the mood is gloomy, as these traditional industries,
battered by a combination of overfishing and the Asian crisis, head into

By comparison, marijuana has taken off.

Thanks to the introduction of sophisticated growing and marketing
techniques, B.C. marijuana is prized throughout the world.

A pound of prime B.C. pot sells for $3,000 in Vancouver and $3,000 (U.S.)
just a few feet across the border in Blaine, Wash., says Arsenault.

By the time that pound of dope reaches Los Angeles, it is worth $6,000
(U.S.) and can be exchanged for a pound of cocaine.

Indeed, some of B.C.'s marijuana traders deal in barter - taking pot across
the border and returning with cocaine.

But Arsenault says that for drug dealers, cocaine is passe. Many are
getting into marijuana.

"The only people dealing in coke and heroin are those who are too lazy to
grow dope. The profit margins in marijuana are so much bigger."

The story of B.C.'s marijuana miracle is almost a textbook case of
successful late-2Oth century capitalism.

All the ingredients touted by the best business schools were present:
modern scientific methods, innovative entrepreneurs, free trade and an
industry-friendly regulatory regime.

Dope had been grown up and down the Pacific coast of North America.

But when, under presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush, the U.S.
government began to crack down on drugs, even first-time marijuana growers
in that country found themselves facing mandatory two-year jail terms.

As late as 1994, by contrast, first-time offenders nabbed in B.C. were
likely to get no more than a $1,500 fine for growing marijuana.

Arsenault says growers referred to their fines as "paying the GST," a cost
of doing business.

At the same time, savvy B.C. pot smokers were busy experimenting with new
strains of marijuana.

Dana Larsen, the editor of Vancouver's Cannabis Culture magazine, points
out the province has had a long experience with marijuana. It was only
natural to put this investment in human capital to use.

Essentially, B.C. growers came up with the same techniques used by
scientific farmers in other fields. Careful breeding would produce the
plants richest in tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the mood-altering
ingredient in marijuana.

As in large-scale, corporate hog farming, quality control could be achieved
through the technique of total confinement - growing the plants indoors
under meticulously regulated artificial lighting conditions.

Some growers found that hydroponic methods, growing the plants in soil-less
water-soaked sponges, produced superior yields.

The most recent technique. says Larsen, is aeroponics - hanging the plants
in the air and spraying their roots regularly with a nutrient-filled, water

"Some people swear by hydroponics. others say aeroponics is the way to go,"
he says. "Others stick with soil. Who knows? It's a real debate."

The 18th-century political economist Adam Smith, often referred to as the
father of free enterprise, pointed out long ago that the division of labour
could lead to superior profitability

It's a lesson not lost on B.C. dope growers. Arsenault says there are two
increasingly common models for the industry.

In one, a grow-house specialist will set up an entire marijuana operation
for the client - lights, water, fans. The specialist is then paid his fee
and walks away to do the next job.

This is akin to the turnkey operations used by large-scale engineering
firms who build nuclear reactors.

In the second, or McDonald's model, an investor will set up what are in
effect franchises. He will provide the capital to a subcontractor, on the
condition that he grow the marijuana to specified quality standards.

The crop is usually divided between the two, with the bulk going to the

For the labour-intensive task of harvesting, growers will often take
advantage of specialized employment firms. Arsenault calls it

These firms import pickers, often from regions of high unemployment in
Atlantic Canada. Paid about $20 an hour, and offered inducements in kind,
the pickers will carefully separate and bag the THC-rich marijuana buds
from each plant.

Most of the product is then shipped across the border. The RCMP estimates
that 75 per cent of B.C.'s indoor marijuana crop is exported to the United

Here. as in so many other export industries, the North American Free Trade
Agreement has been a blessing. Traffic is brisk across the border between
B.C. and Washington state; U.S. Customs agents cannot search every vehicle.

As well, knowledgeable insiders say, some entrepreneurs have taken
advantage of the no-inspection lanes established for those otherwise
legitimate Canadians who do regular cross-border business.

As in any high-growth industry, B.C.'s small-scale marijuana growers face
threats from predatory competitors.

The RCMP claim that already 70 per cent of B.C's commercial marijuana
operations are controlled by the Hell's Angels motorcycle club.

Others dispute this figure.

"I think the Hells Angels connection is overstated," says Cannabis
Culture's Larsen.

"The police say that to discredit the pot growers. I know people who cross
the border regularly with up to 100 pounds a week and they're no Hells

Arsenault acknowledges that no member of Hells Angels has ever been
indicted in the Lower Mainland for involvement in a marijuana grow house.

However, he says, club members have been involved in franchise operations,
renting properties that are used by others to grow marijuana.

"But that in itself isn't sufficient to prosecute."

Rintoul, of the RCMP drug awareness branch, says the international nature
of the business requires a sophisticated organization.

"The demand in the U.S. is so intense. Each order might be 50 to 200 pounds
a week. To move that amount, you need organization."

By organized crime, he says he does not mean just organization like the
Mafia. Many B.C. pot operations are independent of the more traditional gangs.

Ken Black acknowledges there are risks involved in an industry that
operates outside the law. In some ways, the B.C. pot industry is like
Russian capitalism. Growers never know when an armed competitor might break
in to make off with the goods.

"And you can't call the police if you're ripped off," says Black.

Still, he says he doubts that the entire trade could ever be monopolized by
the organized gangs. It is just too easy, he says, to grow marijuana at
home and slip it into the U.S.

Look at him.

He bought a couple of high-intensity lamps at a local gardening store, some
plastic sheeting, a timer, two small fans and seeds - all for less than

He had a friend wire his lights into his clothes dryer ("It means we can
use the dryer only six hours a day, which is a bit tough with a baby, but
oh well.")

And if Black wanted to export, who could stop him?

Stuff 10 pounds of grass into a backpack, take the bus to Surrey, step
across the ditch at the edge of town into the U.S. and there you are.

With this, Arsenault agrees. 'While not a supporter of marijuana use, he
says he is fighting an uphill battle.

"We lost the war against drugs years ago. Anyone who thinks we can win it
though enforcement alone is foolish.

"Still, we've got to try as hard as we can."

British Columbia Strikes Gold With Potent Crops (A Second Article
In 'The Toronto Star' About The Province's Booming Cannabis Industry
Says Most Marijuana Contains Only 2 Per Cent To 3 Per Cent THC,
And That British Columbian Marijuana, According To The RCMP,
Contains As Much As 15 Per Cent THC - But Robin Room Of Toronto's
Addiction And Mental Health Service Notes Higher Potency Reduces
Potential Harm Because Consumers Smoke Less)

Date: Mon, 29 Jun 1998 09:37:24 -0400
To: mattalk@islandnet.com
From: Dave Haans (haans@chass.utoronto.ca)
Subject: TorStar: B.C. strikes gold with potent crops
Newshawk: Dave Haans
Source: The Toronto Star
Page: E4
Pubdate: Saturday, June 27, 1998
Website: http://www.thestar.ca
Contact: LetterToEd@thestar.ca
Author: Thomas Walkom

B.C. strikes gold with potent crops

BRITISH Columbia marijuana is prized through-out the world because of its

Run-of-the-mill marijuana contains only 2 to 3 per cent
tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the active mood-altering ingredient.

B.C. pot is stronger. Some hauls seized by the RCMP have contained as much
as 15 per cent THC. Two years ago, marijuana from Surrey, B.C., won an
international pot award, according to RCMP Constable Vince Arsenault.

