------------------------------------------------------------------- Smelling Salts, Please (A letter sent to the editor of the Gazette Times, in Corvallis, Oregon, complains that a DARE officer in nearby Philomath who was charged with domestic violence will be allowed to plead guilty to lesser charges and then resign from the police force - meaning he can re-apply for the vacant position and everything will be just fine.) Date: Sun, 10 Jan 1999 11:34:44 -0900 To: firstname.lastname@example.org From: Ed Glick (email@example.com) Subject: DPFOR: LTE- Corvallis G-T Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: DrugSense http://www.drugsense.org/ TO: G-T Letters to the Editor FROM: Ed Glick, RN RE: Violent DARE Officer gets off -feel free to print Date: Jan. 10, 1999 SMELLING SALTS PLEASE Editor: I got a whiff of something bad in the G-T about the Philomath Police Officer who plead guilty to lesser charges then resigned from the police force. It just so happens that he is also the Philomath School District DARE officer who is teaching our children to resist drugs and violence. So, lets see if I have this right: The Philomath School District has a violent, abusive cop teaching kids with a curriculum which is clearly shown to be a failure. This cop resigns rather than get fired and strikes a deal with the Benton County District Attorney to plead guilty to a lesser charge which doesn't include domestic abuse. (A domestic abuse conviction would bar him from carrying a weapon thus ending his career.) Since he has always been such a good cop he can re-apply for a position in a year and everything will be just fine. And lo, in a year or two we'll have a violent cop carrying a gun teaching kids a failed program of how to resist drugs and violence. Ed Glick, RN [personal info snipped] firstname.lastname@example.org
------------------------------------------------------------------- Web Site Review - 'Campaign For The Restoration And Regulation Of Hemp' (The Seattle Times' technology writer thinks the web site for the Cannabis Tax Act campaign is spiffy. D. Paul Stanford, of Portland, hopes to place the comprehensive marijuana-law reform initiative on the ballot in Washington, Oregon, California, and perhaps other states by 2000.) Date: Mon, 11 Jan 1999 05:45:13 -0800 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: US WA: Web Site Review - 'Campaign For The Restoration And Regulation Of Hemp' Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: John Smith Pubdate: Sunday, January 10, 1999 Source: Seattle Times (WA) Contact: email@example.com Website: http://www.seattletimes.com/ Copyright: 1999 The Seattle Times Company Author: Peter Lewis, Seattle Times technology reporter WEB SITE REVIEW - 'CAMPAIGN FOR THE RESTORATION AND REGULATION OF HEMP' **1/2 "Campaign for the Restoration and Regulation of Hemp" http://www.crrh.org/ Some readers may wonder if the brains behind today's site-seeing stop were dope-impaired or grass-enhanced when they designed it. Your conclusion may say as much about you as it does about the site, but I'm not critiquing you. In the interests of full disclosure: I did inhale (and don't trust anyone over 40 who didn't), but that was a long time ago. The Campaign for the Restoration and Regulation of Hemp (CRRH), a Portland-based advocacy group, has taken to the Web to push the "Cannabis Tax Act" (CTA), a measure it hopes to place on the ballot in Washington, Oregon, California, and perhaps other states by 2000. The proposal would comprehensively reform marijuana laws by regulating and taxing adult sales, licensing the cultivation of the drug for sale in state-run package stores and adults-only businesses, allowing adults to grow their own and farmers to grow industrial hemp without license and letting doctors prescribe untaxed cannabis to patients suffering from a variety of illnesses and injuries. Leading the political and virtual campaigns is the group's full-time director, D. Paul Stanford, who plans to begin a signature-petition drive in Washington state by March and submit the measure to the Legislature next year. Stanford says he used to import industrial hemp - legally - from China, until his paper company ran into financial trouble a few years ago. In a swirling homage to the weed it would legitimize, the Web site is suffused in yellows and greens. It makes amusing use of tiny, animated marijuana leaves that turn on their sides as visiting mice hover over associated hot links. The site maxes out with Shockwave's "Flash" technology, a browser plug-in that enables animated effects. (For those lacking the plug-in, there's a link to download it, though the site misses a beat by not providing a handy test applet to tell if you need it). There's a rich and fairly extensive archive of video clips, including a 48-minute "Cronkite Report" that aired four years ago, and an hour-long "Town Hall" meeting on medical cannabis broadcast by Portland's KATU-TV station in 1997. On the lighter side, the site's link to "Herb Griffin's `Hemp TV' Jeopardy" sounded promising. "Test your knowledge of hemp and marijuana culture against time, and the world!" it invited. The familiar Jeopardy tune launched instantly, but unfortunately the video component (i.e., the game itself) never materialized. Instead I was transported to a shopping site for "hi-tech hipsters." (Stanford said the link would be repaired). As you'd expect, the site is full of arguments and propaganda to further the group's political goals. There's even a legal treatise on "Why the CTA will be upheld in a court of law." CRRH claims credit for the rejection by Oregon voters last November of a measure to re-criminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana. Oddly, though, especially for a site committed to political change at the ballot box, CRRH lacks a current score sheet tallying up the run of successful campaigns to legalize medical marijuana - starting three years ago with California and Arizona and continuing last fall in Alaska, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon and Washington. Pitches for donations are ubiquitous. Interestingly, Stanford says that after the site was redesigned into its current "stoner-oriented" look, two things happened: daily hits skyrocketed, and Web-generated donations plummeted. "I'm not sure if people see that (flashy animation effects) and think, `They have enough money already,' " muses Stanford, who says another redesign is in the works - one that will offer a less psychedelic experience as an alternative surf. Because the site's video streaming and Web design were donated, Stanford said he was pretty much stuck with the preferences of those doing the donating.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Party rancor, new faces backdrop to session opener (An Associated Press article contains nothing ostensibly relevant to drug policy, but provides a glimpse of the Oregon legislature as it begins a new session.) Associated Press found at: http://www.oregonlive.com/ feedback (letters to the editor): firstname.lastname@example.org Party rancor, new faces backdrop to session opener The Associated Press 1/10/99 3:19 PM By CHARLES E. BEGGS Associated Press Writer SALEM, Ore. (AP) -- The Oregon Legislature opens its 70th biennial session Monday with rancor already simmering among majority Republicans in the House and the biggest crop of freshmen in years. They'll face issues such as shoring up the Oregon Health Plan, repairing worn and rutted roads and combating juvenile crime in the wake of last May's shooting rampage at Springfield's Thurston High School. The only thing the state constitution says lawmakers have to do is pass a balanced two-year budget for government. In the process, almost every issue will be touched by the $10.8 billion budget proposed by Gov. John Kitzhaber. Term limits did a housecleaning in 1998. The law passed by voters in 1992 took full effect in last year's elections and is the biggest reason that 27 of the 60 House members are new this year. Republicans will hold 34 seats, up from 31 in the 1997 session, but that doesn't mean smooth sailing for the majority party. Last fall, a divided GOP caucus nominated Rep. Lynn Snodgrass to be House speaker, ousting the more politically moderate Rep. Lynn Lundquist. Lundquist, who's been critical of Snodgrass' conservative views, tried to round up the votes last week to reinstate himself as speaker, but then dropped the effort after finding little support. Snodgrass said she knows the process left wounds. "There are land mines out there," the Republican lawmaker from Boring said. "We don't know where they are. We just hope they don't blow up." Lundquist's failed coup "is illustrative of very deep divisions in the Republican caucus," said Bill Lunch, an Oregon State University political science professor. He said life could get difficult for Snodgrass, especially if the House takes up emotional issues such as requiring parental notice before teens can get abortions and trying to undo a court ruling that gave gays employment protection. "If these kinds of issues come early, it could set a tone that's very adversarial and confrontational for the entire session," Lunch said. Meanwhile, the Republicans' grip on the Senate loosened when they lost three seats in the 1998 elections, dropping their majority to 17-13. "At times it will be a little harder to find majorities," said Senate President Brady Adams, R-Grants Pass. "We'll have to have more bipartisan support to get things done." Some key money issues could be divisive in the coming session. For example, the Democratic governor and Republican legislative leaders are split over the GOP's proposed tax cuts. Adams and the Senate Republicans are pushing to expand a tax break for low-income workers that passed in 1997 and also want to exempt some private pension income from taxes. Kitzhaber is going along with enlarging the earned income tax credit but opposes the more expensive pension tax cut. He argues that the state might not be able to afford any tax reductions, especially since forecasters reduced their state revenue estimate by $100 million last month and predicted a weakening state economy through this year. The governor instead is calling for creating a budget stability fund to protect school aid from sharp economic downturns. "Tax cutting is likely to run into the governor's proposal for a rainy day fund, and likely neither will pass," Lunch said. There are plenty of demands for money to boost programs. Kitzhaber's budget would add 25 new state police troopers; legislators say they'll try to add more. A $1.6 billion plan to raise the gas tax and auto registration fees to improve the highway system died in 1997 session but a similar plan is being pushed by the state's largest business lobbying group. The juvenile crime problem is a high priority of Kitzhaber's. The governor wants $30 million, including nearly $20 million for grants to counties, and there seems to be solid support for the idea among lawmakers. Trying to find ways to slow the rapid growth of the Oregon Health Plan, the health insurance program for the working poor authored by Kitzhaber, is expected to generate a tough fight between him and GOP lawmakers. And, as always, there will be a battle over school funding. Kitzhaber proposed adding $170 million to the $4.4 billion budget for state support of local schools. All told, education consumes 60 percent of the budget when higher education is included. The session is expected to provide a $2.3 million boost for bars, restaurants and other businesses patronized by people connected with the Legislature. Despite the economic boost it provides for Salem, Snodgrass said she doesn't want the session to go on too long. That's why she's already circled a target date on her calendar for wrapping up business and sending lawmakers back to their districts. "We should be home by June 28 because that's my birthday," the House speaker-elect said. "At least that's my goal." (c)1998 Oregon Live LLC Copyright 1997 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
