Portland NORML News - Thursday, December 24, 1998

Poor Police Work Alleged In Pot Case (The San Jose Mercury News
says attorneys for medical-marijuana patient Peter Baez asked San Jose
prohibition agents pointed questions Wednesday in an attempt to have
the charges against the former head of a San Jose-based medical cannabis
dispensary dismissed. San Jose police officer Tim Kuchac stated
in an affidavit that he was part of the team that served the first warrant
and noticed a computer that could have contained business records
and other key evidence. In fact, he testified Wednesday, that was not true.
He had never been to the center before signing the affidavit. "I was blown
away," said defense attorney Gerald Uelmen. "I have very few instances
in my life as a lawyer where I had a police officer admit on the stand
to perjury.")

Date: Sun, 27 Dec 1998 06:20:20 -0800
From: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org (MAPNews)
To: mapnews@mapinc.org
Subject: MN: US CA: Poor Police Work Alleged In Pot Case
Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Reply-To: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/
Newshawk: klipsche@garlic.com (Peter Baez)
Source: San Jose Mercury News (CA)
Contact: letters@sjmercury.com
Website: http://www.sjmercury.com/
Copyright: 1998 Mercury Center
Author: Raoul V. Mowatt, Mercury News Staff Writer
Pubdate: Thu, 24 Dec 1998


Attorneys for medicinal-marijuana advocate Peter Baez on Wednesday
continued questioning witnesses in an attempt to scuttle the criminal case
against the former head of a San Jose-based marijuana dispensary.

During a day of testimony, San Jose police officers fended off questions
intended to portray their March 23 raid of the Santa Clara County Medical
Cannabis Center as sloppy yet overzealous. If defense attorneys can
convince Superior Court Judge Diane Northway that the search was improper,
they may be able to gut much of the case against their client.

One of the officers conceded that his sworn affidavit contained a
misstatement. Under questioning from both defense attorney Gerald Uelmen
and prosecutor Rob Baker, Sgt. Tim Kuchac testified that it was simply a

But Uelmen seized on that testimony to criticize the officer, saying it was
symptomatic of other problems in the search. ``I was blown away,'' Uelmen
said. ``I have very few instances in my life as a lawyer where I had a
police officer admit on the stand to perjury.''

Baker, however, said the overall testimony showed the officers balanced
concern for the center's patients with their need to investigate possible

Baez, 35, ran the now-defunct cannabis center for about a year.

He and his colleagues had a cordial relationship with police until an
investigation into one man's defense against illegal marijuana use raised
questions about whether Baez was obtaining doctors' recommendations before
selling the drug.

The investigation that followed has led to seven felony charges against
Baez: grand theft, maintaining a drug house and five counts of illegal
marijuana sales.

On Wednesday, Kuchac was asked about his affidavit, which came after the
original search warrant had been served. His statement was used to obtain a
warrant to seize a center computer. He testified that no important evidence
was taken from the machine.

Kuchac stated in his affidavit that he was part of the team that served the
first warrant and noticed a computer that could have contained business
records and other key evidence. He testified Wednesday that that was not
true. He had never been to the center before signing the affidavit, he said.

Under questioning from Baker, Kuchac testified that it was routine for the
Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office to prepare affidavits for
officers and that he inadvertently missed the discrepancy.

But Uelmen put a more ominous spin on Kuchac's statement, saying that
Kuchac needed to say he had been present to persuade a judge to expand the
original search.

Attorneys also finished questioning Sgt. Scott Savage, the lead
investigator in the case. Savage testified that he had no vendetta against
Baez, one of the defense's main contentions.

Uelmen, a Santa Clara University law professor, asked Savage again about
the timing of the raid. He and co-counsel Tom Nolan have contended that
Savage waited to raid the club until then-Chief Lou Cobarruviaz had left
office, saying Cobarruviaz looked favorably on Baez and medicinal marijuana.

But Savage testified that he doesn't know if he knew when Cobarruviaz was
going to step down and that there was no formal department policy on
medicinal marijuana.

Fatal Error: The Pentagon's War On Drugs Takes A Toll On The Innocent
(A lengthy account in The Austin Chronicle details the killing of an
18-year-old Texas goatherder, Esequiel Hernandez Jr., by camouflaged US
Marines on a drug interdiction mission along the US-Mexico border. The Posse
Comitatus Act, passed by Congress in 1878, made it a felony to deputize the
armed services for domestic law-enforcement duty. Congress began chipping
away at Posse Comitatus in 1982 - the same year then-Vice President Bush
was put in charge of the War on Drugs - with a defense bill allowing
the military to loan equipment and facilities to civilian law enforcement
agencies. A 1989 bill went further, allowing military personnel to work
in the field. And a 1991 act authorized the services to conduct armed
anti-drug reconnaissance missions. The definition of these missions
has been expanded in every defense bill since. The Pentagon spends
about $1 billion a year fighting drugs. The United States has pursued violent
regeneration through a series of "savage wars," of which the war on some drug
users is but the latest.)

Date: Thu, 24 Dec 1998 20:44:21 -0800
From: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org (MAPNews)
To: mapnews@mapinc.org
Subject: MN: US TX: Fatal Error: The Pentagon's War On Drugs
Takes A Toll On The Innocent
Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Reply-To: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/
Newshawk: ifcb456@ccwf.cc.utexas.edu
Pubdate: Thu, 24 Dec 1998
Source: Austin Chronicle (TX)
Contact: louis@auschron.com
Website: http://www.auschron.com/
Copyright: 1998 Austin Chronicle Corp.
Author: Monte Paulsen


On the day he died, Esequiel Hernandez Jr. took his goats to the river. He
led them from their makeshift pens of wire and branch, then shooed them down
the dusty lane. They wandered past the ruins of the Spanish mission, through
the abandoned U.S. Army post, and down a stony bluff to the Rio Grande.

When he reached the crest of the bluff, Hernandez stopped. Behind him lay
the mud-red adobe homes and melon-green alfalfa fields of Redford, Texas.
Before him stretched the Chihuahuan desert, Texas' vast gravel backyard,
speckled with squat greasewood bushes and whip-like ocotillo plants. Except
for Hernandez, whose goats brought him here late each afternoon, the
residents of the little oasis rarely ventured into this no man's land.

But on this, his final walk to the river, Hernandez spotted something in the
desert. It looked small and shaggy. He'd lost a goat not long before. He
suspected wild dogs had taken it. His herd was already at the river's edge,
halfway to the gray-brown creature. It moved. He couldn't afford to lose
another goat. He raised his ancient .22-caliber rifle and aimed into the

Twenty minutes later, Hernandez's 18-year-old body lay grotesquely twisted
across a stone cistern at the edge of the village. He died trying to protect
his goats. He was killed by a 22-year-old soldier trying to protect
America's youth from drugs.

When Esequiel Hernandez Jr. died, he became the first civilian killed by
U.S. troops since the student massacre at Kent State University in 1970. His
death led to a temporary suspension of troop patrols near the U.S.-Mexican
border. And last month, the government paid his family $1.9 million to
settle a wrongful death claim.

At the same time, Clemente Manuel Banuelos became the first-ever member of
the United States Marine Corps to kill a fellow citizen on U.S. soil. Four
investigations and three grand juries probed the May 1997 shooting. Each
concluded that because Banuelos followed orders, he was innocent of criminal
wrongdoing. Those who issued the orders were never tried.

Both young men became victims of the Pentagon's quixotic $1 billion-a-year
war on drugs.

Hooked on Drug Money

Hernandez's days were numbered since 1989, the year then-President George
Bush waved a bag of crack on TV. Seated in the Oval Office with pictures of
his family behind him, Bush held up the clear plastic bag and told the
nation that it was crack cocaine seized in the park located directly across
Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House.

U.S. presidents have been declaring "war on drugs" ever since the Nixon
administration. Bush's remedies were much the same as those proposed by his
predecessors: more cops, stiffer sentences. But because few police officers
and no judges report to the White House, most presidents waged this war
rhetorically. Bush changed that. He ordered the Pentagon to the frontlines
of the drug war.

For more than a century, stationing U.S. soldiers in American backyards was
against the law. The Posse Comitatus Act, passed by Congress in 1878, made
it a felony to deputize the armed services for domestic duty. Thus, since
Reconstruction, not the U.S. Army but state-run National Guard units were
called on to suppress labor strikes, race riots, student protests, and other
acts of civil disobedience. Today, this separation of military and police
powers no longer exists, though it is still touted in high school civics
textbooks as a hallmark of U.S. society and democratic ideals.

Congress began chipping away at Posse Comitatus in 1982 -- the same year
then-Vice President Bush was put in charge of the War on Drugs -- with a
defense bill that allowed the military to loan equipment and facilities to
civilian law enforcement agencies. A 1989 bill went further, allowing
military personnel to work in the field. And a 1991 act authorized the
services to conduct armed anti-drug reconnaissance missions. The definition
of these missions has been expanded in every defense bill since.

Just two months after Bush waved his bag of crack, the Pentagon created
Joint Task Force Six (JTF-6). Headquartered in a former Army stockade near
El Paso, JTF-6 was initially conceived as a temporary operation, with duties
confined to the U.S.-Mexican border. As it now approaches its 10th birthday,
JTF-6 is one of the longest running task forces in U.S. military history.
More than 72,000 soldiers have served in JTF-6 operations scattered across
30 states.

Many JTF-6 missions do not involve combat troops. The Army Corps of
Engineers, for example, has built hundreds of miles of fencing and roads
along the U.S.-Mexico border. Others, such as the mission to Redford, have
placed armed soldiers in American backyards.

JTF-6 cannot launch a mission on its own. The work must be requested by a
civilian law enforcement agency fighting drugs within one of the nation's 21
High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas. But the U.S. Border Patrol is JTF-6's
main client. The two agencies have collaborated on an average of 157
missions a year.

The mission to Redford, for instance, began with a request from the Border
Patrol's sector headquarters in Marfa. Spanning 2,200 square miles of West
Texas desert, Marfa is the most rural and least active of nine sectors along
the U.S.-Mexican border. As a result, Marfa also has the fewest agents. So
in 1996, the sector chief requested JTF-6's help. The request was approved
by Operation Alliance -- JTF-6's civilian sister agency -- and the El Paso
task force issued a call for military volunteers.

The 1st Marine Expeditionary Force quickly signed on. Like the Border
Patrol, the California-based 1st Marines were regulars at JTF-6's desert
headquarters. The 1st Marines participated in 119 missions prior to Redford,
with 28 scheduled for 1997 alone. And like the Border Patrol, the 1st
Marines were hooked on drug interdiction money. The division burned an extra
$9.1 million worth of JTF-6 green during the four years prior to the Redford
mission. Wrote the ranking general: "Unequivocally, my commanders depend on,
and plan for, this annual infusion."

Friendly Fire

Late one afternoon in February 1997 -- the very same month that JTF-6 and
the 1st Marines began planning the Redford mission -- Border Patrol agents
Johnny Urias and James DeMatteo heard gunshots while patrolling the Redford
riverfront. Urias and DeMatteo were at the landing used by Juan Olivas,
Redford's part-time boatman. Olivas rows passengers across the Rio Grande
for 50 cents a head. If a friend lacks the fare, Olivas has been known to
take groceries in trade. The service isn't legal. Nor is it lucrative. For
most of the year, the river is shallow enough to ford without getting a knee

The two agents were walking among the cottonwood trees by the river, Urias
recalled, when they heard a "firecracker kind of pop at a distance."
DeMatteo recalled "three popping sounds coming from out left." Unsure what
was happening, they climbed back into their truck and drove slowly up the
dusty lane to Farm Road 170, the two-lane blacktop that winds through

Before they reached the village, a beat-up truck approached them from
behind. It flashed its headlights. The agents stopped. So did the old white
pickup. A boy hopped out and ran up to the Border Patrol vehicle.

"I'm sorry that I was shooting," the agents recalled the boy telling them.
"I thought someone was doing something to my goats. I didn't know you were
back there."

The tall, lanky teenager was Esequiel Hernandez Jr. Known as "Skeetch" or
"Zeke" to his friends, and simply as "Junior" to the adults in the village,
Esequiel was the sixth of eight children of Maria de la Luz and Esequiel
Hernandez Sr.

Esequiel Sr. farms a small tract of land in the oldest part of Redford,
called El Polvo. It was named after a Catholic mission established here in
1684. The Franciscans called it San Jose Del Polvo, or St. Joseph of the
Dust. The name fits. The Hernandez family draws its blood from this river,
and this dust.

High mountains let few raindrops pass into this part of the desert. But
where the river floods, there are small strips of muddy soil. The
adobe-and-cinder-block village of Redford stands in the desert above one
such stretch of precious red soil, every inch of which is planted in
alfalfa, melons, pumpkins, or other crops.

