Portland NORML News - Monday, November 9, 1998
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Drug War Deceptive (A letter to the editor of The Register Guard, in Eugene,
Oregon, says it is the government and its emptyheaded mouthpieces
who "deceive and scare," not proponents of medical marijuana and opponents
of recriminalizing marijuana possession.)

Date: Fri, 13 Nov 1998 13:20:57 -0800
From: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org (MAPNews)
To: mapnews@mapinc.org
Subject: MN: US OR: PUB LTE: MMJ: Drug War Deceptive
Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Reply-To: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/
Newshawk: Allan Erickson
Pubdate: Mon, 09 Nov, 1998
Source: Register-Guard, The (OR)
Contact: rgletters@guardnet.com
Website: http://www.registerguard.com/
Copyright: 1998 The Register-Guard
Author: Allan Erickson

DRUG WAR DECEPTIVE

The Nov. 4 article by Joe Rojas-Burke on passage of Measures 57 and 67 was
insightful. Rob Elkins, of the Oregon Police Chiefs for Safer Communities,
says Rep. Floyd Prozanski and others "led a campaign of deception and scare
tactics." Excuse me?

It is the government and its emptyheaded mouthpieces that "deceive and
scare." The feds threaten doctors with license revocation for recommending
pot. The US Congress denies the people of the District of Columbia the
ability to enact medical marijuana legislation, and then also denies the
release of voter tallies on the measure.

The government is staunch in fighting its drug war, although 60 years of
prohibition have done nothing but worsen the situation. Today, children as
young as 8 and 9 are involved in drug use. The government wishes to control
drug use in the civilian population but cannot even control drug use in our
prisons and jails.

The government wishes to operate its drug policies under scientific
principles, we are told. Government scientists have verified the
effectiveness of needle exchange programs for addicts. Dr Jocelyn Elders
and current US Surgeon General David Satcher say needle exchange "does not
encourage drug use and can reduce the spread of AIDS." Yet Congress will
not fund needle exchange programs.

What our government representatives and employees need to realize is that
THEY work for US. Compassion (and common sense) played a large part in the
medical marijuana measures passed in the five Western states. More jails,
money and compassionless politics will not aid in reducing drug abuse.
Education, public discussion and a passionate electorate may.

Thank you Oregonians.

Allan Erickson
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A Man Caught In A Kafkaesque Trap (Alan W. Bock, the senior editorial writer
for The Orange County Register, recounts how, instead of obeying the mandate
of Proposition 215 and working with Marvin Chavez, the founder
of an Orange County medical marijuana dispensary who was trying to operate
within the law, local officials arrested him.)

Date: Wed, 11 Nov 1998 08:39:18 -0800
From: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org (MAPNews)
To: mapnews@mapinc.org
Subject: MN: US CA: OPED: MMJ: A Man Caught In A Kafkaesque Trap
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/
Copyright: 1998 The Orange County Register
Pubdate: 9 Nov. 1998
Author: Alan W.Bock

A MAN CAUGHT IN A KAFKAESQUE TRAP

The Situation: Register senior columnist Bock is closely following the trial
of Marvin Chavez in connection with Proposition 215, the medical marijuana
law approved by California voters.

The main reason Marvin Chavez is standing trial before Judge Thomas
J.Borris in Orange County's West Court in Westminster this week is
that the government failed-in most cases quite stubbornly and in
conscious and purposeful defiance of the people's will-to do its job.
If this were a world imbued with some Platonic ideal of justice, Dan
Lungren, Brad Gates and others would be sitting at defense tables with
their lawyers desperately trying to explain how the actions they took,
presumably in good faith, did not constitute willful violations of the
law.

There are other reasons, of course, that the implementation of
Proposition 215, which made it legal for patients with a
recommendation from a licensed physician to use, possess and cultivate
marijuana, has been difficult in California. The initiative was
imperfectly drafted, with ambiguities and omissions that have since
given fits to courts and medical marijuana advocates alike. Some of
those who have tried to implement the law have made mistakes, some
owing to problems in the law and some owing to an excess of
enthusiasm. And not all those who have tried to form a medical
cannabis distribution system for patients with a doctor's
recommendation have acted ethically or wisely.

But the main reason has been the government's failure - except in a
few cities, such as Oakland and Arcata - to even try to implement the
law responsibly. Among the purposes of Prop. 215, right there in the
language of the initiative, was "to encourage the federal and state
governments to implement a plan to provide for the safe and affordable
distribution of marijuana."

That's not an absolute mandate, but the responsible thing to do in
light of that language and the passage of the initiative would have
been to accept the will of the people (however reluctantly) and either
set up or facilitate an ethical distribution system for those with a
certified need.

Perhaps it could have been sold through existing pharmacies. Perhaps
the government could have started a small growing plot itself, set up
a system of ID cards and protocols to govern private organizations
seeking to fulfill the distribution function.

Instead Dan Lungren, as state attorney general, at first urged the
federal government to pull the licenses of physicians who recommended
marijuana, based on the fact that marijuana was (and still is) illegal
under federal law and has been placed on Schedule 1 in the
pharmacopeia, which means it can't be prescribed.

Then he issued a set of restrictive guidelines - not for those who
sought to furnish marijuana but for law enforcement officials
determined to discourage and harass them.

Then he declared war against existing cannabis clubs, a war the
Clinton administration cheerfully joined and then took over.

Even if they had not faced outright law enforcement hostility,
patients and their families and friends would have faced serious
problems. Prop. 215 (now Section 11362.5 of the California Health and
Safety Code) specifically created a defense for patients and primary
caregivers against charges of possession, use and cultivation. It did
not create an explicit defense against charges of sales, furnishing or
transportation, which were and are still illegal under California
state law. (Although appellate court decisions have acknowledged the
need for some leeway in enforcing these laws in light of 11362.5, they
still haven't offered specific guidelines.) And nobody really knew
what a "primary caregiver," the term used in the new law, was or how
the courts would define or refine the term in the future.

For various reasons, many patients who were now legally entitled to
have and use cannabis had no practical way to acquire it. It takes
about six months to grow cannabis from seed to usable bud, and not
everyone knows how to grow it or acquire seeds. There's a flourishing
black market, of course, but acquiring it that way is still illegal.

Doctors were now authorized to recommend cannabis. But except for a
handful, physicians in the United States know almost nothing about the
real or alleged therapeutic effects, side effects or consequences of
cannabis use.

The caution growing from that lack of knowledge was reinforced
powerfully by the federal government's announcement that it would pull
the licenses or the authority to write prescriptions from doctors who
were so bold as to try to implement California's new law. Even though
a restraining order now prevents the feds from doing this, very few
doctors are willing to stick their necks out and write recommendations
for cannabis, even if they believe it would help some of their patients.

Prop. 215 had been written by people who ran a cannabis club in San
Francisco, so it should have been logical to assume that it authorized
such clubs. But the drafters were not lawyers. Subsequent court
decisions suggest rather strongly that they failed to write it in such
a way as to authorize their own operations or to define themselves as
"primary caregivers." But nobody knew this at the outset.

For all these and other reasons, people like Marvin Chavez were fated
to go through a long and difficult process of trial and error.

Chavez, who now lives in Santa Ana, had discovered a few years ago
that cannabis relieved the pain of a rare genetic spinal disorder
(ALS) more effectively and with fewer debilitating and depressive side
effects than the boatload of prescription drugs he had been taking.
Using cannabis also helped him to come out of his shell - he had been
a virtual recluse for years - and he became an activist on behalf of
Prop. 215 and took the first steps toward forming an Orange County
"cannabis co-op."

When the initiative passed, he hoped he would be in a position to work
cooperatively with local officials to facilitate the distribution of
cannabis to patients who needed it and to educate patients and doctors
about cannabis cultivation and use. He set up the Orange County Doctor
Patient Nurse Support Group, paid for and got a business license from
the of Garden Grove, made contact with a few doctors and nurses who
agreed to help and started holding regular educational and support
meetings.

He created forms and agreements among patients and the group. He set
up a group of nurses to check on the validity of doctor
recommendations. He started growing a few plants and acquired
marijuana wherever he could. He wrote to Sheriff Brad Gates to offer
cooperation and ask for guidelines to avoid operating outside the law
- and got no response, he tells me.

Aware that some "patient" groups with sites on the Internet and
elsewhere were charging higher-than-black-market prices, he adopted a
policy of not selling cannabis, but giving it to certified patients
and suggesting a donation of $20 per quarter-ounce. He gave some away
with no donation ever received and got some donations unconnected to
marijuana transfers.

He acknowledges that he made some mistakes along the way, but says he
was trying as conscientiously as he knew how to operate ethically and
within the law.

In an ideal world, local officials would have worked with him, going
over his forms and contracts and suggesting changes to make sure they
were really legal, inspecting his premises from time to time to see
how things were working and perhaps to offer suggestions so he could
make changes before he ran afoul of the law, warning him in advance of
potential pitfalls.

But it's not an ideal world. Instead of working with Chavez, local law
enforcement officials arrested him.