------------------------------------------------------------------- U.S. Sen. John Kitzhaber? Don't rule it out (Another Associated Press article with nothing obviously relevant to drug policy provides a fawning portrait of Oregon Governor John "Prisons" Kitzhaber - who has presided over the planning, expansion or construction of more prisons than all of his predecessors combined - who seems to be positioning himself to run against Republican Senator Gordon Smith.) Associated Press found at: http://www.oregonlive.com/ feedback (letters to the editor): email@example.com U.S. Sen. John Kitzhaber? Don't rule it out The Associated Press 1/10/99 3:18 PM By BRAD CAIN Associated Press Writer SALEM, Ore. (AP) -- When he takes the oath of office Monday, Gov. John Kitzhaber will launch a second term he hopes will cement his image as a defender of Oregon's liveability and champion of health care. But others, on both sides of the political fence, are looking beyond the next few years to a possible new role for Kitzhaber -- as a candidate for U.S. Senate. Especially within some GOP circles, there are rumblings about the prospect of the popular Democratic governor running against Sen. Gordon Smith when the freshman Republican comes up for re-election in 2002. Kitzhaber won't have any part of guessing about his political future. He doesn't rule out a Senate race, either. "It would take a lot to get me to leave Oregon," Kitzhaber said. "But four years is a long way off. I'm just not speculating on what I might do at that time." Smith, for his part, admits that the thought of Kitzhaber challenging him has crossed his mind more than once. "John Kitzhaber would be a formidable candidate for anything he chose to do," the senator said. "But it isn't something I'm going to spend time worrying about or speculating about." There's little doubt that, barring some drastic change in his political fortunes, Kitzhaber would be well positioned for a Senate run. Known for his jeans-and-cowboy boots informality and his crusade to "keep Oregon Oregon," Kitzhaber continues to enjoy high job approval with Oregonians. He's built a record he could run on in the future -- particularly his authorship of the nationally touted Oregon Health Plan -- and, politically speaking, is still relatively young at 52. "Gordon Smith would have to worry," said Stuart Rothenberg, editor of a Washington-based newsletter that tracks House and Senate campaigns. After being defeated by Democrat Ron Wyden in a special election to replace former Sen. Bob Packwood, Smith won his Senate seat by only 50,000 votes in a later race against Tom Bruggere, a relatively unknown businessman who had never run for public office. "Gordon Smith is a good politician, but he's a Republican in a Democratic-tilting state," Rothenberg said. "That means he's always going to be vulnerable." A spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in Washington, Michael Tucker, said Democrats believe they are in a good position to reclaim control of the Senate from the GOP two years from now. Having the Senate back in Democratic hands might provide additional incentive for Kitzhaber to run for a Senate seat in the 2002 election, he said. "Obviously, with his extreme popularity there, Gov. Kitzhaber would be among the first our committee would look to," when recruiting a candidate to challenge Smith, Tucker said. Kitzhaber has passed up other opportunities to run for Congress, however. An avid outdoorsman who's passionate about whitewater rafting and fly fishing, Kitzhaber has said time and again that he has little desire to work in Washington. Still, Lauren Moughon, a former campaign staffer for Kitzhaber, said that under the right circumstances, she could see him jumping into a U.S. Senate race. For one thing, Moughon noted, Kitzhaber served in the Oregon Senate and rose to the Senate president's post before being elected governor. "He really enjoyed building coalitions and working in collaboration with other senators. He was remarkably successful at it." said Moughon, who was deputy campaign manager for Kitzhaber's 1994 gubernatorial campaign. So what would it take to lure Kitzhaber into a U.S. Senate race? "He would consider running if he felt Oregon was threatened," she said. "A U.S. Senate seat is an extremely powerful position, and he would run if he thought he could make a real difference for the state." (c)1998 Oregon Live LLC Copyright 1997 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Re: Views from a Medical Technologist (A list subscriber in Washington state forwards a physician's email contrasting cannabis with tricyclic antidepressants, which can easily destroy the liver. Plus some gratuitous commentary from Portland NORML's webmaster, Phil Smith, about his experience.) From: "Bob Owen@W.H.E.N." (firstname.lastname@example.org) To: (ATucker42@aol.com) Subject: HT: Re: Views from a Medical Technologist Date: Sun, 10 Jan 1999 16:48:59 -0800 Sender: email@example.com Thanks for the info. Are you interested in getting involved in the NW Hemp-talk channel? Also, you saw our website? (www.olywa.net/when) -----Original Message----- From: ATucker42@aol.com (ATucker42@aol.com) To: firstname.lastname@example.org (email@example.com) Date: Sunday, January 10, 1999 9:36 AM Subject: Views from a Medical Technologist >I have worked in a hospital setting since 1974 and I have yet to see anyone, >I repeat anyone die from marijuana. I lost count my first year of the deaths >from alcohol. I though do not condone the use of heroin, coccaine, >amphetamines and I will add alcohol to this. The latter drugs are quite >dangerous and I have seen many die from these drugs. But the most ironic >fact is I have seen more people kill their livers and/or themselves with >tricyclic drugs used in the management of depression, anorexia etc. The >doctors have a PROVEN SAFE drug in marijuana, and the only argument >anyone can give me against it, is that it is illegal. > >Maynard Archi Tucker >Cowiche, Wa. ATucker42@aol.com *** hemp-talk - firstname.lastname@example.org is a discussion/information list about hemp politics in Washington State. To unsubscribe, send e-mail to email@example.com with the text "unsubscribe hemp-talk". For more details see http://www.hemp.net/lists.html *** [ed. note - Portland NORML's webmaster, Phil Smith, confirms the above. His liver is so impaired from 10 years of tricyclic antidepressants that he can no longer consume alcohol, among other things, and that's only one of about 30 to 40 continuing side effects. The median life expectancy of someone diagnosed with major depression who does not receive medication is about one year - less than for the average AIDS or cancer patient who receives appropriate medical care. Smith has survived using cannabis as his only antidepressant since July 1995 - although he's tried other antidepressants, which only made him ill, probably because his liver can no longer metabolize them. The side effects from daily cannabis use - including intoxication - are nil. For more information see the chapter in "Marihuana: The Forbidden Medicine," titled, "Depression and other Mood Disorders," by Dr. Lester Grinspoon of Harvard Medical School. See also "Marijuana and the Human Brain," by Jon Gettman, particularly the passages about "the chemisty of emotions." Smith wishes the mass media would start investigating the silence and complicity of the government, as well as the legal and medical professions, in what amounts to genocide for profit by the pharmaceutical industry - but he's not holding his breath (except after inhaling).]
------------------------------------------------------------------- Rumor from the Farm: MJ to be Schedule III (A list subscriber says that, according to Dennis Peron, founder of the San Francisco Cannabis Buyers' Club, Peron has been told by one of the authors of the Institute of Medicine's review of the literature on medical marijuana - the $1 million project commissioned by the White House drug czar two years ago - that the review will recommend moving marijuana to Schedule III, where physicians would have little trouble prescribing it. Plus commentary from Dave Fratello, Jon Gettman and other list subscribers.) Date: Sun, 10 Jan 1999 20:28:59 -0500 To: "DRCTalk Reformers' Forum" (firstname.lastname@example.org) From: Paul Wolf (email@example.com) Subject: Rumor from the Farm: MJ to be Schedule III Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Sender: email@example.com Dennis Peron says that he's spoken to one of the authors of the ONDCP literature review on medical marijuana, and that he was told the review recommends marijuana be Schedule III. He went on to explain that this is worth a lot of political clout to the FDA, but I can't remember exactly what legal status this literature review will have and what the process is supposed to be. They are supposed to release the results by 2/15, that much I know. Dennis theorizes that there will be a circus of delays but that the eventual outcome will be Sch. III by the end of the year. Dennis also congradulated us on our I-59 bill in DC. He said he supports the bill because of the language contained in it. Dennis and John Entwhistle have a webpage about the various medical mj bills passed last year at http://www.marijuana.org There's still no news from DC, by the way. We are waiting for the judge's decision on the ACLU case. Briefly, the ACLU contends that the Barr Amendment is an unconstitutional prior restraint on protected free speech, and is viewpoint-based. The DC Board of Elections says they are prevented from doing anything at all without a court order. The DOJ intervened and claims that the Barr Amendment was a pre- repeal, something Congress had a right to do anyway. (that's weak but all they had) My FOIA request to release the results was denied without any reason, and both Marion Barry and the new Mayor Williams (so far at least) ignored my appeals, and I'd have to sue them to continue. Business as usual in DC, but by the time a FOIA suit is settled, the ACLU case will have been decided. And it would be outrageous if they lost. Meanwhile, the clubs are supposedly reappearing in California, and the Farm has hundreds of gigantic plants. Some of them are so large, they say, that four people joining hands could not encircle one. Dennis believes he is operating under full impunity because no jury would convict him, and this would set a precedent for Prop 215. [For more developments, keep an eye on Dennis Peron's web site, Californians for Compassionate Use, at http://www.marijuana.org/. The DEA does. - ed.] *** Date: Mon, 11 Jan 1999 15:24:21 -0800 To: "DRCTalk Reformers' Forum" (firstname.lastname@example.org) From: Dave Fratello (email@example.com) Subject: RE: Rumor ... MJ to be Schedule III Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Paul Wolf wrote that: >one of the authors of the ONDCP literature review on medical >marijuana [says] the review recommends marijuana be Schedule III. > >He went on to explain that this is worth a lot of political >clout to the FDA, but I can't remember exactly what legal >status this literature review will have and what the process >is supposed to be. They are supposed to release the results >by 215, that much I know. It seems that rumors about the upcoming marijuana/science report are running hot these days... To be clear, this is a "book report" (literature review) being done by the non-governmental Institute of Medicine (IoM), a division of the National Academy of Sciences. There are no new clinical trials associated with it. The IoM got a $1 million contract from McCaffrey's office to do it, but they are assiduous in asserting their independence from him or the government generally. The Institute promises that even their governmental "[s]ponsors will not see the report before it is final." A Schedule III recommendation would be intellectually honest, at least, but it's hard to say whether the study authors have already promised "not to go there." In describing this project, the Institute says the report _will_ make "recommendations" which, themselves, will "undergo internal peer review." However, the Institute also says the report will NOT "address the legal status of marijuana... While legal issues are an important aspect of the medical use of marijuana, these issues are beyond the scope of a scientific study." Is a Sch. III recommendation a "legal issue" involving "legal status" of marijuana? Or is it just "a recommendation?" Keep in mind that this report also purports to assess the health risks and other non-medical-use issues. My own bet on the dark horse coming out of this report is that the "gateway theory" will be destroyed by prominent scientists, paid for by the drug czar -- a coup if it occurs. McCaffrey's office broadened the scope of the report when they ordered it, and specifically called upon the Institute to assess "patterns of marijuana use, including the potential for addiction and progression to other drugs." How can a bunch of "independent scientists" address those issues honestly without saying the "gateway theory" is hog dung? - Dave Fratello P.S. The IOM/NAS website on this project is: http://www2.nas.edu/medical-mj The short FAQ is at: http://www2.nas.edu/medical-mj/212a.html *** To: "DRCTalk Reformers' Forum" (email@example.com) From: Robert Goodman (firstname.lastname@example.org) Date: Tue, 12 Jan 1999 21:50:55 -500 Subject: Re: Rumor from the Farm: MJ to be Schedule III Reply-To: email@example.com Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org >It's a really exciting rumor, but that's all it is. And just >because the recommendation is for Sch. III doesn't mean that >anyone has to implement it. But it would be a heavyweight >argument in our favor and in the current political landscape, >I think it would tip the scales. Also keep in mind that moving mj to schedule 3 of the US CSA would still not in itself allow it to be marketed for medical (or any other) purposes legally. Robert *** Date: Tue, 12 Jan 1999 22:06:50 -0500 To: "DRCTalk Reformers' Forum" (email@example.com) From: JonGettman (Gettman_J@mediasoft.net) Subject: IOM and Reform Scenarios Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Some reflections on the forthcoming IOM report and the scheduling of Cannabis. