------------------------------------------------------------------- Five States Now Demand Medicinal Marijuana (A staff editorial in The Sacramento Bee says a congressional confrontation seems unavoidable between the long-standing federal law that finds no medicinal purpose for marijuana and five Western states who strongly disagreed in the Nov. 3 elections.) Subject: FIVE STATES NOW DEMAND MEDICINAL MARIJUANA From: Dave Fratello (firstname.lastname@example.org) URL: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v98.n1101.a07.html Pubdate: Mon, 30 Nov 1998 Source: Sacramento Bee (CA) Contact: http://www.sacbee.com/about_us/sacbeemail.html Website: http://www.sacbee.com/ Copyright: 1998 The Sacramento Bee Section: Editorials SMOKE FROM THE WEST FIVE STATES NOW DEMAND MEDICINAL MARIJUANA A congressional confrontation seems unavoidable between the long-standing federal law that finds no medicinal purpose for marijuana and five Western states that strongly disagree. Joining California's existing medicinal marijuana law, voters this month in Arizona voiced (again) their support of restricted use of medicinal marijuana. So did the voters of Alaska, Washington, Oregon and Nevada. While the Clinton administration would prefer to ignore this trend, voter acceptance of medicinal marijuana is billowing. As a growing pile of court cases in California has made abundantly clear, state laws legalizing medicinal marijuana are no match against existing federal laws that provide no leeway for such use. Communities sympathetic to medicinal marijuana have tried seemingly every loophole possible, such as Oakland's attempt at designating operators of a cannabis club with the same ''agent'' status as narcotics officers who are allowed to handle marijuana. None of the fancy legal footwork has succeeded. That leaves Washington with no good choices. It can continue the awkward status quo under the rationale that marijuana's alleged medicinal benefits are unproven. The federal government is beginning to fund more studies. Until there is more solid data to substantiate claims that marijuana, for example, helps to relieve pain or enhance appetite, marijuana is not medicine. The status quo, however, becomes more unacceptable the more the public prefers a policy of providing access to marijuana to the seriously ill, particularly the dying, if these patients feel they receive some benefit. States already regulate the practice of medicine by licensing physicians and other health care providers. Why shouldn't states be allowed to regulate the use of medicinal marijuana as well? That is the question Washington now faces.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Legal marijuana measure progresses - "Our mission is popular with Alaskans" (A letter to the editor of The Fairbanks Daily Newsminer says Alaskans for Drug-Abuse Medicalization, a group seeking to decriminalize marijuana and end criminal treatment of drug addiction in favor of medical treatment, failed to meet the constitutionally imposed one-year deadline for signature gathering and must forgo placement on the August 2000 primary ballot. Another effort is being planned.) Date: Tue, 1 Dec 1998 02:42:49 -0900 To: email@example.com From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Charles Rollins Jr) Subject: CanPat - Legal marijuana measure progresses Cc: Cannabis-Patriots-L@teleport.com Sender: email@example.com The following is a guest editorial submitted by Harold Prentzel. See ya Chuck *** Fairbanks Daily Newsminer Monday, November 30, 1998 Legal marijuana measure progresses "Our mission is popular with Alaskans" By H. THOMPSON PRENTZEL Alaskans for Drug-Abuse Medicalization failed to meet the constitutionally imposed one-year deadline for signature gathering and must forgo placement on the August 2000 primary ballot. We learned much about volunteer petitioning in Alaska however and are presently redrafting our initiative in hopes of qualifying for the November 2000 general election ballot. Our volunteers gathered 8,249 signatures, or just over 33 percent of the 24,521 required. I personally submitted 1,044 voter registration applications to the Division of Elections. Alaska is a large place whose population is spread out. It is too cold to write outside most of the year. Perhaps that's why proponents of the term limits, English only, wolf snare, medical marijuana, and education endowment initiatives offered per signature payments to their petitioners. Now thanks to the enactment of Senate Bill 313 it is unlawful to pay petitioners for each signature they solicit. The intent of this law is to restore the initiative process to the use the authors of Alaska's Constitution intended -- a grassroots method for making law circumspective of the legislative process. Wealthy interests from in or out of Alaska can no longer buy legislation via the initiative, thereby side-stepping legislative due process (or closed caucus deal making). Alaskans for Drug-Abuse Medicalization looks forward to the challenge of making the ballot with another all-volunteer, albeit more experienced, effort. Our goals of "medicalizing" instead of criminalizing illegal drug abuse (other than marijuana), affirming adult constitutional privacy rights to marijuana, and allowing medical marijuana in a way the feds can't quash (mission impossible as long as the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution remains dormant) proved quite popular with the Alaskans we met. DAM's difficulty was finding reliable volunteers to petition at the few appropriate places, such as state fairs, music festivals and other public gatherings. Those few people who volunteered to petition and followed through, should be proud of their accomplishments nevertheless, despite falling two-thirds short of signatures. Because of their efforts many more Alaskans are aware that the 1990 marijuana recriminalization initiative was declared unconstitutional in Superior Court in the case known as State vs. McNeil (1993). They also know the state neither appealed its defeat in McNeil or ceased enforcement of the new prohibition the voters narrowly passed. If nothing else, DAM volunteers made clear to thousands that they have been cheated out of the constitutional privacy rights to marijuana unanimously stipulated by the Alaska Supreme Court in the 1975 Ravin decision. The McNeil reasoning is simple. Voters cannot repeal rights that the high court says are constitutionally protected. Our privacy clause (Article I, section 22) has not been amended or deleted. The Supreme Court has not reversed Ravin. As long as state revenues are used to raid homes and arrest citizens for marijuana possession, while Ravin is valid and the privacy clause intact, the message to our youth is clear. Our system of constitutional law, along with a system of checks and balances between the branches of government is fraudulent when pertaining to adult Alaskans constitutional privacy rights to marijuana. Youth should rightly ask why citizens should obey the law when state government does not? Given this reality, we endeavor to complete the arduous task of allowing Alaskans to choose drug policies morally and fiscally superior to those our present have conceived. We can do better than we have by spending $400,000 to erect tents in our prison yards while waiting for cells in "for profit" prisons to become available in order to house nonviolent drug offenders. Alaskans for Drug-Abuse Medicalization is on a steep learning curve. We are incorporating clauses to accommodate the Palmer farmers who expressed a desire to grow industrial hemp. We are trying to attract support from the legal community so Phillip Paul Weidner won't remain the only attorney who sent a check. We are seeking suggestions for a better name and acronym. We still have no computer, fax, or basic office equipment. We remain about $4,000 in debt. Readers should look for media reports of our petition application being certified by the lieutenant governor. In the meantime please send donations or suggestions to DAM, P.O. Box 73446, Fairbanks, AK 99707 or call (907) 479-8588 for information. H. Thompson Prentzel III of Fairbanks is chairman of Alaskans for Drug-Abuse Medicalization, a group seeking to legalize marijuana and end criminal treatment of drug addiction in favor of medical treatment.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Surrendering To A Calling (The Dallas Morning News portrays Dale Stinson, who retired from the DEA after concluding that the federal government wasn't really interested in eradicating narcotics traffic. He became an Anglican pastor at St. Paul's Church in Midland, Texas.) Date: Mon, 30 Nov 1998 18:02:44 -0800 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: US TX: Surrendering To A Calling Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: firstname.lastname@example.org Pubdate: 30 Nov 1998 Source: Dallas Morning News (TX) Contact: email@example.com Website: http://www.dallasnews.com/ Copyright: 1998 The Dallas Morning News Author: Scott Parks / The Dallas Morning News SURRENDERING TO A CALLING Disenchanted ex-drug agent finds life more fulfilling as priest of Midland church MIDLAND - Missionary zeal. Either you've got it or you don't. As a DEA agent in West Texas, Dale Stinson was gung-ho to bust dopers. When he became disenchanted with the war on drugs, he traded gun and badge for a cleric's collar and a crucifix. Today, he works for Jesus. Solidly built and looking younger than his 54 years, he exudes the manner of a tough guy changed. Flecks of gray dot his brown hair and handlebar mustache. "I see spiritual warfare now," said Mr. Stinson, pastor of St. Paul's Anglican Church in Midland. "There is a place for a warrior class of priests." Mr. Stinson retired from the DEA and came to St. Paul's in 1996 after concluding that the federal government wasn't really interested in eradicating narcotics traffic. It was time, he believed, to join the battle against the Dark Prince. "Satan is not a weak individual who's just going to roll over," he said. "I think law enforcement, just like the priesthood, is fighting evil. If we fought World War II the way we fight the war on drugs, we'd be speaking German and Japanese. "There are parallels to Vietnam. We are there to hang in and put up a good show." Tough words that don't quite fit into a "go along to get along" philosophy. But politics was never Mr. Stinson's strong suit, according to his friends. "Dale was a go-getter," said Charles Boyd, an ex-drug agent who worked in West Texas. "I mean, this guy didn't back up. He was a motivator, and he was honest." And then God called in his markers, sending Mr. Stinson to his first church assignment in Midland. His new parishioners discovered that he didn't pack a Glock and handcuffs under his vestments, but they could tell he was streetwise. "He had a background that was a little bit worldly," said Herb Ware Jr., a Midland oilman and lay leader at St. Paul's. "He is a very strong person yet a part of him is very cordial and understanding. He's a unique man, and he's doing a beautiful job at St. Paul's." As it turned out, Mr. Stinson was a lot like his parishioners - conservative, traditional and attuned to small-town life. Mr. Stinson was born and raised in rural upstate New York, surrounded by the Adirondack Mountains. His family belonged to the Anglican Church, which split from the Roman Catholic Church in the 1500s after England's