Esequiel Jr. was a popular kid at Presidio High. He was the only boy to sign
up for the folk dance troupe. He was a straight kid who didn't smoke,
drink, or do drugs, according to his peers. His only brushes with the law
were a result of his habit of driving without a license -- a common West
Texas transgression.

Esequiel wasn't college bound. The only visible indication of personal
ambition was a large Marine Corps recruiting poster mounted on the wall
above his bed. For the time being, he played cowboy. He rode horses in
parades wearing an embroidered shirt and large white hat. When he wasn't on
horseback, he helped his father tend the family's 43 goats. It was his chore
to walk them to the river each afternoon. And he usually took with him a
World War I-era .22-caliber rifle his grandfather had given him. The old gun
was mechanically unreliable, but straight shooting. This, too, he hung on
the wall above his bed.

As the February sun crept behind the high, hard mountains to the west, Urias
and DeMatteo studied the boy who had followed them down the dusty lane. No
harm intended, they figured. No harm done. Urias left the boy with a
friendly warning. "Use more discretion when shooting your weapon," he later
recalled telling Esequiel. "Especially at night."

Team 7 Takes the Field

Corporal Banuelos first set foot in the Redford desert three months later.
On the morning of May 13, 1997, as he scouted the stony bluff just
downstream from El Polvo with his commanding officer, Capt. Lance McDaniel,
Banuelos noticed an empty cardboard bullet box that had contained .22
caliber rounds. Unaware of the Hernandez's habits, the pair speculated that
the box had been left by drug smugglers.

McDaniel picked Banuelos to lead a four-man team that would surveil the
Redford crossing. The 22-year-old corporal's team, called Team 7, was to
watch the crossing at night, and radio reports of any illegal activity to
the Border Patrol. During the day, Banuelos and his men were to retreat to a
"hide site" in an arroyo just downriver. There the soldiers were to conceal
themselves from the villagers.

The assignment was a coup for Banuelos, who was not much older than
Hernandez when he joined the Marine Corps. The boy from San Francisco had
matured noticeably during his three years in service, earning an achievement
medal rarely awarded such a junior enlisted man. And now, while still a
corporal, he had been selected to lead an observation team at Redford. All
the other team leaders were sergeants. If the mission went smoothly,
Banuelos would soon be a sergeant, too.

But mission No. JT414-97A, as the soldiers called it, was not going
smoothly. For although McDaniel's senior officers at 1st Division HQ were
hot to take JTF-6's money, their support for the captain's efforts to
prepare for the mission was tepid at best.

McDaniel was hamstrung at every turn by bureaucracy, paperwork, and the fact
that 1st Division's command viewed the mission as little more than a free
training exercise. That's the conclusion of an exhaustive report authored by
retired Maj. Gen. John T. Coyne, from which many of the operational details
described in this story were drawn. The Coyne report highlights how
different police work is from military action, and harshly rebukes the 1st
Division for failing to adequately prepare its soldiers for this policing

In one striking example, McDaniel's men were pulled away from a training
exercise in order to participate in a dress uniform review. The officers'
club mentality was visible in a statement from the man who ordered
McDaniel's men to participate in the formality. Maj. Steven Hogg said he was
comfortable with the order because he "was satisfied that Capt. McDaniel was
hitting all the wickets."

As a result of this type of bureaucratic interference, Capt. McDaniel was
able to conduct only three days of training before his teams left Camp
Pendleton for Texas. And because mission assignments weren't settled until
the last minute, Team 7 never trained as a unit.

Cpl. Roy Torrez Jr., Banuelos' second in command, hadn't received any field
instruction since his basic Marine combat training after boot camp. Torrez,
whose main job in the Marine Corps was driving a tow truck, was also Team 7
medic. He had completed a first-aid course in order to meet a quota at the
garage where he worked. Like Torrez, Lance Cpl. Ronald Wieler had received
no field training since basic. Wieler was a radio operator. Most of his
preparation consisted of cutting rags and sewing his own camouflage "ghillie
suit." Lance Cpl. James Blood, the team's junior man, did attend the three
days of training. But Blood was assigned to another team during that time,
and hadn't even met his teammates until the day before McDaniel and Banuelos
found the empty bullet box by the river.

Upon returning from that walk, McDaniel briefed his men at a Marfa base
camp. The two-hour talk addressed safety issues, communication protocols,
and the "rules of engagement." The soldiers were handed ROE cards that
listed specifically what they could and could not do. They were told what to
do if they encountered drug smugglers. But they neither discussed nor
rehearsed what to do if they came across a civilian.

Staff Sgt. Daren Dewbre concluded the briefing, warning the soldiers that
drug gangs posed an "organized, sophisticated, and dangerous enemy." He told
them that other teams had taken fire on previous missions. He told them that
"the enemy" would employ armed lookouts -- and that some villagers were in
cahoots with the smugglers. His briefing notes read: "Redford is not a
friendly town."

Men With Guns

Redford is one of the most remote towns in the United States. It is also one
of the oldest. And it's among the most often visited by soldiers. Located in
Presidio County, eight hours west of San Antonio and five hours east of El
Paso, Redford is in many ways more Mexican than American. Spanish is the
language of choice. The most popular shopping center is in Ojinaga, a
Mexican border town half an hour upriver. An American flag flies out front
of Redford Elementary School. But its flagpole erupts from the center of the
school's basketball court, leaving visitors to wonder whether the patriot
who erected the pole was entirely familiar with the rules of the game.
Directly across Farm Road 170 -- which until it was paved in the 1960s was
called Muerte del Burro, or Death of the Donkey -- stands the Madrid
library. In 1979, schoolteacher Lucia Rede Madrid started the small library
in her husband's store. She loaned books to the kids in Redford, and also to
Mexican kids from across the river. By the mid-Eighties, her library had
swelled to an estimated 50,000 volumes, overflowing both the store and the
attached stucco home. Lucia's "bridge of books" earned her two presidential
medals, and made her the most famous person in Redford -- until Zeke.

Three Days in the Desert

Banuelos and his team were dropped off along Farm Road 170 late Saturday
night, May 17. The soldiers leaped out of the Chevy Suburban wearing
camouflage face paint and shaggy burlap "ghillie suits." They carried two
five-gallon water cans, two radios, and assorted gear. Each carried his
M-16A2 rifle. Team 7 walked half a mile to the observation post. The team
they were replacing was dehydrated and nauseous after its three-day tour.
The departing team commander told Banuelos: "Watch out for the goats."

Banuelos, Torrez, Wieler, and Blood settled into the stony bluff above the
river. A canopy of stars revealed itself overhead. They saw two vehicles
cross the river that night, and radioed the Border Patrol both times. As
dawn came Sunday, Banuelos moved his men to the arroyo. The day passed
slowly, punctuated by fitful naps. The goats came in the afternoon -- dozens
of them, scrabbling through the hide site, foraging among the greasewood
bushes. Some came so close that one soldier feared they would gnaw on his
leaf-like ghillie suit.

Team 7 moved up to the observation post early that evening, some time
between 7-8pm. This was a departure from mission JT414-97A's plan, which
instructed them not to move until after dark. The soldiers reported more
vehicle crossings that night -- pickups, Suburbans, and Blazers rolling back
and forth across the river. But the Border Patrol only stopped one or two.

On Monday the desert began to be very hot. At midday, the surface
temperature of the Chihuahuan desert can reach 180 degrees Fahrenheit.
Snakes stay in their burrows to avoid being cooked. The soldiers had no
burrows. They lay on hot stones, wrapped in their burlap suits. Each man had
only three quarts of water per day. All they had to eat were fibrous goo
bars called Meals Ready to Eat, like Slim-Fast shakes without the liquid.

The goats returned in the afternoon. They stuffed their mouths with desert
weeds. They gurgled as they drank deeply from the river. By that evening,
Team 7 had begun to realize that El Polvo was a well-worn crossing, and that
most of what was smuggled across wasn't drugs.

Vehicles of every description arrived laden with tires, cement, furniture,
produce, and other contraband. Torrez and Blood griped about how rarely the
Border Patrol responded to their calls. "If they don't care," Blood recalled
asking, "why do we need to be out here?"

Wrong Place, Wrong Time

In fact, they didn't need to be there -- at least not in May. A decade's
worth of federal statistics prove it: More than 85% of all illegal drugs
entering the United States arrive via official Ports of Entry monitored by
the Customs Service. Most come concealed within legitimate cargo. Nearly
100% of all heroin shipped to the United States last year flowed through
official ports, according to federal estimates, and 99% of the
methamphetamine tumbled through those same ports.

Ninety-seven percent of the cocaine blew in this way as well. Marijuana is
the lone exception. Half the weed consumed in this country is grown here.
Much of the rest comes across at places like El Polvo. Last fall, the Border
Patrol caught a motor home stuffed with 2,700 pounds of marijuana. Its
driver claimed he crossed at El Polvo. Large busts like this happen every
fall. That's because marijuana is a crop. Most of it gets harvested and
shipped across the border in the fall and winter. Only tourists and amateurs
bother smuggling in May.

If Congress were serious about employing the armed forces to stop the
northward flow of drugs, it would post search teams at each of the 39
customs checkpoints along the 2,000-mile border. Three and a half million
trucks rolled through in 1996. Customs was able to inspect but a quarter of

The main reason these trucks go uninspected is because truckers -- and the
corporations who hire them -- complain the wait at customs is too long.
These corporations, which finance political life in America, complain to
Congress that more searches would slow down the progress of the North
AmericanFree Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

But Washington wants it both ways. It wants to stop the flow of drugs and
immigrants while increasing the flow of goods and services. Putting troops
in places such as Redford is a compromise. It allows Congress to appear
tough on drugs, while not hindering trade. Congress has strained to expand
the military's role along the border ever since JTF-6 was created. Both the
House and Senate versions of the 1989 bill would have given the military the
power to arrest civilians. These provisions were killed as a result of
strong opposition from the Pentagon, which trains soldiers to kill their
enemies, not arrest them. Many, many military scholars warn that training
the armed services to do police work will render them unprepared for actual

Timothy Dunn chronicles America's longstanding efforts to station soldiers
along the Rio Grande in his book The Militarization of the U.S.-Mexico
Border. The El Paso-based professor explains how "complex international
issues such as undocumented immigration and illegal drug trafficking are
reduced to one-sided, domestic border-control problems, and framed as
threats to national security, which in turn require strong law enforcement,
or even military responses."

Even as Banuelos was struggling to prepare his team for mission JT414-97A,
U.S. Rep. James Traficant, D-Ohio, was pushing a 1997 bill that would have
put 10,000 troops on the U.S.-Mexican border. Traficant reintroduced the
troop plan this year, and tore a page from Dunn's book when he said on the
House floor: "The border is a national security issue, and, by God, the
Congress of the United States better start securing our borders." The House
passed the Ohio congressman's amendment in June, along with proposals for
bigger fences, fancier technology, and more agents along the border. The
Senate nixed the Traficant plan, but moved to swell the ranks of the Border
Patrol from 6,200 to more than 20,000 agents.

"It's an easy, simple, and politically safe target," says Kevin Zeese, who
heads the nonprofit group Common Sense for Drug Policy. "Shout 'drug war' as
loud as you can, and you sound like you are protecting America's youth."

"Fire Back"

Esequiel Jr. got home from school about 4 pm on the day he died. He thanked
the driver of the big yellow bus and walked down the lane to his family's
little rancheria. He studied his driver's handbook, then he helped his
father unload some hay. After that it was time to walk the goats.

Banuelos led his men out of the hide site even earlier that afternoon. It
was three full hours before nightfall. They hadn't even seen the goats yet.
They were hot, tired, hungry, dehydrated, and still dressed like shrubs.
They looked forward to being relieved shortly after dark.

As Team 7 crept toward the observation post, Banuelos spotted a man on a
horse on the Mexican side. The corporal put his team in a halt. Just then,
Esequiel and his goats crested the small bluff. The soldiers -- who had been
warned to expect armed lookouts and "unfriendly villagers" -- saw a young
man of Latino descent carrying a .22 rifle.

Banuelos whispered into the radio: "We have an armed individual, about 200
meters from us." A time-stamped recording of the radio traffic showed it was
6:05 pm. "He's in front of the old fort. He's headed toward us. He's armed
with a rifle. He appears to be in, uh, herding goats or something."

Hernandez saw something move in the brush at the bottom of the far ravine.
He had warned friends and family members of what he would do if he ever
found the wild dog he believed had taken his goat. The goat-herder may have
fired once, as Banuelos and Blood claimed. (One spent shell was later found
in the rifle.) Or he may have fired twice, as Torrez and Wieler recalled. Or
he may not have fired at all, as the lack of gunpowder residue on his hands
later suggested.