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) study on the medical use of marijuana has been long scheduled for completion and release in the early months of 1999. It is routine for several reviewers to comment on this sort of study before its final completion and release. Indeed, incorporating responses to review comments could lead to delays in the completion of the report. Whether the report directly comments on the scheduling status of marijuana or not, it will clearly be influential in the review of marijuana's scheduling that is currently underway by the federal government in response to my rescheduling petition. The IOM report will directly or indirectly address the three criteria that determine scheduling -- marijuana's abuse potential, it's safety for use under medical supervision, and whether or not it has an accepted medical use in the United States. The narrowest focus of the IOM report is whether or not marijuana has any medical value. However in addition to a literature review the IOM study included the hearing of public testimony. Their evaluation of this testimony, especially that of patients, likely involves an assessment of these other issues as part of consideration of the testimony's reliability. No matter what the IOM determines or recommends the only way for marijuana to be rescheduled is by way of the administrative rule making process involving both HHS, DEA, and public comment. This process takes several years under the best of circumstances. If not for my rescheduling petition an IOM report favorable to marijuana's medical use would likely prompt DEA to begin the administrative process, and any rescheduling would take three to four years at best. It is my opinion that the original strategy of the drug czar was to use an IOM report and a subsequent rescheduling process to delay any possible consideration of medical marijuana until 2004 at the earliest. The present rescheduling petition underwent DEA review for approximately 30 months, and has been undergoing HHS review for 13 months and counting. The present petition provides evidence that marijuana lacks the abuse potential required for schedule 1 or 2 status. An IOM finding that marijuana has medical potential would provide timely synergy with the existing rescheduling petition. Schedule 3 status is the maximum regulation acceptable under the argument of the petition. Unimed Pharmaeuticals filed a petition to reschedule dronabinol, their name for the psychoactive drug in marijuana THC and sold under the name Marinol. Dronabinol is currently in schedule 2. Unimed has proposed, HHS has recommended, and DEA has proposed that dronabinol be placed in Schedule 3. High Times, my co-petitioner, and I have filed comments seeking public hearings on the rescheduling of dronabinol. We argue, in part, that dronabinol, THC, and marijuana should all be rescheduled at the same time. This is the objective of the present marijuana rescheduling petition. Another objection we have raised to the rescheduling of dronabinol is that it questionable to consider the THC in Marinol to have a lower abuse potential than the trace amounts of THC in industrial hemp. DEA's jurisdiction over hemp is being challenged by my attorney Michael Kennedy in a separate action on behalf of Kentucky farmers. DEA has conceded to at least one US Senator that they are considering the feasiblity of establishing THC levels that would distinguish hemp production from marijuana cultivation. The rescheduling of marijuana into schedule 3 could conceivably diffuse the medical marijuana issue, the hemp issue, the Kentucky hemp suit, objections to the rescheduling of dronabinol, and my rescheduling petition. It would also conceivably render proposed congressional legislation and further state initiatives moot. It is appealing to believe that a favorable report from the IOM could be the catalyst of such a revolutionary convergence. I have always been an advocate of incremental change, however I believe that any DEA proposals on cannabis be viewed with extreme skepticism and caution. I do not believe that it is prudent to assume that DEA's response to a favorable IOM report will be to reschedule marijuana, nor do I believe it is prudent to assume the IOM report will be favorable. Opponents of marijuana reform have long suggested that pharmaceutical products can be invented to deliver the therapeutic benefits of cannabis to patients. It is arguable that the government could respond to the IOM report with efforts to expedite development of cannabinoid pharmaceuticals. DEA could devise similar half-measures to address the need for hemp regulations, maintaining its identification as a drug source and their own jurisdiction. This could easily insure regulations that make hemp development too costly to succeed. It may very well be that such half-measures, even under the worst conditions, still provide irresistible progress for reform. It is still important to have a basis for evaluating potential changes in federal cannabis policy. I believe the central issue is DEA's interpretation of the Controlled Substances Act and their application of it to cannabis regulation, currently characterized as prohibition. DEA currently holds that drug's with no medical use should be prohibited, as marijuana is, in schedule 1. Otherwise drugs with medical use are regulated according to their abuse potential. They also maintain that industrial hemp is subject to their jurisdiction under the CSA as a source of THC, making industrial hemp marijuana. DEA's interpretation of the rescheduling provisions of the CSA were rejected by the Court of Appeals in 1977. DEA's determination that they can devise findings and regulations regarding hemp as agency policy statements without public comment has not been reviewed definitively by the courts. DEA's interpretation of the CSA legitimizes and perpetuates the arrest and imprisonment of marijuana users. If DEA offers any concessions, I believe it will be as an attempt to prevent more devastating changes that could stem from judicial review and rejection of their present application of the CSA to marijuana and hemp, perhaps even a complete loss of jurisdiction. It is important that any concessions by DEA on hemp or medical marijuana be recognized by the public as a fundamental repudiation of the legitimacy of marijuana prohibition and the criminalization of all marijuana use. The DEA's legal interpretation of the CSA with regards to cannabis is what links hemp, medical marijuana, and other marijuana use. Any repudiation of their legal interpretation in any of these areas is a repudiation of marijuana prohibition itself. Ultimately, though, it is our understanding of these issues is what will determine whether DEA half measures on medical and industrial cannabis reform will impact on public acceptance of criminalization of other marijuana usage. Jon Gettman *** To: "DRCTalk Reformers' Forum" (email@example.com) From: Robert Goodman (firstname.lastname@example.org) Date: Wed, 13 Jan 1999 22:41:14 -500 Subject: Re: IOM and Reform Scenarios Sender: email@example.com Jon Gettman wrote in part: >No matter what the IOM [Inst. of Medicine] determines or >recommends the only way for marijuana to be rescheduled is by way >of the administrative rule making process involving both HHS, DEA, >and public comment. This process takes several years under the >best of circumstances. No, under the "best" of circumstances (viewed from whomever's angle), scheduling determinations have been made effective in less than a year. These are not the best of circumstances, however, because of controversy. Regardless, the rule-making process is NOT the only way for marijuana to be rescheduled. Are you forgetting Congress? Congress could pass, with the president's signature, legislation moving marijuana into another schedule or out of controlled status entirely, or could even amend the CSA so that cannabis is not subject to administrative re-scheduling. It's not like the CSA was part of the Constitution or something. It's only been since 1965 that a federal administrative agency had anything like the present authority to make or alter controls on substances; most state controlled dangerous substances acts provide for no administrative re-scheduling, making it all legislative. I could see Congress saying, "What do the `experts' know? We, the representatives of the people, along with the people we represent, know that marihuana is dangerous and should be placed beyond the authority of unelected bureaucrats to change its legal status. If at some time in the future evidence were to be brought forth indicating otherwise, let it be brought to Congress for us to decide." Or Congress could enact a moratorium on this or other changes to the controls. Things like that happen. Congress amended the Federal Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act to require that any tumor-producing food or drug be kept out of legal interstate commerce. There was then the administrative matter of deciding the question and level of proof, but when it appeared saccharine would probably be administratively banned under this, the Delaney Amendment, Congress stepped in again and enacted the first of a series of temporary exemptions for saccharine, which continue to this day. Congress was motivated in part by the previous administrative ban on cyclamate, and thought that SOME artificial sweetener needed to be kept on the market. Why saccharine and not cyclamate? Sheer happenstance of timing. Cyclamate had been banned, and it was thought it would be better p.r. to preserve commerce in saccharine rather than reinstate it for cyclamate. Robert *** Date: Thu, 14 Jan 1999 11:17:30 -0500 To: "DRCTalk Reformers' Forum" (firstname.lastname@example.org) From: JonGettman (Gettman_J@mediasoft.net) Subject: Re: IOM and Reform Scenarios Sender: email@example.com Sometime prior to the DRCdigest I received at 12:09 AM 1/14/99 EST, Robert Goodman wrote: >No, under the "best" of circumstances (viewed from whomever's angle), >scheduling determinations have been made effective in less than a year. >These are not the best of circumstances, however, because of controversy. Self-serving imprecision is always a nice way to begin an argument, isn't it? Here the wiggle room comes from the "whomever's angle" and "controversey". "Whomever", though, refers to an important part of the public policy process - people with an interest in the proceedings. Those with a jaded view of the public policy process often view the assertion and protection of self-interest as "controversey". Indeed government officials could be so much more efficient in the formulation of government regulation if they did not have to respond to public comment from individuals and corporations, even more so if they didn't have to follow statutory and administrative guidelines -- more controversey for some. This is public policy we are discussing here. It is naive to assume that cases without private interests or controversey provide a reference standard. Different angles and controversey are the rule, not the exception. In the case of scheduliing procedures the time lag between DEA proposed rules and DEA final rules can be a matter of a few months, true, but even in this case DEA can not act without a recommendation from HHS. In the case of 4-Bromo-2,5-DMPEA in which the substance was temporarily placed in schedule1 for year pending an HHS review the temporary placement had to be extended because the HHS evaluation could not be complete in a year's time - in this case it took 16 months. In the case of Butorphanol the drug was introduced in 1992 in a nasal spray and abuse problems were noticed quite soon. The HHS reccomendation was not completed until September, 1996, and the Final Rule was published in October 1997 making it a Schedule 4 drug. In the Unimed petition to reschedule Marinol the DEA took approx. 