King Henry VIII fought with the Pope over the dissolution of his marriage. "I grew up in the 1950s and '60s. It was what I thought to be a very moral society; very unlike the moral relativism of today where so many people think they can pick and choose which of the Ten Commandments to obey." He enlisted in the Air Force after high school and became a communications specialist in Panama. After his military hitch, he went to work for the U.S. Department of State as a communications technician at the American embassy in Mexico City. Eventually, he realized the need for a college education and, bankrolled by the GI Bill, he journeyed home to enroll in the State University of New York in Albany. The 1960s roared onto campus, and Mr. Stinson came face to face with illegal drugs. "I knew a guy who was fantastically talented in music," he recalled. "He could have been a concert pianist, but he was useless and unreliable because all he wanted to do was drop acid, or take speed and smoke dope. It really bothered me." Mr. Stinson earned a degree in archaeology and anthropology and toyed with entering the priesthood. Instead, he signed up with the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service in New York City. Then came a transfer to the U.S. Border Patrol in southern Arizona. Amid the desert cactus and rocky terrain, the twin complexities of illegal drugs and illegal immigration confronted him - one guy with a gun in a green patrol truck. "It was a real epiphany," he said. "Some nights, I was the only one patrolling for 250 miles along the border. Just think about it." In 1983, at age 38, he transferred to the DEA and moved to El Paso. He studied the arcane arts of the undercover drug agent and became known as the gringo who spoke Spanish. Then, he embarked on the most important case of his life. It wasn't even a drug case. It was a murder case, and it forever changed DEA's relationship with Mexico. Special Agent Enrique "Kiki" Camarena was tortured and murdered by high-level traffickers in Mexico. Mr. Stinson was one of the agents assigned to investigate the case in 1985. "I'm still emotional about it," he said, tears forming in his eyes. "For myself and those of us who worked with Kiki, it was a tough experience; not to mention for his wife and children." The traffickers who killed Mr. Camarena eventually went to prison. After a stint in Phoenix, Mr. Stinson became resident agent in charge of the DEA office in Alpine, a Texas town of about 6,000 people in the Big Bend country. Alpine is the hub city for Brewster and Presidio counties, a mountainous, 10,000-square-mile region about the size of Delaware and New Jersey combined. For years, the region has been a shipping corridor for marijuana, cocaine and heroin coming out of Ojinaga, Mexico, the border town across from Presidio. When Mr. Stinson came to Alpine in 1990, Presidio County Sheriff Rick Thompson had been in office for 16 years. Tall and attired in western wear, the sheriff cut a John Wayne-like figure. He was said to be the area's most popular law officer, a former president of the Texas Sheriffs Association. Mr. Stinson, the DEA supervisor in Alpine, and his regional task force found out that Mr. Thompson, in fact, was a drug trafficker. When the dust cleared in 1992, the sheriff had been caught with 2,421 pounds of cocaine stuffed in a horse trailer. He is now serving a life sentence. "With Dale, if he knew you were doing something illegal, it didn't matter who you were," said Dan Ruch, another ex-drug agent who worked with Mr. Stinson. "He tried to put you in jail." But for every person who applauded Mr. Thompson's arrest, it seemed another person resented Mr. Stinson for uncovering official corruption on the Texas side of the border. Some local law officers in West Texas began complaining to his DEA superiors, saying that he was uncooperative. "Politically, they just devastated him," said Mr. Boyd, the former drug agent. "Dale took a lot of flak." Today, Mr. Stinson acknowledges that "doing the right thing" in the Thompson case hurt him. He said he also resented new policies designed to shift the DEA's focus from major traffickers to small-time dealers. "It was disheartening," he said. "What's the sense of putting a bunch of mopes in jail when you can get the guy who runs all the mopes?" But more than anything, he said, a call from God led him to the priesthood. In 1993, he began religious studies and prepared for his transition out of DEA. "It was like God said to me, 'OK, your formation is over and you've made promises to me. And now I'm calling in all those markers you signed.' Maybe the change in direction at DEA was a hurrying up of this," he said. His gentler side After three years as a priest in Midland, Mr. Stinson still takes target practice with his 9 mm pistol. Some habits stay with you after 30 years in law enforcement. But it is possible, he has learned, to moderate an aggressive personality and cultivate a gentle side. "By the grace of God and with his support, I've been able to change a lot of my behavior," he said. Today, he and his family live on a 13-acre spread outside Midland. His wife, Chris, home-schools their daughters, Brianna and Katie. Mr. Stinson also has three grown children from a previous marriage. Most days, you can find him at the small St. Paul's Church, preparing a sermon or tending to his flock of 35 parishioners. Or he might be found riding horses with Brianna and Katie. Professionally, his newest passion is a ministry for Midland police officers. He encourages them to be themselves - rough talk and all, warts and all. "Chaplains are human beings," he said. "We've heard it all before." And maybe, as he rides along with an officer on patrol, a life can be changed. "I think one of the hardest things for a person in authority, especially police officers, is to bend their knees to Christ," he said. "Any success I had as a cop, I thought, 'Boy, I'm good!' Now, I know I'm only here by the grace of God." Mr. Stinson's life as a DEA agent also prepared him to deal with the spiritual needs of drug dealers and other criminals. During his undercover assignments, he discovered they are human, too. "I am willing to talk to people who have been caught up in that scene and try to talk them out of it and get them back on the right road," he said. "Sometimes, the best thing that can happen is for them to get arrested and put in jail. It could save their life." Although he left the war on drugs behind, Mr. Stinson still stays in touch with his old law enforcement friends and thinks about the future of a society that seems awash in dope. "Here in America, we try to say we can do whatever we want, break the rules. It's a slippery slope. I don't know how much worse the drug problem can get. It can just get more pervasive, and I guess that's worse."
------------------------------------------------------------------- Selling Lies - Win At All Costs series (Part of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's 10-part series about the newspaper's two-year investigation that found federal agents and prosecutors have pursued justice by breaking the law routinely. Prosecutors thrive on inmates in federal prisons who routinely buy, sell, steal and concoct testimony and then share their perjury with federal authorities in exchange for a reduction in their sentences.) Date: Wed, 2 Dec 1998 14:07:21 -0800 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: US: Selling Lies - Win At All Costs series Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Nora Callahan http://www.november.org/ Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (PA) Copyright: 1998 PG Publishing Pubdate: Mon, 30 Nov 1998 Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.post-gazette.com/ Author: Bill Moushey, Post-Gazette Staff Writer Note: This is the fifth of a 10 part series, "Win At All Costs" being published in the Post-Gazette. The part is composed of several stories (being posted separately). The series is also being printed in The Blade, Toledo, OH email: email@example.com SELLING LIES By `Jumping On The Bus,' Prisoners Earn Time Off Sentences At Others' Expense The business served a small but eager clientele. From an office in Atlanta, Kevin Pappas, a former drug smuggler, sold prisoners confidential information gleaned from the files of federal law enforcement officers or, in some instances, from the case files of other convicts. By memorizing confidential data from those files, the prisoners could testify to events that only an insider might know and help prosecutors win an indictment or a conviction. Well-heeled prisoners paid Pappas as much as $225,000 for the confidential files, and in exchange for their testimony, prosecutors would ask judges to reduce the prison terms of these new-found witnesses. Pappas and Robert Fierer, an Atlanta lawyer, called their company Conviction Consultants Inc., but a group of defense lawyers in Georgia had another name for it: "Rent-a-rat." Federal agents shut down the operation last year. Pappas and Fierer pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice and income tax evasion in connection with the scheme. Pappas struck a deal and became a witness for the government against his former partner. He has not been sentenced, but Fierer was given a 2 1/2-year term in prison. So far, federal authorities haven't explained how Pappas gained access to confidential government files. Pappas and Fierer aren't alone. A two-year Pittsburgh Post-Gazette investigation found that inmates in federal prisons routinely buy, sell, steal and concoct testimony then share their perjury with federal authorities in exchange for a reduction in their sentences. Often, these inmates testify against people they've never met. They corroborate crimes they've never witnessed. Prosecutors win cases. Convicts win early freedom. The accused loses. Federal agents and prosecutors have been accused of helping move the scheme along by providing convicts some of the information. For years, inmates have warned federal authorities about the practice. One inmate, Ramon Castellanos, offered to go undercover to trap those who buy and sell testimony. Another, Ramiro Molina, wrote the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration, Attorney General Janet Reno and even President Clinton. "What's become of innocent until proven guilty?" Molina wondered in one of those letters. "What has happened to the truth in justice? What are we doing with the law, bending it to be convenient and to whatever advantage necessary?" In the meantime, testimony continues to be bought, sold, stolen. In South Florida, the scam has become so prevalent that prisoners there have crafted a name for it: "Montate en la guagua." "Get on the bus," or, as inmates call it, "jump on the bus." Getting Nowhere When Molina was arrested for his role in a major drug-smuggling operation between Colombia and South Florida, he figured he had one way out: cooperate with the U.S. government. Long before anyone on the outside knew he had been arrested in a 17,000-pound marijuana venture, he asked to speak with federal agents and prosecutors. Authorities put him in touch with Special Agent Henry Cuervo of the DEA, and Molina implicated others in the drug-smuggling ring. For his cooperation, Molina's sentence was dramatically reduced; even though he faced a life term, he ended up being sentenced to about eight years. His statements were true, and