What is certain is that the four tired soldiers believed they had been fired
at by a drug smuggler. None was hit. Banuelos ordered the men prone. Face
down in the hot gravel, he told them to "lock and load."

Hernandez stood on his toes. He peered across the desert. Torrez recalled he
was "bobbing and weaving ... like when you look at something in the
distance, you stand on your tippy-toes and try to move your head around to

"We're taking fire," Banuelos radioed at 6:07 pm. Capt. McDaniel was working
out in a gym at the Marfa compound when he heard the news. He sprinted to
the nearby operations center. He and his fellow officers immediately began
debating what actions were authorized under the JTF-6 rules of engagement.

Banuelos and his teammates were still carrying the ROE flash cards they were
given a week earlier. The first of six points listed was: "Force may be used
to defend yourself and others present." The second and third points were:
"Do not use force if other defensive measures could be effective," and "Use
only minimum force necessary."

But Banuelos didn't have time to re-read his card. Nor was he aware that
McDaniel and the other officers were in the midst of an intense debate about
what he could and could not do. At 6:11 pm, he radioed the operations center:
"As soon as he readies that rifle back down range, we are taking him."

Lance Cpl. James Steen was manning the radio in Marfa. He replied: "Roger,
fire back." McDaniel exploded. He and the other officers in the operations
center believed that Steen's authorization to "fire back" was wrong,
according to written statements. Steen was pulled off the radio. Sgt. Dewbre
took the chair. But the order to "fire back" was neither corrected nor
withdrawn. Dewbre radioed at 6:14 pm: "Just give us an update."

To keep the boy within his line of sight, Banuelos led his team down another
stony arroyo and up the opposite bank. From the top of the next plateau, the
soldiers could see in all directions. Banuelos told Dewbre: "We have a
visual." Dewbre replied: "You're to follow the ROE." Banuelos did not
acknowledge Dewbre's order. Nearly four minutes had passed since the
incorrect order to "fire back" was issued. McDaniel and the other officers
discussed whether or not Banuelos had heard Dewbre. But they did not
re-transmit the instruction.

Worse Than the Drugs

The war that Esequiel Hernandez wandered into is not confined to the
U.S.-Mexican border. The Pentagon spends about $1 billion a year fighting
drugs. JTF-6 has conducted missions in 30 states and the Caribbean
territories. An estimated 4,000 National Guard troops are involved in 1,300
counter-drug operations nationwide. And 89% of police departments now have
paramilitary "SWAT" teams, which primarily serve drug warrants.

In spite of all this, the drugs are winning. The availability and potency of
hard drugs such as heroin and cocaine has skyrocketed over the past decade.
At the same time, street prices have fallen. The United Nations estimates
the annual revenue generated by the illegal drug industry at $400 billion.
That's 8% of the total international trade, or about the same size as the
global automobile industry.

The war has not proved either as easy, simple, or politically safe as its
proponents had hoped. Days after he waved the plastic bag of crack on TV,
Bush was embarrassed by revelations that it was not "seized" in Lafayette
Park -- but in fact had been purchased for $2,400 by an undercover agent who
had lured a drug dealer there. The seller was baffled by the agent's
request; on a DEA tape of the phone call, the 18-year-old dealer asked,
"Where the fuck is the White House?"

"We can't even keep drugs out of prison," says Zeese of Common Sense for
Drug Policy. "To think we could keep them out at the borders is absurd."
Common Sense for Drug Policy argues that drug abuse is a social problem that
requires a combination of social, not military, solutions. The evidence
bears them out. Where drug use has fallen, experts attribute the difference
to lifestyle changes, not law enforcement.

Reagan's Secretary of State George Shultz, right-wing economist Milton
Friedman, and broadcaster Walter Cronkite all make the same case. They are
among the hundreds of signers of a June 1998 letter urging the United
Nations to abandon the War on Drugs. The signatories hailed from 40 nations,
and included federal judges and Nobel laureates from across the political
spectrum. Published in The New York Times and elsewhere, the letter was
blunt: "We believe that the global war on drugs is now causing more harm
than drug abuse itself.

"This industry has empowered organized criminals, corrupted governments at
all levels, eroded internal security, stimulated violence, and distorted
both economic markets and moral values," the letter stated. "These are the
consequences not of drug use per se, but of decades of failed and futile
drug war policies."

Death in the Desert

Border Patrol agent Johnny Urias was picking up undocumented immigrants 15
miles away when he heard the 6:07 pm radio call: "They're taking fire from a
man with a rifle at position three. ... Please assist position three." Urias
and partner Rodolfo Martinez sped back to the Presidio station. They dropped
off their suspects. They picked up M-16 rifles and protective vests. Two
other agents arrived, and did the same. Within minutes, the four agents
were speeding toward Redford, lights and sirens blaring.

Urias radioed Banuelos, who told him that Hernandez was at the old fort.
"He's armed with a rifle, a .22," the corporal said. Banuelos and his team
were atop a plateau about two football fields away from Hernandez. They knew
the Border Patrol was only minutes away. But Banuelos wanted to be closer.
He handed the radio to Torrez, then waved for Wieler and Blood to follow him
into the next ravine. From that moment on, Banuelos was out of radio contact
with both McDaniel and the Border Patrol.

The next arroyo was steeper than the last. Wieler stumbled several times. He
scraped his hands on the sharp, loose gravel. He didn't understand what
Banuelos was doing. He said later that he "would have stayed and let the
Border Patrol handle the situation." Instead, he followed orders.

Once atop the next plateau, the Marines moved toward the abandoned fort.
Soon they were within 130 yards of Hernandez. They scurried forward one by
one, in short rushes, crouching low among the waist-high greasewood bushes.
Banuelos watched Hernandez through the scope on his M-16 as his men moved.
At 6:27 pm, Banuelos believed he saw the boy raise his old .22 and aim toward
Blood. (Neither Torrez nor Blood were watching Hernandez. Weiler initially
stated he didn't see Hernandez move, then later testified that he did.)

The corporal, an expert marksman, squeezed the trigger. The bullet entered
Esequiel Hernandez Jr. beneath his right arm. It fragmented and cut two
trails through his chest, destroying every organ in its path. Torrez looked
up just in time to see the boy's feet fly in the air.

Myth of the Frontier

The books in Lucia Madrid's library tell many stories. They tell of the
soldiers who came through Redford, and of the powerful men who sent them.
But these books do not explain the shooting of Esequiel Hernandez. Enrique
Rede Madrid still lives in the white stucco home where his recently deceased
mother built the library. An anthropologist, he has spent much of his life
resisting the military. Way back in 1967, he was the first student at the
University of Texas to return his draft card -- a gutsy move for a young
Chicano from La Frontera. He waged a three-year court battle challenging the
constitutionality of the Vietnam War. Today, he translates books and works
at a community college.

Sifting through the artifacts of his life, Madrid pulls out newspaper
clippings and photographs. One picture shows President Bush awarding his
mother her medal of honor. Another shows her reading to a group of village
children. At the center of that photograph is a squirmy little boy, hamming
a grin for the camera. The boy is Esequiel Hernandez Jr. "Isn't it
schizoid?" he asks, fingering his mother's silver and gold medals. Madrid
speaks through a clenched jaw, as if he is holding back anger.

"Two presidential medals and an M-16 bullet in a kid's chest. She received
these medals for educating Esequiel. America has a schizoid mentality about
the border," Enrique continues. "We address the problem with the wrong tool.
It's a failure of our ability to test reality. ... A psychiatrist would call
it a psychosis of some sort."

Richard Slotkin, a historian who has spent the past 25 years studying the
stories that Americans tell each other, calls it America's oldest and most
powerful story: the myth of the frontier. Slotkin argues that "regeneration
through violence" is the heart of the myth. The United States has pursued
violent regeneration through a series of "savage wars" fought first against
Native Americans, and later against competing settlers such as the Mexicans.
This century, distant enemies such as the Soviet Union filled the savage
shoes. These heroic tales of men with guns have been handed down through
literature, culture, and ritual for three centuries.

The repetition of this mythology is easy to spot in dozens of newspaper and
magazine reports on Esequiel's murder. Rather than describing a quiet little
village of alfalfa and pumpkin farmers, many thrilled readers with
exaggerated descriptions of a rough-and-tumble Wild West border town
populated with "drug lords" and "illegal aliens." Likewise, these myths are
at the heart of the many Western movies filmed at the Contrabando Creek
movie set, a faux village just downriver from Redford.

"The reporter's role is to see the reality in terms of the established
myth," Slotkin says. "The reporter goes back and tells the tale to a
congressman, who is prepared to believe it because he already knows the
story. It has the power of familiarity. It confirms what we've known all

The war on drugs has invoked the myth of savage war to rationalize its
illogical use of violence. "Here the myth of the frontier plays its classic
role," Slotkin says. "We define and confront this crisis -- and the profound
questions it raises about our society -- by deploying the metaphor of 'war'
and locating the root of our problem in the power of a 'savage' enemy."

Following Orders

Cpl. Banuelos was standing over Hernandez's body when the Border Patrol
arrived. Agent Urias recognized the boy he had warned only three months
before. Hernandez had dragged himself 10 yards through hot gravel after he
was shot. From atop the old Army watering hole, Hernandez could have seen
the adobe home where he was born, the lush green oasis that fed his family,
the cinderblock schoolhouse where he had dreamed of becoming a soldier, and
the village graveyard, where he soon would be buried.

A desert thunderstorm approached. More cops arrived. Texas Rangers. A
justice of the peace. The district attorney. FBI. Marines. They trampled
through the evidence for hours. Then the storm rumbled through. Hard rain
washed over the body, the gun, the scene. Team 7 was driven back to Marfa,
put in a motel room, given a six-pack of beer, and told to write statements.
The story that emerged was that Banuelos was not "pursuing" Hernandez -- as
prohibited by the rules of engagement -- but was "paralleling" the
goat-herder out of fear that the boy was running a "flanking maneuver."

Banuelos was frank and forthright about what he had done. He reportedly
concluded one interview by stating: "I capped the fucker."

The Texas Rangers investigated the shooting. The Justice Department
investigated the shooting. JTF-6 investigated the shooting. And the 1st
Marine Division investigated the shooting. All concluded that Banuelos
followed orders. All concluded that he committed no crime.

A county grand jury refused to indict Banuelos on criminal charges. A
federal grand jury refused to indict him. And a second county grand jury,
given substantially more evidence than the first, also refused to indict
him. All concluded that Banuelos followed orders. All concluded that he
committed no crime. Banuelos was under investigation for more than a year.
But the orders that sent him to El Polvo in May -- the orders that put him
in the field with an under-prepared team, and the incredible order to "fire
back" -- these were never put on trial. And by agreeing to pay the Hernandez
family a mere $1.9 million, the Navy and the Justice Department effectively
closed the most viable legal route through which the family or the village
could have put those orders on trial.

Human rights activists fear that the settlement will clear a political path
for JTF-6 to resume armed border patrols in the near future. And if they
take such missions, future Marines will follow orders just as Banuelos did.
In a response to the scathing Coyne report, Gen. C.W. Fulford Jr. noted that
even the best trained Marines would likely behave much as Team 7 did.
"Indeed," Fulford wrote, "it is probable that a superbly trained team of
infantrymen would have immediately returned fire."

Clemente Manuel Banuelos is no longer a member of the Marine Corps. His
promising military career died the same day Hernandez did. The 23-year-old
now struggles to support his young wife, Luz Contreras, in their modest
Southern California home. He is looking for work as a physical therapist.

Rounding Up the Goats

On the day Esequiel Hernandez Jr. died, his father brought the goats back
from the river. Hernandez Sr. was chopping wood when he saw the crowd of
Border Patrol agents, sheriff deputies, and other authorities gather on the
hill across from his adobe home. He drove the old white pickup over to see
what was happening.

Not knowing who he was, a deputy sheriff asked whether Hernandez might be
able to identify the victim. The old man stared curiously at the soldiers,
still dressed in their ghillie suits. The leather-faced father was then
shown the lifeless body of his son. He wept, and wailed, in Spanish.

The Hernandez family was kept away from the scene that night. Pushed back by
sheriff's deputies, sobbing family members shared their grief and anger
within the privacy of the Hernandez rancheria.

Later, the old man went down to the river to round up the goats.
Ten-year-old Noel went with him. After the goats were put away, Noel marched
into Esequiel's bedroom and tore the Marine recruiting poster from his dead
brother's wall.

"Right This Wrong" (A sidebar to the Austin Chronicle's article
about drug warriors killing an 18-year-old Texas goatherder says a scathing
249-page report on the 1997 shooting, prepared by U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith,
R-San Antonio, concluded that the U.S. Border Patrol helped aim the gun
that killed Esequiel Hernandez Jr., and that both the Defense and Justice
Departments obstructed Smith's investigation into Hernandez's death.)