But is high-potency dope more dangerous to the health?

To find out, The Star contacted Robin Room, a scientist affiliated with the
Addiction Research Foundation division of Toronto's Addiction and Mental
Health Service Corp.

Room co-authored a recent study done for the World Health Organization on
the relative risks of marijuana use.

This study concluded that marijuana - while harmful to the health - is less
so under current use panems than either tobacco or alcohol.

The study received some notoriety when WHO refused to publish it. Critics
charged that WHO was worried the findings might be seen to contradict
Washington's war on drugs.

The study will be published instead by the Addiction Research Foundation in
a book due out this fall.

On the question of marijuana potency, Room said the answer depends on how
people smoke. Most users, he said, smoke only enough to reach the desired
level of high.

In that case, he said, the higher the THC content in the marijuana, the
less users smoke.

Since much of the damage from marijuana comes from inhaling the tars in the
weed, high-potency pot should actually be safer than traditional low-THC
brands, he says.

"Naive or first-time smokers might smoke too much," he said. "But I would
expect experienced users to smoke less."

Panama - A New Base For A Lost War? (An Article In Britain's 'Economist'
About The United States' Attempt To Maintain A Military Presence In Panama
Beyond 1999 Through The Guise Of A 'Multilateral Counter-Narcotics Centre'
Notes The US Southern Command Spent $155 Million To Interdict $1.2 Billion
In Illegal Drugs In 1997)
Link to earlier story
Date: Fri, 03 Jul 1998 16:55:36 -0400 To: DrugSense News Service (mapnews@mapinc.org) From: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org (MAPNews) Subject: MN: Panama: A New Base For A Lost War? 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: The Economist Pubdate: June 27 - July 3, 1998 Contact: letters@economist.com Website: http://www.economist.com/ PANAMA - A NEW BASE FOR A LOST WAR? HOWARD AIR FORCE BASE -- The F-16 fighters swoop down from the sky on to Howard United States Air Force Base much like the tropical birds that occasionally fly into their engines. They taxi smoothly to join the rest of the hardware stacked on the tarmac at this base at the Pacific end of the Panama Canal. But no such smooth flight or landing is in sight for the negotiations between the United States and Panama on plans for a "multilateral counter-narcotics centre" - CMA, from its initials in Spanish-encompassing Howard and other American bases after December 31, 1999. That date was laid down in a 1977 treaty as the end of the long history of the United States' military involvement in Panama. The issue that has kept the two countries haggling for two years now is what installations, if any, the Americans may after all retain. They have several reasons for wanting to stay. One is security for the canal, another Colombia. The one being trumpeted by the Clinton administration is drugs. The CMA already exists, though not in multilateral guise, in the Joint Interagency Task Force South, an American intelligence outfit that uses ground and airborne radar and other means to monitor suspected drug flights. Its mission is to work with other countries' security services to "deter, degrade and disrupt" the production and shipment of drugs in the Caribbean, Central and South America. The JIATF-South is active enough. But is what it terms the policy of "engaging in the source zone" doing any good? JIATF-South officials say that drugs worth $1.2 billion were intercepted with its aid in 1997. That sounds a lot, but it is peanuts compared with the United States' estimated annual imports of $30 billion of cocaine alone, much of it from South America. True, the cost is not huge. Some $155m, around a fifth of the United States' Southern Command (Southcom) budget is now spent on the anti-drugs war, plus whatever millions more go to government in the region for the same purpose. The yearly costs of the CMA, if it happens, are put at $60m. The war often borders on black comedy. Packages of cocaine and marijuana weighing up to 100 kilos-220 pounds-are regularly washed up on Panamanian beaches. Four months ago, one came ashore right next to Howard base, on the beach of the adjacent fishing town of Veracruz, where smuggling, say its residents, is rife. These packages are thrown, to avoid seizure, from aircraft and boats which JIATF-South is "interdicting". So far, so successful. Whether every finder of a package dutifully takes it to the police is another question. Some notable traffickers have met their demise thanks to Southcom. And not only traffickers. In the early 1990s the Americans regularly tipped off Peru's armed forces to force or shoot down suspected aircraft. Quite soon the trigger-happy Peruvians had shot down more than 120 aircraft. One was a Southcom C-130 on a clandestine reconnaissance mission. Critics of the anti-drug war talk of "mission impossible". Colombia, for instance, has some 500 authorised airfields and thousands of dirt airstrips. The traffickers fly at night to avoid prying eyes, or at low level to avoid prying radar. Some use Southcom's own radar transmissions for guidance. In Colombia, where the trade has moved north since the cracking of the Cali and Medellin mobs, the coastal cartels have a new tool: fibreglass submarines. So would the proposed CMA serve much purpose? Perhaps not. But a continued military presence, under that name, might. The end of the cold war has not much altered the function of the American bases. If they have been useful since then-for activities ranging from air-sea rescue to air support for Southcom operations-they still would, the Americans reckon. Of the bases, Howard is the jewel in the crown. There are various radio listening posts, a naval station and a jungle-warfare school. Three firing ranges and a laboratory are used for testing weapons and equipment in tropical conditions. It would be hard to reproduce this elsewhere: Panama has just the climate the army needs, say those concerned. The tropical-testing centre has become a sore point between the United States and Panama. But one way or another-perhaps under a nominally private-sector flag-it seems likely to survive, whether the CMA plan goes ahead or not. How much of the rest could endure under a CMA guise is unclear. The Americans think plenty could and should, and claim that a majority of the Panamanian public, hand on wallet, thinks so too. The result so far is deadlock. Even in Panama's government, whose chief, President Ernesto Perez Balladares, dreamed up the CMA idea, it has lost favour recently, especially after other Latin American countries consulted in January-after all, this is meant to be a multilateral effort-criticised it as a thinly disguised base for future American military interventions in the region. Though Senator Jesse Helms shot his mouth off this month, criticising Panama's refusal to bow to American wishes in his usual imperial style, neither government's officials are saying much at this sensitive moment: in two months, the referendum is due that will say yes or no to Mr Balladares's plan for a constitutional change allowing him to run for re-election. The CMA too may be put to a referendum.

Bolivians Show New Resolve In War Against Drugs (A 'New York Times' Account
Of Coca Eradication Efforts Notes Bolivia Claims Success While Americans Say
That Ambushes Of Police Have Slowed Eradication Efforts)

From: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org (MAPNews)
To: "MN" (mapnews@mapinc.org)
Subject: MN: Bolivia: Bolivians Show
New Resolve In War Against Drugs
Date: Sun, 28 Jun 1998 17:17:30 -0500
Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Reply-To: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/
Newshawk: emr@javanet.com (Dick Evans)
Pubdate: June 27, 1998
Source: New York Times (NY)
Contact: letters@nytimes.com
Website: http://www.nytimes.com/
Author: Clifford Krauss


ROSARIO, Bolivia -- Coca growers ambushed a drug eradication team near this
rebellious hamlet one day early this month, leaving one policeman dead and
three wounded. The next day 600 soldiers and policemen barreled through the
jungle in a show of force.

With two armed helicopters hovering overhead, the security forces slashed 10
acres of coca bushes with machetes. The hamlet was virtually empty but the
police arrested a single straggler who they said was carrying a dynamite
fuse. "We've returned to show the cocaleros we will not be stopped," army
Lt. Col. Jorge Antello, 44, the commander of the operation, told a reporter,
as soldiers trained their rifles at the surrounding foliage. Such
expressions of determination in the battle against cocaine represent a break
from the past -- even though many of the soldiers did take dried coca leaves
from town to chew, then or later.