prosecutors embraced them as such, Molina said. But while in prison, Molina saw firsthand how some convicts make a living off perjured testimony, and he became the first inmate to expose the scheme in open court. Neither the U.S. Attorney General nor federal prosecutors answered written questions about the "jump on the bus" scheme for this story. Molina described how individuals had paid for information so they could "jump on the bus" and testify in the drug case against Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega and against two other accused cocaine smugglers, Salvatore Magluta and Willy Falcone. In the case involving Magluta and Falcone, the largest federal cocaine case ever tried, Molina said another drug baron, Jorge Morales, invited him to memorize a package of evidence so he could offer testimony. Molina passed, but he later decided if he wanted to get out of jail, he had no choice but to go along with the scheme in another case, he said. That case involved the Mayas drug-smuggling clan of Colombia, one of the largest such organizations ever. This time, an inmate named Hector Lopez was the middle man, Molina said. "Lopez provided me with vital inside information that came from agent [Henry] Cuervo from DEA files for me to go to the grand jury on the Mayas case," Molina told a judge and others in sworn statements obtained by the Post-Gazette. "Lopez wrote me a month before in a letter that told me exactly what to say," Molina told federal authorities. He said Lopez also provided the information to an inmate named Francisco Mesa, who eventually testified before the grand jury with the same perjured testimony. "In July 1994, Francisco Mesa told me that he never knew the Mayas," Molina said. "I can no longer cover up this wrongdoing. . . . It is in my best interest to cooperate in the war against drugs, but two wrongs can't make a right." Inmate Pedro Diaz Yera corroborated Molina's account. Yera also implicated Lopez and Cuervo, the DEA agent, in letters he wrote to politicians and judges. As a result of Molina's information, he and Yera met with Nelson Barbosa, a special agent with the FBI. They told Barbosa about what they say was Lopez's and Cuervo's role in "jump on the bus" schemes. Both men said Barbosa never contacted them again. On March 25, 1995, they spoke to another FBI agent, Steven Kling, of Miami. "We told him the same things we had relayed to Agent Barbosa," Molina said. "He told me he would get back in touch with us within two to three days." That was more than three years ago. The two are still waiting. Buying Time Luis Orlando Lopez was a player. When federal agents broke up a major cocaine ring in 1991, Lopez, who is no relation to Hector Lopez, was carrying 114 kilograms of cocaine and a small cache of weapons in his car. Lopez pleaded guilty and was sentenced to about 27 years in the Federal Correctional Institution at Miami. Then, he stumbled upon his ticket to freedom. In exchange for his cooperation, he discovered that his prison term could be reduced dramatically. Lopez turned to Reuben Oliva, a Miami attorney whose law practice specializes in negotiating deals for those who provide substantial assistance to prosecutors in exchange for sentence reductions. During a court hearing, Oliva pointed out that Lopez provided critical information to four federal agencies, helping them win guilty pleas against arms dealers, fugitives, hit men and drug traffickers. "His cooperation has resulted in the arrest of 13 persons, and he has provided information regarding two others," Oliva said. "He has provided information regarding state and federal fugitives, arms dealers, narcotics traffickers, violent organized crime members, and he has done so at great risk to himself and his family." Because of the help Lopez provided, a Florida federal judge, in December 1996, reduced his sentence by 12 years. Lopez will be eligible for parole next year. Case closed. But there was a problem. The crimes committed by eight of the men whom he testified against took place while Lopez was in prison. How, then, could he have helped prosecutors? The answer is simple, said Oliva. Federal prosecutors allowed Lopez's brother to gather evidence outside the walls of prison. The prosecutors then credited Luis Lopez with providing them with substantial assistance that helped him win his sentence reduction. That part of the story was never put on the court record, even when the judge asked a prosecutor how an imprisoned man such as Lopez could know so much. In a letter to the U.S. Attorney General and to Lopez's judge, inmate Ramon Castellanos wrote that Lopez told him he'd paid $60,000 to another inmate, a government informant with a pipeline inside the federal bureaucracy, for confidential information gleaned from federal agents who needed additional witnesses to buttress their cases. Castellanos said that Lopez then gave the information to his brother, who gathered corroboration on the outside, but Castellanos said he has a government memo that proves at least some of the information Lopez provided was bogus. The memo in support of yet another sentence reduction states that another man, Orlando Marrero, provided information about a federal case that was identical to what Lopez provided. Oliva said Castellanos' account concerning Lopez is generally accurate, but he said he does not believe Lopez paid money to anyone for information. "I do not believe Luis or his family have that kind of money," said Oliva. Lopez did not respond to a written request for an interview. Neither the Justice Department nor the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida responded to written questions the newspaper posed about concerns raised in this series. In his letters, Castellanos provided documents concerning nine other "jump on the bus" cases that he said he had firsthand knowledge about. In each of those cases, inmates gave prosecutors bogus information in exchange for reductions in their sentences, he said. Castellanos, who is serving a 30-year sentence for cocaine distribution, said a sentence reduction is not the reason he has come forward. "Let there be no mistake about the motivation behind this complaint. I am not seeking a sentence reduction. I am seeking a balance of justice," he wrote. "I'm not an angel, only a human being who's made a mistake and is capable of paying the price. "However, other similarly suited individuals with cartel connections and the aid of DEA and U.S. Customs are circumventing and manipulating the U.S. justice system. The big guys are still dealing their way out of prison while the little guy serves full-term sentences," Castellanos wrote. In an interview earlier this year, Castellanos said he has provided specific instances of this scam to FBI agents from South Florida. He told them that he would go undercover to expose this process. He said he was interviewed twice about it in the past year. The agents haven't contacted him in months, and Castellanos said he doubts they ever will. Outside Help The federal government was also aware of the activities of Pappas and Fierer. Pappas had been out of jail for only seven months when he established Conviction Consultants Inc. in the offices of Fierer's downtown Atlanta law office, and from October 1995 to February 1996, investigators were secretly recording some of their conversations about "jump on the bus" schemes after an imprisoned man in Kentucky tipped off the agents. During its investigation, the government uncovered several instances involving perjured testimony before indicting Pappas and Fierer. According to that indictment, Bruce Young, a convict from Nashville, Tenn., paid $25,000 to Fierer and Pappas in September 1995. After that, Fierer wrote a letter to a prosecutor in Tennessee saying he had an informant who "had some affection for Bruce Young and wanted to help." According to the indictment, in a recorded conversation a few months later, Pappas told Young: "You sat in jail and didn't do anything except pay money to buy freedom." The government also recorded conversations between Pappas and inmate Peter Taylor, who was serving a 13-year sentence in Miami for smuggling marijuana. Pappas told Taylor that a facade had to be created to make prosecutors believe Taylor knew an informer whom he was going to join in testifying in a case against another. According to the indictment, Pappas encouraged Taylor to tell a prosecutor he and the informer were "lifelong friends or something." In February 1996, Fierer told Taylor the entire deal would cost him $250,000: $150,000 for the consulting company, $75,000 for Fierer and $25,000 in expenses. Rodney Gaddis also sought Pappas' help. Pappas contacted Gaddis, a convicted bank robber, and told him he had found an informant willing to provide exculpatory information about Gaddis. He told Gaddis to tell federal prosecutors that he had known the informant for nine years and that he looked like "Howdy Doody." Gaddis and the man, however, had never met. Jumping Lessons Richard Diaz, a former Miami police officer turned defense lawyer, said he has seen firsthand how "jump on the bus" scams work. As an example, he cited the case against Magluta and Falcone, two men who were charged in the largest cocaine smuggling case to be brought in South Florida. Diaz, who worked on a related case, said federal agents and prosecutors were offering deals throughout the South Florida penal system to anyone who would testify against Magluta and Falcone. Jurors, however, acquitted the two men because the jurors said they didn't believe much of the testimony, even though the jury foreman has now been accused of accepting a $500,000 bribe to fix the case. Diaz and others said the government offered the same types of inducements to anyone who could testify against Noriega. "It was common knowledge in the south Florida jails that anyone who had information to provide regarding General Noriega would be looked upon very favorably," said Frank Rubino, one of the cadre of lawyers who represented Noriega in his drug case, which ended with a conviction and 20-year prison term. Abundant Sources To convicts, the information comes from a variety of sources. With help, some secure evidence, transcripts, indictments and other materials from cases then memorize that information before approaching a prosecutor willing to make a deal. Some get together with informants looking for others to corroborate their testimony. Others simply make it up. In many cases, prosecutors help the convicts along by telling potential witnesses precisely what they want to hear if the inmate expects to get a deal, Diaz said. Informers quickly pick up on the basic facts. "If I did something like that, I could lose my [law license]," Diaz said. "It's like putting the cheese in front of the rat." One way to curtail "jump on the bus" schemes would be to administer polygraph tests to all witnesses. Justice Department rules require polygraph tests for witnesses who are promised leniency, but defense attorneys say they are seldom given. Even though lawyers and inmates have alerted federal prosecutors and agents about schemes related to "jump on the bus," very little has been done. Diaz said that if the government acknowledged these abuses of the system, a large body of cases would end up being reversed. "It is easy to take the position that they don't know anything about this," he said. "It is easy to turn the cheek and deliberately look away from it."