Date: Fri, 25 Dec 1998 11:09:07 -0800
From: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org (MAPNews)
To: mapnews@mapinc.org
Subject: MN: US TX: "Right This Wrong"
Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Reply-To: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/
Newshawk: ifcb456@ccwf.cc.utexas.edu
Pubdate: Thu, 24 Dec 1998
Source: Austin Chronicle (TX)
Contact: louis@auschron.com
Website: http://www.auschron.com/
Copyright: 1998 Austin Chronicle Corp.
Author: Monte Paulsen
Note: This Is a sidebar to the excellent long piece entitled "FATAL ERROR:
published in the Austin Chronicle. For more see the Drug Policy Forum of
Texas web pages at: http://www.mapinc.org/DPFT/hernandez/ and use the MAP
search feature on the page. You will find over 100 articles if you use the
dropdown to select ALL News (1997-98).


The U.S. Border Patrol helped aim the gun that killed Esequiel Hernandez
Jr. near the Texas-Mexico border.

That's the conclusion of a scathing report on the 1997 shooting by U.S.
Rep. Lamar Smith, R-San Antonio. Smith's 249-page report concluded that the
surveillance mission was poorly conceived and hastily planned.

The young Marine who killed Hernandez was untrained and misinformed. And
there was shockingly little communication between local Border Patrol
agents and the Marines ostensibly working under their supervision. "The
Marines' unreadiness was compounded by a lack of training and support from
the Border Patrol," Smith said in a prepared statement. "For example, the
Marines were not told that innocent civilians in this part of the country
often carry weapons and are wary of intruders. ... The Marines were not
told that their observation post was located near a number of family homes,
including the Hernandez home. They were not told that Hernandez regularly
brought his goats to the Polvo Crossing area."

Smith accused both the Defense and Justice Departments of obstructing his
investigation into Hernandez's death.

But Smith, who chairs the House subcommittee that oversees the Border
Patrol, fired his sharpest criticism at the border agents' bosses at Justice.

"To this day, no Justice Department personnel have been held accountable
for their negligence or wrongdoing in the Hernandez killing," the
Republican representative said. "Attorney General Janet Reno should right
this wrong immediately." Smith contrasted Reno's response with that of the
Marine Corps, which released its exhaustive investigation into the shooting
and disciplined four Marine commanders.

The Immigration and Naturalization Service, parent agency of the Border
Patrol, responded in a statement that it "strongly disagrees with any claim
that the U.S. Border Patrol was directly responsible for this tragic
incident." Two Texas grand juries investigated the shooting, but issued no
indictments. The government paid the teen's family $1 million to settle a
civil claim.

The Pentagon has temporarily suspended armed military patrols on the
Southwest border, but could resume them at any time.

Pot's Hazards (A letter to the editor of The Chicago Tribune
from Peter B. Bensinger, the former head of the DEA, blasts the newspaper
for its staff editorial saying there is "growing recognition that marijuana
may have therapeutic value as medicine." The voters are inacapable
of understanding science, and government agencies such as the "Federal Drug
Administration" should be left alone to make such decisions because they are
the only ones capable of understanding the science, are unbiased, and have
only the best interests of everyone in mind. Sheesh.)

Date: Thu, 24 Dec 1998 12:52:52 -0800
From: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org (MAPNews)
To: mapnews@mapinc.org
Subject: MN: US: LTE: MMJ: Pot's Hazards
Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Reply-To: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/
Newshawk: Steve Young
Source: Chicago Tribune (IL)
Contact: tribletter@aol.com
Website: http://www.chicagotribune.com/ Forum:
Copyright: 1998 Chicago Tribune Company
Pubdate: 24 Dec 1998
Author: Peter B. Bensinger, Former administrator, U.S. Drug Enforcement
Administration Section: Sec. 1


CHICAGO -- The editorial "Groundswell for medical marijuana" (Nov. 8)
represents a serious misperception of what is best for America. The
editorial reports that there is growing recognition that marijuana may have
therapeutic value as medicine and that our government ought to move in this
direction. Such advice does a disservice to the public and is very ill-advised.

Why isn't marijuana medicine? Because federal law requires a substance must
be shown to be scientifically safe and effective and must be approved for
use by the Federal Drug Administration. Marijuana does not meet these
criteria. Marijuana contains an unstable mix of more than 460 chemicals.
Smoking marijuana produces 2,000 chemicals. Known carcinogens in marijuana
include napthalene, benzene and nitrosamines.

Are there other drugs available for chemotherapy patients? Yes. Marinol is
a synthetic pill with THC-active ingredients. Zofran is another approved
medication that has fewer side effects than marijuana, and it has been
found to be more effective as an anti-nausea agent.

Since when is burning leaves good medicine? Since when are the voters
responsible for determining what prescription drugs get stocked in our
pharmacies? In the early 20th Century, Congress passed the Food and Drug
Act to protect the public from snake oil salesmen, many of whom, in fact,
were selling opium and heroin and other products that failed to meet the
medical claims advertised. Now very carefully we watch what type of beef,
salad oil and pills are made available to the public.

Does the public know if a new drug is safe for heart disease or arthritis?
Scientists do, health experts do, the surgeon general does, the World
Health Organization does, the Food and Drug Administration does. Marijuana
does not qualify as safe or effective medicine in the views of any of these
professional organizations.

The fact that marijuana can pass in a referendum sponsored by the
pro-marijuana lobby is no basis to establish it as safe medicine. If this
were the case, then anytime someone wanted some smoking product to be made
available and was able to muster an adequate voting block to pass a
referendum, then we would have that new product on the shelf that could
lead to short-term memory loss, reduced immune system efficiency, loss of
motivation and vigilance, and at the same time could be as carcinogenic,
dangerous and unproven as marijuana.

The editorial board members have been leaders in molding public opinion and
reinforcing the need for justice. The Tribune's leadership and its
editorial opinions have been impressive. But I am disappointed that in this
case, the views expressed on marijuana are neither helpful nor safe.

Peter B. Bensinger
Former administrator, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration

A Bad Season For Amateurs (According to The San Francisco Chronicle,
the Wall Street Journal reported this week that a new NIAAA survey
of 14,000 American workers found inexperienced drinkers caused more problems
than veteran drunks. The findings challenge popular wisdom blaming
heavy boozers for an estimated $27 billion a year in lost productivity.)

Date: Thu, 24 Dec 1998 18:47:04 -0800
From: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org (MAPNews)
To: mapnews@mapinc.org
Subject: MN: US: A Bad Season For Amateurs
Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Reply-To: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/
Newshawk: compassion23@geocities.com (Frank S. World)
Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
Contact: chronletters@sfgate.com
Website: http://www.sfgate.com/chronicle/
Forum: http://www.sfgate.com/conferences/
Copyright: 1998 San Francisco Chronicle
Pubdate: Thu, 24 Dec 1998


WE ARE grateful to the Wall Street Journal for an apposite report this week
on the perils of drinking on the job, especially by inexperienced topers
who cause more problems than veteran drunks.

A survey of 14,000 American workers revealed casual drinkers are not only
absent and late more often than their alcoholic colleagues, but they get in
more work-related arguments, too, when tipsy or hung-over.

The findings challenge popular wisdom blaming heavy boozers for the
estimated $27 billion a year in lost productivity.

``It's subtle,'' says Thomas W. Mangione, director of the study. ``It is
individual people who don't do this very often, but because there are so
many . . . in aggregate it totals up to a very big problem.''

Mangione said the NIAAA survey supports other studies that found it was
casual drinkers, not alcoholics, who cause most drunk-driving accidents and

A timely caution for the holidays, when many amateur wassailers are tempted
to dip too deeply into the office party punch bowl.

Medical Marijuana - The Six-State Sweep (William Greider in Rolling Stone
magazine says the American people want marijuana legalized for medical use.
So why isn't Washington listening? Bill Zimmerman of Americans for Medical
Rights says, "More than one-fifth of the American electorate has now voted in
the majority to give patients the right to use marijuana. If the federal
government doesn't respect that vote and change its attitude, we're fully
prepared to go to the rest of America with this issue.")

Subject: DND: US: MMJ: Medical Marijuana - The Six-State Sweep
From: tjeffoc@sirius.com (Tom O'Connell)
Date: Sun, 17 Jan 1999 15:25:47 -0800
Newshawk: tjeffoc@sirius.com (Tom O'Connell)
Source: Rolling Stone (US)
Copyright: 1999 Rolling Stone
Pubdate: 24 Dec 1998 - 7 Jan 1999
Page 111
Author: William Greider
Contact: letters@rollingstone.com
Website: http://www.rollingstone.com/
Forum: http://yourturn.rollingstone.com/webx?98@@webx1.html


The American people want marijuana Legalized for medical use.

Why isn't W A S H I N G T O N listening?

NEWT GINGRICH AND THE Republicans were not the only losers in Washington,
D.C., in this fall's elections. The War on Drugs took a big hit, too.
Voters approved every pro-medical-marijuana measure put before them: in
Washington state, Oregon, Arizona and Alaska. In two other states and the
District of Columbia, technical matters have hung up electoral victories -
legal snarls voided the Colorado win; in Nevada, voters will have to pass
the measure again in 2000, when the state amends its constitution.

In the District of Columbia, a medical-marijuana referendum promoted by ACT
UP Washington and the Marijuana Policy Project won easily but not
officially. Though ballots had already been printed, right-wing Republicans
in Congress inserted a nasty little rider in the omnibus budget bill,
passed in October, that prohibited District of Columbia election officials
from spending any funds to tally votes and report the outcome. This is
possibly the first time in U.S. history that the federal government has
tried to stop voters from finding out how they voted in their own election.
The medical-marijuana campaign, however, paid for an election-day exit poll
that showed D.C. voters overwhelmingly ratifying medical uses of marijuana
by sixty-nine percent to thirty-one percent.

Altogether, with California's 1996 approval, voters in seven states and
D.C. have now endorsed this drug-use reform. It's like a citizens'
guerrilla army marching on the nation's Capitol from the West (with one
squad attacking from behind enemy lines).

Bill Zimmerman, a Los Angeles political consultant who is the national head
of the movement, summarizes the political meaning: "More than one-fifth of
the American electorate has now voted in the majority to give patients the
right to use marijuana. If the federal government doesn't respect that vote
and change its attitude, we're fully prepared to go to the rest of America
with this issue."

Most of the people working to legalize medical marijuana are neither
hippies nor radicals. In Seattle the statewide campaign was led by a young
hospice physician, Rob Killian, who sees cancer and AIDS patients wasting
away and suffering every day--suffering that can be alleviated by smoking a

"I saw I had to prescribe marijuana for my patients, and I saw that it
worked," Killian says simply. "All drugs have dangerous side effects, but
as physicians, we are trained to administer pharmaceuticals in a safe,
appropriate manner. My patients who are suffering and dying are not

During the campaign, Killian debated with local prosecutors across the
state but says he felt all along that he was "really running against the
federal government." Or at least against organized conservative interests,
which have portrayed medical-marijuana initiatives as being gateways to
overall legalization. For instance, in the run-up to the election, the
Partnership for a Drug-Free America's famous fried-egg commercials ("This
is your brain on drugs.. . .") were broadcast frequently. The measure's
leading opponent was Brad Owen, Washington's lieutenant governor, who
received a $190,000 drug-awareness grant from the Office of National Drug
Policy. His efforts were also aided by money from presidential hopeful
Steve Forbes, which was used to broadcast anti-initiative messages on radio

In the end, Washington voters legalized medical applications of the
long-demonized drug by a margin of fifty-nine percent to forty-one
per-cent. At press time, the initiative had carried thirty of thirty-nine
counties in the state.

In Arizona, where the issue won more narrowly, the "medical rights for
marijuana" campaign was called The People Have Spoken. Arizona Voters had
already approved the proposition back in 1996, but the state legislature
overruled them. This year they went back to the polls and stuffed the
legislature, fifty-seven percent to forty-three percent. "The opposition
used every trick in the book and they still lost," says campaign leader Sam
Vagenas of Phoenix. "They used schoolchildren as props at their press
conference. Their group called itself Arizonans Against Heroin. It
mentioned every Schedule One controlled substance -- heroin cocaine, LSD,
PCP. Can you imagine voters looking at that? Yet fifty-seven percent of
them saw through it."

IF THIS YEAR'S OUTCOME TURNS out to be an important turning point, one
explanation may be that the 1998 referendum propositions were different.
They were designed be law-enforcement friendly, and they included new
regulatory rules that avoid much of the legal ambiguity and conflict that
followed California's decriminalization vote in 1996.