Now he could be found guilty of selling marijuana and go to prison.
It's hard to see how that will move Californians any closer to
careful, responsible and ethical implementation of Prop. 215 by
creating a small "white market" - the number of patients who can
truly, unambiguously get therapeutic benefit from cannabis is fairly
small, but for most of them the improvement in the quality of their
lives is dramatic - for medical cannabis.
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Customs Conviction Muddies Drug Trial (The San Francisco Chronicle
says attorneys for Thanong "Thai Tony" Siriprechapong, a former member
of the Thai parliament accused of smuggling more than 45 tons of hashish
into the United States, have asked that the case be dismissed because
the charges are based on false grand jury testimony by a US Customs agent
convicted of taking money from a key prosecution witness. The lawyers also
said the US attorney's office in San Francisco improperly asked other federal
prosecutors to delay bringing criminal charges against the agent in an
attempt to protect the hashish case.)
Link to earlier story
Date: Mon, 9 Nov 1998 18:30:23 -0800 From: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org (MAPNews) To: mapnews@mapinc.org Subject: MN: US CA: Customs Conviction Muddies Drug Trial Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org Reply-To: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: compassion23@geocities.com (Frank S. World) Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA) Contact: chronletters@sfgate.com Website: http://www.sfgate.com/chronicle/ Pubdate: 9 Nov 1998 Copyright: 1998 San Francisco Chronicle Section: Page A23 Author: Bill Wallace, Chronicle Staff Writer CUSTOMS CONVICTION MUDDIES DRUG TRIAL DISMISSAL SOUGHT IN PROMINENT CASE Attorneys for a former member of the Thai parliament accused of smuggling more than 45 tons of hashish have asked that the case be dismissed, saying the charges are based on false grand jury testimony by a Customs agent convicted of taking money from a key prosecution witness. In papers filed in U.S. District Court, the lawyers also said the U.S. attorney's office in San Francisco improperly asked other federal prosecutors to delay bringing criminal charges against the agent in an attempt to protect the hashish case. ``The fountain of justice has been polluted by the government's actions,'' defense attorney Karen Snell argued. ``It can only be cleansed by the quashing of these criminal charges.'' Matt Jacobs, a spokesman for newly appointed U.S. Attorney Robert Mueller III, declined to comment, saying the government will issue a written response to the court later this month. Thanong ``Thai Tony'' Siriprechapong, 45, a hotelier and businessman who served for more than three years in the Thai parliament, was indicted by a federal grand jury in 1991. Siriprechapong was the subject of prolonged extradition negotiations between U.S. officials and the Thai government. His case created an international diplomatic sensation and marked the first time the Thai government agreed to extradite one of its citizens. Despite the involvement of the highest levels of the U.S. Justice Department, however, the case against Siriprechapong began to unravel last year when federal prosecutors revealed that the primary U.S. Customs Service investigator in the case had taken money from one of the government's primary witnesses. The investigator, Senior Special Agent Frank Gervacio, was later indicted for accepting the kickback and pleaded guilty in September. The request that the indictment against Siriprechapong be dismissed was filed in U.S. District Court late last month by Snell and two other defense attorneys, Robert Luskin and William Osterhoudt. In court papers, the three lawyers say the charges should be dropped because Gervacio, who was the only witness to appear before the grand jury that indicted Siriprechapong, lied repeatedly about the kickback he had received and gave false testimony about Siriprechapong. In addition, Snell said 3,000 pages of government documents recently turned over to defense attorneys show a pattern of improper government conduct, including attempts to influence the criminal investigation of Gervacio. ``The lead prosecutor in the case, (Assistant U.S. Attorney) John Lyons, repeatedly intervened with prosecutors from the Public Integrity Section of the Department of Justice in order to protect the agent and to delay the institution of public criminal proceedings against the agent,'' Snell said in her pleadings. ``Lyons repeatedly lied to and misled this court to prevent the court from learning information which wholly undermines Mr. Siriprechapong's extradition, as well as his indictment,'' Snell said. In keeping with the policy of Mueller, who wants all his staff's press contacts to be channeled through his spokesman, Lyons declined to comment on Snell's filings. Papers filed by Siriprechapong's lawyers said Lyons improperly contacted the prosecutor in Gervacio's case on at least two occasions last year. One of those calls took place in May last year, a month before federal prosecutors reluctantly admitted that Gervacio was the subject of a federal criminal investigation. During the May contact, Lyons allegedly tried to persuade Stephen Anthony, Gervacio's prosecutor, to delay bringing charges against the agent until the government could persuade Siriprechapong to plead guilty. In the second call, one month after the Gervacio investigation was disclosed, Lyons allegedly tried to save Gervacio's job with Customs, ostensibly so that he could still call the agent as a witness when Siriprechapong came to trial. Both contacts were rebuffed, according to court papers. In a letter to Lyons after his second contact, Anthony cautioned him that his calls were improper. ``It is not appropriate for you, wearing your `hat' as the friend of Mr. Gervacio, to inject yourself into the negotiation of specific terms of a plea agreement,'' Anthony said. ``We request that you have no involvement in this matter in the future.''
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Nicotine called promising for relief of brain disorders (The Miami Herald
says research presented Sunday at a Los Angeles conference featuring many
of the 20,000 scientists worldwide who study the brain hinted that
nicotine-based drugs may one day provide relief for Alzheimer's disease,
Parkinson's disease, schizophrenia and anxiety disorders.)

From: "Bob Owen@W.H.E.N." (when@olywa.net)
To: "_Drug Policy --" (when@hemp.net)
Subject: Nicotine called promising for relief of brain disorders
Date: Mon, 9 Nov 1998 18:10:07 -0800
Sender: owner-when@hemp.net

Published Monday, November 9, 1998, in the Miami Herald

Nicotine called promising for relief of brain disorders

USHA LEE McFARLING
Herald Washington Bureau

LOS ANGELES -- And now, finally, some good news about nicotine. The
long-vilified chemical, and designer molecules that mimic it, can improve
memory, prevent brain cells from dying and -- as smokers have long known --
markedly reduce stress.

The results, presented here Sunday at a meeting of many of the 20,000
scientists worldwide who study the brain, hinted that nicotine-based drugs
may one day provide relief for Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease,
schizophrenia and anxiety disorders.

The new research on animals explains anecdotal evidence that smoking helps
schizophrenics function better, that smokers are less likely to develop the
motor disorder Parkinson's disease, and that people with Alzheimer's disease
using nicotine patches focus better on tasks.

In one study, rats given a molecule that mimics nicotine were smarter --
better at learning their way around mazes and at solving new problems. Other
rats with symptoms of Alzheimer's disease had memory and learning problems
``completely reversed'' after being given the nicotine-like compound, said
Edward Levine, an associate professor of toxicology at Duke University.

Researchers at R.J. Reynolds Co., who have long studied nicotine as an
adjunct to cigarette development, also are looking at nicotine's therapeutic
potential.

Rats' memory improves

Two nicotine-like compounds developed in the company's Winston-Salem labs
improved both short- and long-term memory in rats and even kept brain cells
from dying when they were exposed to toxic chemicals that should have killed
them.

``Traditional drugs have focused on ameliorating symptoms,'' said Patrick
Lippiello, a neuroscientist with R.J. Reynolds, who noted that current drugs
available for Alzheimer's have only marginal effects. ``Now drugs can focus
on delaying the onset of these diseases, and perhaps get to the point where
you can prevent the disease altogether.''

Nicotine itself, a natural substance found in tobacco and also in small
quantities in tomatoes, eggplants and bell peppers, is probably not a good
candidate to become a therapeutic drug because it affects so many of the
body's systems.

In addition to stimulating the brain, nicotine can cause the heart to race
dangerously, can cause nausea and can be highly addictive.

``Nicotine's a bit of a sledgehammer,'' said Darwin Berg, a professor of
biology at the University of California at San Diego. ``You want drugs to be
much more specific.''

Molecules made to order

So Lippiello and Levine are working to design molecules that have nicotine's
beneficial effects without its drawbacks.

``You get clues from natural products, but you have to go on and improve on
that theme,'' Lippiello said. R.J. Reynolds now is talking with
pharmaceutical companies to develop drugs based on nicotine mimics, he said.

One study reported Sunday did use nicotine in its natural state, in order to
understand a paradox that has long surrounded smoking.

Nicotine itself causes a stress response -- a racing heart and higher blood
pressure. ``On the other hand, people say they smoke because it relaxes
them,'' said Esther Sabban, a professor of biochemistry and molecular
biology at New York Medical College.

Sabban compared the stress levels of nicotine-free rats with those given one
shot of nicotine and those who had the constant levels of nicotine a person
wearing a nicotine patch or smoking routinely would have.

Diminishing fear

Only rats receiving nicotine for a long term had the calmer responses, she
said. Other studies have shown that normally fearful rats given nicotine are
less stressed and braver in their rodent explorations.

One interpretation of the animal findings is that chronic smoking can help
block the body's stress response while nicotine given to a nonsmoker
wouldn't have the same relaxing effect.

Despite nicotine's apparent promise, researchers were quick to add that
smoking, because many other chemicals in smoke are harmful, remains taboo.
``The relationship between lung cancer and smoking is clear,'' Sabban said.
``That's not the way you want to cure Alzheimer's disease.''

Slapping on a nicotine patch in an attempt to cure a disorder isn't
advisable either, Levin said, because no studies have been conducted to
determine whether such use is safe.
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Pension? No Problem (A staff editorial in The San Jose Mercury News
says Johnny Venzon Jr., in jail awaiting trial on charges that he stole
from people while on duty as a San Jose cop, does not deserve a disability
pension because of his gambling addiction. He refused treatment - and it was
breaking the law and not his gambling that got him fired.)
Link to earlier story
Date: Thu, 12 Nov 1998 07:37:34 -0800 From: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org (MAPNews) To: mapnews@mapinc.org Subject: MN: US CA: EDITORIAL: Pension? No Problem 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: 9 Nov 1998 Source: San Jose Mercury News (CA) Contact: letters@sjmercury.com Website: http://www.sjmercury.com/ Copyright: 1998 Mercury Center EDITORIAL Pension? No problem ALMOST anybody can get a disability pension out of the San Jose Police and Fire Retirement Board. The latest example: Johnny Venzon Jr., who is in jail awaiting trial on charges that he stole from people while on duty as a San Jose cop. Venzon's non-service-related disability is a gambling addiction. Because of it, doctors say, he cannot be a police officer any more. Well, maybe. Maybe not. Someone with, say, a drug addiction certainly couldn't be a cop; judgment would be impaired, and taking drugs is illegal. But it's possible for a gambling addict to function as a police officer, particularly if he's getting help. (Venzon was offered help by the department and refused.) Venzon is in trouble not because he gambled on his own time, but because he's accused of trying to make up for his losses while on duty by, for instance, rifling dead bodies for jewelry. It's that, not his gambling, that got him fired. The three retirement board members who voted for the pension said they felt sorry for his wife and six kids. That's understandable, but should family need be a reason for granting disability? Besides, there's no way to legally require this money to go to Venzon's wife. It will go to Venzon, and he can do anything he wants with it when he gets out of jail. Disability pensions long have been up for grabs in San Jose. It's an easy supplementary income for anybody with the slightest problem who wants to try a new career. Add gambling to the list of excuses.
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Examples Of Sentencing In Fatal Drunk-driving Crashes (The Tulsa World
cites a number of instances in which drunken drivers in Oklahoma
have killed people without being sentenced to jail or prison - and finds
some disparity in sentencing, too.)