Still, the official determination to do away with coca is a change. Only six
years ago, a Bolivian president wore a pin shaped like a coca leaf on his
lapel, symbolizing years of half-hearted efforts against drugs that drove
U.S. officials to distraction. Last year, Washington came close to decertifying
Bolivia as a country committed to fighting drugs and close to cutting off
tens of millions of dollars in aid, but at the last moment, La Paz fulfilled
a U.S.-set eradication quota.

Then suddenly in January, the new Bolivian president, the retired general
Hugo Banzer Suarez, pledged to wipe out every illegal coca plant by the end
of his term, in 2002. In Bolivia, illegal plants are defined as those
planted since 1988, in areas where international traffickers operate. After
six months, his stepped-up efforts have won praise from the Clinton
administration and U.N. officials.

But the efforts have set off increasing violence by coca growers, including
blockades of crucial roads and ambushes against the security forces here in
Chapare, a region the size of New Jersey where one-quarter of the total
world cocaine supply originates.

Under Banzer's program, 90,000 acres of coca fields will be destroyed in the
next four years at a cost of $108 million, with another $700 million going
to providing basic improvements like roads and granting credits and training
of farmers to grow alternative crops. Government officials said they expect
that much of the funding will come from the United States, along with
sizable contributions from the European Community and the United Nations. In
a reversal of past government policy, Banzer has pledged to phase out
payments to coca growers for voluntarily eradicating their illegal crops.
During the last several years, coca farmers have been paid $2,500 for every
2.5 acres they eradicate, in a program that has cost American taxpayers
nearly $100 million over the last decade.

But U.S. and Bolivian officials said many of the farmers took the money and
then cultivated just as much coca acreage deeper in the jungle. Bolivia had
113,200 acres of coca under cultivation in 1997, according to the CIA, just
3 percent less than it had in 1993. State Department officials, tired of
subsidizing coca growers, pushed hard for the policy change. Under the new
strategy, farmers will be paid nothing and smaller payments will go to the
communities for resettlement and social programs until there is a complete
cutoff in 2002. Government officials said the savings will go into law
enforcement and economic development, but they concede that the policy is
unpopular among coca farmers.

"By the year 2002, cocaine will be worthless in Bolivia," the Interior
minister, Guido Nayar Parada, asserted in an interview. "The armed
resistance by the cocaleros only shows that we are having an impact and we
will not be deterred from applying the law."

While U.S. officials here love to hear such unqualified commitment, they
caution that it will take much to overcome years of disappointments. A State
Department official said that despite improvements in eradication, only 1
percent of the cocaine base now being produced in Chapare is being
intercepted. The figure is so low, he said, because police patrol
traffickers' routes during the day but not at night, and because corrupt
police are allowing illegal cargoes through road blocks. U.S. officials note
that although cultivating new coca fields has been illegal since 1988, only
a handful of the 40,000 coca growers in the country have been arrested.

And while U.S. officials compliment the government for pressing projects to
replace coca crops with legal crops like pineapples and bananas, they warn
that it will be difficult to wean peasants off a coca crop that is resistant
to tropical funguses and floods, offers a predictable market, and can be
harvested four times a year with little effort.

Meanwhile the Americans say that ambushes of police -- there have been nine
since April 2, killing three policemen and wounding 15 more -- have slowed
eradication efforts. The Bolivian government is now forced to mobilize far
larger forces in eradication sweeps, which are slower and more costly.
Leaders of six coca grower unions say 12 growers have been killed during
confrontations with the security forces in recent months, while the
government admits to only two.

But U.S. officials also see reasons for optimism. They note that a growing
number of peasant groups are signing agreements with the government to
eradicate their coca crops. And a Bolivian anti-terrorism unit, trained and
financed by the CIA, began operating in the Chapare recently and is making
an impact. The unit has captured a list of terrorist leaders and a code book
for terrorist operations belonging to one of the six coca unions that are
planting illegal crops in a local national park, according to Bolivian army
and State Department officials.

Banzer's ambitious plan comes at a time when Bolivia's role in the drug
world is going through a rapid transformation. Only three years ago,
traffickers from Colombia's Cali Cartel bought coca base and paste from
Bolivian middlemen, moved it to Colombia for processing, and the drugs then
moved through Mexico and the Caribbean to the U.S. market. But with the
arrests of the top Cali leaders and Peru's decision to shoot down cocaine
flights, smaller Colombian organizations that have replaced the cartel have
stepped up coca cultivation at home. That has made Bolivian coca far less
important to international traffickers. The trend should help Banzer's
efforts, even if it is unlikely to make a dent in the drug trade on the
streets of American cities.

"If we can't achieve our objectives in Bolivia with the help we are getting
from this government," a senior U.S. Embassy official said, "we can't
succeed anywhere in South America."

Still, the wealth that coca sales bring is evident everywhere in the
Chapare, making peasants all the more resistant to change. Imported Chilean
wines and bottles of Johnnie Walker scotch are available in neighborhood
stores that only stocked cheap beer a decade ago.

"The challenge is to convert growers accustomed to getting out of their
hammocks four times a year to pick coca off trees," a U.S. official said,
"into real farmers able to do backbreaking work and fight off the funguses
and pests that plague tropical crops. That won't be easy."

The Drug War's Fungal Solution? (The Spring Issue
Of 'Covert Action Quarterly' Says The USDA Has Been Tinkering
With The Genetic Code Of A Dangerous Fungus In An Attempt
To Wipe Out The Andean Coca And Poppy Crops - But If Anything
Goes Wrong, The Fusarium Fungus May End Up Destroying Food Crops
And A Whole Lot More)

Date: Sat, 27 Jun 1998 15:11:00 EDT
Errors-To: manager@drcnet.org
Reply-To: HSLotsof@aol.com
Originator: drctalk@drcnet.org
Sender: drctalk@drcnet.org
From: (HSLotsof@aol.com)
To: Multiple recipients of list (drctalk@drcnet.org)
Newshawk: Steve Young
Pubdate: Spring 1998
Source: Covert Action Quarterly
Contact: caq@igc.org
Website: http://www.caq.com
Author: Jim Hogshire


The USDA has been tinkering with the genetic code of a dangerous fungus
trying to target and wipe out the Andean coca and poppy crops. But if
anything goes wrong, the fusarium fungus may end up destroying food crops
and a whole lot more.

This past August, a piece of good news came from the maze of nameless
buildings at the USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) in Beltsville,
Maryland. Dr. Deborah R. Fravel, a plant pathologist at the laboratory for
Biocontrol of Plant Diseases (BCPD) had turned the tables on a nasty,
tomato-eating fungus called Fusarium oxysporum. She had developed a "benign"
strain of the fungus that "inoculates" the tomatoes, much as a vaccine
protects a child against certain diseases.

And the fungus is nasty. A virulent mutation of fusarium, called "Race 3"
has been a bane to Florida and Georgia farmers who have trouble controlling
it with even the strongest fungicides. Around the world, fusarium also
destroys watermelons, chickpeas, basil, bananas, and hundreds of other
crops. The blight, in all its myriad permutations, can lie dormant in the
soil for years without a host plant and then springs to life, causing
devastating "wilt disease." Fear of introducing the disease is one reason
Japan is loath to accept US produce. While some strains of this fungus are
relatively harmless to most plants, other types of fusarium can produce
mycotoxins poisonous to humans.

The Fungus Among Us

But the USDA press release was warm and fuzzy describing "good" fungi
"helping plants to help themselves."