One problem with the referendum passed by California voters was that while
authorizing medical use of marijuana, it included no provision for
addressing the overall legal status of the drug. Thus, police arrested some
patients for possession. The Feds raided marijuana clubs set up to sell the
stuff. At a Washington, D.C. press conference in late 1996, heavy hitters
from Bill Clinton's Cabinet threatened reprisals against doctors who
prescribed cannabis to their patients. Doctors might lose their licenses,
officials warned, or become ineligible to receive Medicare reimbursements
for their services.

"You can imagine the impact this had on California doctors," Zimmerman
says. "They were being threatened with losing their livelihoods."

The new measures approved in states like Washington solve many of these
problems for doctors and law enforcement officers. State-issued ID cards
will be required for patients entitled to use marijuana. Doctors must
provide a diagnosis justifying the prescription for victims of cancer, AIDS
glaucoma, multiple sclerosis or epilepsy. The patient then takes that to
state health agency and receives credentials to purchase the drug (though
this process doesn't entirely settle the question of who can legally
produce or sell it).

"If federal agencies try to block implementation, as they did in
California, they will have to take on state agencies rather than marijuana
clubs," Zimmerman explains.

Dr. Ethan Nadelmann is a leading authority on banned drugs and an architect
of the medical-rights campaign, largely financed by George Soros' Open
Society Institute. Nadelmann -- director of the Lindesmith Center, a
drug-policy institute -- expects each referendum victory to produce more
new ideas and practical solutions for regulating sales and use. Each
victory also puts more elected leaders on the spot.

"Those politicians who thought there was no cost to indulging in drug-war
demagoguery may now find themselves in an argument with their own voters,"
Nadelmann says. "They don't want to face up to that, but the American
people will no longer be duped by such inflammatory language."

BACK IN WASHINGTON, D.C., the drug czar, Gen. Barry McCaffrey, responded in
muted terms to this new setback for his war. He reminded everyone that
state referendums do not change the fact that marijuana possession is
against federal law. Still, the statement from his Office of National Drug
Policy sounded almost conciliatory: "The U.S. medical-scientific process
has not closed the door on marijuana or any other substance that may offer
therapeutic benefits. However, both law and common sense dictate that the
process for establishing substances as medicine be thorough and

McCaffrey's opposition is not impressed.

They speak in two different voices," Nadelmann says. "One ridicules medical
marijuana, the patients and doctors. The other approach is to say, 'Let the
science prevail.' Yet any time the medical-marijuana studies come up through
their system of scientific review and gain legitimacy, they are cut off by
political decisions."

McCaffrey's spokesman, Bob Weiner, denies this, but he then argues that if
research ever establishes marijuana's medical benefits, the results might
take the advocates somewhere they don't want to go. "What they don't want
to hear is that smoke is not a medicine and has never been approved as a
way to deliver medicine," Weiner says. A better delivery method for medical
pot, he playfully suggests, might prove to be suppositories.

Independent scientific studies that seem to confirm benefits or refute
negative complaints have had zero impact on drug-war politics so far.
That's why grass-roots activists started the campaign. They see no prospect
of the Republican Congress (or the Democratic president, for that matter)
allowing the Federal Drug Administration or the National Institutes of
Health to do a genuine, thorough investigation of what doctors and patients
already know from their own experience.

"When I started in this campaign, I began to meet patients with AIDS and
cancer who told me marijuana saved their lives," says Zimmerman, who with
two physicians co-authored Is Marijuana the Right Medicine for You?, a book
published this year. "I was skeptical at first. Then I learned that
one-third of cancer and AIDS patients drop out of their chemotherapy
treatment because they can't stand the side effects. They were willing to
risk death instead. A lot of these people told me how marijuana would
instantly stop the pain and nausea. They returned to treatment and survived."

One living example is Keith Vines, an assistant district attorney in San
Francisco. "He was wasting away with AIDS, started using marijuana to
stimulate his appetite, gained forty pounds and then was admitted to the
drug-therapy program," Zimmerman reports. "Today he's fully functioning as
a prosecutor. He attributes his life to marijuana."

Law-enforcement officers are correct in their suspicions, of course. The
medical issue will help to soften the image of pot, which, in turn, may
create a political climate for relaxing the criminal laws aimed at the
drug. Many advocates think that the consumption of cannabis, regardless of
the user's purpose, should be regarded in the same way as the consumption
of alcohol -- dangerous only if it is abused. Not all advocates entirely
agree. George Soros has donated millions to campaigns against the nation's
unduly harsh drug laws and for medical use of marijuana, but he is
explicitly opposed to full legalization. Californians who voted for medical
marijuana in 1996 were asked in a survey whether they favored legalizing
pot: Sixty-one percent were opposed.

Meanwhile, despite the grass-roots counterattack, the War on Drugs rolls
forward at both state and federal levels, employing prison as its mightiest
weapon against drug abuse. From 1991 to 1995, Nadelmann points out, the
number of marijuana arrests doubled, more than half of them for possession
alone. In 1996, 642,000 Americans were arrested for marijuana offenses.

This larger battlefield is much more formidable, but citizen guerrillas are
also winning some victories here. In Oregon, for instance, the state
effectively decriminalized pot in the early 1970s -- minor offenses were
treated more or less like traffic tickets. Last year, however, the state
legislature re-criminalized marijuana by a two-thirds majority.

In the October elections, Oregon voters reversed the legislature's action
-- approving a referendum that repealed the re-criminalization law. The
vote was sixty-six percent to thirty-three percent.

"What this says to me," Nadelmann reflects, "is that people feel we have
over-criminalized marijuana. We're supposed to spend millions of dollars to
go after small amounts of marijuana. The people in Oregon said, `No, we
don't want that.' "

THE REPUBLICAN FLAME-throwers in Congress, led by the lately departed Newt
Gingrich, have always blamed the Sixties for whatever ails the republic --
the moral decay launched by drugs, sex and rock & roll. Wouldn't it be a
hoot if the Sixties wins the pot debate just as Newt gets pushed offstage
by his own conservative colleagues?

Alas, the political struggle to establish rational laws on drugs and drug
abuse is a long way from resolution. While state voters were introducing a
touch of reason to the debate, the federal government was ginning up for
another expensive attempt at drug interdiction. The new budget provides at
least $690 million more for quasi-military efforts to block cocaine from
entering the country through Latin American. That buys lots of high-tech
hardware to police our vast borders -- surveillance planes, ships and
helicopters -- but drug importers have always found a way around them.

That money might have opened a lot of new treatment centers instead - a
less sexy solution to drug abuse but one that demonstratably works. The
government is not yet ready to declare such an armistice, but sane voices
from popular campaigns -- and especially their score card of victories --
make it harder and harder for politicians to blink away the contradictions
and injustices of the drug war.

If the federal government does not rethink its hard-line policy against
medical marijuana, then the campaign will move on to more states and
collect more victories. Zimmerman says that Maine citizens are expected to
vote on the issue in 1999. In 2000, Colorado and Nevada must vote again to
complete adoption. The groundwork is being laid to put medical marijuana on
the ballot in Massachusetts, Michigan, Ohio and Florida.

Florida will be tough. In national polling on the subject, medical
marijuana draws majority support in every region except one - the South. If
it can win in Florida, the matter will be virtually decided.

The issue, in other words, raises the same question that both parties are
now pondering about national politics: Has the Republican "Southern
strategy" finally run out of steam? Targeting Southern voters and states
has proved a great success for the GOP, the key to its congressional
majority. But it also has tripped the party into dominance by hard-right
attitudes that moderate voters are now rejecting.

Does it make sense to allow the nation's most conservative politicians to
dictate their reactionary social values and public policy to the rest of
us? Republicans will have to answer that question for themselves, but so
will two other successful Southern politicians: Bill Clinton and Al Gore.

Charles: Why Don't You Try Cannabis? (The Sun, in Britain,
says Prince Charles put further pressure on the Government to legalise
marijuana for medical use when he asked a multiple sclerosis patient,
"Have you tried taking cannabis? I have heard it's the best thing for it."
The patient said later, "He is a lovely man. He is really caring."
Last night charity chiefs and medics backed the Prince. Rosemary Leonard,
the Sun's doctor said: "This shows how well-informed he is." But Charles
is not the first Royal to back the use of cannabis for pain relief.
Queen Victoria used it to ease period pains.)

Date: Mon, 28 Dec 1998 19:01:47 -0800
From: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org (MAPNews)
To: mapnews@mapinc.org
Subject: MN: UK: Charles: Why Don't You Try Cannabis?
Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Reply-To: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/
Newshawk: CLCIA http://www.foobar.co.uk/users/ukcia/groups/clcia.html
Pubdate: Thu, 24 Dec 1998
Source: The Sun (UK)
Author: Charles Rae, Royal Reporter
Contact: letters@the-sun.co.uk
Note: Our newshawk writes: Keep your letters short


His Shock Advice To MS Girl At Care Home

Prince Charles caused amazement yesterday by telling a multiple sclerosis
sufferer she should try smoking cannabis.

The Prince stunned wheelchair-bound Karen Drake when he asked if she had
used the illegal drug.

He said: "Have you tried taking cannabis? I have heard it's the best thing
for it."

Shocked Karen said later: "I was surprised, but I think I would like to at
least try it."

Charles made the controversial remark on a visit to a day centre for
victims in Cheltenham, Gloucs.

His backing for the drug puts further pressure on the Government to
legalise it for medical use.

Many MS victims take cannabis because they find normal remedies do not
work. But they face prosecution if they are caught. Sufferers received new
hope recently when a House of Lords committee called for trials into the
medical merits of the drug.

Many experts would like to see it prescribed by hospitals on a
named-patient basis.

Last night charity chiefs and medics backed the Prince.

Rosemary Leonard, The Sun's doctor said: "This shows how well-informed he is."


"MS sufferers have found cannabis helpful in relieving symptoms like
incontinence and spasms, which can be painful.

"It is being used by a significant number of MS sufferers. But there are
concerns about the quality of cannabis some people are using.

"What is desperately needed on this is proper clinical trials."

A spokesman for the prince said: "He is aware of the issue of the use of
cannabis for MS sufferers. He is very interested in health. It is one of
his major portfolios."

Karen, a divorced mum from Cheltenham, developed MS ten years ago. She got
Charles to sign one of her paintings as they chatted at a Sue Ryder home on

Karen added: "He is a lovely man. He is really caring."

Day centre leader Pam Neilens added: "The Prince makes everyone laugh and
he makes all the patients happy."

Charles is not the first Royal to back the use of cannabis for pain relief.
Queen Victoria used it to ease period pains.

Ever Tried Cannabis? Prince Asks MS Sufferer
(The version in Britain's Guardian)

Date: Fri, 25 Dec 1998 05:31:53 -0800
From: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org (MAPNews)
To: mapnews@mapinc.org
Subject: MN: UK: Ever Tried Cannabis? Prince Asks MS Sufferer
Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Reply-To: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/
Newshawk: DrugSense
Source: The Guardian (UK)
Copyright: Guardian Media Group plc.1998
Pubdate: Thu, 24 Dec 1998
Contact: letters@guardian.co.uk
FAX: 0171 713 4250
Mail: 119 Farringdon Road London EC1 3ER
Website: http://www.guardian.co.uk/
Author: Amelia Gentleman
Related: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v98.n1190.a08.html


Anti-establishment forces campaigning to legalise cannabis could be joined
by an altogether more orthodox figure - the Prince of Wales has hinted that
he approves of its use as an alternative method of pain relief.

During a visit to a day care centre this week he suggested to a multiple
sclerosis sufferer that cannabis might ease her crippling pain.

Karen Drake, confined to a wheelchair by her illness, met Prince Charles at
the Sue Ryder Home in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, when he made the
informal visit on Sunday.

After asking after her health, the prince inquired whether she had
experimented with alternative remedies. "He asked me if I had tried taking
cannabis, saying he understood that, under strict medical supervision, it
was one of the best things for it," she said yesterday.

Ms Drake, aged 36, admitted she was was somewhat taken aback; she told him
she had never tried the drug and pointed out that it was illegal. But she
had felt touched by his concern. "I was surprised that he asked me, but it
was nice of him to be so considerate. It showed that he had thought about
the condition, and knew what was helpful.

"I've never tried it in the past because it is not legal. But I'd give
anything a chance if it worked."

Yesterday a spokeswoman for Prince Charles declined to comment on remarks
which she said had been made during a private visit. But she said: "Prince
Charles is aware of the issue of the use of cannabis for MS sufferers.
Health is one of his major portfolios, and I think people would be
surprised if he wasn't aware of the debate on the treatment of MS sufferers."

Prince Charles, who as an adolescent experimented with nothing stronger
than cherry brandy, did not suggest the drug be decriminalised.
Nevertheless, campaigners for legalisation seized on his comments.

Paul Flynn, Labour MP for Newport West, said: "It is splendid advice from a
most unexpected source.