------------------------------------------------------------------- Inmate Exploited Prosecutors' Need For Witnesses - Win At All Costs series (Part of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's 10-part series about the newspaper's two-year investigation that found federal agents and prosecutors have pursued justice by breaking the law routinely. With prosecutors' help, Jose Goyriena, who was serving a 27-year prison sentence in Florida for cocaine smuggling, sent four men to prison for life with perjured testimony in exchange for a sentence reduction.) Date: Wed, 2 Dec 1998 14:37:43 -0800 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: US: Inmate Exploited Prosecutors' Need For Witnesses - Win At All Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Nora Callahan http://www.november.org/ Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (PA) Copyright: 1998 PG Publishing Pubdate: Mon, 30 Nov 1998 Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.post-gazette.com/ Author: Bill Moushey, Post-Gazette Staff Writer Note: This is the fifth of a 10 part series, "Win At All Costs" being published in the Post-Gazette. The part is composed of several stories (being posted separately). The series is also being printed in The Blade, Toledo, OH email: email@example.com INMATE EXPLOITED PROSECUTORS' NEED FOR WITNESSES Inmates inside the Federal Correctional Institution at Miami had written letters of warning to federal authorities. Jose Goyriena, who was serving a 27-year prison sentence, had been bragging to them about "jumping on the bus." He had obtained information from other convicts and government informants about crimes he knew nothing about. Then he memorized that information and offered it as testimony to federal prosecutors, the inmates said. Despite the letters warning of Goyriena's scheme, prosecutors let him testify again and again. He even offered to provide the same information for a price to anyone interested in joining him. With Goyriena's help, prosecutors sent four men to prison for life. They also won indictments against several others, who later pleaded guilty. In return, prosecutors promised that Goyriena's sentence for cocaine-smuggling would be reduced by at least 10 years and that they would seize only a small portion of the millions of dollars in assets he'd acquired through smuggling. Because of his capacity to lie, and the fact the government has used this bogus testimony in many cases, Goyriena's name has appeared elsewhere in the Post-Gazette series -- including a story about government misconduct in the trial of Peter Hidalgo, which appeared Nov. 24. In trials of Hidalgo, Andres Campillo and Joseph Olivera, lawyers for Hidalgo and Olivera protested that Goyriena did not know their clients. Campillo admitted that Goyriena had done some construction work for him, but he denied any involvement with drugs. Goyriena's lies didn't catch up with him until he was ready to testify in the one case that he hoped would finally spring him for good. Prosecutors planned to use Goyriena's testimony against drug baron Castor Gonzalez, but didn't need it when Gonzales pleaded guilty. Richard Diaz, a former Miami police officer who later became a criminal defense lawyer, learned that Goyriena had been offering to sell information he obtained to other inmates. Even though he had nothing to do with the Gonzalez case, Diaz filed a motion to make sure the judge took a close look at Goyriena's actions before allowing him to testify or granting him further sentence reductions. In that motion, Diaz included four sworn and notarized affidavits in which inmates at the Federal Detention Center at Miami and the Federal Correctional Institution at Miami said Goyriena offered to sell them information so that they, too, could testify against Gonzalez and have their sentences reduced. Blas Duran, an inmate at FDC-Miami, said Goyriena, known in prison as "El Gorrion," told him in January or February 1997 that the only way Duran could get out of jail early was to "jump on the bus." "I told him that I did not know what he meant by that," Duran wrote in a sworn affidavit. "Gorrion told me that what he meant was that I could buy information from him or anybody else offering information for sale and provide the information to the respective government prosecutor, demand, and most probably receive, a reduction in my sentence." Another convict, Victor Gomez, said he heard an inmate offering Goyriena information. Goyriena then planned to give that information to prosecutors, even though he "had no direct, indirect or personal knowledge that [the defendant] had ever done anything illegal," Gomez said. A fourth inmate, Rafael Martinez, swore to the same set of materials. Diaz said shortly after he filed his motion about Goyriena, he learned that Goyriena had failed two polygraph tests administered by the government. While Goyriena told inmates he was looking forward to freedom for his work, the government put on hold its motion for sentence reduction because of the fallout that began with Diaz's motion. Appeals from others he helped convict are pending.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Feds Finally Use Safeguards But Only To Protect Their Own - Win At All Costs series (Part of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's 10-part series about the newspaper's two-year investigation that found federal agents and prosecutors have pursued justice by breaking the law routinely. There is a system in place to keep prisoners from trading lies for leniency. They are supposed to be given polygraph tests to determine if they are telling the truth. But that safeguard is often ignored unless the person being accused is a law enforcement official.) Date: Wed, 2 Dec 1998 14:41:03 -0800 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: Feds Finally Use Safeguards But Only To Protect Their Own - Win At All Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Nora Callahan http://www.november.org/ Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (PA) Copyright: 1998 PG Publishing Pubdate: Mon, 30 Nov 1998 Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.post-gazette.com/ Author: Bill Moushey, Post-Gazette Staff Writer Note: This is the fifth of a 10 part series, "Win At All Costs" being published in the Post-Gazette. The part is composed of several stories (being posted separately). The series is also being printed in The Blade, Toledo, OH email: email@example.com FEDS FINALLY USE SAFEGUARDS BUT ONLY TO PROTECT THEIR OWN There is a system in place to keep prisoners from trading lies for leniency. They are supposed to be given polygraph tests to determine if they are telling the truth. But that safeguard is often ignored. Gilberto Martinez proved the system can work -- at least if the target of the lies is a federal agent. In early 1995, Martinez was arrested, convicted and sentenced to a federal prison for drug-trafficking. Like many other inmates, once he was in prison, Martinez found a way he could help the government and, in the process, make himself some extra money. Authorities said it was a classic case of "jumping on the bus." Usually, the scam involves inmates who fabricate testimony against suspected drug dealers or other common criminals, and some prosecutors, eager for witnesses who will corroborate a crime, ignore safeguards such as polygraph tests that help ensure a witness's credibility. Martinez made a mistake. He tried to set up one of the government's agents. The scheme behind bars began in October 1997, when Martinez contacted a U.S. Customs Service internal affairs officer to say a fellow inmate, Narcisco Rodriguez, had information about a corrupt agent. Rodriguez told internal affairs officers that he had paid $28,000 in bribes to the agent who was never identified in court papers. In return, the agent had guaranteed that Rodriguez's brother, Luis Rodriguez, would have his sentence reduced for cooperating with the federal government, Narcisco Rodriguez said. To test the veracity of their accounts, customs officials administered polygraph tests to Luis and Narcisco Rodriguez. "Both men showed strong deception," according to an affidavit. There was no dirty agent, Martinez finally admitted. He planned to pocket the $28,000 himself. Martinez, a former boxing promoter, pleaded guilty in the scheme and had 1 1/2 years added to his prison sentence. There were other repercussions. According to court documents, Martinez's admission has raised questions about his earlier testimony that helped federal prosecutors convict a former Miami Beach mayor of corruption and helped snare some Metro Dade County police officers who were charged with stealing drugs. Both are appealing their convictions, basing their appeals on the prospect that Martinez might have lied. If he hadn't tried to finger a federal agent, Martinez's veracity as a witness might never have been questioned.
------------------------------------------------------------------- A Crowd On This 'Bus' - Win At All Costs series (The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette continues its 10-part series about its two-year investigation showing that federal agents and prosecutors pursue justice by breaking the law routinely. Israel Abel said that among the dozens of witnesses who testified against him at his 1992 Miami drug smuggling trial were several people he'd never laid eyes on.) Date: Thu, 3 Dec 1998 12:56:28 -0800 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: US: A Crowd On This 'Bus' - Win At All Costs series Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Nora Callahan http://www.november.org/ Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (PA) Copyright: 1998 PG Publishing Pubdate: Mon, 30 Nov 1998 Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.post-gazette.com/ Author: Bill Moushey, Post-Gazette Staff Writer Note: This is the fifth of a 10 part series, "Win At All Costs" being published in the Post-Gazette. The part is composed of several stories (being posted separately). The series is also being printed in The Blade, Toledo, OH email: email@example.com A CROWD ON THIS 'BUS' Federal prosecutors wanted to make sure Israel Abel didn't get off the hook. Abel said that among the dozens of witnesses who testified against him at his 1992 Miami drug smuggling trial were several people he'd never laid eyes on. They were there to "jump on the bus," earning sentence reductions by testifying about things they'd never seen having to do with a person they'd never met, he said. It wasn't until several years after Abel was sentenced to life in prison that he learned where the witnesses had come from. Abel's family found in a court record a copy of a letter that a government informant named Jorge Machado had written to his sentencing judge. Abel knew Machado but not most of the others whom Machado lined up to testify. In his letter, Machado apologized to the judge for being a cocaine smuggler, lamented that he'd spent 34 months in prison and told him he was actively pursuing cases that could help him win a sentence reduction. In support of his plea, Machado provided a summary of his cooperation. "I have recruited [confidential informants] in four different cases," wrote Machado, even though, as he pointed out, he'd only been a gopher for drug barons and would know little about a smuggling ring's inner workings. In the government's case against Abel, "I recruited the following people: Joaquin Guzman, Jorege Cardenas, Jose Ledo, Carlos De La Torre, Carlos Betancourt. Mr. Betancourt recruited Mr. Catano." The letter went on to list people Abel says he's never met. During his trial, Abel's lawyers had no reason to believe Machado or any of the other witnesses were phony and so the lawyers never questioned them about how they came to testify. They wouldn't find out until much later. Abel, who has been imprisoned for seven years, hopes one day to be able to point that out in an evidentiary hearing, if one is granted, to show that many of these witnesses were nothing more than liars trying to buy their way out of jail.