Date: Thu, 12 Nov 1998 06:20:08 -0800
From: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org (MAPNews)
To: mapnews@mapinc.org
Subject: MN: US OK: Examples Of Sentencing In Fatal Drunk-driving Crashes
Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Reply-To: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/
Newshawk: Michael Pearson (oknorml@swbell.net)
Source: Tulsa World (OK)
Contact: tulsaworld@mail.webtek.com
Website: http://www.tulsaworld.com/
Copyright: 1998, World Publishing Co.
Pubdate: 9 Nov 1998

John Steven Dick, 47, was given 18 years' probation Oct. 15 for
first-degree manslaughter after he was driving drunk and slammed into the
back of a disabled car along the Cimarron Turnpike.

The December 1997 crash killed Charles Arthur Douglass, 44, of Tulsa, left
his three children fatherless and his wife a widow. Douglass' wife and
children all lived through the crash. Dick, whose blood-alcohol content was
more than twice the legal limit and who had a prior DUI conviction, was
ordered to pay the family $151,000 in restitution.

David Eugene Littlesun, 31, was convicted of first-degree manslaughter
while DUI and ordered to serve one year in the county jail and seven years'
probation for the 1996 death of Sean Conover. He also was ordered to visit
annually the grave of the 19-year-old whose death he caused while driving
drunk in Payne County.

His blood-alcohol content was 0.29 when he slammed into the back of the
parked car in which Conover was sitting.

Michael Hein, then 20, in 1994 was sentenced to five years' probation by a
Kay County judge after he pleaded guilty to a manslaughter DUI involving a
crash that killed his friend, a passenger in his vehicle. He also was
ordered to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and not use alcohol,
reports stated.

Douglas Brian Wyer, a 40-year-old Jenks firefighter, in 1989 crashed into a
car carrying Claudia McCumber and Randy Perkins, killing both. Wyer pleaded
no contest to first-degree manslaughter charges which contended that he was
driving drunk.

A judge gave Wyer a five-year deferred sentence and a 10-year deferred
sentence, meaning that he will have no conviction on his record if the
probation is successfully completed.

Kimberly Ann Goody, then 25, was convicted in Payne County in 1993 of
driving drunk and smashing into a motorcycle that was driven by an off-duty
Oklahoma State University police officer, Brent Ray Daniel, 24. She was
sentenced to 25 years in prison, with 15 of it to be served on probation.
She was released on probation in 1997 after serving almost four years
behind bars.

James Wesley Carpenter was sentenced by a jury to three 50-year prison
terms. He drove drunk and killed three children who were collecting cans
for Christmas money along a highway south of Tahlequah in 1984. Carpenter
had several prior DUIs.

A judge ordered the sentences to run consecutively, ensuring that
Carpenter, now 66, likely will die behind bars.

"The insensitive nature of that one had a lot to do with it," then-judge
William Bliss said.
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Blind Obedience Perilous (A letter to the editor of The Houston Chronicle
objects to a previous letter writer's seeming endorsement of Houston
prohibition agents who broke into the home of Pedro Oregon Navarro
without a warrant and killed him.)

Date: Mon, 9 Nov 1998 18:34:33 -0800
From: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org (MAPNews)
To: mapnews@mapinc.org
Subject: MN: US TX: PUB LTE: Blind Obedience Perilous
Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Reply-To: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/
Newshawk: adbryan@onramp.net
Pubdate: Mon, 9 Nov 1998
Source: Houston Chronicle (TX)
Copyright: 1998 Houston Chronicle
Contact: viewpoints@chron.com
Website: http://www.chron.com/
Author: Russell T. Reid

BLIND OBEDIENCE PERILOUS

I read with great disbelief the comments of Donna C. Pendergast
("Won't run from uniformed," Viewpoints, Nov. 6). Her apparent blind
obedience to authority is a very dangerous thing.

This same kind of mentality has allowed many atrocities to be
perpetrated to humankind over time such as concentration camps,
torture and rapes by those "just following orders." The excuse of
"just following orders" won't cut it with most people in a democracy.

The police officers in the Pedro Oregon Navarro case were wrong and
should have been charged with wrongful death at the least, and
probably murder, judging by the facts presented in the media.

If anyone wonders why we need a federal government with oversight
power over local and state governments, this is a perfect example.
Either the local district attorney's office presented a very skewed
case to the grand jury, or else the grand jury was composed of people
who were afraid to ask the necessary hard questions.

I suggest that Pendergast move to Iraq where blind obedience to
authority is the norm and where, I'm sure, the police show no restraint.

Russell T. Reid, Richmond
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Five States' Marijuana Approval Illustrates Gullibility of Voters
(A staff editorial in The Omaha World-Herald says voters in five states
who elected Tuesday to let marijuana be "prescribed" as a "painkiller"
were pawns of a movement to decriminalize the use of marijuana.)

Date: Wed, 18 Nov 1998 22:43:28 -0800
From: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org (MAPNews)
To: mapnews@mapinc.org
Subject: MN: US OK: Editorial: MMJ: Five States' Marijuana Approval
Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Reply-To: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/
Newshawk: asobey@ncfcomm.com
Pubdate: 9 Nov 1998
Source: Omaha World-Herald
Author: Editorial
Website: http://www.omaha.com/
Email: pulse@owh.com

FIVE STATES' MARIJUANA APPROVAL ILLUSTRATES GULLIBILITY OF VOTERS

Voters in five states allowed themselves to be used as pawns of a movement
to decriminalize the use of marijuana. They voted Tuesday in favor of
letting the drug be prescribed as a painkiller in certain instances.

They thus delivered victories to a crusade to legalize marijuana for
everyone - a crusade that has cynically appropriated the suffering of
terminally ill people as campaign fodder.

Voters were told that smoking marijuana can help ease pain and nausea,
particularly the nausea associated with chemotherapy. It has been used
against the symptoms of multiple sclerosis and glaucoma. However, any
evidence of a beneficial effect is anecdotal, not scientific.

The Food and Drug Administration is studying the issue, with a report due
out next year. Research is also being conducted by the National Institutes
of Health.

Voters in Arizona, Nevada, Oregon, Alaska and Washington state did not wait
for the results. The pro-marijuana campaigns in those states were conducted
and funded not by medical experts clamoring for the drug. They were
financed by groups associated with pro-marijuana forces that favor its
recreational use, and by George Soros, a billionaire who has made it a
personal campaign to get the substance legalized.

The crusade logged previous successes in California and Arizona. Arizona
officials until now have refused to implement the law. However, the drug
continues to make inroads. Janet Napolitano, the newly-elected attorney
general, said she would follow the law even though she opposed it.

It's easy to see why drug enforcers have been concerned. Activists in the
legalization crusade said they plan to take their case to Massachusetts,
Florida, Michigan and Ohio next. If the voters of those states are as
gullible as the voters of the four states where the measure was approved
Tuesday, hospitals and nursing homes may soon reek with the odor of
marijuana. Use of the substance will spread even more widely in the general
population.

Certainly doctors already prescribe controlled substances - morphine, among
other addictive drugs - as pain killers. If the FDA and the National
Institutes of Health found a similar benefit in marijuana, it would be one
thing. But such judgments belong in the scientific and medical community,
not on the ballot. The fact that a majority of the voters can be bamboozled
by the everybody-must-get-stoned crowd is all too evident after Tuesday.
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Mandatory Sentencing A Big-Time Bust (The Boston Globe says some original
research by the newspaper has turned up figures showing that more than
84 percent of those serving mandatory minimum sentences on drug charges
in Massachusetts are first-time offenders in the state. For the most part,
these are drug users who are at the bottom of the supply chain. They are also
overwhelmingly Hispanic and black. The big-time dealers avoid mandatory
minimums because they have information to trade with prosecutors, or money
that is forfeited upon their arrest - which makes law enforcement look upon
them more kindly. The federal system - which operates under its own mandatory
mimimum sentence law - is similarly filled with small-time offenders.)

Date: Wed, 11 Nov 1998 18:24:07 -0800
From: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org (MAPNews)
To: mapnews@mapinc.org
Subject: MN: US MA: Mandatory Sentencing A Big-Time Bust
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: Mon, 9 Nov 1998
Source: Boston Globe (MA)
Contact: letters@globe.com
Website: http://www.boston.com/globe/
Copyright: 1998 Globe Newspaper Company.

MANDATORY SENTENCING A BIG-TIME BUST

A prime weapon in the war on drugs since the mid-1980s has been mandatory
minimum sentences that give judges no leeway in determining how many years
an offender should spend behind bars.

Politicians love the mandatory minimum law because it conveys a ``tough on
crime'' aura. Prosecutors love it because it gives them more power, since
they are the ones who decide whether to push for the mandatory sentence.