"The Government is in a tiny minority on this issue, but I am encouraged to
learn that the high level of popular support for the use of cannabis for
medicinal purposes has reached Buckingham Palace."

Rob Christopher, founder of the Free Medical Marijuana Foundation, which
supplies free cannabis by post to MS sufferers, added: "Cannabis is a very
effective way of controlling muscle spasms, improving bladder control, and
as a relief from the pain - which can be crippling for MS sufferers. It is
excellent to hear that someone in such a high position in society is
thinking about its advantages and is willing to speak openly about it."

The Multiple Sclerosis Society reacted more cautiously. Peter Cardy, the
charity's chief executive, said: "The prince is right to say some sufferers
who take cannabis find relief from the unpleasant symptoms. I would be
inclined to think it a doctor's place, as opposed to that of Prince
Charles, to make recommendations about trying cannabis."

The society is not opposed in principle to cannabis, but recommends it
should be subjected to thorough clinical trials like any other drug before
becoming freely available to sufferers.

Prince Charles is not the first member of the royal family to support use
of cannabis as medicine. Queen Victoria is said to have used it to ease
period pains.

Prince Ponders Medicinal Value Of Cannabis (The version in The Times)

Date: Thu, 24 Dec 1998 04:53:01 -0800
From: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org (MAPNews)
To: mapnews@mapinc.org
Subject: MN: UK: Prince Ponders Medicinal Value Of Cannabis
Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Reply-To: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/
Newshawk: Paul Canning
Source: The Times (UK)
Pubdate: Thu, 24 Dec 1998
Copyright: 1998 Times Newspapers Ltd
Contact: letters@the-times.co.uk
Mail: The Times, PO Box 496, London E1 9XN United Kingdom
Fax: +44-(0)171-782 5988
Website: http://www.the-times.co.uk/
Author: Ian Murray, Medical Correspondent


THE Prince of Wales has expressed an interest in the effectiveness of
cannabis in relieving the pain of diseases such as multiple sclerosis.

During his annual visit to the Sue Ryder Home in Cheltenham,
Gloucestershire, he asked Karen Drake, who has MS: "Have you tried taking
cannabis? I have heard it's the best thing for it."

Mrs Drake, 36, said afterwards: "I was surprised but I think I would like
at least to try it. Anything that can help relieve the pain can only be for
the good."

The Prince raised the subject after she gave him a copy she had made of a
Monet painting. A spokesman for the Prince said that the conversation had
been private. "If the Prince does have a view on this matter, he is not
making it known," he said.

Gillian Rose, the home's appeals co-ordinator, said: "I only presume he
mentioned it because it is a talking point for MS sufferers."

In November the House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology
recommended that doctors should be allowed to prescribe cannabis to some of
the 85,000 MS sufferers in Britain. The Government said that it would not
consider doing so until there had been extensive clinical trials.

Next month the Multiple Sclerosis Society will publish a protocol worked
out with the Royal Pharmaceutical Society on how clinical trials on
cannabis and its derivatives should be conducted.

The society believes that trials are essential to find out whether cannabis
has dangerous long-term effects and believes that only neurologists should
be allowed to prescribe the drug.

"We recognise that some people who use cannabis to relieve symptoms find
themselves on the wrong side of the law but we do not feel they should be
treated as criminals," a spokesman said.

"There is anecdotal evidence that smoking cannabis can help in some cases
but not in all. We wouldn't recommend that anyone breaks the law."

Charles: Ever Tried Smoking Cannabis? (The version in The Mirror)

Date: Fri, 25 Dec 1998 18:15:24 -0800
From: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org (MAPNews)
To: mapnews@mapinc.org
Subject: MN: UK: Charles: Ever Tried Smoking Cannabis?
Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Reply-To: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/
Newshawk: DrugSense
Source: The Mirror (UK)
Copyright: 1998 MGN, Ltd
Pubdate: 24 Dec 1998
Contact: Mail: One Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London, E14 5AP
Website: http://www.mirror.co.uk/
Forum: http://www.mirror.co.uk:80/forum/index.htm


PRINCE Charles asked a multiple sclerosis sufferer if she had ever used
cannabis to ease the pain of her illness. The prince fuelled the debate
over the medical benefits of the drug when he met wheelchair-bound Karen
Drake, 36, at a centre for victims of MS, cancer and motor neurone disease.
He asked her: "Have you tried taking cannabis? I've heard it's the best
thing for it."

Karen admitted yesterday: "I was surprised but I think I would like to at
least try it. Anything that can help relieve the pain can only be for the
good." Charles, whose interest in organic foods and holistic medicine is
well known, made the comment during his annual visit as patron of the Sue
Ryder Home charity.

He spent two hours chatting with patients. Divorcee Karen, who first met
the prince at the home last year, gave him a copy of a Monet painting which
took her three months to complete.

They talked about their shared love of painting and Charles signed one of
Karen's works.

She said: "He's really caring and has got time for everyone."

The ex-sales assistant, who has a 17-year-old daughter, developed MS 10
years ago. Gillian Rose, appeals co-ordinator at the home in Cheltenham,
Gloucs, said: "I presume he mentioned it because it's a talking point for
MS sufferers. He is such a nice chap and everyone said it was just like
having a friend drop in."

Last month, a House of Lords committee recommended a quick change of law to
allow doctors to prescribe cannabis to some patients. They also called for
more research.

The Multiple Sclerosis Society backed the move, but the Government rejected
it, insisting on longer clinical trials.

Society chief Peter Cardy said: "The prince is right to say some sufferers
who take cannabis find relief from unpleasant symptoms. I'd be inclined to
think it a doctor's place to make recommendations about trying cannabis as
opposed to Prince Charles.

"But I don't think the prince is setting himself up as a doctor. For him to
be concerned is great. People with MS don't choose to become criminals.
It's regrettable that when they find something that works for them they
have to deal in the criminal world."

A spokeswoman for Charles said: "The prince is aware of the issue of the
use of cannabis for MS sufferers."

Charles Joins Cannabis Debate (The Scotsman version)

Date: Fri, 25 Dec 1998 18:31:25 -0800
From: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org (MAPNews)
To: mapnews@mapinc.org
Subject: MN: UK: Charles Joins Cannabis Debate
Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Reply-To: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/
Newshawk: DrugSense
Source: The Scotsman (UK)
Copyright: 1998 The Scotsman Publications Ltd
Pubdate: 24 Dec 1998
Contact: Letters_ts@scotsman.com
FAX: (+44) 0131 226 7420
Mail: 20 North Bridge, Edinburgh EH1 1YT Scotland
Website: http://www.scotsman.com/
Forum: http://www.scotsman.com/
Author: Tom Little


Prince Tells A Multiple Sclerosis Sufferer He Has Heard It Was The 'Best

THE debate on the legalisation of cannabis was reignited yesterday when it
was claimed that the Prince of Wales had told a multiple sclerosis sufferer
he had heard it was the "best thing" for the disease.

The prince's surprising intervention was welcomed by campaigners who have
called for the drug to be made available on the National Health Service for
the treatment of various medical conditions. However, the prince was
accused of meddling by critics who advocate a "zero tolerance" approach to

The row erupted after Prince Charles made an annual visit to a day care
centre where he met Karen Drake, 36, who has suffered from multiple
sclerosis for ten years.

Details of the conversation between the two emerged yesterday when Ms Drake
said she was astonished when the prince brought up the illegal use of
cannabis as a form of pain relief by many sufferers.

Ms Drake, a wheelchair-bound divorcee from Cheltenham, said his comments
came out of the blue after they had discussed a mutual interest in
painting. She said: "He asked me about MS and how long I had had it. He
asked if I had taken cannabis. He said he had heard it was the best thing
for it. I was surprised that he asked me about it, but he is a lovely man,
he is really caring."

She added: "I was surprised, but I think I would like to at least try it.
Anything that can help relieve the pain can only be for the good."

Ms Drake spends several hours a week at the Sue Ryder Home, in Cheltenham,
of which Prince Charles is patron. The centre caters for sufferers of
cancer and motor neurone disease as well as multiple sclerosis.

Gillian Rose, the home's appeals co-ordinator, said the prince's visits
were usually informal. She added: "He was talking with one of the ladies in
the day care centre who sufferers from MS. I only presume he mentioned it
because it is a talking point for MS sufferers."

Prince Charles was accompanied on his visit on Tuesday by Lady Ryder, who
set up the Sue Ryder Foundation in 1952. She said she did not overhear the

A spokeswoman for the prince later stressed he had not taken a stance on
the medical use of cannabis.

The spokeswoman added: "We are not going to deny that a conversation of
this nature took place but the point is that we was not advocating one way
or the other. He merely asked a question relating to the matter.

"He is not entering the debate but is aware that there is one. Indeed it
would be surprising if someone with the prince's interest in health was not
aware of such a debate."

Cannabis has been used as a painkiller for at least 5,000 years and recent
research, including ground-breaking work by Dr Roger Pertwee of Aberdeen
University, has been used by those who claim it should be available on

The House of Lords science and technology committee this year recommended
further research, and last month George Howarth, the Home Office minister
indicated the Government was prepared to license clinical trials.

The Multiple Sclerosis Society has advocated such research and Peter Cardy,
the charity's chief executive, welcomed Prince Charles's intervention. He
said: "The prince is right to say some sufferers who take cannabis find
relief from the unpleasant symptoms. I think the prince's concern just
shows how important it is that this issue gets addressed instead of being
swept under the carpet.

"It is good to have his recognition of not only the disease but how nasty
the effects can be.

"Quite a lot of people with MS do use cannabis because they find
conventional remedies don't work or are not prescribed for some of the
nasty symptoms like spasm and pain.

"People with MS don't choose to become criminals and we think it is sad and
regrettable that when they find something that works for them they have to
deal in the criminal world."

However, Jan Betts, 49, whose daughter Leah died after taking an ecstasy
tablet on her 18th birthday, said: "Prince Charles doesn't know what he's
talking about. How does he know cannabis is the best thing for MS? "

Linda Hendry, the Scottish spokeswoman of the Legalise Cannabis Campaign,
said: "Anything which raises awareness of the issue is welcome. Prince
Charles is a compassionate person."

Prince Charles drawn into medicinal marijuana debate
(The Associated Press version)

Date: Thu, 24 Dec 1998 23:37:07 -0500
To: "DRCTalk Reformers' Forum" (drctalk@drcnet.org)
From: ltneidow@voyager.net (Lee T. Neidow)
Subject: Royal med mj perspective
Reply-To: drctalk@drcnet.org
Sender: owner-drctalk@drcnet.org

Prince Charles drawn into medicinal marijuana debate

LONDON (AP) - Prince Charles was drawn into the debate on the
medicinal properties of marijuana after asking a multiple sclerosis
sufferer if she had ever tried it, newspapers reported Thursday.

The Guardian newspaper quoted 36-year-old Karen Drake, who
suffers from multiple sclerosis, as saying that the prince had heard
marijuana was good for easing the pain of the disease.

``He (the prince) asked me if I have tried taking cannabis, saying that he
understood that, under strict medical supervision, it was one of the best
things for it,'' Drake was quoted as saying.

The Sun tabloid, Britain's largest-selling newspaper, reported the
conversation as ``advice.''

But a spokeswoman for the heir to the throne said the prince was
speaking during a private, informal visit on Tuesday to a west England
charity home, and that the conversation was private.

``The Prince of Wales is aware of the current debate on the issue as to
whether cannabis should be available to people suffering from severe
pain brought on by MS,'' the spokeswoman said on customary
condition of anonymity. ``But he has never spoken publicly on the issue
and his is a private view.''

The Multiple Sclerosis Society has called for clinical trials to investigate
claims that the drug can relieve symptoms.

China's Shenzhen Executes 11 For Drug Trafficking (Reuters
says China's southern boomtown of Shenzhen executed 11 drug dealers,
including a teenaged girl, in the city's second major legally sanctioned
bloodbath this year.)

Newshawk: General Pulaski
Pubdate: Thur, 24 Dec 1998
Source: Reuters
Copyright: 1998 Reuters Limited.


SHENZHEN, China, Dec 24 (Reuters) - China's southern boomtown of Shenzhen
executed 11 drug dealers, including a teenaged girl, in the city's second
major judicial killing this year, the Special Zone Daily said on Thursday.

The Shenzhen intermediate people's court sentenced 17 people for drug-
related crimes on Wednesday, and 11 were handed the death penalty then
immediately taken away to be shot, it said.

In the city's largest-ever mass execution, 30 people were killed by a firing
squad in August for crimes ranging from murder and robbery to dealing in
guns and bullets, local media have said.

Chinese courts hand out capital punishment for a wide variety of offences,
including economic crimes and trafficking in cultural relics.

The London-based human rights group Amnesty International said in a report
last year that China executed more people in the 1990s than the rest of the
world put together.