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Jail Guards Smuggled Contraband, Paper Says (The Chicago Tribune account of The Miami Herald's scoop about a yearlong, secret probe by police and the FBI, which found that Miami-Dade county jail officers took part or looked the other way as marijuana and cocaine were brought to inmates in exchange for cash, jewelry and sporting equipment.)Date: Wed, 2 Dec 1998 12:53:57 -0800 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: US FL: Jail Guards Smuggled Contraband, Paper Says Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Steve Young Source: Chicago Tribune (IL) Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.chicagotribune.com/ Copyright: 1998 Chicago Tribune Company Pubdate: 30 Nov 1998 Author: From Tribune News Services Section: Sec. 1 JAIL GUARDS SMUGGLED CONTRABAND, PAPER SAYS MIAMI, FLORIDA -- An investigation of Miami-Dade County jails found that officers helped smuggle contraband to inmates, a newspaper reported Sunday. A yearlong, secret probe by police and the FBI claimed that jail officers looked the other way or took part as marijuana and cocaine were brought to inmates in exchange for cash, jewelry and sporting equipment, The Miami Herald said. Citing unidentified sources, the paper reported that the probe focused on the Dade County Jail and the Knight Correctional Center, a 1,000-bed pretrial facility, although allegations were made about all four county jails. At least 15 corrections employees and 20 alleged drug dealers are scheduled to be arrested on federal and state charges, the newspaper reported.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Drug War Costing More Than It Saves (An eloquent and original op-ed in The Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, in Florida.) Date: Fri, 25 Dec 1998 04:51:33 -0800 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: US FL: PUB OPED: Drug War Costing More Than It Saves Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Ginger Warbis Pubdate: 30 Nov 1998 Source: Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel (FL) Copyright: 1998 Sun-Sentinel Company Section: A Opinion Page 23 Contact: http://www.sun-sentinel.com/services/letters_editor.htm Website: http://www.sun-sentinel.com/ Author: Ginger Warbis DRUG WAR COSTING MORE THAN IT SAVES All of my life I've been a pawn in the movement to militarize the War On (some) Drugs. I pay the taxes that build the jails and place armed police officers and drug-sniffing dogs in the public schools -- the two most prominent institutions on the landscape of my children's world. I grudgingly pull over and show the scowling officer my papers when they block off major roads to perform a "Safety Check" (used to be just weekend nights looking for drunk drivers, but now it's just about anytime, just about anywhere, no excuse required). I've been asked to provide urine samples for drug testing in order to acquire a job. I've seen elected officials used terms like "treason" and "firing squad" when talking about casual drug users. I've seen the local sheriff's department go from rags to riches on the proceeds from their weekend police auctions (of stuff that used to belong to citizens). I've seen the Drug Warlords cynically appropriated the fear of the people (not to mention appropriate ever more of our resources) to justify outrageous policies. All the while, in addition to all of this financial expense I've watched quiet, friendly neighborhoods turn into crack town. I've watched the overall quality of life in my community go straight to hell. I've seen phenomenal growth in the black market. It's gotten so bad that the local grocery store is selling bootleg cigarettes. Kids hate cops, cops hate kids. But then, how can you expect anyone to respect the law when the law holds them in such contempt? There are a few things I haven't seen. I've never heard of bloody territory disputes among Anhuizer Busch truck drivers. Have you? Hooch drivers habitually gunned down cops and each other in the 20's. What's the difference if not the legal status of the substance? And I haven't seen any improvement in addiction rates like they enjoy over in Amsterdam. I've not seen even the suggestion of any sort of control over any of these allegedly controlled substances. Not that it's really that simple but, given the choice, I'll take hospitals and nursing homes reeking with the odor of marijuana over violent, dope dealing street thugs trying to seduce my 14 year old daughter with expensive trinkets and drugs any day you ask me.
------------------------------------------------------------------- The Age Of Ritalin (Time magazine's cover article examines Americans' rapidly increasing use of methylphenidate to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in children. Production of Ritalin has increased more than sevenfold in the past eight years, and 90 percent of it is consumed in the United States.) Date: Mon, 30 Nov 1998 08:58:40 -0800 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: US: The Age Of Ritalin Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Steve Young Source: Time Magazine (US) Contact: email@example.com Website: http://www.time.com/ Copyright: 1998 Time Inc. Pubdate: Mon, 30 Nov. 1998 Author: NANCY GIBBS THE AGE OF RITALIN What exactly does a normal child look like? We've long since passed the time when childhood was an ungraded test--take your time, build your forts, play your games, the clock does not start until high school, maybe college. We give homework in first grade now. We're very busy people. And your parents will do anything, just anything, to help you get ahead. "We lived with it," says Tim, of his daughter's behavior--the tantrums, the hitting, covering herself in Vaseline head to toe, day after day. He and his wife Charlene took parenting classes through their church and tried to be fair and firm. "We thought maybe she was just strong willed," Charlene said. By the time they put four-year-old Erin in preschool near their home in a town south of Los Angeles, "she couldn't keep her hands to herself," Charlene says. "She would hit other kids. And she would hug anyone at any time. She would hold hands when other kids didn't want to. She would do pesky, bothersome things to kids, like touching their hair or their sweaters. It was as if, since she couldn't make friends, she was saying, 'I'm going to get you to relate to me.'" In class she was not able to stay focused, even though the teacher-to-student ratio was 1 to 3. Is there a parent in America who has heard the talk or read the best sellers about attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and the drugs used to treat it without wondering about his or her child--the first time he climbs onto the school bus still wearing his pj's or loses his fifth pair of mittens or finds 400 ways to sit in a chair? The debate goes straight to the heart of our expectations and values. How dreamy is too dreamy? Where is the line between an energetic child and a hyperactive one, between a spirited, risk-taking kid and an alarmingly impulsive one, between flexibility and distractibility? What if a little pill makes everything a bit easier, not just for severely impaired kids but for those who teachers say are a little too spacey or jumpy or hard to settle down? Is there something wrong with the kids--or is there something wrong with us? For years Ritalin has been a godsend for children who were so hot-wired they were simply unreachable, and unteachable. In severe cases, the benefits of Ritalin (and the family of related drugs) on these children's ability to function and learn and cope are so direct that advocates say withholding the pills is a form of neglect. "I used to take her fingers from her face and tell her, 'This is Mom. This is Planet Earth. This is today, and you need to brush your teeth,'" recalls Natasha Kern, a Portland, Ore., literary agent who identified her daughter Athena's troubles early on. These are the kids who get expelled from nursery school for disrupting every story circle and demolishing every Lego tower. Parents despair at seeing their children sad or lost or cast out; they hate themselves when they lose their tempers after the sixth meltdown of the day. These kids can be very bright, very charming--and impossible to live with. "They think of things that are fun and creative at the rate of about 10 per second," says Kern. "While you are trying to put out the fire they set toasting marshmallows on the stove, they are in the bathtub trying to see if goldfish will survive in hot water." But it is not the severe cases so much as the borderline ones--the children who occupy that gray area between clear dysfunction and normal unruliness--who raise the tough ethical issues, both public and private. The pace at which Ritalin use has been growing has alarmed critics for a while now. Some doctors find themselves battling anxious parents who, worried that their child will daydream his future away, demand the drug, and if refused, go off to find a more cooperative physician. Some parents feel pressured to medicate their child just so that his behavior will conform a bit more to other children's, even if they are quite content with their child's conduct--quirks, tantrums and all. LONG DAY'S JOURNEY: For years Phylicia's mother resisted having her daughter evaluated, despite her disruptive behavior. "I thought it was a matter of patience. She needed more structure and she would grow out of it," says Weta Payne. But eventually Weta saw that she needed help and got professional advice. Phylicia went on Ritalin and tried behavior modification. Although parents are advised to tell their children's school about any special needs, Phylicia's mother kept her teachers in the dark--for fear of being stigmatized. "I didn't want her to be labeled that she needs medication," says Weta Many doctors won't discuss the matter publicly because the issues are so hot. Production of Ritalin has increased more than sevenfold in the past eight years, and 90% of it is consumed in the U.S. Such figures invite the charge that school districts, insurance companies and overstressed families are turning to medication as a quick fix for complicated problems that might be better addressed by smaller classes, psychotherapy or family counseling, or basic changes in the hectic environment that so many American children face every day. And the growing availability of the drug raises the fear of abuse: more teenagers try Ritalin by grinding it up and snorting it for $5 a pill than get it by prescription. "Let's not deny Ritalin works," says J. Zink, Ph.D., a Manhattan Beach, Calif., family therapist who has written several books on raising children and who lectures extensively around the country. "But why does it