There was no mention of Fravel's part in dozens of projects aimed at
producing a lethal, but "natural" herbicide from the same fungus for a very
different purpose. Fravel's efforts are part of a cabal of scientists
working hand in hand with the DEA, the State Department, and foreign
governments to produce an herbicide designed to effect the drug war's Final
Solution: total elimination of the world's illicit coca crops and opium
poppies - the same goal recently announced by the United Nations.

Fravel's boss at the BCPD, Dr. Robert D. Lumsden, is a prominent figure in
the eradication research program. Lumsden's work with mutant strains of
Fusaruim oxysporum over the past few years has taken him to sites around the
world and across the country. At the University of Montana in Bozeman, he
and another ARS plant pathologist, Dr. Bryan A. Bailey, are in the midst of
a five-year study of the toxic effects of F. oxysporum and other fungi on
opium poppies and marijuana. According to one of Lumsden's reports, unlike

chemical herbicides, "these naturally-occurring fungi are safe for humans
and the environment."

Lumsden worked with Bailey to develop a granular formulation fusarium
mycotoxin, for testing at sites "foreign and domestic." A government coca
field in Hawaii was eventually used to test the mycotoxin, along with
traditional chemical herbicides. A 1995 study of fusarium herbicide showed
"significant kill" of coca bushes while other studies indicate a 60 to 90
percent kill-rate for opium poppies. When scientists no-ticed that ants
sometimes carried away the poison pellets, Fravel and Bailey looked for ways
to make them more attractive to the insects - so they would take the
herbicide deeper into the soil. The ants (which preferred their pellets
flavored with olive oil) were found to carry the fungus both "outside and
inside their bodies."

Changing Genes

Later research by Bailey and others identified the gene responsible for one
strain's deadly effects on coca. They then developed a way "to allow
alteration of the gene expression." They began to play with the fungus'
genetic code.

The ARS's long-standing interest in manipulating the fusarium fungus is
revealed in a series of studies it commissioned. One experiment set out "to
construct a genetic map of Fusarium moniliforme" and "to identify mutants
that affect the synthesis of" its mycotoxins. Another study proposed "the
development of strains with enhanced pathogenicity" that could wipe out coca
plants "using molecular genetic manipulations involving fungal proteins."
The ARS branch in Ft. Detrick, Maryland, carried out the "successful
transformation of Fusarium oxysporum" by "DNA sequence encoding." Claiming
that it would have "limited environmental impact," another ARS study
acknowledged that a "biocontrol strategy for coca" using Fusarium oxssporum
had been "developed and successfully field tested in small scale trials."

Researchers hint that they took their cue for the mycotoxin from a naturally
occurring outbreak of fusarium wilt destroying crops in Peru's Upper
Huallaga valley. An ongoing ARS project, begun in 1993, noted:

"Studies of a naturally-occurring epidemic of fusarium wilt in Peru have
been concluded which verify that the epidemic is progressing and causing
significant disease in the coca producing regions of Peru. Already, the
natural epidemic of fusarium wilt in the coca producing areas of Peru is
causing farmers to abandon their fields. A protein produced by Fusarium
oxysporum which is toxic to E. coca has been purified and its gene cloned.
The data indicate that a bioherbicide using Fusarium oxysporum which is
effective against coca can be produced and proof of concept field tests are
being initiated."

As early as 1991, Peruvian campesinos testified that they witnessed
helicopters carrying DEA agents and Peruvian police dropping pellets
containing the fungus onto coca fields; however, there is no other solid
evidence to support the allegation that the pellets actually contained
fusariurn. Other press accounts allege a direct link between the DEA and the
use of fusarium:

"The US Drug Enforcement Administration resumed full cooperation with the
Peruvian police in 1994, when [the] strategy shifted to destroying illegal
coca plantations using a mushroom known scientifically as fusarium and
colloquially among the peasants as 'the coca-eater.'" Because there are so
many strains or races of fusarium, it may not be possible to determine if
this outbreak affecting coca and other crops is a result of natural causes
or human intervention.

Eat Stuff and Die

The problem with creating any "bug" that will eat just one thing and then
obediently cease to exist is obvious. All life-forms mutate and adapt,
especially a simple organism like a fungus; sooner or later it will learn to
eat something else. A similar situation occurred in 1971, when Richard Nixon
misinterpreted a theory about "an insect which could consume poppy crops"
and then die. Nixon, preoccupied by this imaginary weevil, by then dubbed
the "screw worm" (because it was supposed to die after intercourse), asked
Congress for funding. When Nixon's advisors could not be assured that this
"screw worm" would be host specific - i.e., it might eat the worid's supply
of poppy crops and then adapt to another host, such as rice or wheat - they
lost interest in the project. Eventually even these knuckleheads dropped the

But research into doper bugs continued. In 1996, Bailey, Lumsden, and Fravel
- working on a project at North Carolina State University in Raleigh - wrote
that their finely tuned pathogen "kills only coca and does not harm other
plants." A recently launched study, however, suggests that the fusarium
formulas are still not specific enough. One ARS investigator is studying the
"ubiquitous species-complex of Fusarium oxysponum [that] is currently being
investigated as a biological control agent. However, this fungus encompasses
broad genetic variability that has not yet been delineated." There is, the
researcher continues, "still a need to characterize genetically the strains
that attach Erthrroxylon [coca] and/or Papaver [poppies] as well as those
that occur in soils and on crop plants growing in close proximity."
Translation: the innumerable strains of the fungus could possibly attack
adjacent crops and do God-knows-what to everything else.

Perversely, the government touts the fungus project as environmentally
friendly because it avoids the use of chemicals. For years, the US has
browbeaten Andean pro-ducer countries into using US-produced herbicides such
as Roundup (glyphosate), and to kill off the "source" of the US drug
problem. The Andean nations have balked, arguing that US consumer demand
drives production, not the other way around. With the threat of withholding
millions in aid dollars to bolster its side, Washington has demanded
eradication. Local growers are then left not only without a cash crop, but
sick from the toxic effects of the herbicides.

Protests over the health effects of herbicides prompted Bolivia and Peru to
stand up to Washington and prohibit Roundup--like herbicides for coca and
poppy eradication. In early March 1996, Colombia abruptly halted herbicide

fumigation in retaliation for being "decertified" for not complying with US
drug war demands. Humans exposed to Monsanto Corporation's Roundup - the
current chemical of choice - can suffer damage to the stomach, heart,
kidneys, lungs and skin. Glyphosate, according to a 1993 study by the
University of California Berkeley School of Public Health, was the third
most commonly-reported cause of pesticide illness among agricultural
workers. Another study from the Berkeley school found that it was the most
frequently reported cause of pesticide illness among landscape maintenance
workers. As a drug eradication chemical, glyphosate has another problem: It
can be washed off for 8 hours after it is sprayed on, making it vulnerable
to rain - and farmers who rush into the freshly poisoned fields to wash the
toxins off their crops.

Armed with the more potent herbicide Spike (tebuthiuron), the US is now
pushing to use that defoliant in the drug war. Manufactured by Dow
AgroSciences (formerly DowElanco and then Eli Lilly before that merger), the
use of tebuthiuron has been hawked in Congress by Rep. Dan Bunon (R-IN) - a
longtime recipient of money from both Indianapolis based-Eli Lilly and Dow.

While killer fungi and many poisonous herbicides are not approved for use in
the US, people in developing countries often have no say in what toxins are
released in their communities. If some US officials have their way
unilateral decision-making could become the norm.