30 months to review the petition, and HHS took 13 months to prepare their reccomendation. The issuance of the final rule is up in the air because of filed comments requesting a hearing. This can happen in any rescheduling action. One major variable in the time it takes to schedule or reschedule a substance, multitudes of interests and issues notwithstanding, is the amount and quality of the scientific record that accompanies the scheduling request by way of a petition. I repeat: This process takes several years under the best of circumstances. >Regardless, the rule-making process is NOT the only way for marijuana to >be rescheduled. Funny thing about the rule of law, legal analysis, and legal arguments -- they are based on the laws that currently exist, not the ones that might emerge in the future. >Are you forgetting Congress? I'm not afraid of the Big Bad Wolf because I built my house of brick. If I'd built a house out of straw or other quick fix materials in order to spend more time dancing, playing, and reveling in my cleverness then perchance the Big Bad Wolf would present a formidible and unexpected problem. >Congress could pass, with the >president's signature, legislation moving marijuana into another schedule or >out of controlled status entirely, or could even amend the CSA so that >cannabis is not subject to administrative re-scheduling. Pigs could fly if they had wings, and wouldn't need to worry about building materials. Congressional action is hypothetical. Rescheduling proceedings on marijuana, THC, and other cannabinoids is an accompllished fact. I have produced these proceedings by way of my petition - they will occur as a matter of law. No one has yet to produce marijuana rescheduling legislation for the President's signature. No one expects marijuana rescheduling legislation from the current Congress. >It's not like the >CSA was part of the Constitution or something. It's only been since 1965 >that a federal administrative agency had anything like the present authority >to make or alter controls on substances; most state controlled dangerous >substances acts provide for no administrative re-scheduling, making it all >legislative. I live in the here and now, and can't afford the security offered by inaction based on intellectual pretense. It is easy to spin scenarios about how the public policymaking process may change. It is also useless in this context. I have instigated a sustained legal and scientific challenge to prohibition based on the fundamental standards of existing law. To argue that Congress could change those rules to thwart my actions presumes my actions will be successful. I will take that as a back-handed complement. >I could see Congress saying, "What do the `experts' know? We, >the representatives of the people, along with the people we represent, know >that marihuana is dangerous and should be placed beyond the authority of >unelected bureaucrats to change its legal status. If at some time in the >future evidence were to be brought forth indicating otherwise, let it be >brought to Congress for us to decide." Or Congress could enact a moratorium >on this or other changes to the controls. Your vision does not provide a persuasive argument why the existing rescheduling proceedings will not occur or proceed to completition. If the existing proceedings do not result in the end of marijuana prohibition I would hope that Congress would enact rescheduling by way of legislation. If the existing proceedings do result in the rescheduling of marijuana it will be because of either a) DEA and HHS reccommend rescheduling, b) The US Court of Appeals orders DEA to reschedule and DEA does not appeal, or c) the US Supreme Court rules that marijuana must be rescheduled per the provisions of the petition. ANY of these developments could indeed give a Congress reason to consider specific legislation re-establishing prohibition. However time is an important element, the here and now this criticism often ignores (and I hear this criticism a lot). The composition of Congress changes. The correlation of public and private interests around an issue changes. The accumulation of scientific, legal, and public opinion developments year to year make such Congressional action potentially more complicated as each year goes by. A situation in which Congress seeks to overturn HHS or a Supreme Court ruling includes a clash with new powerful allies produced by the HHS or Supreme Court ruling. If this scenario ever occurs, several wings will have been added to my brick house transforming it into quite a fortress. I'm not afraid of the Big Bad Wolves now or under any circumstances. >Things like that happen. [snip] Yes, they do. Congress has a responsibility to fine tune the law, and they have been known to exercise their authority with a vengeance. But their ability to reach consensus on these issues depends on their social and political complexity of the matter at hand - at the time it is of hand. Marijuana is much more politically complex than artificial sweetner. A scenario in which Congress overturns rescheduling includes far greater social and political complexity than presently exists. Another hypothetical scenario is that the IOM report takes a positive position on marijuana's medical properties and that Congress decides to pass legislation that was proposed in the last session to reschedule marijuana into schedule 2. If so I will ask the bill sponsors to amend the bill to insure that it does not preclude further rescheduling as a result of existing or future administrative rule making procedures. Congress may also decide not to address marijuana rescheduling while it is the focus of ongoing administrative proceedings. It may be politically more convenient for them to use the ripening proceedings to take cover from an increasingly controversial issue. Congress defers to such proceedings, or another favorite dodge -- the Commission, all the time. I will amend my statement, though . . . No matter what the IOM [Inst. of Medicine] determines or recommends the only likely and reliable way for marijuana to be rescheduled is by way of the administrative rule making process involving both HHS, DEA, and public comment. Jon Gettman
------------------------------------------------------------------- Evidence legal in cannabis center case (The Contra Costa Times version of yesterday's news about a Santa Clara Superior Court judge allowing prosecutors to use confidential patient medical records in the trial of Peter Baez, the founder of a now-defunct San Jose-based medical marijuana dispensary.) Date: Sun, 10 Jan 1999 11:03:43 -0600 From: "Frank S. World"
Organization: Rx Cannabis Now! http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/Lobby/7417/ To: editor (firstname.lastname@example.org), DPFCA (email@example.com) Subject: DPFCA: US CA: Evidence legal in cannabis center case Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: DrugSense http://www.drugsense.org/dpfca/ Source: The Contra Costa Times Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.hotcoco.com/index.htm Pub Pubdate: January 10, 1999 EVIDENCE LEGAL IN CANNABIS CENTER CASE By Sandra Gonzales SAN JOSE -- In a crucial ruling for prosecutors in the criminal case against medicinal marijuana activist Peter Baez, a Santa Clara Superior Court judge Friday refused to throw out key evidence seized during a March 23 raid of his now-defunct San Jose-based marijuana dispensary. Attorneys for Baez, the 35-year-old former director of the Santa Clara County Medical Cannabis Center, had argued the evidence should be tossed out because police improperly searched the center, going beyond the scope of their warrant. But Judge Diane Northway found that police had probable cause to believe a felony had been committed and had lawfully seized and scrutinized patient files and financial records. Baez, who has AIDS and suffers from colon cancer, is charged with five counts of illegally selling and furnishing marijuana. He is also charged with grand theft and running a drug house. In making her decision, Northway relied on a 1997 ruling by the San Francisco-based 1st District Court of Appeal that found Proposition 215 did not permit commercial operations to sell marijuana. Attorney Gerald Uelmen, who represented Baez in the latest legal motion, said afterward that the judge's ruling sent a clear message. The message is that anyone who operates a medical marijuana dispensary in Santa Clara County has to have rocks in their head," said Uelmen. He had argued that the center operated with the open approval of police, city and the district attorney who then later turned on Baez and labeled him a drug dealer. "If you open a medical marijuana dispensary in San Jose and rely on the assurances of police that you'll be allowed to operate, that assurance is worthless,"; Uelmen added. But during the hearing, Northway suggested that the defense wanted it both ways. "You want the benefits of the ordinance but not the burdens?" she asked. Deputy District Attorney Rob Baker had argued that Baez's cannabis center was not a legitimate business and was not protected by Prop. 215 because he had not complied with the ordinance. Among other things, Baker said, Baez did not have a permit and was accepting patients without recommendations or approval. "They used the ordinance to justify opening up the center and then decided to make up their own rules, so they put themselves in jeopardy," Baker said later, calling the ruling a vindication for the police officers who conducted the search. Northway's ruling came after four days of hearings over two months that included testimony from police officers about regulations for medicinal marijuana in the wake of Prop. 215, the 1996 voted-approved initiative allowing the creation of such institutions to distribute marijuana to seriously ill patients with a doctor's recommendation. Uelmen argued the March 23 search was a violation of the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable searches and seizures, and that authorities had no right to seize all 265 patient files since they suspected one patient file -- belonging to a San Jose man named Enrique Robles -- did not contain a physician's recommendation. But Baker argued one illegal sale of pot was sufficient to trigger the search of the center. Police contend sales to five members of the center were illegal because none had obtained a doctor's recommendation. They also allege that Baez was using center money to pay for such personal expenses as his home satellite television bill. He was also charged with grand theft because, prosecutors say, he received a $14,000 federal housing subsidy that stipulates he have no other income.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Drug Tests a Waste (A letter to the editor of the Oklahoman says drug testing in schools is not a panacea that will halt illicit drug use. In some ways, drug testing may actually encourage "drug" use.) Date: Sun, 17 Jan 1999 09:29:57 -0800 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: US OK: PUB LTE: Drug Tests a Waste Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Michael Pearson (email@example.com) Source: Oklahoman, The (OK) Pubdate: 10 Jan 1999 Contact: http://www.oklahoman.com/?ed-writeus Website: http://www.oklahoman.com/ Forum: http://www.oklahoman.com/forums/ Author: Alan Bryan, Drug Policy Forum of Texas, Dallas Note: The DPFT website is at: http://www.mapinc.org/DPFT/ DRUG TESTS A WASTE TO THE EDITOR: Drug testing in schools is not a panacea that will halt illicit drug use. Drug testing gives a green light to use drugs. After a test is administered, children know it will be weeks or months until the next one. Weekly testing of students would be extrememly expensive. Instead of spending money on drug tests, let's spend it on rehab for students with drug problems. Why should we waste money testing the majority of children that don't use drugs? Another reason drug testing isn't a good idea: The least dangerous drug -- marijuana -- is the one that stays in the system the longest. Knowing they may be tested, children might resort to more dangerous substances that aren't detectable after a few days of use, such as methamphetamine and heroin. Also, a "false positive" can occur on any drug screen. Can you imagine what it would be like to be falsely labeled a drug user? The only people who benefit from drug testing are the companies that sell drug test kits. Alan Bryan, Drug Policy Forum of Texas, Dallas