But not everybody loves the law. Its critics have always asserted that the
mandatory minimums, designed for big-time drug dealers, are being unfairly
applied to users having their first run-in with the law. But in
Massachusetts, no one knew exactly how often -- until now.

Figures obtained by the Globe show more than 84 percent of those serving
mandatory sentences on drug charges in Massachusetts are first-time
offenders in the state. For the most part, these are drug users who are at
the bottom of the supply chain. They are also overwhelmingly Hispanic and
black.

Meanwhile, the big-time dealers are avoiding the lengthy sentences that come
with mandatory minimums because they have information to trade with
prosecutors, or money that is forfeited upon their arrest -- which makes law
enforcement look upon them more kindly.

The federal system -- which operates under its own mandatory mimimum
sentence law that took effect 12 years ago -- is similarly filled with
small-time offenders. A 1992 analysis, the most recent available, found that
55 percent of all drug offenders were classified as ``low level'' either
street dealers or mules, and only 11 percent were high-level dealers.

Eric Sterling, a former congressional lawyer who wrote the federal mandatory
minimum sentencing laws in 1986, says he made a big mistake.

``Of all the things I was involved in during my nine years on the House
Judiciary Committee, my role in the creation of mandatory minimums was
absolutely the worst, the most counterproductive, the most unjust,'' says
Sterling, now president of the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation, a
nonpartisan think tank financed in part by Boston businessman Robert
Lindell.

``Thousands of men and women are serving many years in prisons unjustly as a
consequence of these laws.''

One such woman is Sylvia Foster, a former corrections officer in
Gainesville, Fla., now doing time at the federal prison in Danbury, Conn.
Foster, 34, and mother of two children, was sentenced 13 months ago to 24
years in prison for one count of conspiring to distribute crack cocaine.

According to court documents, Foster had no prior record, a good work
history, and was a caring mother. Her boyfriend used her home to cook and
store crack cocaine. Foster testified that she did not know about his
manufacturing or dealing until she found some crack in her house, confronted
her boyfriend, told him to get it out of her house, and broke up with him.

Even the government prosecutor, Jerome Sanford, said at her sentencing
hearing, ``This is probably one of those ... sentencing situations where I
have the sense that the defense, the prosecution, and the court wish that
there might be greater latitude in discretion for sentencing.''

But under the guidelines and mandatory minimums, Foster had to receive a
sentence of 24 to 30 years.

Supporters of the law point to the fact that overall crime rates are
dropping, and suggest that the threat of a long mandatory minimum sentence
is one of the reasons. But that drop may well have more to do with community
policing and demographics than with locking up drug users and dealers. After
all, drugs are still plentiful and cheap despite a massive prison building
boom around the country.

A cottage industry of advocacy groups and think-tanks has sprung up to fight
mandatory minimums, including Families Against Mandatory Minimums, which was
founded in 1991. FAMM does not advocate releasing people from jail, but
rather wants to return to judges the ability to look at a person's
background and consider extenuating circumstances before sentencing.

Judges want that, too.

``I have sat (before a) criminal (court) for 20 years and I have never had a
really top dealer before me,'' says Judge Robert Barton of Massachusetts
Superior Court. ``Invariably, they are street dealers or mules.'' Barton --
who describes himself as being ``left of the ayatollah, but that's about
it'' -- says those convicted in drug cases, ``end up taking up jail space,
and most do more time than those who commit crimes of violence against
another person.''

Barton adds: ``You get someone with a 15-year mandatory sentence for drugs,
and a second-degree murderer is eligible for parole in 15 years. There is a
certain person convicted of manslaughter, who happens to be in England'' --
a reference to Louise Woodward, convicted in the death of a Newton infant
she was caring for -- ``who was sentenced to time served.''

Even Chief Justice William Rehnquist has said mandatory minimums are ``a
good example of the law of unintended consequences'' because they ``impose
unduly harsh punishment for first-time offenders, particularly for mules who
played only a minor role in a drug distribution scheme.''

And it was an issue Justice Stephen Breyer worried about when he was an
appelate judge in Boston. ``What happens if we keep increasing mandatory
prison terms through the legislature?'' he warned. ``We will have tens of
thousands of men 20 years from now in their 50s, 60s, and 70s, and the
expense of warehousing these old men will be enormous.''

It is already staggering. In Massachusetts, the cost is an average of
$30,000 per prisoner per year. In the federal system, that cost is $23,000.

And the number of inmates serving time on drug charges keeps growing.
Consider that in 1983, one in 10 federal inmates was in prison for a drug
offense. Today it is one out of two.

In Massachusetts, the prison population in 1980 was 3,066. This year, it is
over 10,000, with more than 18 percent of those detained for drugs.

As a result, about 645 of every 100,000 Americans is behind bars, and
African-American men have a nearly 1-in-3 chance of being jailed at some
point in their lives. The United States' rate of incarceration is higher
than any other country's but Russia's.

Is it worth it? A 1997 Rand Corp. report found there are more cost-effective
ways to reduce crime and drug use. Using mathematical models, the study
found that, dollar for taxpayer dollar, mandatory minimum sentences were
less effective in reducing cocaine consumption than previous sentencing
structures. And neither was as effective as putting heavy users through
treatment programs.

The study also found mandatory minimums are less cost-effective for reducing
cocaine-related crime than either of those other alternatives.

US District Senior Judge A. David Mazzone, a member of the US Sentencing
Commission, which sets sentencing guidelines and monitors the federal court
system, said that mandatory minimum sentences conflict with guidelines
passed under the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984, which made sentencing more
uniform, but still left judges some discretion.

``In the federal system, 50 to 60 percent of inmates are drug-related and a
great deal of them are first-time offenders and most were sentenced under
mandatory sentences,'' Mazzone says.

In 1994, the Sentencing Commission recommended closing the gap in sentencing
for crack cocaine and powder cocaine. Congress virtually ignored the
recommendation, and those sentenced for crack -- nearly 90 percent of them
African-Americans -- still face sentences 100 times longer than those guilty
of powder cocaine offenses.

``There is a lot that can be done to the system,'' Mazzone says, ``but
without the political will you can't do it, and there is no political
will.''

There is little desire in the White House or on Capitol Hill to tinker with
mandatory sentencing, and, as a result, be tagged as ``soft on crime.'' But
at least one powerful politician in Massachusetts is making mandatory
sentencing overhaul a centerpiece of next year's legislative session.

``There are political currents and themes that this is left-wing,
soft-on-crime squishy, but I don't view it that way at all,'' said Thomas M.
Finneran, the Massachusetts House speaker, not a man to coddle criminals.
``To the extent that we can eliminate rigidity and defer to the judgment of
hopefully wisely chosen jurists, we are better off. One-size-fits-all
solutions designed by a legislative body that sits far away from the
instance of a specific case does not make sense.''

Finneran is motivated by an interest in the bottom line. ``I am not
convinced we are getting the full mileage for taxpayers dollars,'' he says.
``Some of the people sentenced could remain productive members of society
and pay back communities for whatever crime they committed.''

Predicted the speaker, ``This is a battleground that will develop in 1999.''
-------------------------------------------------------------------

Pot Politics (A staff editorial in The Times Union, in New York,
says the Clinton Administration should reconsider its opposition
to medical marijuana. Voters in more states are allowing it,
and scientific evidence is on the popular side.)

Date: Mon, 9 Nov 1998 18:58:36 -0800
From: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org (MAPNews)
To: mapnews@mapinc.org
Subject: MN: US NY: Editorial: Pot Politics
Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Reply-To: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/
Newshawk: Walter F. Wouk
Pubdate: Mon, 09 Nov 1998
Source: Times Union (NY)
Copyright: 1998, Capital Newspapers Division of The Hearst Corporation
Contact: tuletters@timesunion.com
Fax: 518-454-5628
Website: http://www.timesunion.com/

POT POLITICS

As More States Approve The Use Of Marijuana For Medical Purposes, The White
House Should Pay Heed

Politicians reluctant to follow their better instincts and support the
medicinal use of marijuana have reason to be more confident of their
views as a result of elections last week. In Alaska, Arizona, Nevada,
Oregon and Washington state -- not all exactly strongholds of
liberalism -- voters have expressed their support for the legal use of
pot under such circumstances. The Clinton administration in particular
should reconsider its opposition.

The approval of referendums on Tuesday follows similar election
results in California and Arizona in 1996. Arizona lawmakers later
rescinded that vote.

Support is gaining for using marijuana to treat patients suffering
from cancer, glaucoma, and multiple sclerosis. The leader of the
medical marijuana movement in Arizona says the acceptance of a
constructive use for marijuana is an example of the rejection of what
had been the political status quo. In California, UCLA professor Mark
Kleinman offers this interpretation: "It's no longer possible to
buffalo the American people by screaming drugs and having them run
away.''

Scientific evidence is on the popular side. Cancer patients find that
marijuana helps ward off the nausea associated with chemotherapy,
while glaucoma patients use it to relieve pressure within the eye.
AIDS patients regain their appetites after smoking it.

The problem is that the White House is preoccupied with the politics
of even the limited legal use of pot, to the point where it hardly
addresses the health issue at all. The sentiment of voters is met with
an official reiteration of its position that liberalized state laws
won't alter federal policy. Dr. Barry McCaffrey, the Clinton
administration's drug czar, points to the money the advocates for
medicinal marijuana have amassed. It's true that such forces have
benefited from a $5 million ad campaign financed by billionaire George
Soros. But what moderately successful political movement doesn't have
at least some money behind it?

Worse, there's no basis for the White House contention that the push
for the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes is really a front for
a movement to legalize other drugs. That's an unfair attack on what
are efforts to ease suffering, and nothing more. It's unsettlingly
reminiscent of its contention that free needle distribution encourages
intravenous drug use.