At a hearing he chaired on "certification" of nations in the drug war, Dan
Burton told the State Department's narcotics point man, Robert Gelbard, how
to handle countries that refused to be defoliated: "Tell the president [sic]
of Peru and Bolivia at about 5:00 in the morning, 'We've got a bunch of
aircraft carriers out here, and we're coming down through those valleys, and
we're gonna drop this stuff, this tebuthiuron...' I think we should
consider, if this really is a war on drugs, doing it unilaterally and
violating the territorial boundaries of those countries and dropping that
stuff. Now, I know that doesn't sit well with the State Department, but
either we deal with it or our kids continue to suffer and our society
continues to let this cancer grow."

Whether "our" kids should be "protected" by poisoning "their" kids, however,
is a policy issue that seems to escape US drug warriors. In their zeal to
sound ever tougher on drug issues, Washington policy makers - together with
fearless scientists eager to test their theories on other people's
communities - may soon have a new biological doomsday weapon to unleash on
their southern neighbors. At best, fusarium could become the latest bit of
humiliation unilaterally rammed down the throat of Andean nations. At worst,
the fungus could run amok unleashing the modern day equivalent of the Great
Potato Famine.

ELN Says Army Is Using Chemical Warfare Against Colombian
(A List Subscriber's Translation Of Correspondence From The Spanish-Language
'Voices' Says FARC, The Anti-Government Insurgents In Columbia, 'Already
Have Clear Evidence Of How This New Chemical' - Dow's Tebuthiuron -
'Has Been Used In The Military Offensive That Began In The Beginning
Of The Year')

Date: Sat, 27 Jun 1998 08:00:42 EDT
Errors-To: manager@drcnet.org
Reply-To: paulwolf@icdc.com
Originator: drctalk@drcnet.org
Sender: drctalk@drcnet.org
From: Paul Wolf (paulwolf@icdc.com)
To: Multiple recipients of list (drctalk@drcnet.org)
Subject: ELN says army is using chemical warfare against Colombian

Estimado Paul Wolf:

"Hemos recibido su mensaje a nuestra casilla de Voces, el cual
se lo haremos llegar a los companeros de las FARC, ya que ellos
pueden tener evidencia clara de como se esta utilizando este nuevo
quimico [Dow's tebuthiuron], de hecho, en una ofensiva del ejercito
que sucedio a principios de anho, la poblacion de Putumayo denuncio la
fumigacion con este producto, ellos se referian con el tetrico nombre
de 'llego la navidad porque cayo nieve.'" [snip]

[We've received your message sent to the email address of Voices,
which we are sending to our friends at FARC. They already have clear
evidence of how this new chemical [Dow's tebuthiuron] has been used in
the military offensive that began in the beginning of the year. The
people of Putomayo denounced the fumigation with this product, and
they call it by the sad name "Christmas Snowstorm."]

Fernando Palacios
Equipo Voces
Frente Internacional
ELN Colombia

Copters For Colombia ('The Orange County Register' Says The United States
Will Fund Colombia's War On Some Drug Manufacturers By Upgrading
10 Helicopters In Colombia's National Police Force And Providing
Six New Helicopters From An Unspecified Manufacturer)

Date: Sat, 27 Jun 1998 10:43:41 -0700
To: mapnews@mapinc.org
From: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org (MAPNews)
Subject: MN: US: Copters for Colombia
Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Reply-To: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/
Newshawk: John W.Black
Source: Orange County Register (CA)
Contact: letters@link.freedom.com
Website: http://www.ocregister.com/
Pubdate: Sat, 27 Jun 1998


To help Colombia fight drug traffickers, the United States has agreed to
upgrade 10 helicopters used by Colombia's National Police and to provide
six new helicopters. The decision ends months of acrimony with congress
over the issue and frees millions of dollars in frozen anti-drug funds.

Man Grew Cannabis To Relieve Back Pain ('The Evening News'
In Norwich, England, Says Judge Paul Downes Has Spared A Norwich Man
From Jail For Cultivating 60 Cannabis Plants In The Bathroom Of His Home -
But The 50-Year-Old Man Now Must Get By On Herbal Remedies)

Date: Sun, 28 Jun 1998 01:31:02 -0400
To: mapnews@mapinc.org
From: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org (MAPNews)
Subject: MN: UK: Man Grew Cannabis To Relieve Back Pain
Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Reply-To: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/
Newshawk: webbooks@paston.co.uk (CLCIA)
Pubdate: Sat, 27 Jun 1998
Source: Evening News (Norwich, UK)
Contact : EveningNewsLetters@ecn.co.uk
Website: http://www.ecn.co.uk


A middle-aged Norwich man who grew £8000 worth of cannabis plants to
relieve his back pain, has been spared jail by a judge.

Norwich Crown court was told that 60 cannabis plants were found at the home
of 50-year-old scaffolder Robert Webster after firefighters and police
attended a fire at his home.

Stephen Spence, prosecuting, said that cannabis plants worth £8319 were
found in the bathroom of his home.

Mr Spence said that it was not suggested that Webster was growing the plants
on a commercial basis.

Webster, of Sorrell House, Bowthorpe, admitted possession of cannabis. He
was given a seven month prison sentence suspended for 12 months and fined

Sentencing him yesterday Judge Paul Downes accepted that Webster had not
been supplying the drugs and there were "exceptional circumstances."

He said a condition of the suspended sentence was that Webster switched to
herbal remedies.


Date: Sun, 28 Jun 1998 14:13:52 -0300 (ADT)
Sender: Chris Donald (ai256@chebucto.ns.ca)
From: Chris Donald (ai256@chebucto.ns.ca)
To: mattalk@listserv.islandnet.com
Subject: UK: Man Grew Cannabis To Relieve Back Pain (fwd)

from http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/

Notice that the judge demanded that the defendant "switch to herbal
remedies" over pot! What, exactly, does this judge think mj is?
At least judges in Britain consistently refuse to give jail time to med
patients, and often demand a change in the law in their decisions:

Marijuana Special Report: High hazards (New Scientist, in Britain, summarizes
the recent report commissioned by French health minister Bernard Kouchner
showing cannabis to be the least dangerous of all potentially addictive
drugs. It also concludes that alcohol is among the most dangerous.)
Link to New Scientist's 'Marijuana Special Report' index
New Scientist Britain 27 June 1998 http://www.newscientist.com/nsplus/insight/drugs/marijuana/marijuana.html Marijuana Special Report: High hazards A FRENCH government study has heaped fuel on the debate over the safety of cannabis by listing it as the least dangerous of all potentially addictive drugs. It also concludes that alcohol is among the most dangerous. The study, commissioned by French health minister Bernard Kouchner, was carried out by a panel of 10 French and foreign scientists headed by Bernard-Pierre Roques of the René Descartes University of Paris. The panel searched the scientific literature for information about psychological and physical dependence, neural and general toxicity and social hazards such as aggressive behaviour caused by various legal and illegal drugs. The team then grouped the substances into three categories of dangerousness. Cannabis was the only drug put in the least dangerous category. While cautioning that no drug they assessed was "completely free of danger", the researchers gave cannabis a rating of "weak" for social hazard and addictiveness, "very weak" for general toxicity and zero for neurotoxicity. In the most dangerous category, they included heroin and other opiates, and cocaine. Alcohol was also placed in this category because of its strong toxicity, its potential as a social hazard and its "very strong" addictiveness. In the middle category they placed stimulants such as amphetamines, hallucinogens and tobacco - largely because of its "very strong" addictiveness and toxicity. The authors point out that governments base their decisions whether or not to criminalise a drug on its ability to induce dependence. They conclude that the official classification for some drugs is incorrect. Debora MacKenzie From New Scientist, 27 June 1998