Executions in China are generally carried out by a single bullet to the base
of the skull, although some cities are experimenting with lethal injection.

The newspaper gave details on only four of those killed, including 20-year
old Zhuang Jianxiong, who was found with 390 grams (13.65 ounces) of heroin,
the newspaper said.

He was apprehended as he tried to sell the drugs at a travel agency in
Shenzhen's suburban Longang district with 18-year-old accomplice Tang
Linjiao. She was also executed, it said.

Police caught Lin Zhuoshan and Lin Hailong in a hotel with 300 grams (10.5
ounces) of heroin hidden in a bag of lychee fruit, and 920 grams (2.02
pounds) were later uncovered in Lin Hailong's home, it said.

Although drug abuse had been all but wiped out in China during the early
year of Communist rule, use of illegal narcotics has risen since the late
1980s, as economic reforms have boosted personal incomes and loosened social

Shenzhen, a freewheeling special economic zone which borders Hong Kong, acts
as a conduit for heroin factories in the southwestern province of Yunnan.

Courts are particularly hard on heroin traffickers, as the poppy- derived
drug evokes memories of widespread opium addiction in pre-Communist years,
after China was defeated by Britain in the 19th-century Opium Wars.

The Week Online with DRCNet, Issue No. 72 (The Drug Reform Coordination
Network's original compilation of news and calls to action regarding drug
policy, including - A message to our readers; Livingston out as speaker, drug
warrior Hastert set to take gavel; Court hears case to decide fate of D.C.
medical marijuana initiative; Monitoring The Future survey released;
Appalachia: under the gun; and an editorial, Impeach This, by Adam J. Smith.)

Date: Thu, 24 Dec 1998 12:28:58 -0500
To: drc-natl@drcnet.org
From: DRCNet (drcnet@drcnet.org)
Subject: The Week Online with DRCNet, Issue #72
Sender: owner-drc-natl@drcnet.org

The Week Online with DRCNet, Issue #72 -- December 24, 1998
A Publication of the Drug Reform Coordination Network


(To sign off this list, mailto:listproc@drcnet.org with the
line "signoff drc-natl" in the body of the message, or
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this list, visit http://www.drcnet.org/signup.html.)

(This issue can be also be read on our web site at
http://www.drcnet.org/wol/072.html. Check out the DRCNN
weekly radio segment at http://www.drcnet.org/drcnn/.)

PERMISSION to reprint or redistribute any or all of the
contents of The Week Online is hereby granted. We ask that
any use of these materials include proper credit and, where
appropriate, a link to one or more of our web sites. If
your publication customarily pays for publication, DRCNet
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the materials gratis. In all cases, we request notification
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Network, 2000 P St., NW, Suite 615, Washington, DC 20036,
(202) 293-8340 (voice), (202) 293-8344 (fax), e-mail
drcnet@drcnet.org. Thank you.


1. A Message to our Readers

2. Livingston Out as Speaker, Drug Warrior Hastert Set to
Take Gavel

3. Court Hears Case to Decide Fate of D.C. Medical Marijuana

4. Monitoring The Future Survey Released

5. Appalachia: Under the Gun

6. EDITORIAL: Impeach This


1. A Message to our Readers

HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO OUR READERS! Dave, Adam, Karynn and Kris
would like to wish all of our subscribers a happy and
healthy holiday season. A special thanks to all of you who
have supported our work this year, during what has been a
very promising time for the reform movement. Your help
makes our work possible, and in 1999, that work will be more
effective and higher-profile than ever.

For those who have not gotten around to sending a check, or
who are considering sending an additional contribution
before the year ends, please note that DRCNet will send a
free copy of Shattered Lives to persons who donate $35 or
more, or a copy of the video, Sex, Drugs and Democracy to
persons donating $75 or more. And while we won't be able to
get them to you until after New Year's, we will send them to
anyone on your list who could use a little education on the
destructiveness of the Drug War (Shattered Lives) or on the
benefits of a freer society (Sex, Drugs and Democracy).

In any case, in this time of giving and renewal, please
consider sending what you can to support DRCNet, and by so
doing, promote the cause of a Drug War Free millennium!

To donate, please visit our web form at
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this case we recommend sending your check or credit card
donation in by mail rather than online, as the transmission
will not be encrypted.)

Thanks again, and Happy Holidays!


2. Livingston Out as Speaker, Drug Warrior Hastert Set to
Take Gavel

In the wake of last week's resignation of House Speaker-
elect Bob Livingston, the latest casualty of the circus
maximus that has become our national political scene, J.
Dennis Hastert of the 14th District of Illinois looks to
have the speakership sewn up. Hastert has been portrayed
in the media this week as a "conciliator and a technocrat"
(New York Times editorial, 12/22/98), but a closer look,
especially in the context of drug policy reform, reveals
Hastert to be more of an ideologue.

Hastert was reelected to a sixth term in 1998, receiving 64%
of the vote in the suburban/rural 14th district. Prior to
his apparent ascension to the speaker's chair, he was Deputy
Majority Whip under Tom DeLay. More relevant to drug
reformers is Hastert's co-chairmanship of outgoing speaker
Newt Gingrich's "Speaker's Task Force for a Drug Free
America" (http://www.drcnet.org/wol/040.html#battle).
Hastert was also a co-sponsor, with Georgia Rep. Bob Barr,
of language in the 1999 District of Columbia Appropriations
Bill forbidding the district from spending money to count or
certify the results of this fall's medical marijuana
initiative, I-59 (see below).

Hastert, who was recently given a 100% favorable rating by
the Christian Coalition, was also one of the architects of
"super-ban" legislation which would have prevented federal
anti-AIDS monies from being distributed by states and localities
to any entity that practices syringe exchange, whether or
not the federal monies would go directly to such programs.
This bill (S. 1959) would have permanently barred the
Department of Health and Human Services from lifting the
funding ban.

Not surprisingly then, Hastert has indicated that he stands
in favor of spending more federal dollars on prison
construction, increasing penalties for drug offenses,
mandatory minimum sentences, and the death penalty for those
convicted of drug smuggling.

Hastert has also served as Chairman of the Subcommittee on
National Security, International Affairs and Criminal
Justice. It was Hastert's subcommittee that sponsored, in
September of 1997, hearings titled "Needle Exchange,
Legalization, and the failure of the Swiss Heroin
Experiments." The hearing, curiously titled, as it was held
days before the results of the successful Swiss heroin
maintenance trial were released, featured testimony from
opponents of syringe exchange, included testimony from the
sponsors of Switzerland's "Youth Against Drugs" initiative.
That initiative would have outlawed syringe exchange and
opiate maintenance in Switzerland, and would have sent that
country back down the road of punitive prohibition. The initiative
lost 71% to 29% (see http://www.drcnet.org/wol/013.html).

In a press release after the hearings, and just weeks before
the referendum would be voted upon, Hastert badly
underestimated the level of Swiss support for reform when he
said of the opiate maintenance trials, "this is a national
security issue, and I can only say that we applaud the Swiss
people for understanding the nature of the threat and
organizing to oppose the immoral act of giving away heroin
and expanding the risk of even higher youth drug use. The
Swiss have long resisted forces such as Germany in World War
II and Cold War Communism, and they are again resisting a
threat to both our cultures when they stand up to this
insidious, international effort to legalize these poisons."

Hastert's strong ideological opposition to public health
measures such as the availability of sterile syringes and
legal access to marijuana for medicinal purposes stands in
philosophical contrast to his long-time support for
"patients' rights." In 1995, Hastert was the co-author of
the Food and Dietary Supplement Act of 1995 (H.R.1951), an
FDA reform measure allowing for the communication of
"truthful, non-misleading" health information regarding
natural supplements to consumers via packaging and
advertising, and forbidding the FDA from classifying foods
and dietary supplements as "drugs." Such efforts seek to
open doors for citizens to become informed about and
incorporate natural substances into their health care

J. Dennis Hastert, a relative unknown on the national
political scene, thus steps into the void created first by
the resignation of Newt Gingrich and then by the resignation
of Bob Livingston. Hastert's other interests appear to
include making the Internet "safe for children," as
evidenced by his support of both the Communications Decency
Act of 1995 (struck down as unconstitutional) and of a
similar bill in 1997. In short, Hastert has shown that
while he might not share the high profile of some of his
better known "social conservatives," he is certainly no
stranger to intruding, from his federal perch, into the
private lives of citizens, both here and abroad, in an
effort to make them conform to his own ideas of morality.

(To learn more about J. Dennis Hastert, including the
identities of his major contributors, go to the web site of
the Center for Responsive Politics at http://www.crp.org.)


3. Court Hears Case to Decide Fate of D.C. Medical Marijuana

Scott Ehlers, Drug Policy Foundation, http://www.dpf.org

When District of Columbia voters went to the polls on
November 3 to vote on Initiative 59, the D.C. medical
marijuana initiative, most of them assumed that their vote
would be counted and the results of the election certified.

Unfortunately for District residents, Congress outlawed the
expenditure of funds on the vote, thanks to the efforts of
Rep. Bob Barr (R-GA), the author of the anti-democratic
amendment. Now the federal government has to expend more
tax dollars in an attempt to defend its actions in federal

On December 18, the ACLU (representing Wayne Turner, the
sponsor of Initiative 59) and the D.C. Board of Elections
argued that the Barr Amendment violated the First Amendment
and amounted to viewpoint discrimination by the federal
government. According to Graham Boyd, the ACLU lawyer
trying the case, the Supreme Court has established that such
discrimination is "per se unconstitutional" and therefore
the election results must be certified. The Clinton Justice
Department defended the Barr Amendment, arguing that
"Congress can legislate on anything in regard to the
District." Government lawyers also argued that the
initiative process was a power delegated to the District by
Congress, and "what Congress gives, it can take away."

The Barr Amendment prohibits federal funds from being "used
to conduct any ballot initiative which seeks to legalize or
otherwise reduce penalties associated with the possession,
use, or distribution of any schedule I substance under the
Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 802) or any
tetrahydrocannabinols derivative." In the August 6 debate
to support the amendment, Barr argued that the amendment was
necessary because "history dictates to us that these drug
legalization people do not give up... All this amendment
does is it prevents funds, appropriated funds, from being
used in any way to fund a ballot initiative. It strikes not
only at the ballot itself, but at using any funds for the
development of that ballot, for publicity surrounding that
ballot, the whole range of things that these drug
legalization people do, over and over and over again."

Barr's stated intention of trying to prohibit the views of
"these drug legalization people" became an issue at least
twice during the trial. The plaintiffs used the statement
as proof that the purpose of the amendment was to
discriminate against certain views, and U.S. District Judge
Richard Roberts referred to the statement in his cross-
examination of the Justice Department. The government
eventually admitted that the Barr Amendment did contain a
particular viewpoint, but it was constitutional because
Congress was simply doing its job of adopting public policy.

Also supporting the amendment was Rep. Dennis Hastert (R-
IL), a frontrunner in the battle for Speaker of the House.
Described in the press as a "moderate" and by Barr as "a
leader in the war against mind-altering drug usage," Hastert
said the amendment was necessary to insure the safety of the
millions of constituents who visit the nation's capitol. On
the House floor he said: "If we want a drug-free America, if
we want a drug-free workplace, if we want drug-free prisons
and drug-free schools and drug-free highways, we probably
ought to have a drug-free capital, to say to prohibit the
legalization of marijuana in the District of Columbia, where
millions of our constituents come, year in and year out, day
in and day out, week in and week out. They ought to be

Surprisingly, the federal government defense lawyers argued
that the Barr Amendment did not prohibit the D.C. Board of
Elections and Ethics from releasing the results of the
initiative vote, and that the vote tally should be made
public. They also argued, however, that the amendment did
prohibit the certification of the election.

Wayne Turner of ACTUP-DC (http://www.actupdc.org) told the
Associated Press that the federal government's reasoning is
"basically turning an election into a public opinion poll.
This is about the right of the people of the District of
Columbia to have their votes counted and to have them

No date has been set for Judge Roberts' decision, but
lawyers are hoping for a ruling within the next two weeks,
according to the Washington Post. Stay posted to the Week
Online for news on the ruling.


4. Monitoring The Future Survey Released

War against Iraq and impeachment proceedings against
President Clinton meant that the latest teen drug use
statistics released last week fell beneath the national
radar screen. But U.S. Drug Czar General Barry McCaffrey
and Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala
were on hand December 18 to announce the results from this
year's Monitoring the Future Survey, which tabulates the
answers from a cross section of 50,000 8th, 10th, and 12th
graders each spring in an effort to determine trends in
adolescent drug use. The 1998 study from the University of
Michigan shows that use of some drugs, including marijuana,
tobacco, alcohol, amphetamines, and inhalants, has fallen
slightly for the second year in a row. The most
significant decline was seen with lifetime marijuana use by
10th graders, which fell 2.7 percent to 39.6 percent in
1997. Lifetime marijuana use by high school seniors fell
only 0.5 percent to 49.1 percent. The use of some other
drugs such as cocaine and heroin has leveled off.