There's nothing inconsistent about being troubled by the reckless use
of marijuana and accepting the benefits of its use under closely
monitored medical conditions.

This page has long advocated such a humane approach in New York state.
Now voters have sent a sober message to politicians in Washington and
in state capitals that shouldn't be automatically rejected.
-------------------------------------------------------------------

Undercover troopers arrest 21 for marijuana at Bills-Jets game
(The Associated Press says narcs targeting illegal drug users at Giants
Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, arrested 21 people on minor marijuana
charges during Sunday's football game between the Buffalo Bills
and New York Jets.)

From: "Bob Owen@W.H.E.N." (when@olywa.net)
To: "_Drug Policy --" (when@hemp.net)
Subject: Undercover troopers arrest 21 for marijuana at Bills-Jets game
Date: Mon, 9 Nov 1998 18:08:29 -0800
Sender: owner-when@hemp.net

Undercover troopers arrest 21 for marijuana at Bills-Jets game
Associated Press, 11/09/98 16:14

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) - Undercover state troopers targeting illegal
drugs at Giants Stadium arrested 21 people on minor marijuana charges during
Sunday's game between the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets.

State police also arrested 13 people on other offenses, including trespass
and improper behavior, as part of what the agency described as Gov. Christie
Whitman's ``quality of life'' anti-drug campaign.

Nearly all of the suspects are men from New Jersey and New York in their 30s
and 40s, according to a list released Monday by state police.

All were freed on their own recognizance and escorted from the stadium after
being fingerprinted and photographed, state police spokesman John R. Hagerty
said.

They are to appear Dec. 2 in municipal court. Most face up to 30 days in
jail and/or a $1,500 fine if convicted.

They could also lose season tickets and be barred from attending other
events at the Meadowlands, said Dennis Robinson, chief executive officer of
the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, which operates the sports
complex.

A similar crackdown here on the open use of marijuana led to 17 arrests
during the Oct. 25 Falcons-Jets game, state police said.

The arrests were prompted by fan complaints, Hagerty said.

``There had been an increase in illegal drug use, particularly marijuana,
especially during halftime,'' he said.

Similar arrests had been made during other large gatherings over the summer,
including events at the PNC Arts Center in Holmdel and the Continental
Airlines Arena at the sports complex, Hagerty said.

``The message here is that if you're attending a sporting event, concert,
entertainment event, there is a distinct possibility that undercover
troopers will be monitoring the activities, and eventgoers should refrain
from illegal activity,'' Hagerty said.

State police said they confiscated loose marijuana and joints during
Sunday's arrests, as well as one pipe and a small amount of cocaine from one
patron.
-------------------------------------------------------------------

Judge Won't Release Vote Results (According to The Associated Press,
US District Judge Richard Roberts refused on Monday to order the District
of Columbia Board of Elections and Ethics to immediately release the results
of a Nov. 3 vote to legalize marijuana for medical purposes in the nation's
capital, saying the federal government should be given more time to decide
whether it wants to act as a party in the case and argue against the release
of the vote results.)

From: Remembers@webtv.net (Genie Brittingham)
Date: Wed, 11 Nov 1998 15:58:14 -0800 (PST)
To: she-who-remembers@makelist.com
Subject: DPFCA: Judge Won't Release Vote Results
Sender: owner-dpfca@drugsense.org
Reply-To: dpfca@drugsense.org
Organization: DrugSense http://www.drugsense.org/dpfca/
From: WBritt420@aol.com
Date: Wed, Nov 11, 1998
From: AOLNews@aol.com
Date: Mon, Nov 9, 1998,

Judge Won't Release Vote Results

.c The Associated Press

By NANCY ZUCKERBROD

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A federal judge refused on Monday to order the
District of Columbia Board of Elections and Ethics to immediately
release the results of a Nov. 3 vote to legalize marijuana for medical
purposes in the nation's capital.

U.S. District Judge Richard Roberts ruled that the federal government
should be given more time to decide whether it wants to act as a party
in the case and argue against the release of the vote results.

An amendment to the D.C. budget, passed by Congress last month, barred
the district from spending any money to conduct an initiative that could
change the penalties associated with certain controlled substances,
including marijuana.

Although the amendment was passed too late to prevent the initiative
from getting on the D.C. ballot, the provision did prevent elections
officials from counting and releasing the vote, said board of elections
attorney Kenneth McGhie.

The board is the named defendant in the case. But it sided with the
plaintiffs, including the American Civil Liberties Union, arguing that
it should be allowed to calculate the vote results and release them.
``Every day that the votes are not being counted our rights are being
violated, said John M. Ferren, an attorney for the city.

Janis Kestenbaum, a Justice Department attorney, said the government is
considering arguing against releasing the votes and may defend the
legislation preventing money from being spent on medical marijuana
initiatives from future legal challenges. But she said the government
was not prepared to decide that Monday.

``We only recently got notice of this, Kestenbaum said. ``We have
not had enough time to figure out what we are going to do, whether we
are going to intervene or not.

Roberts ordered the parties to submit suggested summary judgments by
Nov. 30 and said a hearing probably would be set for Dec. 10.
AP-NY-11-09-98 1939EST

Copyright 1998 The Associated Press.
-------------------------------------------------------------------

Oranges with THC in 'em (A list subscriber posts the URL
for a South to the Future article, from The Bay Area Guardian,
about a Florida biochemist who claims to have designed a citrus tree
that produces THC. Plus the article itself - including the weekly's
weak disclaimer.)

Date: Fri, 13 Nov 1998 08:37:52 -0800 (PST)
From: Robert Lunday (robert@hemp.net)
To: hemp-talk@hemp.net
Subject: HT: Oranges with THC in 'em.
Sender: owner-hemp-talk@hemp.net

Oranges that get you high?
A Florida Biochemist designs a citrus tree with THC.

http://www.sfbg.com/wire/20.html

***

San Francisco Bay Guardian

South to the Future
World Wide Wire Service
9 November 1998

DATELINE--Tallahassee, Fla.
Oranges that get you high
A Florida Biochemist designs a citrus tree with THC.

In the summer of 1984, 10th-grader Irwin Nanofsky and a friend were
driving down the Apalachee Parkway on the way home from baseball
practice when they were pulled over by a police officer for a minor traffic
infraction.

After Nanofsky produced his driver's license the police officer asked
permission to search the vehicle. In less than two minutes, the officer
found a homemade pipe underneath the passenger's seat of the Ford
Aerostar belonging to the teenage driver's parents. The minivan was
seized, and the two youths were taken into custody on suspicion of drug
possession.

Illegal possession of drug paraphernalia ranks second only to open
container violations on the crime blotter of this Florida college town. And
yet the routine arrest of 16 year-old Nanofsky and the seizure of his
family's minivan would inspire one of the most controversial drug-related
scientific discoveries of the century.

Meet Hugo Nanofsky, biochemist, Florida State University tenured
professor, and the parental authority who posted bail for Irwin Nanofsky
the night of July 8, 1984. The elder Nanofsky wasn't pleased that his son
had been arrested for possession of drug paraphernalia, and he became
livid when Tallahassee police informed him that the Aerostar minivan
would be permanently remanded to police custody.

Over the course of the next three weeks, Nanofsky penned dozens of
irate letters to the local police chief, the Tallahassee City Council, the
State District Attorney and, finally, even to area newspapers. But it was
all to no avail.

Under advisement of the family lawyer, Irwin Nanofsky pled guilty to
possession of drug paraphernalia in order to receive a suspended
sentence and have his juvenile court record sealed. But in doing so, the
family minivan became "an accessory to the crime." According to Florida
State law, it also became the property of the Tallahassee Police
Department Drug Task Force. In time, the adult Nanofsky would learn
that there was nothing he could do legally to wrest the vehicle from the
hands of the state.

It was in the fall of 1984 that the John
Chapman Professor of Biochemistry at Florida
State University, now driving to work behind
the wheel of a used Pontiac Bonneville, first
set on a pet project that he hoped would
"dissolve irrational legislation with a solid dose
of reason." Nanofsky knew he would never get
his family's car back, but he had plans to
make sure that no one else would be pulled
through the gears of what he considers a
Kafka-esque drug enforcement bureaucracy.

"It's quite simple, really," Nanofsky explains, "I
wanted to combine Citrus sinesis with Delta
9-tetrahydrocannabinol." In layman's terms,
the respected college professor proposed to
grow oranges that would contain THC, the
active ingredient in marijuana. Fourteen years
later, that project is complete, and Nanofsky
has succeeded where his letter writing
campaign of yore failed: he has the undivided
attention of the nation's top drug enforcement
agencies, political figures, and media outlets.

The turning point in the Nanofsky saga came
when the straight-laced professor posted a
message to Internet newsgroups announcing
that he was offering "cannabis-equivalent
orange tree seeds" at no cost via the U.S.
mail. Several weeks later, U.S. Justice
Department officials showed up at the mailing
address used in the Internet announcement: a
tiny office on the second floor of the Dittmer
Laboratory of Chemistry building on the FSU
campus. There they would wait for another 40
minutes before Prof. Nanofsky finished
delivering a lecture to graduate students on
his recent research into the "cis-trans
photoisomerization of olefins."

"I knew it was only a matter of time before
someone sent me more than just a
self-addressed stamped envelope," Nanofsky
quips, "but I was surprised to see Janet
Reno's special assistant at my door." After a
series of closed door discussions, Nanofsky
agreed to cease distribution of the
THC-orange seeds until the legal status of the
possibly narcotic plant species is established.

Much to the chagrin of authorities, the effort to
regulate Nanofsky's invention may be too little
too late. Several hundred packets containing 40 to 50 seeds each have
already been sent to those who've requested them, and Nanofsky is not
obliged to produce his mailing records. Under current law, no crime has
been committed and it is unlikely that charges will be brought against the
fruit's inventor.