Deaths From Heroin Overdose (The British Medical Journal, 'Lancet,'
Summarizes The Ensuing Report From Scientists In Italy
Who Analysed The Hair Of 37 Dead Heroin Addicts)
Link to 'The 'Heroin Overdose' Mystery and Other Hazards Of Addiction'
Date: Sun, 28 Jun 1998 13:04:51 -0800 To: mapnews@mapinc.org From: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org (MAPNews) Subject: MN: Italy: Deaths From Heroin Overdose Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org Reply-To: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Martin Cooke (mjc1947@cyberclub.iol.ie) Source: Lancet, The (UK) Volume: 351, Number 9120 Contact: lancet.editorial@elsevier.co.uk Website: http://www.thelancet.com/ Pubdate: Sat, 27 Jun 1998 DEATHS FROM HEROIN OVERDOSE 'There Are Risks Inherent In Relapse To Heroin Intake Following Abstinence From The Drug' Respiratory suppression after heroin overdose is the most common cause of death among heroin users, but the reasons why some users have a higher risk of death than others are unclear. Morphine, the main active metabolite of heroin, is deposited in the hair of heroin users, and analysis of hair samples can show the history of addiction over several months.
Link to earlier story
Franco Tagliaro and colleagues obtained hair samples from 37 heroin overdose fatalities, 37 active heroin users, 37 former heroin users, and 20 non-users from Verona, Italy. The researchers found that the hair of the overdose-fatality cases contained much less morphine than that of the active heroin users, suggesting virtual abstinence from the drug in the months preceding death. Low heroin tolerance following abstinence may lead to a corresponding decrease in the size of a fatal dose. These findings have implications for the future management of detoxification programmes.