work, and what are the consequences of overprescribing? The reality is we don't know." For parents, even harder than the abstract social questions are the very personal ones they confront when they see or hear that their child is struggling. Will Ritalin help? Will it change her personality? Is it fair for me to make this choice for him? Does it send the signal that she is not responsible for her behavior? Is the teacher suggesting it just to make her own day easier? Will he have to take it forever? What if all children would be a little happier, perform a little better if they took their pills like vitamins every morning? Do we have a problem with that? Given all the debate about how to diagnose ADHD and how to treat it (and the same for its related condition, attention-deficit disorder, or ADD), experts in the field believed it was time to convene a kind of science court to sort through the evidence and arguments on all sides. So last week in Bethesda, Md., several hundred doctors, experts and educators gathered for a long-awaited consensus conference held by the National Institutes of Health to examine the data on how well Ritalin works. Conclusion: very well--better than researchers imagined--but in ways and for reasons that are still not entirely clear (see box). And yet the real consensus that emerged was how much we still need to learn. The experts warned that not enough is known about the risks and benefits of long-term Ritalin use; that there is too little communication between doctors, teachers and parents; and that a pill alone is no magic bullet. Some combination of behavioral therapy and medication seems to be most helpful for children with the severest problems, but there is no data to determine what combinations work best. Her parents took Erin to a psychiatrist just before her fifth birthday. "He saw us for 45 minutes," Charlene says. "He read the teacher's report. He saw Erin for 15 minutes. He said, 'Your daughter is ADHD, and here's a prescription for Ritalin.' I sobbed." Charlene had a lot of friends who did not believe in ADHD and thought maybe she and Tim were just being hard on Erin. "I thought, 'Maybe there is something else we can do,'" Charlene says. "I knew that medicine can mask things. So I tore up the prescription." Tim thought that it was possible the doctor's diagnosis was too hasty and didn't want to believe it. "Part of us said, 'How can he look at a kid for 15 minutes and judge?'" Says Charlene: "I believed she had ADHD, but I knew we needed a two-pronged approach." Among the most eloquent in his skepticism about the use of Ritalin for children who are not severely disabled is Dr. Lawrence Diller, author of Running on Ritalin (Bantam Books; $25.95). He wonders whether there is still a place for childhood in an anxious, downsized America. "What if Tom Sawyer or Huckleberry Finn were to walk into my office tomorrow?" he asks. "Tom's indifference to schooling and Huck's 'oppositional' behavior would surely have been cause for concern. Would I prescribe Ritalin for them too?" In Diller's view, many Americans are so worried about their jobs, the marketplace and their children's chances for success that they place impossible pressures on kids to perform, at younger and younger ages. "In order for them to succeed, we make them take performance enhancers," Diller says. "A society that depends on medication to cope does so at its own risk." There used to be different niches for people with differences in talent, skills and personality, he argues, but Americans are becoming more and more programmed to force their children into a mold. "There is an emotional cost, and eventually there will be a physical cost of taking square and rectangular people and fitting them into round holes," he says. "Performance enhancers--Ritalin, Viagra and Prozac--will remain popular until people question this goal." Three days after Erin started kindergarten, her parents got their first call from the teacher. "She was a sweet lady. She tried to work with us," Charlene recalls. "But she said, 'I've been teaching 40 years, and I've never seen a child like this.'" Adds Tim: "You could see Erin was trying to sit still, but she was trying all these different ways--rocking, lifting one leg, sitting on her hands." Because California law requires that schools provide appropriate education for each child, the parents met with school officials. After evaluating Erin, they said she was not a "special needs" child and could be treated in the classroom. "The only ones who did not believe that were us and the teacher," says Tim. "ADHD does not mean you are missing a limb. She looked normal, but she was slightly off." Given the explosion in ADHD diagnoses and Ritalin use over the past decade, the disorder is surprisingly ill defined. No one is sure that it's a neurochemical imbalance that can be corrected with medicine, much the way daily insulin shots help diabetics. There is no blood test, no PET scan, no physical exam that can determine who has it and who does not. For many children, Ritalin is the answer simply because it works. "It's a fixed, stable, low-dose drug," says Dr. Philip Berent, consulting psychiatrist at the Arlington Center for Attention Deficit Disorder in Arlington Heights, Ill. He argues that critics who claim diet, exercise or other treatments work just as well as Ritalin are kidding themselves. "The quickest way to end that criticism is to spend a week with a hyperactive child," Berent says. "We aren't talking about kids who ODed on Halloween candy. The protocol for diagnosing ADD [and ADHD] is very well defined." But it's not hard to find doctors feeling a little queasy about the process. An evaluation needs to be so nuanced that the checklist of symptoms used by experts can seem like a terribly mechanical method for judging a condition so individual and personal. For borderline kids, a thorough professional assessment is essential. Tim and Charlene kept resisting putting their daughter on Ritalin. "You don't want your kid to personify the rumors--that the medication makes them dopey or slow," Tim says. "That's the stereotype. All my co-workers and family had opinions that were antimedication." But a year ago, they finally tried it. "It was awesome," says Tim. "It worked great." At least for a while, until they discovered that Ritalin heightened Erin's obsessive-compulsive disorder. "She would turn the lights on and off seven times. She would flush the toilet four times and stop; then three times and stop; then four times and stop. There was a numerical sequence." So long as it doesn't do any damage, what's the harm in giving even mildly distracted or willful kids a pharmaceutical boost? For one thing, doctors say, there is still some concern about side effects, such as decreased appetite, insomnia or the development of tics. "A very small percentage of children treated at high doses have hallucinogenic responses," the NIH experts concluded, arguing that more research is needed to shape guidelines for doctors and parents. For many families, of course, such risks seem a small price to pay for the enormous relief Ritalin can offer. But the parents with the most firsthand experience see other, more subtle effects as well. Though Ritalin use can boost young children's self-esteem just by helping them "fit in," teenagers often struggle with their self-image, wondering if their whole personality is shaped by a pill. Some parents balk at giving their child a drug related to "speed," even if it isn't addictive. Other parents talk about a "Ritalin rebound" and find themselves struggling with whether the drug's benefits outweigh its costs. Kathleen Glassberg, a computer-software sales representative in Long Island, N.Y., used to dread her 12-year-old daughter's return from school each day--and the two-hour crying jag that followed. "She'd hold herself together all day, but the minute she got home she'd have this breakdown," Glassberg says. Glassberg has carefully built an after-school routine of household tasks and time-management techniques to help her daughter focus. "You'd be asking the impossible to have my child come home, have a snack and do her homework right away. So instead, she comes home, lays her books down, and we go for a walk around the block. It gives her time to vent and re-attune herself." Last spring Erin's parents took her off Ritalin and enrolled her at UC Irvine's Child Development Center, a model program that specializes in ADD and ADHD. She attended the school's summer program. "It was a horrid summer," Tim recalls. "Behavior modification was controlling a lot of things, but the impulsivity would snowball. She would be told not to touch something--whether a car's gearshift or a radio or a computer. You'd say 'Don't touch,' and she would look at you and you could see she heard, but you'd see her hand slowly moving toward it--and she knew if she touched it, she would have to take a time out or lose her TV privileges--but she would touch it anyway. And when the consequences happened, she would have an hourlong temper tantrum. It made for a no-fun life." There is also some argument about the age that treatment should begin. Nearly half a million prescriptions were written for controlled substances like Ritalin in 1995 for children between ages 3 and 6. "Kids ages 4 to 5 are just as impaired as older children, so there is no reason not to treat them," says William Pelham Jr., director of clinical training in the department of psychology at the State University of New York at Buffalo. He adds, however, that before a physician treats such a young child with stimulants, he should begin by suggesting techniques parents can use to control his or her behavior. But this is where treatment too often falls apart. Even doctors who have seen Ritalin's positive, sometimes miraculous effects warn that the drug is no substitute for better schools, creative teaching and parents' spending more time with their kids. Unless a child acquires coping skills, the benefits of medication are gone as soon as it wears off. "You can't just give medicine and fail to teach," says Stephen Hinshaw, director of the clinical psychology training program at the University of California, Berkeley. Drug treatment may set the stage, but studies suggest that children need constant reinforcement to help them control their impulses: through behavioral therapy, special education, family therapy or a combination of all three. Even doctors who think ADHD may be underdiagnosed and are convinced of Ritalin's broad benefits emphasize the need to integrate drugs and behavior therapy. But it doesn't matter that children benefit from a multifaceted response if their health insurance won't pay for it. The trend over the past few years has been clear: the percentage of children with an ADHD diagnosis walking out of a doctor's office with a prescription jumped from 55% in 1989 to 75% in 1996. The number receiving psychotherapy fell from 40% in 1989 to 25% in 1996. "The reason Ritalin use has gone up is that we are in an era when psychiatric services are devalued and therapy is not paid for by insurance companies," says Jeff Goodwin, a former pediatrician who teaches at Walter Reed Junior High School in North Hollywood, Calif. "It is easier for physicians to prescribe a drug and categorize a disorder as hyperactivity than it is to deal with the problem. Health services are being cut back, so you have doctors saying, 'Take