Now it is federal authorities who must confront the nation's unwieldy body
of inconsistent drug laws. According to a source at the Drug Enforcement
Agency, it may be months if not years before all the issues involved are
sorted out, leaving a gaping hole in U.S. drug policy in the meantime. At
the heart of the confusion is the fact that THC now naturally occurs in a
new species of citrus fruit.

As policy analysts and hemp advocates alike have been quick to point
out, the apparent legality (for now) of Nanofsky's "pot orange" may
render debates over the legalization of marijuana moot. In fact, Florida's
top law enforcement officials admit that even if the cultivation of
Nanofsky's orange were to be outlawed, it would be exceedingly difficult
to identify the presence of outlawed fruit among the state's largest
agricultural crop.

Amidst all of the hubbub surrounding his father's experiment, Irwin
Nanofsky exudes calm indifference. Now 30-years-old and a successful
environmental photographer, the younger Nanofsky can't understand
what all of the fuss is about. "My dad's a chemist. He makes polymers. I
doubt it ever crossed his mind that as a result of his work tomorrow's kids
will be able to get high off of half an orange."

***

Biochem 101: How
to design a
Cannabis-equivalent
citrus plant

Step One:
Biochemically isolate
all the required
enzymes for the
production of THC.

Step Two:
Perform N-terminal
sequencing on
isolated enzymes,
design degenerate
PCR (polymerase
chain reaction)
primers and amplify
the genes.

Step Three:
Clone genes into an
agrobacterial vector
by introducing the
desired piece of DNA
into a plasmid
containing a transfer
or T-DNA. The
mixture is
transformed into
Agrobacterium
tumefaciens, a gram
negative bacterium.

Step Four:
Use the
Agrobacterium
tumefaciens to infect
citrus plants after
wounding. The
transfer DNA will
proceed to host cells
by a mechanism
similar to
conjugation. The
DNA is randomly
integrated into the
host genome and will
be inherited.

***

The South to the Future World Wide Wire Service is a weekly feed of technology and
media news commentary and satire published by the San Francisco Bay Guardian.
Quotations attributed to public figures who are satirized are often true, but
sometimes invented. Some fictional statements may, in fact, be true. Any other use
of real names is accidental and coincidental. Editorial questions may be sent to
John Paczkowski.

***

Date: Sat, 14 Nov 1998 08:34:13 -0800 (PST)
From: Turmoil (turmoil@hemp.net)
To: Frank & Bev (asbury@seanet.com)
cc: "D. Paul Stanford" (stanford@crrh.org), wa-hemp-all@hemp.net
Subject: Re: THC citrus
Sender: owner-wa-hemp-all@hemp.net

tha's pretty interestinig, and pretty cool as a story about a guy that
fucked with the drug warriors. But isn't this more of a marinol orange
than a cannibas orange? I want ALL my cannibinoids please :-)
-------------------------------------------------------------------

Re - Oranges that get you high (A letter sent to the editor
of The San Francisco Bay Area Guardian suggests the weekly might have made
its hoax a little more transparent, explaining why THC can't be synthesized
in oranges. Few of the enzymes involved in cannabinoid biosynthesis
have been identified, and cannabinoids are not proteins.)

Date: Mon, 30 Nov 1998 17:35:30 -0600
From: davewest (davewest@pressenter.com)
Reply-To: davewest@pressenter.com
To: john_paczkowski@sfbg.com
Subject: Oranges that get you high

To San Francisco Bay Guardian.
John Paczkowski (john_paczkowski@sfbg.com)

RE: 9 November 1998/DATELINE--Tallahassee, Fla./Oranges that get you high

I can take a joke as well as the next guy and I suppose the notion of
THC in oranges was amusing and the protocol was just generally correct
enough that the uninitiated and Michael Crichton devotees would take it
at face value, which many apparently have as this "news" item blazed
through the internet's cannabis committed as revealed truth, coming into
my email box from every corner. For an instant, I was stunned to learn
that all the enzymes involved in cannabinoid biosynthesis had been
identified and cloned. And moreover, that they were organized properly
into a tissue which would pass substrate to enzyme to the finished
product. Meanwhile. the popular reaction to the possibility of THC in
oranges is decidedly celebratory. They're not just for breakfast anymore.

We're ready to believe it's all true. After all, as Michael Pollan
recently described (The New York Times 10/ 25/98) our food chain is now
filled with BT bearing plants. If we can put "the gene for" BT into
plants, why not "the gene for" THC?

The answer is because the toxin molecule produced by Bacillus
thuringiensis is a protein, a direct product of genetic translation.
That's what makes it such a desirable--and unique-- target for
biotechnology: get the gene, move it around. Simple enough for investors
to understand.

THC, on the other hand, is a cannabinoid, a complex non-protein molecule
built by the action of enzymes on precursor molecules built sequentially
from other precursors, ad nauseum. There is no "gene for" THC. There is
a gene which encodes the enzyme which makes the final step to THC from
its precursor, a molecule about which there continues to be some
dispute. The details of THC biosynthesis have only recently been worked
out. Not only is the cannabinoid pathway unique in nature, but it all
goes on in a unique physical structure, the trichome. There's an entire
developmental complex involving God-knows how many genes to build a
trichome. (As the quick know from Blade Runner, trichomes are
genetically designed by the man who makes the snakes. His signature can
be seen at the base of the stalk.)

The fictitious Dr. Nanofsky (I hope it's a clever anagram), we're to
believe, accomplished his feat of genetic engineering in a setting
suited to the invention of Flubber, without publicity, and without the
need to procure a DEA 225 security clearance permitting him the honor of
growing, enclosed in 10ft-high, barbed-wire topped fencing, guarded
constantly with 24hr lighting, the nefarious plants insidiously oozing
the most verboten of all chemicals, the Schedule One THC, lest it seep
in and undo all the moorings of our civilization.

My credulity faded rapidly. We'd have heard about it. There are only two
sites in the US with such clearance, in Indiana and Mississippi. You
can't get the DEA225 even to study low THC industrial types of cannabis.
And if seeds sterilized dead before broaching our shores are found to
have detectable THC adhering, they will be seized. We can't go too far
to ensure the security of this great nation, Fortress THC.

So, I hope you enjoyed your fun with the gullible. We'll be explaining
it away for years to come I'm sure.

Say, did you hear about the Spirit Cave mummy wrapped in "hemp?" The
Indians had hemp, man.

As if!

davewest

David P. West, Ph.D.
davewest@pressenter.com
Dr. Dave's Hemp Archives http://www.pressenter.com/~davewest/hemp.html
-------------------------------------------------------------------

Research into pain gives hope for chronic sufferers (The Associated Press
covers the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, in Los Angeles,
with an update on what scientists know about chronic pain and what
researchers are currently working on. Low-dose anti-depressants have been
found effective among some sufferers of chronic pain syndromes. But there's
also great interest in harnessing the body's own natural painkillers.)

From: "Bob Owen@W.H.E.N." (when@olywa.net)
To: "_Drug Policy --" (when@hemp.net)
Subject: Research into pain gives hope for chronic sufferers
Date: Mon, 9 Nov 1998 17:59:32 -0800
Sender: owner-when@hemp.net

Research into pain gives hope for chronic sufferers

By JANE E. ALLEN
The Associated Press
11/09/98 7:18 PM Eastern

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Once the body is sensitized to pain, even the tiniest
and most innocuous touch -- a light brush on the skin or the cool breeze of
an air-conditioned room -- can cause a terribly painful sensation, new
findings show.

Discoveries about pain and its routes through the brain and nervous system
give hope that new methods can ease the suffering of chronic pain,
researchers at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience said
Monday.

"The brain can be confused into thinking something is painful," said Lorne
Mendell of the State University of New York at Stony Brook. If that can be
understood, "one can try to devise therapeutic methods to basically damp
down chronic pain," Mendell said.

Low-dose anti-depressants have been found effective among some sufferers of
chronic pain syndromes. But there's also great interest in harnessing the
body's own natural painkillers.

The researchers agreed that dummy pills that yield relief in some patients
somehow activate the body's pain-modulating systems.

"It's real. It's not imagined. It's a perfectly valid type of analgesia,"
said Catherine Bushnell of McGill University in Canada.

"I don't think we're ever going to find the magic bullet that works for all
types of pain," said Ronald Dubner of the University of Maryland. He
suggested there may be a need for medications that can work at the site of
the injury, others that work on the central nervous system and still others
already in the body.

Ms. Bushnell said that once the central nervous system has been damaged by a
stroke or a disease like multiple sclerosis, a person can experience ongoing
pain so severe that even lightly brushing the skin or walking into an
air-conditioned room causes a terrible burning sensation.

In brain imaging studies in which patients place hands in painfully hot
water, she has seen a "signature" of pain in four parts of the brain's outer
layer, called the cerebral cortex.

She and fellow researchers were able to increase or decrease the activity in
some of those regions through hypnosis or distraction techniques, which
teach the nervous system to reinterpret the sensation, she said.

Dubner is studying the brain stem and its role in controlling aspects of
chronic pain. Some pain sends a barrage of impulses into the central nervous
system and over time can alter the receptors on the surface of nerve cells.
The receptors become sensitive to the signals and can produce exaggerated
pain sensations.

"It appears that with chronic pain, weak signals from an old site of injury
are sufficient to maintain this effect," he said.

Dubner and colleagues found that some areas of the brain stem dampen the
pain while others increase it.
-------------------------------------------------------------------

Olympic gold medalist Hall cited for marijuana use (CNN and Sports
Illustrated say the world's fastest swimmer in 1996, Gary Hall Jr., and two
other US swimmers, were cited by the sport's world governing body Monday
for drug offenses. Hall was handed a three-month suspension by the doping
panel of the international federation for testing positive for marijuana.)