Death From Heroin Overdose - Findings From Hair Analysis
(The British Medical Journal, 'Lancet,' Reports Scientists Who Analysed
The Hair Of 37 Dead Heroin Addicts In Italy Believe Their Findings
Support The Theory Of Higher Susceptibility To Opioid Overdose
After Periods Of Abstinence)
Link to earlier story
Date: Fri, 03 Jul 1998 21:44:41 -0400 To: DrugSense News Service (mapnews@mapinc.org) From: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org (MAPNews) Subject: MN: The Lancet: Death From Heroin Overdose: Findings From Hair Analysis Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org Reply-To: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Richard Lake Source: The Lancet (UK) Contact: lancet.editorial@elsevier.co.uk Website: http://www.thelancet.com/ Pubdate: 27 June 1998 Authors: Franco Tagliaro, Zeno De Battisti, Frederick P Smith, Mario Marigo Note: Institute of Forensic Medicine, University of Verona, Policlinico, 37134 Verona, Italy (F Tagliaro MD, Z De Battisti MD, M Marigo MD); Department of Justice Sciences, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL, USA (F P Smith PhD). Correspondence to: Dr Franco Tagliaro DEATHS FROM HEROIN OVERDOSE: FINDINGS FROM HAIR ANALYSIS Summary Background Morphine analysis of hair is used in forensic toxicology to study the addiction history of heroin addicts. To clarify the features underlying fatal heroin intake, we measured hair morphine content in a group of deceased heroin addicts, to verify a possible correlation between fatal heroin overdoses and the addiction behaviour of these individuals before death. Methods 91 deaths were attributed to heroin overdose in Verona, Italy, in 1993-96. We analysed the hair of 37 of these individuals, and of 37 active heroin addicts, 37 former heroin users abstinent from the drug for several months, and 20 individuals with no evidence of exposure to opioids. From each individual, a hair sample of about 150 mg was analysed by RIA and high-performance liquid chromatography, to measure the morphine content. Findings The mean morphine content in the hair of the addicts who had died was 1·15 ng/mg (SD 2·35 ng/mg; range 0-12·25 ng/mg) compared with 6·07 ng/mg (4·29; 1·15-17·0) in the active heroin addicts, 0·74 ng/mg (0·93; 0·10-3·32) in the abstinent former addicts, and values below the detection limit in the non-exposed group. Hair morphine content among those who had died was significantly lower than that in active heroin consumers (p(0·0001), but not significantly different from that in the former addicts (p=0·978). Interpretation Although our findings may be subject to selection bias, since suitable hair samples were available for only 37 of the 91 addicts who had died, these findings support the theory of high susceptibility to opioid overdose after periods of intentional or unintentional abstinence, due to loss of tolerance. Medical staff running detoxification programmes should be aware of the risk inherent in relapse to heroin after a period of abstinence. Moreover, occasional heroin use without a build-up of tolerance could also give a high risk of overdose. Lancet 1998; 351: 1923-25 Introduction In Italy, according to official epidemiological data, heroin overdoses account for about 1000 deaths per year.1 Despite the efforts of forensic pathologists, clinical pathologists, and toxicologists, the mechanisms by which heroin overdose leads to death are not yet clear. A major reason for the lack of clarification is that blood samples taken from people who have died from heroin overdose show great variation in the amounts of biologically active metabolites of heroin present. Even in cases of acute overdose, observed blood concentrations of morphine, the main active metabolite of heroin, have ranged from 10 ng/mL to 4000 ng/mL.2,3 This range hampers the definition of a clear threshold of lethal heroin intake. The range can be partly ascribed to variable survival times after heroin injection,4-6 which in most cases are unknown, and to the rapid disappearance of heroin and its active metabolites from the blood (half-life heroin, 9 min; 6-acetylmorphine, 38 min; morphine, 80 min2). Thus, even though the blood concentrations fall, morphine bound to receptors in the central nervous system may lead to death by respiratory failure.7 Respiratory depression caused by opioids is the main physiological explanation of fatal heroin overdoses, but other explanations include metabolic variation in heroin tolerance,8,9 the toxicity of adulterants,10 pharmacological interactions with alcohol,11 and even allergic reaction to components of heroin preparations.12 However, the relevance of these factors in explaining the majority of deaths has not been statistically proved. Moreover, investigation of the mechanisms of fatal heroin overdose is hindered by gaps in individual case histories. Any information given by relatives and friends concerning the medical history of the victim is likely to be unreliable because of the addict's lifestyle and environment. To address this issue, toxicological analysis of hair can be used in the retrospective investigation of drug use and addiction. Head hair grows at approximately 0·8-1·3 cm per month.13 Drugs can be detected in hair tissue weeks or months after intake. Exogenous compounds are incorporated into hair tissue at the root. They reach the growing hair matrix from capillary blood surrounding the hair germination centre, from skin-gland secretions,14 and, in some cases, from the external environment.15 The low metabolic activity of the hair shaft, and the protection exerted by the hair matrix components, contribute to the stability of the embedded compounds. Although contamination of the hair by drugs present in the environment,16 by hair bleaching, and by hair dyeing17 may affect the accumulation of chemicals in the hair matrix, there is consensus about the usefulness of hair analysis in the study of prevalence of drugs misuse.18 On these grounds, we used hair analysis, in addition to the usual forensic tests of biological fluids, to study heroin-linked deaths in the province of Verona, Italy. We aimed to verify a possible correlation between these deaths, and the drug use of the individual in the months before death. Methods From among 91 heroin-related deaths between 1993 and 1996, we selected 37 individuals (29 men, eight women, aged 18-34) for hair analysis (group D). Criteria for selection were availability of hair, state of decomposition, lack of contamination of hair (blood, vomit, etc), lack of cosmetic treatments, availability of devices to sample hair during necropsy, and collaboration of the necropsy technicians. All the cases underwent our routine pathological and toxicological analysis. Urine was screened for opioids, benzoylecgonine (cocaine metabolite), amphetamines, benzodiazepines, methadone, barbiturates, cannabinoids, and alcohol. Blood was tested for free (unconjugated) morphine, cocaine, and alcohol. Threshold positive concentrations of toxic agents in urine were as suggested by the US Department of Health and Human Services' Division of Workplace Drug Testing (300 ng/mL morphine or codeine/mL for opioids). A "positive" control group of 37 heroin addicts was also studied (group A1). The group consisted of 30 men and seven women, aged 18-32, who had just entered a detoxification programme at a local medical centre for drug addictions. Admission to the programme was based on clinical and toxicological investigations, including a positive test for opioids in urine. A second control group of 37 former chronic users of heroin, who had allegedly been abstinent from the drug for several months, was also investigated (group A2). Members of group A2 had applied for obtaining, or reobtaining, a driving licence, and according to Italian law (D Les 285, April 30, 1992) they had to be checked by physical examination and toxicological screening of their urine, to verify abstinence. They had undergone serial urine toxicological screening for opioids, benzoylecgonine, amphetamines, benzodiazepines, methadone, barbiturates, cannabinoids, and alcohol for about 40 days. Their hair was tested for morphine and cocaine. The people in group A2 showed negative results in the urine tests, but still had traces of morphine in their hair, suggesting either persisting occasional use of heroin, short abstinence from the drug, or exposure to opioids in the environment. As a "negative" control group, we chose 20 employees of the Institute of Forensic Medicine, 15 men and five women aged 27-44, with no evidence of exposure to opioids (group N). A hair sample of about 150 mg (3-5 cm long) was collected from the vertex posterior of each individual's head, by cutting with scissors as close to the scalp as possible. Hair samples were collected with the informed consent of the people in the control groups, and stored at room temperature in paper envelopes until analysis. The sample collection and pretreatment has been described in detail elsewhere.19 Hair specimens were washed with 50 mL ethyl ether and 50 mL 0·01 mol/L hydrochloric acid on a porous glass filter, then dried, cut with scissors into small fragments, and weighed. 100 mg of hair was incubated overnight in a water bath containing 2 mL 0·25 mol/L hydrochloric acid at 45°C. The incubation mixture was then neutralised with equimolar amounts of 1 mol/L sodium hydroxide, and twice extracted into organic phase (18% dichloromethane, 18% dichloroethane, 64% heptane, by volume) from a carbonate buffer pH 9, by use of a proprietary liquid-liquid extraction system. After shaking for 15 min, and phase separation by centrifugation at 500 g for 10 min, the organic phases from the two extraction steps were collected, pooled, and evaporated under an air stream. The dried extract was reconstituted with 1 mL 0·05 mol/L phosphate buffer pH 5. Qualitative analysis was done with RIA, and quantitative analysis was done with high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). The threshold positive level of morphine was 0·1 ng per mg of hair. The RIA was done with a commercial kit (Coat-a-Count, Diagnostic Products Corporation, Los Angeles, CA, USA). An iodine-125 labelled tracer was used, and apparatus tubes were coated with antibody highly specific for free morphine, which gave less than 2% cross-reactivity with morphine glucuronide and other major opioids.19 All results were then confirmed by HPLC, based on reverse-phase separation on a polymeric column (PLRP-S 5 µm, Polymer Labs, Church Stretton, UK), and amperometric detection at a glassy carbon electrode (+350 mV vs a silver/silver chloride reference), according to a routine procedure used in our institute.20 Quantitative blood analysis for morphine and cocaine was carried out by HPLC, with amperometric detection of morphine and fluorimetric detection of cocaine.21,22 The above methods have been used for years for routine testing of hair and blood samples. Since 1990 the Institute of Forensic Medicine has participated in an inter-laboratory study for the validation of hair analysis techniques, promoted by the US National Institute of Standards and Technology, MD, USA. For the statistical analysis of our results we used one-way ANOVA, Student's t test for unpaired data, and the non-parametric Wilcoxon signed-rank test. Statistical tests used StatView SE+ Graphics (version 1·03). Results All urine samples from group A1 were positive for opioids. The urine samples from group A2 tested negative for all substances. All members of group D tested positive for opioids in urine. Benzodiazepines, alcohol, cannabinoids, amphetamines, and methadone were also found in the urine samples from several members of group D, but there was no specific pattern. Group N was not tested by urinalysis, because this information was not relevant for our purposes, and because toxicological urinalyses of employees are prohibited by law in Italy. The mean blood concentration of free morphine in group D was 273·3 ng/mL (SD 188·63 ng/mL, range 60-894 ng/mL). Blood morphine concentrations in group D were in all cases above established levels of toxicity.13 All members of group D were known to the police as heroin addicts. Based on this information, on the necropsy data, and on the findings at the death scene, all the deaths were attributed to acute overdose of heroin. In most cases, recent injection marks were found on the body, suggesting heroin intake by intravenous injection. The measurement of morphine in the hair of the deceased (group D) gave a mean value of 1·15 ng/mg (SD 2·35 ng/mg; range 0-12·25 ng/mg). There was no morphine in the hair of group N members. The mean morphine content of the hair of the active heroin addicts of group A1 was 6·07 ng/mg (SD 4·29; range 1·15-17·00 ng/mg). The incompletely abstinent individuals of group A2 had a mean value of 0·74 ng/mg (SD 0·93; range 0·10-3·32; figure). Mean hair morphine content (ng/mg) Horizontal bars=means. A1=active heroin addicts. D=deceased following heroin overdose. A2=incompletely abstinent individuals. One-way ANOVA showed a highly significant difference between the mean hair morphine contents found in groups A1, A2, and D (p(0·0001). The statistical comparison of the group data found that hair morphine contents were significantly lower in group D than in the active heroin consumers of group A1 (Wilcoxon test p(0·0001). However, hair morphine content in group D did not differ significantly from those of the incompletely abstinent subjects of group A2 (Wilcoxon test p=0·978). As expected, the active addicts of group A1 showed higher mean morphine content in hair than the incompletely abstinent subjects of group A2 (p(0·0001). By the least square method, no linear (R2=0·017), exponential (R2=0·007), or logarithmic (R2=0·170) correlation was found between the amounts of morphine in the hair and in the blood of the people who died from heroin overdose. Discussion The link between drug use and drug accumulation in hair has been examined in several earlier reports.23-26 To our knowledge, however, hair analysis has not been used to investigate the recent addiction histories of people who have died from heroin overdose. Our study was limited to the province of Verona, and may have been subject to selection bias since suitable hair samples were available for only 37 of the 91 addicts who died. However, we have shown that most fatal heroin overdoses occurred in heroin users with a much lower hair morphine content than that found in the hair of active, chronic consumers of the narcotic. On the assumption of a rough positive correlation between mean heroin intake and morphine concentrations in hair, and a hair growth rate of 1 cm/month, our findings suggest that most individuals who died from heroin overdose had virtually abstained from heroin during the 4 months preceding death. Thus, the results of this hair analysis support a theory of high susceptibility to opioid overdose after periods of intentional or unintentional abstinence. This theory has been used to explain the high number of deaths among addicts recently released from jail or on completion of a detoxification programme.9,27 The reasons for increased susceptibility to overdose remain unclear, but it is likely that a lower heroin tolerance after a period of abstinence, or a low tolerance owing to light or irregular heroin use, leads to a corresponding decrease in the size of a fatal dose. The difference in hair opioid content between groups A1 and A2 in our study supports the continued use of hair testing in forensic analysis in cases of heroin overdose. The results of our study should indicate to the medical staff of detoxification programmes that there are risks inherent in relapse to heroin intake following abstinence from the drug. In particular, we point out the potential risk of "opioid free" detoxification programmes for individuals at risk of relapse. Moreover, occasional or recreational heroin use (eg, at weekends), an increasing heroin addiction pattern that is not characterised by dependence and tolerance, could lead to more cases of heroin overdose than is generally thought. Contributors Franco Tagliaro was mainly responsible for writing the article, and for developing, and validating the analytical methods. Zeno De Battisti coordinated medical and pathological investigations, sample collection, and analysis. Frederick P Smith contributed to study design, and to statistical data analysis. Mario Marigo discussed, revised, and approved all aspects of the study, and the resulting paper. All researchers contributed to writing the paper. Acknowledgments We thank Carla Neri for routine urinalyses and Giovanna Carli for help. References 1 Data from the Annual Report of the "Direzione Centrale per i Servizi Antidroga", Rome: Italian Ministry of Internal Affairs, 1996. 2 Baselt RC, Cravey RH. Disposition of toxic drugs and chemicals in man. Foster City, CA, USA: Chemical Toxicology Institute, 1995. 3 Uges DRA. Therapeutic and toxic drug concentrations. TIAFT Bull 1996; 26: 5-34. 4 Spiehler V, Brown R. Unconjugated morphine in blood by radioimmunoassay and gas chromatography/mass spectrometry. J Forensic Sci 1987; 32: 906-16. 5 Lora-Tamayo C, Tena T, Tena G. Concentrations of free and conjugated morphine in blood in twenty cases of heroin-related deaths. J Chromatrogr 1987; 422: 267-73. 6 Staub C, Jeanmonod R, Frye O. Morphine in postmortem blood: its importance for the diagnosis of deaths associated with opiate addiction. Int J Legal Med 1990; 104: 39-42. 7 Addington WW, Cugell DW, Bazley ES, Westerhoff TR, Shapiro B, Smith RT. The pulmonary edema of heroin toxicity--an example of the stiff lung syndrome. Chest 1972; 62: 199-205. 8 Richards RG, Reed D, Cravey RH. Death from intravenously administered narcotics: a study of 114 cases. J Forensic Sci 1876; 21: 467-82. 9 Harding-Pink D, Frye O. Risk of death after release from prison: a duty to warn. BMJ 1988; 297: 596. 10 Questel F, Dugarin J, Dally S. Thallium-contaminated heroin. Ann Intern Med 1996; 15: 616. 11 Levine B, Green D, Smialek JE. The role of ethanol in heroin deaths. J Forensic Sci 1995; 40: 808-10. 12 Brashear RE, Kelly MT, White AC. Elevated plasma histamine after heroin and morphine. J Lab Clin Med 1974; 83: 451-57. 13 Sachs H. Theoretical limits of the evaluation of drug concentrations in hair due to irregular hair growth. Forensic Sci Int 1995; 70: 53-61. 14 Henderson GL. Mechanism of drug incorporation into hair. Forensic Sci Int 1993; 63: 19-29. 15 Smith FP, Kidwell DA. Cocaine in hair, saliva, skin swabs, and urine of cocaine users' children. Forensic Sci Int 1997; 83: 179-89. 16 Cone EJ, Yousefnejad D, Darwin WD, Maguire T. Testing human hair for drugs of abuse--II: identification of unique cocaine metabolites in hair of drug abusers and evaluation of decontamination procedures. J Anal Toxicol 1991; 15: 250-55. 17 Skopp G, Potsch L, Moeller MR. On cosmetically treated hair--aspects and pitfalls of interpretation. Forensic Sci Int 1997; 84: 43-52. 18 US General Accounting Office. Drug use measurement: strengths, limitations, and recommendations for improvement. Report to the Chairman, Committee on Government Operations, US House of Representatives. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office, June, 1993. 19 Marigo M, Tagliaro F, Poiesi C, Lafisca S, Neri C. Determination of morphine in the hair of heroin addicts by high performance liquid chromatography with fluorimetric detection. J Anal Toxicol 1986; 10: 158-61. 20 Tagliaro D, De Battisti Z, Lubli G, Neri C, Manetto G, Marigo M. Integrated use of hair analysis to investigate physical fitness to obtain a driving licence: a casework study. Forensic Sci Int 1997; 84: 129-35. 21 Tagliaro F, Carli G, Cristofori F, Campagnari G, Marigo M. HPLC determination of morphine with amperometric detection at low potentials under basic pH conditions. Chromatographia 1988; 26: 163-67. 22 Tagliaro F, Antonioli C, De Battisti Z, Ghielmi S, Marigo M. Reversed-phase determination of cocaine in plasma and human hair with direct fluorimetric detection. J Chromatogr 1994; 674: 207-15. 23 Püschel K, Thomasch P, Arnold W. Opiate levels in hair. Forensic Sci Int 1983; 21: 181-86. 24 Miyazawara N, Uematsu T, Mizuno A, Nagashima S, Nakashima M. Ofloxacin in human hair determined by higher performance liquid chromatography. Forensic Sci Int 1991; 51: 65-77. 25 Uematsu T, Sato R, Suzuki K, Yamaguchi S, Nakashima M. Human scalp hair as evidence of individual dosage history of haloperidol: method and retrospective study. Eur J Clin Pharmacol 1989; 37: 239-44. 26 Kintz P, Mangin P. Hair analysis for detection of beta-blockers in hypertensive patients. Eur J Clin Pharmacol 1992; 42: 351-52. 27 Püschel K, Teschke F, Castrup U. Aetiology of accidental/unexpected overdose in drug-induced deaths. Forensic Sci Int 1993; 62: 129-34.