------------------------------------------------------------------- Oregon not only victim in Houston's failed drug war (An attorney's op-ed in the Houston Chronicle says the city of Houston is now a victim of America's War on Drugs as it defends itself against a multimillion dollar lawsuit filed by the family of Pedro Oregon, the innocent Houston man who was shot to death by six prohibition agents who broke into his home without a warrant. To fight a drug war effectively, citizens must accept the reality that the battles are local and not national. All that is required is imagination and the courage to confront leaders in your community about their failure.) From: adbryan@ONRAMP.NET Date: Sun, 10 Jan 1999 08:23:56 -0600 (CST) Subject: OPED: Oregon not only victim in Houston's failed drug war To: "DRCTalk Reformers' Forum" (firstname.lastname@example.org) Reply-To: email@example.com Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org From this oped: [Every grand juror's name and address is public record. Citizen-action groups like the Drug Policy Forum of Texas should demand of grand jurors that they question the charging practices of the district attorney, who currently prosecutes small amounts of controlled substance as felonies eligible for 25 years in prison. The cost to the taxpayers for such incarcerating appetites can only become public when citizens research and publicize these facts.] Thanks to David Jones for penning this masterpiece. 1-10-99 Houston Chronicle http://www.chron.com email@example.com Oregon not only victim in Houston's failed drug war By DAVID JONES THE city of Houston is now a victim of America's War on Drugs as it defends itself against a multimillion dollar lawsuit filed by the family of Pedro Oregon. Houston taxpayers will pay for a drug war that cannot be won under present practices and leadership. Another victim, Pedro Oregon, was shot to death by Houston Police Department officers after a false accusation of drug activity against Oregon led to an illegal police entry and gun battle. Other victims of this failed effort at drug prohibition are the criminal justice system and the rule of law in Harris County. Make no mistake about it, Pedro Oregon died in his own home at the hands of Houston's finest as a consequence of a drug war that has trashed the Constitution and devastated the innocent along with the guilty. At the end of the war's third decade a $17 billion federal budget continues to subsidize state and local law enforcement efforts to harass, arrest and incarcerate their fellow citizens for reasons of state that can no longer be supported by rational argument. The failures of the war are all around us. The Texas Department of Corrections is full of drug offenders who are the staple of a poorly conceived prison expansion that was the ultimate jobs program for failing rural economies all too eager to accept the social outcasts of urban Texas. Police officers, poorly trained and supervised, all too often violate the Constitution in their arrests of a mostly minority underclass of offenders and, on occasion, take an innocent life. Harris County district judges routinely revoke and send to prison drug-offense probationers who fail to live up to standards of probation behavior that most law-abiding misfits would find impossible. To fight a drug war effectively, citizens must accept the reality that the battles are local and not national. The real general in this war is Houston Police Chief Clarence Bradford and not Drug Czar Gen. Barry McCaffrey in Washington, D.C. It is the budget for DARE that must be vetoed, not the one for the federal Drug Enforcement Agency. It is the locally elected judiciary, not House Republicans in Washington, D.C., who must be monitored and critiqued. In this strategy, it is more important to make advocates of Councilmembers Chris Bell and Anise Parker than U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee. It is District Attorney Johnny Holmes rather than Reps. Jackson Lee and Tom DeLay that is the more appropriate target for attention by the electorate. The war on drugs is fought locally by a City Council and mayor who approve a budget for HPD; by the collaborative efforts of a variety of law enforcement agencies; by local judges who sentence offenders and supervise their probation for drug offenses; and by Harris County grand juries who indict for possession and delivery of prohibited substances. Critics of the drug war can have the greatest impact by monitoring the performance of these governmental units and disseminating accurate information to budgeting authorities and decision-makers. This war's dirty work is being filtered through the courtrooms of our system of justice. In 1997 and the first six months of 1998, Harris County criminal district judges filed motions to revoke probation in 3,460 drug possession cases. They revoked and sent to prison 2,243 -- 67 percent of the total cases in 1997 and 61 percent in 1998. If the sentence for each was the minimum of two years, and undoubtedly many were much longer, the state spent in excess of $100 million in incarceration costs on people who could be treated locally, at less expense. They could be given additional community-service hours or sentenced to time in the county jail rather than warehoused in a maximum-security prison. The elected judges of Harris County criminal courts grease the wheels of law enforcement's machinery, processing people in and out of jail and prison for "drug crimes" that common sense and social science tell us should be handled with greater compassion and efficiency. These judges are almost exclusively former assistant district attorneys trained by the same office which presents evidence in their courtrooms. Both the judiciary and district attorney have been barraged by the media and self-interested opinion leaders about the dangers of drugs in our society. Much of that information cannot be critically examined in courtrooms where elected officials follow public opinion. A system of justice managed by politicians influenced by inflamed public opinion is corrupting to the rule of law. The principle of two roughly equal advocates advancing their arguments before a neutral magistrate is sacrificed to politics and expedience under the current arrangement of powers in the Harris County Courthouse. There are simple measures that can be used to attack such practices. All that is required is imagination and the courage to confront leaders in your community about their failure. The correct focus of political will and resources can improve the performance of our institutions and enlighten public opinion. The citizens who serve on Harris County grand juries can demonstrate the totality of this war's damage. The county has several grand juries which meet every week. They can refuse to charge cases presented to them. They have the power to issue reports in the public interest on any issue of the administration of justice that confronts them. Every grand juror's name and address is public record. Citizen-action groups like the Drug Policy Forum of Texas should demand of grand jurors that they question the charging practices of the district attorney, who currently prosecutes small amounts of controlled substance as felonies eligible for 25 years in prison. The cost to the taxpayers for such incarcerating appetites can only become public when citizens research and publicize these facts. Houston City Council must challenge the priorities of HPD in its work. There is no greater opportunity than their scrutiny of HPD's budget. Council can conduct hearings on the performance of drug-enforcement task forces, report on violations of civil liberties, and fund city clinics for drug treatment. They can defund the DARE program and reward HPD for arrests of major offenders rather than small-time users. Criminal-defense attorneys must once again become the conscience of the community. They see the totality of damage to individuals and community inflicted by the war on drugs: Families destroyed, bread winners locked up, jobs lost and children abandoned are daily events in their working lives. Sharing more of these stories with the news media and with opponents of the drug war can change public opinion over time. Republican primary voters must accept responsibility for the current policy of fighting this losing and destructive battle. Since 1994, the judges of Harris County have been chosen exclusively by Republican primary voters. The judges nominated by them have been easily elected. Those same voters nominate and elect one-half of state legislators, who vote on key issues defining the parameters of the state's prosecution efforts. Legislators vote on budgets that can either authorize treatment or incarceration. This terribly small numbers of people should be the focus of education and political efforts to relieve the pressure that today supports the status quo. Former U.S. House Speaker Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill once said that all politics is local. In Harris County, the elected district attorney publicly provided the defense arguments to the shooters of Pedro Oregon. A Republican judge who once worked for the district attorney picked the grand jury that heard the case. Unlike most nonpolice shootings of defenseless citizens, the entire case was tried privately before the grand jury without a recommendation from the district attorney to indict. No one in authority in this city -- neither politician nor media representative -- has reacted critically to these events and their significance. Until they do, the drug war will continue to pile up casualties. Jones is a Houston attorney.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Senseless Sentencing: A Federal Judge Speaks Out (An op-ed in the Des Moines Register by Robert W. Pratt, a U.S. district judge for the Southern District of Iowa, describes the iniquitous and expensive failures of federal mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines for drug offenders. For each million dollars spent on long prison terms, a 1997 RAND study found that 13 kilograms of cocaine were removed from the street. The study found that shorter sentences for more dealers removed 27 kilograms per million dollars spent. Spending the same million dollars on treatment could result in a reduction of over 100 kilograms. This information should allay the fear that any reduction in penalties for drug offenses will be seen as an endorsement of drug use. We must reject the idea that coming to grips with reality is being "soft on crime.") Date: Mon, 18 Jan 1999 06:13:05 -0800 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: US: OpEd: Senseless Sentencing: A Federal Judge Speaks Out Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Carl Olsen Source: Des Moines Register (IA) Copyright: 1999, The Des Moines Register. Website: http://www.dmregister.com/ Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Pubdate: Sun, 10 Jan 99 Author: Robert W. Pratt (Robert W. Pratt is a U.S. district judge for the Southern District of Iowa.