From: "Bob Owen@W.H.E.N." (when@olywa.net)
To: "_Drug Policy --" (when@hemp.net)
Subject: Olympic gold medalist Hall cited for for marijuana use
Date: Tue, 10 Nov 1998 18:01:47 -0800
Sender: owner-when@hemp.net
Newshawk: ccross@november.org
Source: CNN/SI
Pubdate: Monday November 09, 1998
Writer: Al Bello/Allsport
Online: http://www.cnnsi.com/more/swimming/news/1998/11/09/hall_suspension/
ndex.html

Olympic gold medalist Hall cited for for marijuana use

Hall had also tested positive for marijuana during the 1996 Olympics

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) -- Olympic gold medallist Gary Hall Jr. and two
other U.S. swimmers were cited by the sport's world governing body Monday
for drug offenses.

Hall was handed a three-month suspension by the doping panel of the
international federation (FINA) for testing positive for marijuana.

However, FINA deducted the three months already served by Hall under a
temporary suspension, meaning he faces no further penalty.

Hall won gold medals as part of the U.S. 400-meter freestyle and 400 medley
relay teams at the 1996 Atlanta Games. He also won silver medals in the 50
and 100 freestyle.

Hall was suspended in July by FINA, which said he tested positive for
marijuana during a May 15 competition in his home city of Phoenix. That
prevented Hall from swimming in the Goodwill Games in New York.

FINA said Hall had also tested positive for marijuana during the 1996
Olympics. He received only a warning then, however, because FINA's ban on
marijuana was not in effect at the time.

FINA secretary Gunnar Werner said Monday that the federation's executive
bureau had considered Hall guilty of a second offense, which is punishable
by a suspension of up to two years.

But he said that view was not upheld by the FINA doping panel, which ruled
it as a first offense.

In another case, Suzanne Black -- who won a gold medal in the 800 freestyle
at last year's University Games in Sicily -- was suspended for three months
after testing positive for marijuana in an unannounced doping control. FIFA
did not specify the date and place of the positive test.

Another American, Austin Ramirez, received a "strong warning" after testing
positive for the stimulant Pemoline. Ramirez could have faced a three-month
suspension but FINA only reprimanded him for failing to declare the product.

"There were some special circumstances in that case," Werner said. "I think
it was just a mistake."
-------------------------------------------------------------------

Germany may legalize cannabis (According to The Kitchener-Waterloo Record,
in Ontario, the new German government has said it will study the case
for making the possession of small quantities of soft drugs such as cannabis
legal.)

From: "Starr" (seedling@golden.net)
To: "mattalk" (mattalk@islandnet.com)
Subject: Germany may legalize cannabis
Date: Mon, 9 Nov 1998 16:16:25 -0500
Source: Kitchener-Waterloo Record
recordletters@southam.ca
Date: monday, November 9, 1998

GERMANY MAY LEGALIZE CANNABIS

BONN -- The new German government has said it will study the case for
making the possession of small quantities of soft drugs such as cannabis
legal.

"We're certainly going to look at it. There have been some interesting
essays on this and an EU report on it too," Interior Minister Otto Schily
told Spiegel news magazine.

The ecologist Greens, junior parteners in the new coalition, have long been
in favour of decriminalizing the use of soft drugs.

Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's Social Democrats have so far resisted the
move, but they have announced plans for a more liberal drug policy,
including state methadone programs and controlled heroin prescriptions for
serious addicts.

Reuters
-------------------------------------------------------------------

Four "No"s from the Catholic People's Party (An excerpt from an article
in Neue Zuricher Zeitung, in Zurich, Switzerland, says the CDU
has recommended that voters reject all four "Droleg" issues on the Nov. 29
ballot regarding the decriminalization - for Swiss citizens - of drugs
that currently are illegal.)

Date: Thu, 12 Nov 1998 09:19:00 -0800
From: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org (MAPNews)
To: mapnews@mapinc.org
Subject: MN: Switzerland: DROLEG: 4 'No's from the Catholic People's Party
Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Reply-To: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/
Newshawk: Harald Lerch (HaL@main-rheiner.de)
Source: Neue Zuricher Zeitung (Zurich, Switzerland)
Pubdate: 9 Nov 1998
Contact: http://www.nzz.ch
Translator: Pat Dolan from German.
Note: Only the part related to drug policy is translated.

4 'NO'S FROM THE CATHOLIC PEOPLE'S PARTY

The Catholic People's Party (CDU) recommended rejection of all four issues
on the agenda for the referendum on 29 Nov 1998."

The (CDU, Catholic People's) Party rejects the Droleg Initiative since it
would turn Switzerland into an international market place for drugs. The
labour code would in the end facilitate post-capitalistic forms of the
exploitation of the work force through the new Neo-liberalism.

***

VIERMAL NEIN VON DER KATHOLISCHEN VOLKSPARTEI

Olten, 8. Nov. "Die Katholische Volkspartei Schweiz (KVP) empfiehlt alle
vier Abstimmungsvorlagen vom 29. November zur Ablehnung.

"Die Droleg-Initiative lehnt die Partei ab, weil sie die Schweiz zu einem
internationalen Umschlagplatz fur Drogen machen wurde. Das Arbeitsgesetz
schliesslich ermogliche postkapitalistische Formen der Ausbeutung
menschlicher Arbeitskraft durch den Neoliberalismus.
-------------------------------------------------------------------

And What If The State Should Take Charge of the Market
in Prohibited Drugs? (Several articles and writers in Le Temps,
in Switzerland, examine the pros and cons to "Droleg," the Nov. 29
Swiss referendum on depenalizing illegal drugs.)

Date: Thu, 12 Nov 1998 19:27:31 -0800
From: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org (MAPNews)
To: mapnews@mapinc.org
Subject: MN: Switzerland: DROLEG: And What If The State Should Take Charge
Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Reply-To: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/
Newshawk: Peter Webster
Pubdate: Nov 9, 1998
Source: Le Temps (Switzerland)
Section: Le Fait Du Jour
Page: http://www.archive/1998/11/09/fait_1.htm
Contact: Website: http://www.letemps.ch/
Copyright: Le Temps 1998
Authors: Ed.Staff, Sylvie Arsever, and Sylvain Besson
Translation: Peter Webster (from French)

[Lead lines]:

A half-century of drug prohibition has not impeded the exponential growth
of the black market and has enriched the increasingly-efficient criminal
elements who trade in drugs.

According to the promoters of the DROLEG initiative, to be voted on at the
end of the month, it is time to change course and initiate a regulated
market for the now-prohibited drugs.

Is this the correct course of action to take? What dangers will it present?
Can Switzerland undertake such a project alone? Here is a response to such
questions:

***

[title] ET SI L'ETAT PRENAIT EN CHARGE LE MARCHE DES DROGUES?

AND WHAT IF THE STATE SHOULD TAKE CHARGE OF THE MARKET IN PROHIBITED DRUGS?

Illegal drugs are not more dangerous than legal ones. The attempt to make
them unavailable through repression has proved both impossible and ruinous
in terms of public health. A legalised market for drugs would not be more
attractive of business than the existing underground supermarket where
anyone can find what he wants without difficulty. Young people, most
notably, would be better protected by a differentiated regulation than a
generalized prohibition. In brief: Switzerland should, starting today,
demonstrate common sense by creating, independently, a regulated market for
drugs. Such are the arguments, in brief, of those who support the DROLEG
initiative, which will be put to a vote on the 29th of November. In
opposition to such ideas we find: those who a year ago supported the
initiative Jeunesse Sans Drogue [Youth without Drugs], the Conseil Federal
and the defenders of the movement called the "Quatre Piliers" [the Four
Foundations] prevention, treatment, repression and life assistance {trans}.
The former strongly object to the principle of DROLEG itself, for the
latter it seems more a matter of convenience. But perhaps the principles of
the supporters of the initiative are in effect part of a third Swiss
outlook, whose characteristic is to reunite radically different approaches
around common values: concern for public health, pragmatism, willingness to
compromise, solidarity? The prescription of heroin, for example, departs
from the principle that a drug which is not adulterated and which is
consumed in hygienic conditions causes less harm than the marginality and
exclusion which accompanies the use of an illegal drug. And so far,
practice seems to confirm this hypothesis, often misunderstood or
inaccurately perceived. We shall elaborate on this hypothesis below, and
then return to the arguments of those in opposition.

***

"Pour reglementer il faut commencer par autoriser" "In Order to Regulate
One Must Start by Authorising" {permitting} by Sylvie Arsever

DROLEG consists of two principles. The use of drugs should no longer be a
crime. And the state must take the responsibility for supply and
distribution. The aim is to create a controlled market in drugs. As long as
a black market controls supply, as the Geneva Professor of Law
Christian-Nils Robert insists, such a market by definition escapes all
possible regulation. With a black market there is no quality control, no
relevant information for consumers, no guarantee on the competence or
morality of those who sell the products, no possibility to exclude from use
certain categories such as minors as we find, for example, for prescription
medicines (which include several psychoactive drugs), or for alcohol. The
consequences for health in such a situation are crushing: specifically,
risks of overdose or poisoning from toxic adulterants, and of infection
from contaminated syringes.

And we must add to that further drawbacks: people are less informed about
the products on offer, the user more easily falls into risky practices: for
example, having a taste of heroin because a dealer has run out of hashish
that day, or mixing drugs. The user has greater difficulty in moderating
his use. The moderate consumer of alcohol spaces his drinks, chooses wine
or beer rather than distilled liquor. The consumer of a black-market drug
tends to take what is available, in the most concentrated (and thus
harmful) form possible. With the black market the consumer is subject to
yet further risks: violence, arrest, loss of employment, with the endpoint,
if things go badly, of becoming enmeshed in criminal activity to finance
further drug use.