Shalala, McCaffrey, and the study's director, Lloyd
Johnston, agreed that the improvements were a modest but
hopeful sign that teen drug use, which had increased slowly
but steadily in the early 90's, was beginning a general
downward trend. All three say the decline in drug use is
linked to an increase in the perceived harmfulness of drugs
by teens, for which they credit increased efforts by the
government to, in the words of Secretary Shalala, "convince
our young people that drug use is illegal, dangerous and
wrong." General McCaffrey agreed, saying the current drug
war strategy of prevention, treatment, and enforcement is
working. Currently, about two thirds of the 17 billion
dollar Federal drug war budget is spent on enforcement.

But other experts say long-term trends in drug use tell a
different story. Lynn Zimmer, Professor of Sociology at
Queens College and co-author of the book "Marijuana Myths,
Marijuana Facts: A Review of the Scientific Evidence," told
the Week Online, "If we look at the results from this study
since it began in 1975, we see a general pattern of rising
and falling rates of the use of different drugs over time.
It's not clear that anti-drug campaigns have any direct
effect on these patterns; in fact, it's obvious that teen
drug use trends rise and fall independently of the
government and the media."

Sandee Burbank, director of Mothers Against Misuse and Abuse
(MAMA), agrees. "Anybody who has been watching these trends
knows that drug use comes and goes naturally according to
the popularity of a given drug among a given age group," she
said. Burbank was critical of the "just say no" approach to
drug education favored by the government, because it doesn't
give teens the information they need to stay safe if they,
or their friends, do experiment with drugs. "What we have
to focus more on is getting good educational materials out
there to help people make informed decisions about all
drugs, legal, illegal, and over the counter. And we have to
teach people about the extremely punitive laws that target
young people, laws that would take their drivers licenses
away if they're caught with any amount of illegal drugs,
laws that would deny them scholastic advantages or student
loans if they have been caught with an illegal substance."

One of the most consistent figures in the Monitoring the
Future Survey has been the perceived availability of drugs
by high school seniors. Since 1975, from 80 to 90 percent
of 12th graders have ranked marijuana as "easy to get" or
"very easy to get." Burbank says these numbers show that
years of increased budgets for enforcement, which resulted
in more than 640,000 arrests on marijuana-related charges
alone in 1997, have failed to keep drugs away from schools
and kids. She said, "Putting parents in jail, and all the
other draconian methods in place, do not seem to have
reduced the availability of these drugs."

Figures from the 1998 Monitoring the Future Survey are
available on the web at http://www.isr.umich.edu/src/mtf/.

Mothers Against Misuse and Abuse is on the web at

For information on ordering Marijuana Myths, Marijuana
Facts, visit http://www.marijuanafacts.org.

Read Adam J. Smith's editorial, "Spin, You Win," on the
subject of drug use statistics, from the August 1998 Week
Online at http://www.drcnet.org/wol/056.html#editorial.


5. Appalachia: Under the Gun

Paul Lewin, Common Sense For Drug Policy,

In May of this year, the Federal Government designated 65
counties of Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia in the
Appalachian Mountain Range, a High Intensity Drug
Trafficking Area (HIDTA). This means that the DEA, ATF, FBI,
IRS, National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service and the U.S.
Attorney's Office will coordinate with each other, and the
local sheriffs, police departments, and DAs to stomp out all
forms of drug production, trafficking and use. The
designation also comes with a $6 million federal grant as
"seed money" to set up the new agency with staff, computer
equipment, offices and the typical array of vehicles.

If past experiences are any guide to what the residents of
Appalachia can expect, the alphabet soup of law enforcement
agencies will set up road blocks on rural roads to perform
search and seizure sweeps, armed men in camouflage with
automatic weapons will patrol by helicopter, and a small
army of undercover narcotics agents will set up local men
and women for arrest.

* Poverty and Little Economic Opportunity Cited As Justification

The federal government's labeling of 65 counties in 3 states
as a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area would seem to
imply that violent gangs and Colombian drug cartels were
terrorizing millions of residents of Appalachia,
necessitating a massive federal response. In fact, nothing
could be further from the truth.

In the official 'Appalachia HIDTA FY 98 - Threat Abstract,'
the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) states
that Appalachia warrants a federal crackdown because "in
this tri-state area financial development is limited,
poverty is rampant, and jobs are few. Marijuana has become
a substantial component of the local economy, surpassing
even tobacco as the largest cash crop. This has contributed
to a high level of community acceptance of marijuana
production, distribution, and consumption. Many honest
local merchants do not recognize signs of illegal drug
enterprises and in effect help launder drug proceeds. In
such an environment eradication and interdiction efforts are
difficult, as is obtaining intelligence, indictments, or an
unbiased jury." In other words, people are poor, locals
aren't that concerned about residents who are doing this,
and people aren't informing on their friends and neighbors
to the extent that the government desires.

The economic stress felt by the residents of Appalachia is
not adequately described in the ONDCP's "Threat Assessment."
In reviewing the latest census data, one quickly notices
that these folks aren't just poor, this is one of the most
economically deprived regions of America. West Virginia
ranks dead-last (50th) for median household income and
unemployment (48.6% of the civilian population was
unemployed in 1996 - of course, prisoners aren't counted).

Kentucky and Tennessee are also in the bottom 10% of the
nation for median household income, and they rank 8th and
11th, respectively, in the nation for the highest number of
infant deaths per 1,000 live births. In fact the only
categories where these three states lead the nation is in
their percentage of public aid recipients, their percentage
of population living below the poverty line, and in teen
pregnancy. Of course, the 65 counties designated as HIDTA,
have fared even worse.

The New War on the Poor

In the 1960s, federal officials toured Appalachia and
witnessed its tragic poverty. The attention brought to it
shocked America, which overall was enjoying an era of
unprecedented economic growth and prosperity. Together, the
federal government and the people of America vowed to fight
a War on Poverty so that all Americans would have an equal
opportunity in life. In that era, roads were built, schools
provided, and utilities like clean water and electricity
reached deep into Appalachia to bring relief. In the 1990s,
we live in another era of unprecedented economic prosperity,
yet this new War on Poverty has taken an ominous turn,
courtesy of the War on Drugs.

Rather than respond to the economic disparity which still
plagues most of the region with investment and development,
the federal government intends to respond by arresting
fathers and mothers (creating a generation of Drug War
orphans), seizing family homes, cars and businesses. Rather
than small business loans or investment in infrastructure,
federal dollars will be spent on guns, prisons and payoffs
to informants.

* Citizen Observation Groups Can Work

Forewarned is forearmed, or so the saying goes. Gathering
together the forces of the U.S. Government to pounce on
Appalachia will take time -- perhaps up to an entire year.
A lot can happen in one year, and if the citizens of the
HIDTA counties exercise their civil right to influence their
local government, the states involved can reject federal plans.

In Northern California, residents have turned out to oppose
aggressive marijuana eradication, because of the negative
community impact it has.

Forming "Citizen's Observation Groups," locals have
documented government helicopters violating federal laws on
flying altitude, environmental regulations, and endangered
species protection, plus they have kept track of illegal
search and seizure operations, and how many children have
been terrified by the men with face paint and automatic
guns. More importantly, by documenting what the government
was doing, they have been able to raise awareness within
their own communities and present a united front to their
local government, which eventually led to some county
supervisors voting to reject funding for the program.

(For more information on citizens' efforts to halt federal
eradication programs in Northern California, go to

You can contact Paul Lewin via e-mail at csdp@erols.com.


6. EDITORIAL: Impeach This

Adam J. Smith, DRCNet Associate Director

As the nation holds it collective breath in anticipation of
the next wave of absurdity from Washington, the questions
are being asked, over and over again, by pundits, reporters
and anyone else with an interest in sex, er, politics: "what
does all of this mean for the future of our country? To the
office of the Presidency? To our system of government?"

As we commoners sit, aghast, and watch the tawdry and
partisan proceedings, knowing full well that there is more
to come, these have become serious and highly relevant
queries. Here we have an institution, the American
Presidency, which represents the pinnacle of power in the
known universe, disgraced first by the President himself,
and now being dragged through the muck by the corrupt
denizens of the second most powerful institution in the
world, the United States Congress. Our elected
representatives to that body could not, of course, take the
President to task for his most destructive acts: the
auctioning off of the power of the United States Government
to the highest bidder in the campaign fundraising game, as
on that count they are as guilty as he. And so we are down
to sex, and lying about sex, which, it is becoming apparent,
many of our legislators do as well. Though not under oath,
save perhaps to their spouses.

But when we consider the taxpayer-financed spectacle that
these power-hungry cretins are making of our nation, we must
be careful to remember that the future of the country is a
wholly different matter than the future of either the
Democratic or the Republican party. Look carefully, if you
will, at our Constitution. Nowhere, you will note, does
that proud document specify anything about a two-party
monopoly on power. And although both parties have done
their best to institutionalize the status quo through
difficult ballot-access requirements and acts of political
perversion performed on large corporate donors, there is
nothing in either our laws or our traditions that assures
the existence or either party. If anything, we are all
watching the best argument against it.

And the parties, in addition to providing ample rationale
for their demise, are also unwittingly providing the means.

One by one over the past year, in an effort to make their
constituencies more relevant in the choosing of a standard-
bearer, the majority of states have opted to move their
primaries to dates earlier on the political calendar. Now,
with all of the fighting to the front of the line
accomplished, both parties will have chosen their next
presidential candidate in March of 2000, almost eight full
months before the actual election.

This stroke of genius will have two significant
ramifications. First, and most obviously, by shortening the
primary season, the parties have made it nearly impossible
for any but the most well-financed front-runner to win the
nomination. That insures that the candidates will be
insiders in the extreme, people with well-oiled connections,
party support, and established political organizations
behind them. Which leads us to the second point: in a
political cycle wherein both the donkeys and the elephants
have made asses of themselves, how excited, exactly, will
the American people be about the prospect of a choice
between two men (yes, they will be men... this is still
Washington, D.C.) who personify the sordid mess that appears
before us now on C-Span and the evening news?

Given this, and an interminable eight month campaign,
couldn't we assume that Americans, including those who are
stuck covering the campaign in the media, will have both the
time and the inclination to look for an interesting
alternative? And isn't it conceivable that the right
individual could come to the fore (General Colin Powell
springs immediately to mind), with a message that would
capture the large runoff Republican vote, some of the
moderate Democratic vote, and inspire large numbers of
people who would not have otherwise voted? Given that
potential base, the message would likely be economically
conservative -- with an eye toward creating real opportunity
for people and reigning in corporate power by disentangling
money from government; as well as socially libertarian -
reasserting the liberty of the individual to make personal
choices without being controlled or persecuted by the state.
Sort of Libertarian Light.

In this scenario, the American people could, for the first
time in living memory, elect a leader from outside of the
stagnant cesspool of the major parties. At the least, given
a strong effort to recruit statewide candidates behind a
well-known national ticket, we could see a significant
number of governorships and Congressional seats stripped
from both parties.

In 1992, Ross Perot, wealthy and steadily showing himself to
be insane, proved that at least 18% of the American people
would vote for a cucumber if they knew who the candidate
was, and he offered an alternative to the two major parties.
And in 1998, Jesse "The Governor" Ventura rode the reform
party's ballot access in Minnesota to win the state's
highest office on a policy platform very much like the one
described above. Many of the people who voted for Ventura
had previously given up on the system, or had never voted
before. Many others cast their ballot in sheer defiance of
the establishment candidates who had publicly ridiculed the
idea of "wasting votes" on one who was not a member of their
political club.

What Ventura's victory showed is that there is at least a
plurality, if not a majority of potential voters who yearn
for something more real than professional politicians,
addicted to power and disdainful of sovereignty of the
individual. There are Americans, lots and lots of Americans
who, dared to do it, will think, and even vote outside the
proverbial box. The behavior in recent months of our
elected leaders shows that they do not take this threat
seriously. But given the traps they have set for
themselves, they might very well find that the folly is

There is, you see, the potential for a good result to come
of this madness. The Republicans and the Democrats have
become so alike in their corruption, in their arrogance, in
their disdain for their constituents as to have become
joined as one at the heart. And in the blindness born of
their power-lust, they are unable to see that in gouging at
the jugular of the co-sanguine other, they are bleeding
themselves to death. It must be remembered, when
contemplating the current mess, that the fortunes of the
United States are wholly separable from the fortunes of the
current political establishment. That separation, in fact,
might be vital to the survival of the nation.


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