Portland NORML News - Saturday, December 26, 1998

Critics launch ad campaign opposing Rockefeller drug laws
(The Associated Press says a bipartisan coalition opposing New York state's
mandatory-minimum drug laws is launching radio advertisements calling for
an overhaul of the rigid 25-year-old sentencing guidelines. Among those
on the coalition are one of the original sponsors, former state Sen.
H. Douglas Barclay, and Warren Anderson, who was state Senate
Majority Leader when the laws were enacted in 1973.)

From: "Bob Owen@W.H.E.N." (when@olywa.net)
To: "_Drug Policy --" (when@hemp.net)
Subject: Critics launch ad campaign opposing Rockefeller drug laws
Date: Sat, 26 Dec 1998 20:05:55 -0800
Sender: owner-when@hemp.net

Critics launch ad campaign opposing Rockefeller drug laws

By Shannon Mccaffrey
Associated Press
12/26/98 20:57

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - A bipartisan coalition opposing New York's Rockefeller
drug laws is launching radio advertisements calling for an overhaul of the
rigid 25-year-old sentencing guidelines.

The 60-second radio spots tell the true stories of people unable to be with
their families over the holidays because they are serving lengthy prison
sentences for relatively low-level drug offenses under the New York laws,
which are among the harshest in the nation.

The ads will run in Buffalo, Rochester and on Long Island through the end of
the year.

``Lucy Brady wished she too could be with her family. But she can't. Not
this year. Maybe not for many years to come,'' one of the ads said. ``Her
crime? She was just there, young, in an apartment where drugs were sold. Her
sentence? Fifteen years to life.''

Lobbying against the Rockefeller drug laws, which mandate 15-years-to-life
for possessing 4 ounces of a drug or selling 2 ounces, is nothing new. But
the radio ad campaign turns up the pressure at a time when the Pataki
administration is said to be seriously weighing giving the laws a second

Patrick McCarthy, a spokesman for Gov. George Pataki, would say only that
the governor was considering a host of crime-related issues for the coming
legislative session. But some sources say high-level talks are taking place
on reforming the Rockefeller drug laws.

Many say Pataki has the tough-on-crime credentials to make changes to the

``It is widely recognized that this is the political moment to do it,'' said
Robert Gangi, executive director of the Correctional Association of New York

He said that polls and editorial boards showed widespread support for the
changes. The fact that it is a non-election year is also helpful, he added.

``No political figure will defend them,'' Gangi said. ``The political
climate is ready.''

Indeed, among those on the coalition calling for changes to the laws are one
of their original sponsors, former state Sen. H. Douglas Barclay, of
Syracuse. Also on board is Warren Anderson, who was state Senate Majority
Leader when the laws were enacted in 1973.

Also involved in the campaign is John Dunne, a former state senator and a
former assistant U.S. attorney general, and the Rev. Floyd Flake, a former
New York City congressman. All are on the Campaign For Effective Criminal
Justice, which comprises conservative criminal justice experts, religious
leaders, former judges as well as activists in minority and women's issues.

The ads are also sponsored by Reconsider, a not-for-profit group concerned
with the national drug policies.

The ads come after Pataki for the first time announced that he would not be
granting any clemencies this year. Of the 13 prison sentences Pataki has
commuted since taking office in 1994, 11 have been for convictions under the
Rockefeller drug laws.

Some, disappointed with his failure to do so again this year, were hopeful
he might instead be prepared to make changes to the law itself.

``It is my hope that something good will come of this,'' said Deborah Small,
of Research and Policy Reform Inc. ``It is long past time to move in a new

Grandparents enlisted in war on drugs (The Associated Press
says the White House drug czar's Office of National Drug Control Policy
has launched an ad campaign to coax grandparents into "talking to their
grandchildren about the dangers of drugs" - since at least one
of every nine school-age children has at least one parent incarcerated
on a drug-related offense, apparently the government feels parents
are no longer supporting the war on some drug users.)

From: "Bob Owen@W.H.E.N." (when@olywa.net)
To: "_Drug Policy --" (when@hemp.net)
Subject: Grandparents enlisted in war on drugs
Date: Sat, 26 Dec 1998 19:58:12 -0800
Sender: owner-when@hemp.net

Grandparents enlisted in war on drugs

The Associated Press
12/26/98 12:35 PM Eastern

BOSTON (AP) -- In its war against drugs, the government has enlisted
drug-sniffing dogs, SWAT teams and the military. Now it's calling on even
more powerful weapons: grandma and grandpa.

The Office of National Drug Control Policy has launched an ad campaign to
coax grandparents into talking to their grandchildren about the dangers of
drugs. It's part of a larger effort to get adult role models of all sorts to
teach kids about addiction, AIDS and violence.

"There is an air of honesty that comes through in a relationship between a
child and their grandparents," said Leigh Leventhal, spokeswoman for the New
York-based Partnership for a Drug-Free America, which is co-sponsoring the

A nearly full-page advertisement ran this month in The Boston Globe
featuring a photo of a young boy looking attentively at an elderly woman,
his hand on her shoulder.

"Grandparents are cool. Relaxed," the ad states. "They're not on the firing
line every day. Some days a kid hates his folks. He never hates his

Leventhal said talk between children and grandchildren about drugs should be
part of an ongoing dialogue about everything in their lives -- hobbies,
schoolwork, friends.