If the consequences of illegality are not seen as an result of prohibition,
it is because they appear as perverse side-effects of an otherwise
justified policy: total war on products deemed too dangerous for general
circulation or even use under simple controls. Such certainty of purpose,
supporters of the initiative insist, has today been seriously discredited.
As early as 1994 the Comite Consultatif Francais D'ethique Pour Les
Sciences De La Vie Et De La Sante [French Advisory Committee on Ethics in
Life Sciences and Health] had stated: "The knowledge gained in the past few
years in the fields of neurobiology and pharmacology does not permit
justifying any real distinction between licit and illicit drugs." Cannabis,
which practically everyone agrees presents at the very worst a danger
comparable to that of alcohol or tobacco, and without doubt even less, is
only one example of the incoherence of the outlook which for example
applies radically different statutes for morphine and heroin, which is
nothing but a more concentrated derivative of the drug.

The distinction between legal and illegal substances illustrates yet a
further contradiction: drugs with a tradition of use in the North are
permitted, those with Southern traditions are forbidden. And much to the
detriment of the South, the thrust of the War on Drugs, under American
leadership and with methods such as use of defoliants on illicit crops,
undermines the sovereignty of the countries concerned. In any case, the War
on Drugs has proved itself totally impotent to achieve its primary goal, to
reduce the supply of drugs on the streets of the North. If the War has
scored a few points (such as the eradication of Turkish drug crops in the
1970s and more recently the very expensive decapitation of the Medellin and
Cali cartels), these victories are hardly permanent. New producers replace
the old with little delay and the world black market in drugs enjoys an
exponential growth. Opium, coca, and cannabis can be cultivated far from
their native territories and the appearance of entirely synthetic drugs,
easy to manufacture in rudimentary laboratories, makes a complete mockery
of the idea of eradication of drugs in their zones of production. The
development of the global world market in illicit drugs has benefited the
international criminal networks and made them ever more efficient, and
today they have the wherewithal to bribe magistrates, police, and sometimes
even high government officials.

Finally, as noted by the economist Dominik Egli, member of the subcommittee
on drugs of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics [Commission Federale des
Stupefiants], Prohibition today does not limit the access to drugs, it
facilitates it. In the black market, all clients are welcome. Younger
clients may enjoy special prices with a view to their continued fidelity.
The replacement of the black supermarket in drugs with a regulated
distribution won't solve the drug problem overnight. But it will permit the
reduction of the present dimension of harm caused by drugs. Some persons
will always have a psychological problem with products such as alcohol,
opiates, cocaine, etc., while others can effectively control their use.

***

La Cohorte Bigarree Des Partisans De L'initiative Droleg [The colorful
diversity of the supporters of DROLEG]

PEOPLE OF WIDELY DIFFERING ATTITUDE HAVE UNITED BEHIND THE INITIATIVE

by Sylvain Besson, Berne

The Droleg campaign, "c'est lui." Francois Reusser, 41 years old, has been
working 6 years for the Initiative since its beginnings in 1992. A former
vice-president of the Socialist Party of Zurich, Mr. Reusser has with a
very modest budget of about 250,000 francs attempted to attain at least an
honorable showing for the initiative on the 29th of November vote. At his
side a diverse collection of persons of greatly differing backgrounds has
joined in the effort. An offspring of "alternative culture," his political
education was forged from the happenings in Zurich of the 1980s. Pale in
appearance, Mr. Reusser works in a store which sells articles based on the
cannabis or hemp plant, and he has spent a good part of his life in the
promotion of cannabis. Among the most active DRLOLEG supporters he is not
the only person so concerned. Another such participant is Bernard Rappaz,
an agriculturalist from Valais who has been a pioneer in the culture of
hemp in Switzerland. Another is Sylvain Goujon, an imposing figure with
full bushy beard, who has participated in the efforts of the radical left
in Lausanne and the militia in the effort to legalise cannabis since the
1980s. The former inspiration of the Worker's Populist Party,
Anne-Catherine Menetrey from Vaud, is less concerned by hemp than by "the
suffering of the drug addicts in the streets, caused more by the conditions
of clandestine consumption than the drugs themselves." As for the
ecologists, she observes with detachment the hesitation of the Vaud's
socialist and papist {Catholic?} parties which have avoided recommending
any voting position at all for their militants. "The Greens are more
libertarian. And that undoubtedly explains the difference of concern
between us and them." "Libertarian culture" has also attracted to the
reform movement persons of a more bourgeois attitude. Reto Tscholl, chief
physician at the Hospital of the Canton of Aarau, brings such an attitude
to the Initiative's committee. He discovered the DROLEG by reading la Neue
Zurcher Zeitung (Zurich Times). Member of the Radical Party, he joined the
reformers because repressive politics on drugs "wastes every year 500
million francs, financed by the taxpayer," and he rebels against state
intrusion into the private lives of drug users. Christian-Nils Robert,
Professeur of Law at the University of Geneva, holds a similar view: a
"former socialist" who has become a "liberal in the Anglo-Saxon meaning of
the word," he defends the Initiative through "attachment to the principles
of penal law," which should punish only those who harm others. The
supporters of DROLEG are convinced that, in every segment of society, their
ideas are shared by many who dare not express them. Among the professionals
who treat drug users in particular, the mobilization should be stronger.
One such social worker, Gerald Progins, explains that a great majority of
his co-workers preach decriminalisation but fear the risks of the
establishment of a controlled market in drugs. "How can we explain to young
people that drugs are dangerous if we do not prohibit them?"

***

"Est-ce bien raisonable?" [Unrealistic gamble or calculated move? ] Some
tools to help evaluate the arguments.

Illegal drugs are no more dangerous than other drugs. This is probably the
strongest plank in the Reformer's argument. Only a minority of
pharmacologists and doctors still insist that the prohibited drugs pose
some special danger which sets them apart from legal drugs. If, for
example, heroin causes dependence much more rapidly than alcohol, its long
term effects on the organism are much more benign. The majority of those
who have researched the subject believe that it is not the drug itself but
its abuse which causes a health problem. All mood altering drugs, heroin
included, may be used reasonably as well as abused. Some studies even seem
to indicate that there are some individuals who are predisposed to abuse
every psychotropic substance they come into contact with.

Prohibition is a failure. In itself, failure to respect the law is not in
itself sufficient to bring the law into disrepute. The opposite is the case
in nature where failure to respect the law inevitably entails harmful
consequences. The failure to check the spread of mind altering drugs is
particularly striking. One need do no more than read UNO's annual report to
be convinced.

We would not see an explosive increase in demand with regulated
distribution. Failing the necessary preliminary evidence, however, one is
reduced to suppositions. Economic theory tells us that demand increases
when prices fall. The whole concept of regulation rests on the
presupposition that it is possible to put the black market out of business
simply by offering competition. From this point of view, the state will
offer drugs to a wide range of consumers at prices lower than those of the
black market. One might reasonably suppose that this strategy would lead to
an increase in the number of consumers. But to what extent? Here
predictions are difficult. The collapse of Swiss black market prices over
recent years has not led to an explosion in consumption rates, which is
rather reassuring. Where access to certain drugs has been facilitated,
contradictory results have been observed. When doctors in England were
permitted for some years to prescribe drugs freely, this did not lead to
great differences in the drug market. The same practice in Sweden brought
about a steep rise in the number of consumers. Reformers generally are
prepared to admit a probable rise in consumption but say that this increase
will be largely compensated, in terms of public health costs, by the
elimination of the perverse effects of prohibition.

The young will be better protected by a regulated market. The black market
in drugs, without a doubt, is especially attractive of a young clientele.
For adolescents, what is forbidden attracts their interest more than what
is merely warned about. In addition, the black market functions in a
particularly efficient way. The first dealer a young person comes into
contact with is often a friend whose advice is especially difficult to
resist. But this does not automatically mean that it will be easy to
organize the controlled distribution of drugs excluding use by minors
without at the same time creating a black market that functions only for
them. The question of use by minors implies also the questioning of the
preventive effect of prohibition of drugs. The way of resolving it is
mostly a matter of convictions. For some, removing prohibition would amount
to incitement in a way impossible to estimate. For others, it would permit,
on the contrary, the putting in place of the only dissuasion that would be
really effective: that which leads to differentiated and well-informed
discourse among those groups with the most influence on the young, their
parents, their friends, teachers, and physicians.

Switzerland should proceed with reforms alone. This is the weakest link of
the DROLEG argument. The central hypothesis of anti-prohibitionists is that
the large profits realized by the black market is the proof that
prohibition is not dissuasive. Conversely, if the profits disappeared, so
would the black market. Crime syndicates, weakened, would be forced to turn
to other sources of revenue. Such an analysis, simplistic as it seems in
view of the ease with which the crime mafias arising around the various
black markets in the former Soviet empire grew and prospered with the
coming of liberalism, is only valid at most in a general way. Applied to an
individual isolated country, it has obvious faults. In practice, the sale
of drugs by the non-licensed would remain forbidden. It would seem very
difficult from a legal standpoint to continue to apply the same punishments
for drug dealing as are applied in other countries which surround us.
Switzerland would therefore become very attractive for drug-traffickers.
The only way to counter this tendency would be to establish a regulated
distribution free enough to attract all potential customers of a black
market. But this imperative would conflict with the primary intent of
regulated distribution which is justifiably to provide a true regulation of
the market on the basis of price and to exclude, for example, the young or
the "tourists" which would no doubt come in droves to our country. The plan
to go it alone in this matter of reform would be devilishly difficult.

-------------------------------------------------------------------

[End]

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