this and live happily ever after.'" That is all the more reason for parents to gather as much information as they can, get a second opinion--and a third--before starting medication. In part it helps ensure that no one has unreasonable expectations about what drugs can and cannot do. And it increases the chances that treatment will be tailored to a child's individual needs. Vanderbilt University pediatrician Dr. Mark Worlaich hopes forums like the NIH conference last week will help correct some of the misinformation he sees every day. "The real issue that sometimes gets lost is that kids need to be successful in their activities." In August Erin began taking Luvox for her obsessive-compulsive disorder, and in early October she started on Adderall, a combination of various stimulants. "For 4 1/2 weeks, we've seen heaven on earth," says Tim. "We have a semblance of family life." They spent a day recently at a church festival. "There were a lot of people there," Charlene says. "Normally that would produce a lot of anxiety for someone who has ADHD. But Erin had a great time." She can play games longer, take car trips, do homework. "I have a child I can relate to who is hearing me," Charlene says. "I'm not always in an adversarial situation." The fact that the medication seems to be working has liberated Charlene from irrational guilt. But she also sees that everything in Erin's life matters. The school. The behavior therapy. The rules and structure. The time and energy she and Tim devote to every waking hour. For them, the little pill is a wonderful tool, but they have had to learn to use it wisely. --REPORTED BY ANN BLACKMAN/WASHINGTON, WILLIAM DOWELL/NEW YORK, MARGOT HORNBLOWER/LOS ANGELES, ELISABETH KAUFFMAN/NASHVILLE AND MAGGIE SIEGER/CHICAGO Does Your Child Need Ritalin? There is no definitive medical test for ADHD; that's part of the problem. The best that doctors have come up with is a vague formula. Children are said to have ADHD if they exhibit a combination of these (and other) behaviors for at least six months: 1. Having trouble paying attention to details; making careless mistakes in schoolwork 2. Having trouble concentrating on one activity at a time 3. Talking constantly, even at inappropriate times 4. Running around in a disruptive way when required to be seated or quiet 5. Fidgeting and squirming constantly 6. Having trouble waiting for a turn 7. Being easily distracted by things going on around them 8. Impulsively blurting out answers to questions 9. Often misplacing school assignments, books or toys 10. Seeming not to listen, even when directly addressed
------------------------------------------------------------------- Ritalin - How Does It Work? (Time magazine says surprisingly little is known about how Ritalin acts on the brain or why it helps people with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. For that matter, even ADHD is still something of a mystery to doctors. The National Institutes of Health tried to cut through some of the confusion last week by playing host to a consensus conference to determine what - if anything - the experts agree on.) Date: Mon, 30 Nov 1998 08:58:29 -0800 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: US: Ritalin: How Does It Work? Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Steve Young Source: Time Magazine (US) Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.time.com/ Copyright: 1998 Time Inc. Pubdate: Mon, 30 Nov. 1998 Author: CHRISTINE GORMAN RITALIN: HOW DOES IT WORK? For a drug that's been used for more than a half-century, we know surprisingly little about how Ritalin acts on the brain or why it helps children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder focus. For that matter, even ADHD is still something of a mystery to doctors, who speak of it sometimes as if it were a single condition and sometimes as if it were a broad range of problems. Researchers suspect that the disorder stems from an inadequate supply of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain--a hypothesis that is supported in part by the fact that Ritalin boosts dopamine levels. But proof of any of this has been tough to come by. So it should come as no surprise that the latest research raises more questions than it answers. The National Institutes of Health tried to cut through some of the confusion last week by playing host to a consensus conference to determine what--if anything--the experts can agree on. Among the findings: --Ritalin clearly works in the short term to reduce the symptoms of ADHD. But more and more kids have been taking the drug for years, and no studies have run long enough to see if it has a lasting effect on academic performance or social behavior. --Overall, Ritalin seems to be a pretty safe drug. It does stifle appetites, at least in the beginning, and it may cause insomnia. It can interfere with a child's growth rate, although the latest research suggests that it only delays--rather than stunts--a youngster's development. While there has been an increase in the number of stimulant prescriptions for children under five, there is no evidence that these drugs are safe or effective used on young children. --A positive response to Ritalin doesn't automatically mean a child suffers from ADHD. Stimulants can temporarily sharpen almost anyone's focus. --Ritalin is not a panacea. It won't boost IQ or take away the learning disabilities that affect 15% of youngsters with ADHD. --It's not always clear how to treat children whose main symptom isn't hyperactivity but "inattention" or daydreaming, a problem that affects more girls with ADHD than boys. --Preliminary evidence suggests that the brains of children with ADHD are somehow different from those of their unaffected peers. But no one knows for sure whether that is due to normal variation or the result of a true biochemical defect. --There has been intriguing work to suggest that at least some children with ADHD may respond to nutritional treatments, including the addition of certain fatty oils or the elimination of other foods from their diet. But in a phrase that was repeated so often last week that it could become a registered trademark, panelists concluded that more research is needed.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Swiss Reject 'Legalizing' Illicit Drugs (A New York Times article in The Orange County Register says nearly 74 percent of voters in Switzerland rejected the "Droleg" referendum Sunday.) Date: Mon, 30 Nov 1998 17:02:50 -0800 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: US CA: Swiss Reject 'Legalizing' Illicit Drugs Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: John W. Black Pubdate: Mon, 30 Nov 1998 Source: Orange County Register (CA) Contact: email@example.com Website: http://www.ocregister.com/ Copyright: 1998 The Orange County Register Author: Elizabeth Olson-The New York times SWISS REJECT LEGALIZING ILLICIT DRUGS Geneva- Swiss voters Sunday decisively defeated a radical measure to legalize marijuana as well as heroin and cocaine, turning aside arguments that a government-managed narcotics network would curb drug-related crime. The proposal would have turned Switzerland into a virtual free-drugs zone, with any resident 18 or older able to buy drugs at state-approved pharmacies, after consulting a doctor. Nearly 74 percent of voters rejected the initiative, which had been expected to fail, but not to such an overwhelming extent. "It was a surprise," said Francois Reusser, spokesman for the committee backing the initiative "for a sensible drug policy." "Voters reacted emotionally to the heroin aspect," he said. However, Reusser said he hoped lawmakers would still consider liberalizing policy on the use of cannabis, which federal statistics indicate is regularly consumed by some 500,000 people in Switzerland, a nation of 7 million. He said the committee, backed by Socialists, medical doctors, lawyers and drug experts, would consider a new campaign to collect the signatures necessary to force a ballot vote on legalizing cannabis. Government officials said the vote confirmed Switzerland's policy of battling illicit drugs, but also aiding drug addicts through a program that gives heroin and methadone to a small group of abusers. The Alpine nation has an estimated 30,000 to 36,000 hard-drug addicts, one of the highest rates in Europe. Thomas Zeltner, chief of the federal health department, said Switzerland was ready to review policies on marijuana and hashish.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Voters Turn Down Legalization Of Narcotics (A different New York Times version in The International Herald-Tribune) Date: Tue, 1 Dec 1998 17:56:15 -0800 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: US NY: WIRE: Voters Turn Down Legalization Of Narcotics Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Peter Webster Pubdate: Nov 30, 1998 Source: International Herald-Tribune Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.iht.com/ Copyright: International Herald Tribune 1998 Page: 1A Author: By Elizabeth Olson, New York Times Service SWISS VOTERS TURN DOWN LEGALIZATION OF NARCOTICS Measure Sought to Cut Drug-Related Crime Through State Control GENEVA-Swiss voters decisively rejected-on Sunday a radical measure to legalize marijuana, heroin and cocaine, turning aside arguments that a government-managed narcotics network would curb drug-related crime. The proposal would have allowed any Swiss resident over 18 years old to buy narcotics at state-approved pharmacies after consulting a doctor. Nearly 74 percent of voters rejected the initiative, which had been expected to fail, but not to such an overwhelming extent. ''It was a surprise," said Francois Reusser, spokesman for the committee that launched the initiative "for a sensible drug policy." "Voters reacted emotionally to the heroin aspect," he said. But Mr. Reusser'said he hoped lawmakers would still consider liberalizing the use and possession of cannabis, which federal statistics indicate is regularly consumed by some 500,000 people in Switzerland. If some of the marijuana smokers had gone to the polls, Mr. Reusser said, the outcome might have been different. "It' s too easy to buy cannabis here, or to smoke it on the road, or people would have voted," he said. Despite that, he said the committee, backed by Socialists, medical doctors, lawyers and drug experts, would consider a new campaign to collect the signatures necessary to force a ballot vote on legalizing cannabis. Government officials said the vote confirmed Switzerland's policy of battling against illicit drugs, but also aiding the worst-off addicts through a program that gives heroin and methadone to a controlled group of abusers. This nation of 7 million has an estimated 30,000 to 36,000 hard-drug addicts, one of the worst problems in Europe. Thomas Zeltner, chief of the federal health department, said Bern was ready to review policies on soft drugs, which include marijuana and hashish. The government is proposing new laws on drugs to be drawn up next year. "There's a big gap between the legal regulation of cannabis and reality," Mr. Zeltner said. "We need to take some steps." He noted that solutions for consumption might be different from those for cultivation and sale of cannabis. Unlike many other European countries, Swiss authorities pursue and punish cannabis use, although not too successfully. Marijuana can frequently be smelled in smoking compartments on trains. And, in the past three years, some 150 shops have sprung up around Switzerland selling little bags of dried cannabis leaves with "not for consumption" labels, and daring authorities to prosecute. The country's law prohibits the substance only when smoked, which put law enforcement officials in a quandary. In the last month, they have begun cracking down on the shops. But the Swiss cannabis dilemma also stems in part from the fact that hemp has been widely grown, and used for various products, in the country for decades. The rejected initiative would have amended the constitution to say: "The consumption, cultivation or possession of drugs, and their acquisition for personal use, is not punishable." The government campaign had warned that the proposal would give unfettered access to drugs and attract drug tourists looking for easy availab' ility. Instead of eliminating the black market, it would have created a new illegal drug trade and severed Switzerland's ties to international police assistance, Mr. Zeltner said.