Ruth Blackman, a grandmother of six from Boston who directs a program that
provides children with foster grandparents, said the ad campaign makes

"It used to be a grandparent's role was to teach grandkids how to cook and
pass on cultural and religious tradition," Blackman said. "Now there's a new
responsibility. If you open avenues of communication, you can talk about
some very touchy, touchy issues."

The ad campaign, launched by the government over the summer, targets
children up to high school age, as well as parents and other influential

"We're trying to get the message to the grandparents just as we're trying to
get the message to the parents: Just start talking," said Tom Delaney,
director of Boston Alcohol & Substance Abuse Programs Inc. "It's better than
passing up the opportunity or just saying nothing."


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Sea urchins and human sexuality (The Toronto Star's ombudsman
apologizes for the newspaper running a piece of junk science propaganda
from the United States alleging marijuana use reduces male fertility.
The story should have said the study involved sea urchins, not humans;
that it was funded by the U.S. ministry of propaganda known as the National
Institute on Drug Abuse, and that there have been no epidemiological studies
showing increased infertility in marijuana-using humans.)

Date: Sat, 26 Dec 1998 09:21:17 -0500
To: mattalk@islandnet.com
From: Dave Haans (haans@chass.utoronto.ca)
Subject: TorStar: Sea urchins and human sexuality
Newshawk: Dave Haans
Source: The Toronto Star (Canada)
Pubdate: Saturday, December 26, 1998
Page: B2
Section: Editorials and Opinion
Website: http://www.thestar.com
Contact: lettertoed@thestar.com
Author: Don Sellar, The Star's Ombud

Sea urchins and human sexuality

DISCREETLY placed on Page A34, it was the kind of news story that could
inspire animated discussions at the office water cooler.

The headline alone - Marijuana can affect fertility, damaging sperm, U.S.
study says - might have prompted a few readers to reconsider certain
recreational activities, if it already wasn't too late for the human race.

But the 200-word Reuters article, as printed Dec. 17, delivered less biting
and, indeed, more indigestible news than the headline had so starkly promised.

To the science-challenged occupant of this chair, the story proved
incomprehensible, if not mildly confusing.

It all began nicely enough, with a breathless revelation that Dr. Herbert
Schuel and some colleagues from the University at Buffalo have shown how
``active ingredients in marijuana can affect fertility by damaging sperm

But in the second paragraph, scientific jargon reared its ugly head.

The wire service reported that ``natural body compounds'' known as
anandamides, which are ``similar to compounds found in marijuana, may be
important for helping sperm get to and fertilize an egg. And cannabinoids
in marijuana are similar enough to anandamides to confuse the body.''

Anandamides are especially elusive critters. The word anandamide isn't in
the new Canadian Oxford Dictionary, or in six medical dictionaries that The
Star's library keeps in stock for just such emergencies.

So much for the doctrine of plain language in journalism.

Regardless, determined readers could soldier on to the next revelation in
this story: ``Human sperm contain receptors, a kind of chemical doorway,
that the active ingredients in cannabis can use.''

With this image deeply planted in readers' heads of cannabis ingredients
passing dangerously through a chemical doorway in human sperm, Dr. Schuel
himself made an appearance in the story.

He was quoted as saying that scientists have known for 30 years ``that very
heavy marijuana smoking has a drastic effect on sperm production within the
testis, which can lead to higher rates of infertility.

``Our new findings suggest that anandamides and THC in marijuana smoke may
also affect sperm functions required for fertilization in the female
reproductive tract.''

Then, before a frightened reader could say, ``What great stuff - tell me
more!'' the story came to a screeching halt, after some more tortured prose
about the complex interactions of cannabinoids, anandamides, sperms and

So what was Schuel studying? The ombud asked several Star staffers in an
informal, non-scientific survey.

All four said they thought Schuel was studying humans.


He was studying the effects of marijuana-like substances on the sperm of
sea urchins.

Sea urchins.

As Dave Haans, a graduate student at U of T with an interest in drugs and
drugs policy, pointed out in an e-mail, the story in The Star had several

``It does not say whether this was an animal or human study. It does not
say what the sample size was. It does not say whether these results are
even applicable to humans.''

Good points all three.

Nor did the story explain that the study had been funded by the U.S.
National Institute on Drug Abuse and published last Aug. 2 - more than four
months ago - in Proceedings of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences.

Haans said the ``bold'' scientific claims in the story are unfounded and
misleading - particularly the researcher's statement that science has known
for 30 years that heavy marijuana use has a drastic effect on sperm
production that can lead to higher rates of infertility.

``In fact there have been no epidemiological studies which have shown
increased infertility in marijuana-using humans, and studies of overall
reproductive rates have found no reduction in reproductive rates in
countries where a higher rate of marijuana use is found.''

To Haans, the skimpy news story ``doesn't give even a minimum of
information needed to determine whether what the article says is true, or
another case of U.S. drug war propaganda.''

The ombud is in no position to judge Schuel's intensive work with sea
urchins, and won't try. But readers of medical science news deserved better
than the shallow, jargon-encrusted story that was dished up on this



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