} SENSELESS SENTENCING: A FEDERAL JUDGE SPEAKS OUT On Dec. 17, 1998, nine of my fellow citizens appeared before me in Davenport for sentencing on drug charges. The cost to U.S. taxpayers for incarcerating one person for one month in federal prison is $1,910.17. Based on the nine sentences I had to impose under the largely mandatory Federal Sentencing Guidelines, taxpayers were handed a bill of more than $2 million. There are approximately 650 federal judges across the United States responsible for sentencing drug offenders. If sentencing nine offenders in Davenport, Ia., on one day cost more than $2 million, the effect of 649 other judges doing the same thing across the nation on a daily basis is mind-boggling. Federal judges used to have wide discretion to fashion sentences they thought were appropriate for the individual and the circumstances of the offense - to "make the punishment fit the crime." However, there is evidence that allowing federal judges and parole boards absolute discretion allowed personal temperament and prejudices to play a part in sentencing. As University of Chicago law professor Albert Alschuler has pointed out, there are both Santa Clauses and Scrooges on the bench, but more troubling were statistics showing that the length of time actually served often pointed to discrimination based on race, class or gender - and punishment should not turn on the luck of the judicial draw. In response to this legitimate problem, Congress established the U.S. Sentencing Commission to create official guidelines that would result in more uniform punishments. The sentencing guidelines abolish parole and set a mandatory, narrow range, in months, for sentences based only on the particular crime committed and the criminal history of the defendant. In addition, Congress created "mandatory-minimum sentences" for some crimes, which trump or replace the guideline sentences and require the imposition of specified prison terms for the commission of certain enumerated crimes, including drug crimes. Costly, Ineffective There is very little judicial discretion in the current system. While the concern of disparity in sentencing is legitimate, the move from individualized sentences to mandatory ones has proved costly and ineffective. I have only been a federal judge for a short time. In that time, however, I have learned that sentencing offenders under the guidelines is an emotionally draining experience that requires consideration of the crime and past conduct of the defendant. Consideration must also be given to the effect of guideline sentencing on our country. What have we done by creating a system that many federal judges have rejected as unfair, inefficient and, as a practical matter, ineffective in eliminating drug use and drug-related crime? As taxpayers, we might be willing to foot the enormous bill for the "war on drugs" if we had seen results, but as the explosion of meth crimes in Iowa illustrates, the guidelines have not helped to cut drug use or crime. The Federal Judicial Center, the educational arm of the federal courts, frequently conducts surveys and gathers other empirical data to help plan for the future and to advise Congress about needed changes in the law. In 1994, the center did a study on the effect of mandatory minimums and the current guideline sentencing. Judge Myron Bright, a senior 8th Circuit judge, quoted from that survey in a recent case: "We know from previous work by the Bureau of Prisons that 70 percent of the prison growth related to sentencing since 1985 is attributed to increases in drug-sentence length. '[D]rug law offenders alone are consuming three times more resources than all other federal crimes combined ... unless Congress and the sentencing commission change drug sentences, relief will be nowhere in sight. Federal Judges' Views Bright has served with distinction for more than 30 years on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit - the circuit that includes Iowa. In that same case, he quoted from another Federal Judicial Center study about what judges themselves think of these laws: "Federal judges who sentence offenders know the problem: 86.4 percent of district judges support changing the current sentencing rules to increase the discretion of the judge; 70.4 percent support repealing most of all mandatory minimum sentencing and 82.8 percent of all district judges feel that federal judges would be appropriate decision-makers about the nature and severity of sanctions to be imposed in criminal cases. More than half would eliminate sentencing guidelines. "These are not 'soft-headed judges.' They serve on the front lines of the criminal-justice system and know of what they speak. They represent appointees of every president from Eisenhower to Clinton. But the lawmakers and law enforcers, Congress and the administration, seem to turn a deaf ear to the problem and to the unnecessary, immense cost to the taxpayer of unnecessary lengthy incarceration of drug offenders." In the above case, a respected Iowa federal trial judge was required to sentence a 44-year-old illiterate Iowan to 21 years in prison. The offender had no previous serious criminal convictions, and, as Bright pointed out, was so "dangerous" that pending trial he was released on his own promise to appear for trial. He will be 65 when he emerges from federal prison. The other citizen in this case had grown up on an Iowa farm and, while he had a history of minor involvement with the law prior to this case, he, too, had been released before trial on his promise to appear. This 48-year-old person received a sentence of 19=BD years in prison. Both of these offenders deserved time in prison. But, as Bright pointed out, it is doubtful that any reasonable judge, who had not had his or her hands tied by the guidelines, would have sentenced these men to more than 10 years in prison. How did it happen that we built a system that incarcerates our fellow citizens for inordinately long periods of time, wastes huge amounts of taxpayer dollars, ruins lives, and does not accomplish the stated purpose, i.e. to end the illegal consumption of drugs? Len Bias' Death In trying to answer that question, I came across an article from the April 1997 Atlantic Monthly, by Eric Schlosser. The author explained that in 1986, after the overdose death of the Boston Celtics' No. 1 draft choice, Len Bias, politicians determined that something had to be done about the growing problem of drug usage. Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill, fearful that the Democratic Party would be seen as "soft on drugs," urged the passage of an omnibus drug-control bill. The legislation was drafted in less than a month between July and August, with no public hearings to obtain input from experts or government officials, such as federal judges, prison authorities or drug-abuse specialists. There was no consideration of the potential costs or ramifications to the criminal-justice system. The process of selecting drug quantities that would trigger mandatory-minimum sentences was, according to the article, far from scientific: "Numbers were being picked out of thin air." Only 16 members of Congress voted against the bill, which was passed in the Senate on a voice vote. President Reagan signed the final version of the bill a week before the election. Everyone was able to claim that they were tough on drugs. Left Failed System Today, there are those who have chosen to resign rather than take part in an immoral, unjust and failed system. J. Lawrence Irving, a distinguished federal judge who was appointed to the federal bench by President Reagan in 1982, resigned his lifetime post in 1990 citing the guidelines as the principal reason. Irving said: "I am resigning from the bench for a number of reasons, but the main reason has to do with the sentencing guidelines. Before we had unlimited discretion in fashioning sentences to fit individual cases. But the guidelines have taken away from judges all such discretion. Most of the judges I've spoken with agree with that position, but I don't know of any who have resigned. . . . I think I may be the first. It really tugs at your heart when you have to sentence a first-time offender to a mandatory minimum sentence of say 10 years, 15 years with no parole." Laws Not Working It is unreasonable to believe that anyone in our government wants laws that do not work. All Americans, judges included, are vitally concerned with the drug problem in America. In my opinion, a pragmatic person would ask: "Is this policy working?" According to a recent study by RAND, a prestigious nonprofit policy center, the current policy has not stopped the flow of drugs and is wasting taxpayer dollars. RAND recommends sending dealers to jail for shorter periods and using the money saved to reduce drug dependence. "If reducing (drug) consumption or violence is the goal," the study says, "more can be achieved by spending money arresting, prosecuting and sentencing dealers to standard prison terms than by sentencing fewer dealers to longer, mandatory terms." The study, which was released in 1997, concluded that it made economic sense to sentence drug dealers who headed drug cartels or were major lieutenants in such organizations, but that "current mandatory minimum laws are not focused on those dealers." Among the findings of the study was their estimate that for each million dollars spent on long prison terms, 13 kilograms of cocaine were removed from the street. The study found that shorter sentences for more dealers removed 27 kilograms per million dollars spent. Spending the same million dollars on treatment could result in a reduction of over 100 kilograms. This information, it seems to me, should allay the fear that any reduction in penalties for drug offenses will be seen as an endorsement of drug use. We must reject the idea that coming to grips with reality is being "soft on crime." Back in 1991, Professor Alschuler said, "The sentencing reforms of the past 15 years have pointed in some useful directions, but in their current form they are bankrupt. . . . Some things are worse than sentencing disparity, and we have found them." If judges and the public speak with a united voice, perhaps the other two branches of government will listen. We must encourage our elected officials to consider immediate reforms to the Federal Sentencing Guidelines to make them less costly and more fair. If we don't speak up, who will? ROBERT W. PRATT is a U.S. district judge for the Southern District of Iowa.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Federalizing Crime, Ironically, Conservatives Are Expanding Federal Power (A staff editorial in the Des Moines Register agrees with the op-ed by Judge Pratt. Federal courts were never meant to duplicate state courts, but in recent years, as the result of an annual test of manhood in Congress, their steady growth in criminal cases, mostly for illegal drugs, is threatening to overwhelm their resources.) Date: Sat, 16 Jan 1999 12:37:18 -0800 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: US IA: Federalizing Crime, Ironically, Conservatives Are Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: General Pulaski Pubdate: 10 Jan 1999 Source: Des Moines Register (IA) Contact: email@example.com Website: http://www.dmregister.com/ Copyright: 1999, The Des Moines Register. FEDERALIZING CRIME, IRONICALLY, CONSERVATIVES ARE EXPANDING FEDERAL POWER. "You don't have to make a federal case out of it." That old saw pays respect to the elevated status of cases that come before the federal judiciary, which was provided for in the Constitution to tend to the legal business of the national government. The federal courts were never meant to duplicate state courts, but the federal courts have in recent years seen steady growth in criminal cases, mostly for illegal drugs, which is threatening to overwhelm their resources and, worse, change the role of the federal judiciary. As U.S. District Judge Robert Pratt explains on Page 2 of this section, the proliferation of drug cases is accompanied by a new sentencing formula mandated by Congress that has reduced federal judges to automated sentencing machines, not to mention necessitating a tripling of federal prison capacity. All this is the result of an annual test of manhood on crime, which escalates with dueling rhetoric from both political parties and the White House, to toughen penalties and create new federal crimes, thus treading on turf belonging to state courts. This process of federalizing criminal law is a fundamental change in the nature of courts in the United States. Ironically, this expansion of federal-court jurisdiction comes from a Congress ruled by conservatives who allegedly believe in a limited federal government. And it comes at the very time that Congress refuses to give the federal judiciary adequate resources: Despite increasing caseloads, Congress has authorized no new trial judges in eight years. If Congress continues making every crime a federal crime, creating super drug courts without giving them adequate resources, the net effect will be to diminish the federal courts' capacity to do the work intended by the framers. And the idea of making a federal case of something will take on an entirely new meaning. It will be a joke.