Saudi Arabia Cleric OKs Viagra Use ('The Associated Press' Says That,
With Pfizer's New Drug For Impotence Selling For $80 A Pop
On The Illicit Market, Saudi Arabia's Top Cleric Has Said That Muslim Men
May Use The Drug If It Does Not Contain Any Intoxicating Substances
Or Contain Ingredients That May Harm Health)

Date: Sun, 28 Jun 1998 02:48:39 -0400
To: mapnews@mapinc.org
From: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org (MAPNews)
Subject: MN: Saudi Arabia: Wire:
Saudi Arabia Cleric OKs Viagra Use
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)
Pubdate: Sat, 27 Jun 1998
Source: Associated Press


RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) -- Muslim men may use the anti-impotence drug
Viagra if it does not contain any intoxicating substances, Saudi Arabia's
top cleric said in remarks published Saturday.

``Using a drug that helps sexual intercourse is permitted and there is no
legal Islamic prohibition, provided it does not contain ingredients that may
harm health or intoxicate,'' the Arabic-language newspaper Okaz quoted Sheik
Abdul-Aziz bin Baz as saying.

Bin Baz gave his opinion in response to a question after he delivered a
lecture on Friday evening in the Saudi capital, Riyadh.

Saudi newspapers have said authorities were planning to register the drug.
Viagra has been selling on the local black market at $80 a pill, eight times
its price in the United States.



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