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Swiss Voters Reject Legalization of Marijuana, Heroin and Cocaine (The actual New York Times version) Date: Wed, 2 Dec 1998 12:53:57 -0800 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: Switzerland: NYT: Swiss Voters Reject Legalization of Marijuana, Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Paul_Bischke@datacard.com (Paul Bischke) Pubdate: Mon, 30 Nov 1998 Source: New York Times (NY) Contact: email@example.com Website: http://www.nytimes.com/ Copyright: 1998 The New York Times Company Author: Elizabeth Olson SWISS VOTERS REJECT LEGALIZATION OF MARIJUANA, HEROIN AND COCAINE GENEVA -- Swiss voters on Sunday decisively defeated a radical measure to legalize marijuana as well as heroin and cocaine, turning aside arguments that a government-managed narcotics network would curb drug-related crime. The proposal would have turned Switzerland into a virtual free-drugs zone, with any resident over 18 years old able to buy narcotics at state-approved pharmacies, after consulting a doctor. Nearly 74 percent of voters rejected the initiative, which had been expected to fail, but not to such an overwhelming extent. "It was a surprise," said Francois Reusser, spokesman for the committee that launched the initiative "for a sensible drug policy." "Voters reacted emotionally to the heroin aspect," he said. However, Reusser said he hoped lawmakers would still consider liberalizing the use and possession of cannabis, which federal statistics indicate is regularly consumed by some 500,000 people in Switzerland, a nation of 7 million. He said the committee, backed by Socialists, medical doctors, lawyers and drug experts, would consider a new campaign to collect the signatures necessary to force a ballot vote on legalizing cannabis. Government officials said the vote confirmed Switzerland's policy of battling illicit drugs, but also aiding the worst-off drug addicts through a program that gives heroin and methadone to a controlled group of abusers. The Alpine nation has an estimated 30,000 to 36,000 hard drug addicts, one of the highest rates in Europe. Thomas Zeltner, chief of the federal health department, said Switzerland was ready to review policies on soft drugs such as marijuana and hashish. The government is proposing new laws on drugs be drawn up next year.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Fearing Change To User Haven, Swiss Reject Legalizing Drugs (An Associated Press version in The Daily Herald, in Illinois) Date: Mon, 30 Nov 1998 08:58:40 -0800 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: Switzerland: DROLEG: Fearing Change To User Haven, Swiss Reject Legalizing Drugs Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Steve Young Source: Daily Herald (IL) Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.dailyherald.com/ Copyright: 1998 The Daily Herald Company Pubdate: Mon, 30 Nov. 1998 Author: Associated Press Section: Sec. 1 FEARING CHANGE TO USER HAVEN, SWISS REJECT LEGALIZING DRUGS GENEVA - The Swiss on Sunday voted overwhelmingly against legalizing heroin and other narcotics, apparently heeding government warnings the proposed law would turn their pristine Alpine nation into a drug haven. With all ballots counted, 74 percent voted against a constitutional amendment that would make legal "the consumption, cultivation or possession of drugs, and their acquisition for personal use." In favor were 26 percent, or 454,404 people. Last year, the Swiss were the first in the world to vote overwhelmingly in favor of state distribution of heroin to hardened addicts. "The outcome shows that the Swiss population rejects extreme solutions to the drug problem," said Felix Gutwiller, a pioneer of the heroin distribution program. The government opposed the plan, saying it was a health risk and would turn Switzerland into a haven for drug tourists and traffickers. It said the current policy of helping hard-core addicts while clamping down on dealers was best. Church groups, police chiefs, social workers, doctors and other professionals working with addicts held similar views. No other European nation, not even Netherlands, has legalized the possession or sale of any drugs or has plans to do so. In Holland, soft drugs such as marijuana are decriminalized and Dutch authorities don't prosecute people who sell or use small amounts. The pro-legalization lobby - a loose left-wing coalition that gathered the necessary 100,000 signatures to force a referendum - claimed it would stamp out trafficking and the black market. Backers hoped that a large turnout in their favor would persuade the government to relax laws on soft drugs like marijuana.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Swiss voters just say No to legalizing narcotics (The Toronto Star version) Date: Mon, 30 Nov 1998 07:58:07 -0500 To: email@example.com From: Dave Haans (firstname.lastname@example.org) Subject: TorStar: Swiss voters just say No to legalizing narcotics Newshawk: Dave Haans Source: The Toronto Star (Canada) Pubdate: Monday, November 30, 1998 Page: A2 Website: http://www.thestar.com Contact: email@example.com Swiss voters just say No to legalizing narcotics Overwhelmingly reject plan to let adults buy drugs ZURICH (Reuters-AP) - Swiss voters yesterday rejected by a three-to-one margin a sweeping proposal to legalize narcotics. The plan would have made Switzerland the only country in the world where anyone aged 18 or older could buy narcotics of their choice - from marijuana to heroin - from state-run outlets or pharmacies after consulting a physician. With all 26 cantons (states) reporting, the measure had not carried a single canton and had garnered the support of only 26.1 per cent of votes cast. Last year, the Swiss were the first in the world to vote overwhelmingly in favour of state distribution of heroin to hardened addicts. ``The outcome shows that the Swiss population rejects extreme solutions to the drug problem,'' said Felix Gutwiller, a pioneer of the heroin distribution program. No other European country, not even the Netherlands, has legalized the possession or sale of any drugs or has plans to do so. In Holland, soft drugs such as marijuana are decriminalized and Dutch authorities don't prosecute people who sell or use small amounts. Switzerland has an estimated 30,000 hard drug addicts among its 7 million people - one of Europe's highest rates. The proposal had been widely expected to fail, but the drubbing that voters administered at the polls disappointed organizers who had hoped even a sizable minority vote would support making the country's liberal drugs policy even more tolerant. ``I am very disappointed. We had expected a much better result,'' said François Reusser, co-organizer of the committee that collected enough signatures to trigger the referendum under the Swiss system of direct democracy. ``We were unable to mobilize a wide range of (drug) consumers themselves, the dope-smokers and ravers, or there would have been a different outcome,'' he said. He said he hoped government officials would still move to liberalize the possession and use of soft drugs, adding he was ready to launch a fresh initiative if need be. The Swiss government and other opponents argued that legalization of hard drugs would fuel addiction and isolate Switzerland from international police and justice co-operation. But backers said drugs prohibition had failed to stop the supply, instead creating a black market with no health standards and high prices that forced addicts into theft or prostitution to fund their habits.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Swiss Voters Reject Legalisation Of Heroin And Other Narcotics (The version in The Examiner, in Ireland) Date: Wed, 2 Dec 1998 13:08:27 -0800 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: Switzerland: Swiss Voters Reject Legalisation Of Heroin And Other Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Martin Cooke (firstname.lastname@example.org) Source: The Examiner (Ireland) Copyright: Examiner Publications Ltd, 1998 Pubdate: 30 Nov 1998 Contact: email@example.com Website: http://www.examiner.ie/ Section: International News SWISS VOTERS REJECT LEGALISATION OF HEROIN AND OTHER NARCOTICS Swiss voters yesterday threw out proposals to legalise consumption of heroin and other narcotics. Some 74% of voters rejected a proposed constitutional amendment that the consumption, cultivation or possession of drugs, and their acquisition for personal use, is not punishable. Around 26% - or 454,404 people - voted in favour. The Swiss electorate is summoned to the polls three or four times a year over a huge range of subjects - new corn laws and labour legislation were also voted on yesterday. Turnout was 37%. Last year the Swiss recorded a world first in voting overwhelmingly in favour of state distribution of heroin to hardened addicts. But they baulked at the prospect of a drugs free-for-all. The government opposed the plan, saying it was a health risk and would turn Switzerland into a haven for drug tourists and traffickers and anger neighbouring European countries. It said its current policy of helping hardcore addicts while clamping down on dealers was the best way ahead. Church groups, police chiefs, social workers, doctors and other professionals working with addicts held similar views. Felix Gutweiler, a pioneer of the heroin distribution program, said the outcome clearly showed that the Swiss population rejected extreme solutions to the drug problem. The pro-legalisation lobby, a loose left-wing coalition which gathered the necessary 100,000 signatures to force a referendum, claimed it would stamp out trafficking and the black market. Backers hoped that sufficient votes in their favour would convince the government to relax laws on soft drugs like cannabis. Switzerland has an estimated 30,000 hard drug addicts in its population of 7 million, one of Europe's highest rates. A government survey published last week showed a rise in cannabis consumption. It revealed that 27% of people aged 15-39 said they had smoked cannabis at least once, compared with 16% in 1992. To the government's relief, voters gave the go-ahead to a finance package to link Switzerland to Europe's high-speed train network and build two Alpine rail tunnels. -------------------------------------------------------------------
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