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Report: Suppression of evidence has led to wrongful convictions (According to the Associated Press, a Chicago Tribune analysis of thousands of court records in homicide cases shows that prosecutors throughout the country have hid evidence, leading to wrongful convictions, retrials and appeals that cost taxpayers millions of dollars. The records show prosecutors have won convictions against black men, hiding evidence the real killers were white. They also have prosecuted a wife, hiding evidence her husband committed suicide. And they have prosecuted parents, hiding evidence their daughter was killed by wild dogs. Since a 1963 U.S. Supreme Court ruling designed to curb misconduct by prosecutors, at least 381 defendants nationally have had a homicide conviction thrown out because prosecutors concealed evidence. Next week, three former DuPage County prosecutors will face trial on charges of conspiring to frame Rolando Cruz, who served about 10 years on death row before being acquitted of murder at his third trial. If the former prosecutors are convicted, it would be a first in the United States.) From: "Bob Owen@W.H.E.N." (firstname.lastname@example.org) To: "_Drug Policy --" (email@example.com) Subject: Report: Suppression of evidence has led to wrongful convictions Date: Sun, 10 Jan 1999 16:56:33 -0800 Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Report: Suppression of evidence has led to wrongful convictions Associated Press, 01/10/99 18:28 CHICAGO (AP) - Prosecutors throughout the country have hid evidence, leading to wrongful convictions, retrials and appeals that cost taxpayers millions of dollars, according to a Chicago Tribune analysis of thousands of court records in homicide cases. The records show prosecutors have won conviction against black men, hiding evidence the real killers were white. They also have prosecuted a wife, hiding evidence her husband committed suicide. And they have prosecuted parents, hiding evidence their daughter was killed by wild dogs. ``Winning has become more important than doing justice. Nobody runs for the Senate saying I did justice,'' said Harvard University law professor Alan Dershowitz, a longtime critic of prosecutors. John Justice, president of the National District Attorneys Association, responded: ``I believe the great majority of prosecutors in this country are truly dedicated to doing their jobs in the proper fashion.'' But in some cases, they have prosecuted defendants who came within hours of being executed, only to be exonerated, according to the Tribune report Sunday. Since a 1963 U.S. Supreme Court ruling designed to curb misconduct by prosecutors, at least 381 defendants nationally have had a homicide conviction thrown out because prosecutors concealed evidence suggesting innocence or presented evidence they knew to be false, the newspaper said. Of the 381 defendants, 67 had been sentenced to death, including Randall Dale Adams of Texas, whose wrongful conviction was revealed by the documentary ``The Thin Blue Line.'' Although 28 of those 67 death row inmates were subsequently freed, almost all spent at least five years in prison. Illinois' record for misconduct by prosecutors ranks among the worst, with 46 of the 381 cases, the Tribune found. Next week, three former DuPage County prosecutors will face trial on charges of conspiring to frame Rolando Cruz, who served about 10 years on death row before being acquitted of murder at his third trial. If the former prosecutors are convicted of a felony for concealing and knowingly using false evidence, it would be a first in the United States.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Teen Crime Wave Called Myth (A Cox News Service article in the San Francisco Chronicle says a study funded by the MacArthur Foundation and released yesterday by Franklin Zimring, a law professor at the University of California at Berkeley, shows that fear rather than fact is fueling unnecessarily harsh juvenile justice policies throughout the United States. The two-year study of juvenile crime statistics charges that laws aimed at youthful lawbreakers are based on "deeply flawed analyses of juvenile violence statistics." Youth behavior has not been changing, police behavior has. Police have been reducing the threshold of what constitutes assault and aggravated assault, the study charges, resulting in the apparent increase in crime.) From: email@example.com (Peter Webster) Subject: Franklin Zimring: Teen Crime Wave Called Myth Pubdate: 10 Dec 1998 Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA) Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.sfgate.com/chronicle/ Copyright: 1998 San Francisco Chronicle Section: Page 18 TEEN CRIME WAVE CALLED MYTH Study finds no more juvenile violence than decades -- Cox News Service WASHINGTON - Fear rather than fact Is fueling unnecessarily harsh juvenile justice policies throughout the United States, according to a study by a Berkeley professor was released yesterday. The MacArthur Foundation's two-year study of juvenile crime statistics charges that laws aimed at youthful lawbreakers are based on "deeply flawed analyses of juvenile violence statistics." "We're not any more violent than we were 10 or 20 years ago. We're just paying more attention to the violence," said Franklin Zimring, author of the study and a law professor at the University of California at Berkeley. Zimrlng's findings will be published as a book by Oxford University Press but were released at a news conference yesterday. The study was paid for by the private MacArthur Foundation, which is best known for its annual "genius grants" but also supports public policy research. Zimring said a change in how police report juvenile crimes, particularly assault and aggravated assault has resulted in "an artificial crime wave." Zlmrlng said his study shows "what you find out about aggravated assault and assault since mid.1980s, quite independent of whether youth behavior has been changing, police behavior been changing significantly." Police have been reducing the threshold of what constitutes assault and aggravated assault, the study charges, resulting in the apparent increase in crime. Some other major findings of Zimring's Study include: Arrest rates for juvenile, ages 13 to 17 accused of rape and robbery show no significant trend either up or down since 1980 and have actually declined slightly Over the last five years. The homicide arrest rate for juveniles ages 13 to 17 rose shot between 1984 and 1992 but fell by more than a third by 1996, according to FBI crime figures. The number of juveniles arrested for homicide dropped an additional 18 percent in 1997. Zimring said that in order to counter what is seen as a "coming storm of juvenile violence," many states have enacted laws that lower the age at which juveniles can be charged as adults for certain crimes Evidence of a juvenile crime wave, "either current or on the horizon, is no more substantial than the evidence that supports the existence of the Loch Ness monster," Zimring said.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Where It All Begins With 'Narco' (Washington Post columnist Molly Moore says it's almost impossible to pick up a Mexican newspaper without narco-headlines detailing the exploits of narco-kidnappers, narco-cops or narco-politicians. Or, for that matter, to hold a conversation without at least one reference to a narco-something-or-other. In the last decade, use of the "narco" prefix has exploded in Mexico, indicating just how deeply and rapidly the drug trade has permeated the country's social, cultural, economic and political institutions. Large, ostentatious edifices built with loads of money and little taste are dubbed "neo-narco" or "early narco." Narco-traffickers not only pray to narco-saints, but shower their local narco-churches and favorite narco-priests with narco-alms.) Date: Sun, 10 Jan 1999 12:56:46 -0800 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: Mexico: WP: Where It All Begins With 'Narco' Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: DrugSense Pubdate: Sun, 10 Jan 1999 Source: The Washington Post Copyright: 1999 The Washington Post Company Page: A19 Contact: http://washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/edit/letters/letterform.htm Website: http://washingtonpost.com/ Author: Molly Moore, Washington Post Foreign Service WHERE IT ALL BEGINS WITH 'NARCO' Drug Trade's Spread in Mexico Gives Words a New Start MEXICO CITY-Enter the land of narco-scandals, where narco-realtors launder narco-profits, narco-babies grow up to be narco-juniors, and narco-ballads glorify narco-traffickers who hire narco-spies and narco-chauffeurs to serve the narco-empires they build with narco-dollars. These days it's almost impossible to pick up a Mexican newspaper without narco-headlines detailing the exploits of narco- kidnappers, narco-cops or narco-politicians. Or, for that matter, to hold a conversation without at least one reference to a narco-something-or-other. In the last decade, use of the "narco" prefix has exploded in Mexico, indicating just how deeply and rapidly the drug trade has permeated the country's social, cultural, economic and political institutions. Narco-talk has taken on a life of its own, stretching far beyond the daily headlines to become an ingrained part of the national psyche. Narco-ballads top the music charts in border cities. Large, ostentatious edifices built with loads of money and little taste are dubbed "neo-narco" or "early narco," a reflection of the styles favored in the homes of the country's rich and infamous drug lords. It began simply enough. As early as the 1950s, the word "narco-trafficker" popped up occasionally in newspapers to describe a person who bought, sold or transported illegal narcotics, according to Luis Astorga, a professor who has written two recent books tracing the influence of the drug trade in Mexican society. But as the drug mafias expanded their power and influence in the 1990s -- along with what Astorga described as the Mexican wordsmiths' "capacity of invention" -- "narco" has become the prefix of choice for defining anyone or anything with any connection to the drug trade. In today's Mexico, the connections are vast. Politicians and columnists alike fret that Mexico is on the path to becoming a narco-state and a narco-democracy populated with narco-liberals and narco-nationalists who take pride in spending their narco-dinero in Mexico rather than exporting that money to foreign bank accounts. "Dead Mexican drug lord was a narco-nationalist," wrote Reuters news agency over a dispatch describing how Amado Carrillo Fuentes, the country's most powerful drug trafficker prior to his death after plastic surgery in July 1997, "considered himself a nationalist" because he invested his drug proceeds in Mexico rather than stashing it in Swiss bank accounts. "The people who steal money from Mexico and take it out of the country to Switzerland are more of a disgrace than I am," Carrillo told his alleged associate Manuel de Jesus Bitar Tafich, according to Bitar's account of the conversation in a Mexican newspaper. "I bring my money here to stimulate the economy," the deceased druglord reportedly told Bitar. "Narco-Power Unrestrained" read the headline over an editorial column in the daily newspaper Universal that chronicled a long list of state governors, business leaders and church officials in the country who have been tied to drug traffickers in recent years. Yes, even church officials. In Mexico, narco-traffickers not only pray to narco-saints, but shower their local narco-churches and favorite narco-priests with narco-donations and narco-alms. Soldiers who join drug cartel payrolls become narco-soldiers. Leftist rebels are tagged as narco-guerrillas by a government accusing them of financing their armed uprisings with -- what else? -- narco-profits. Linguistics professor Otto Schumann of the Autonomous University of Mexico blames the press for popularizing narco-terminology. "The journalists started using it a lot and the people who read the newspapers adopted it easily," he said. "Narco Babies" blared the fat headlines of a Mexico City afternoon tabloid over a story about children as young as 8 involved in the distribution of drugs on the streets of the capital. Their older colleagues, narco-juniors, run rampant in the border cities of Tijuana and San Diego, where they serve as hit men for a Tijuana-based cartel run by the Arellano Felix clan. Newspaper police reports are spiced with references to narco-kidnappings, corrupt narco-cops, narco-journalists who take payoffs from drug cartels and the narco-disappeared -- individuals with links to the drug trade who have vanished without a trace along the U.S.-Mexican border, the transit point for an estimated 60 percent of all illegal drugs sold in the United States. "Rogue Police Behind Narco-Snatches," claimed a headline in the Mexico City Times daily newspaper describing the narco-disappeareds. "Crusade Against Narco-Chauffeurs," declared another in the newspaper Reforma. The story described a crackdown by police on freight-truck drivers who transported cocaine and marijuana in their loads of tomatoes, air conditioners or concrete. Another police report detailed a cult tied to narco-traffickers accused of burning and burying 13 bodies on a northern Mexico ranch as part of "narco-satanic" rituals. Perhaps it is time for linguists to declare an end to narco-babble.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Mayor wants Grand Forks to . . . Go To Pot (The Calgary Herald says Brian Taylor, a former hippie who traded his long hair for a "mayor's cut" when he was elected mayor of Grand Forks, wants to turn the town just north of the U.S. border into Canada's chief supplier of medical marijuana.) Date: Sun, 10 Jan 1999 10:50:36 -0700 Subject: Mayor wants Grand Forks to...Go To POT From: "Debra Harper" (email@example.com) To: mattalk (firstname.lastname@example.org) Newshawk: email@example.com Source: Calgary Herald Pubdate:January 10, 1999 Contact:firstname.lastname@example.org Author: Brock Ketcham Mayor wants Grand Forks to...Go To POT He's a mayor with a vision, and some of his constituents suspect it comes from something he's smoking. Brian Taylor, 52, a former hippie who traded his long hair for a "mayor's cut" when he was elected mayor of Grand Forks in 1996, wants to turn this town just north of the U.S. border into Canada's chief supplier of medical marijuana. Taylor envisages a huge greenhouse with 1,000 employees in this economically depressed logging community of 4,100 nestled in the fertile Sunshine Valley between the Okanagan Valley and the Kootenays. The city has hundreds of marijuana growers - a large percentage of whom are former hippies and U.S. draft dodgers - who have become experts at cultivating their illicit crops outdoors, says the mayor. "It's one of the largest cash crops in the Kootenays," says Taylor, himself a pot smoker. "If the marijuana industry went down, there'll be an economic collapse. We'd have thousands on welfare." Sandy Nolan, who sells ads for the Grand Forks Gazette, says, "there's a lot of people in this community who smoke pot recreationally. It's a pretty open secret." Brian Taylor, a trim, laid-back man whose greying hair belies middle age, spent most of his adult years working with troubled youth and mentally handicapped adults in B.C. and Ontario. Taylor is legendary for the live-band shindigs at the Grand Forks Yacht Club, the name of the barn behind the double-width trailer where he lives with a daughter, a chicken, a dog and three horses. It is rumoured that some people have smoked pot at these parties. "When he set that up, he had it set up for the youth of the community," says a sympathetic Councillor Bob Westgate, 51, a semi-retired manager. "He'd have dances up there. Different bands would try out." Taylor, who has crusaded for the legalization of pot, insists he is not harbouring any hidden agenda for recreational pot. He says he only wants to give growers a legitimate medical market. Taylor rarely inspires neutral feelings in a community where Doukhobors and other groups have lived in harmony for decades. Some see him as a visionary; a breath of fresh air. Others see him as a grandstanding crackpot. Taylor's detractors on city council and in the local press dismiss his marijuana scheme as a pipe dream. They note that medical science says any alleged medicinal properties remain unproven. "They (local residents) see him as a joke", says Gazette editor Karen Heiber. Taylor, the moving force in establishing a local hemp products industry and proprietor of a retail hemp products shop, dismisses such talk as negativism. He says he plans to organize a referendum this spring to gauge public support. A solid show of support would make Grand Forks a front-runner for federal licensing, he feels. Taylor says he's willing to bet his $12,000-a-year job on the referendum outcome. If he gains the prequisite number of city council votes only to see residents vote against his vision, he won't run for re-election this fall, he says. "I think I can win by 90 per cent", he says. Steve Burt, a Shell gas station owner and a councillor frequently at odds with the colourful mayor over civic issues, notes that politicians have been known to change their mind. "I don't think that would be binding", Burt said of Taylor's referendum wager. Tom Hinter, the curmudgeonly publisher of the leaflet-style Informer, is more blunt, "He's blackened the eye of Grand Forks with his hare-brained schemes," says Hinter, whose acidic views on civic affairs are the talk of the town. "It won't do him much good to stand for re-election anyway. I think he's toast." Sgt. Lyle Burt, Councillor Burt's cousin and head of the local eight-member RCMP detachment, says he and the mayor get along "relatively well. If he's apprehended, he would face charges as would anyone else." Taylor says he first started thinking last year about producing medical marijuana after hearing about successes achieved by the medical marijuana movement . Five states in the U.S. approved medical marijuana despite a federal ban. "All of a sudden, I thought about Grand Forks growers - all the people who wanted to come in out of the bush," he says. Taylor, who says he knows at least 20 growers, and "George" - a grower friend of his who asked that he not be identified - said most local growers cultivate their crops outdoors. George said the growers pitch their tents in the wilderness and tend their crops from spring to fall. Harvest has attracted "guerrillas" - thieves who prey on the farmers, he says. "That's pretty scary," he says, adding that vehicles have been riddled with bullet holes. "The pot growers and the thieves face off in the fall. The paranoia - the tension - everbody's like, wired like crazy." Sgt. Burt said he has heard rumors of such thievery, but the only confirmed incident was when a hunter stumbled across a cultivator's campsite in 1996 and both found themselves staring down the barrels of each other's rifles. Crop growers told the Herald last week they chose the B.C. Interior because of the relatively low risk of detection. They avoid dealing with banks. Those who grow indoors purchase hot tubs and other items that consume a lot of electricity to camouflage their illicit crops. And they keep a stash of cash in case they need a good lawyer. "I'm just doing it because I want some smoke and to be able to pay off some bank loans," says ŚLars' , a university-educated man who was severely injured several years ago by a gang of hoodlums and now uses pot to ease the pain. Concludes Taylor: "We need to diversify. I say that we're a Third World country between the Kootenays and the Okanagan. We're the right place to put medical marijuana into. We could have a boost in the economy."
------------------------------------------------------------------- The hemp grower, conspiracy theories and Nicaragua (The Toronto Star says Paul Wylie, a Canadian employee of Hemp Agro International who was busted in Nicaragua on charges that the company's hemp farm was really marijuana, says he has a BA in horticultural genetics from the University of Guelph. His business partners and financiers claim he has a PhD. But his sister-in-law doesn't believe he attended a post-secondary school, and the University of Guelph has no record of the mysterious Canadian. And contrary to previous reports, Nicaragua, like the United States, makes no distinction in law between industrial-grade hemp and marijuana.) Date: Sun, 10 Jan 1999 10:12:06 -0500 To: email@example.com From: Dave Haans (firstname.lastname@example.org) Subject: TorStar: The hemp grower, conspiracy theories and Nicaragua Newshawk: Dave Haans Source: The Toronto Star (Canada) Pubdate: Sunday, January 10, 1999 Page: A5 Website: http://www.thestar.com Contact: email@example.com Author: Rosie DiManno, Toronto Star Columnist The hemp grower, conspiracy theories and Nicaragua Claims government is covering up having given permission to grow illegal crop MANAGUA - Paul Wylie says he's an expert hemp grower with a BA in horticultural genetics from the University of Guelph. His business partners and financiers claim he has a PhD. His sister-in-law doesn't believe he attended a post-secondary school. And the University of Guelph has no record of the mysterious Canadian. These may seem like peripheral details. But they're tremendously significant to the 45-year-old's immediate - and perhaps extremely long-term - future. Wylie is being held at the La Modelo prison here, awaiting trial on charges of growing marijuana - 57 hectares of pot plants. If convicted, he could face the maximum 30-year jail sentence for what has been called the biggest drug bust in Nicaraguan history. But Wylie insists the authorities have got it all wrong: that he's just an innocent scientist and entrepreneur from Ontario whose gotten himself entangled in a cocked-up scenario of Hitchcockian proportions; a poor stooge who's being framed by embarrassed government officials. ``There's somebody behind all this,'' Wylie said during a jail-house interview. ``I don't know if it's the American influence or what. But somebody is pulling the string.'' Paranoid or desperate? Honest or cunning? Wylie was arrested Dec. 23 after a raid at the Canadian-operated Hemp-Agro International plantation, about 25 kilometres east of Managua. Six other Canadians and one Nicaraguan national have also been charged, in absentia. They were all out of the country when the gunpoint raid was staged, and have not ventured back to help out their colleague. Nicaragua, like the United States, makes no distinction in law between industrial-grade hemp (used in the manufacture of cosmetics, and cultivated legally in Europe) and the hallucinogenic version of the plant, marijuana. Both have the same horticultural genus, but the industrial hemp plant has an extremely low level of the hallucinogenic chemical THC. Canada legalized the production of hemp last March, rescinding a 60-year ban on the plant. Wylie insists he and his partners imported 15 tonnes of industrial hemp seed from China to Nicaragua last July, with the full knowledge and approval of the Nicaraguan government. Wylie suspects the raid was launched at the urging of U.S. drug officials in Nicaragua. A week before his arrest, sanitation officials descended on the plantation and took away plant samples. Wylie was then interrogated by Drug Enforcement Agency officials, including the second-in-command of Nicaragua's narcotics unit. At that meeting, American DEA agents were also present. ``It was obvious to me that the Nicaraguans were being told what to do by the Americans,'' says Wylie. ``They kept looking at them and asking what questions should be put to me.'' The U.S. embassy in Managua has confirmed their DEA agents had inspected the plantation and were providing technical support to the Nicaraguans, who do not have their own testing facilities. Grant Sanders, president of Vancouver-based Hemp-Agro (and Wylie's nephew), has already accused the DEA of applying pressure on the Nicaraguans to ``declare something illegal that is in fact legal in Canada.'' But apparently not legal in Nicaragua, despite what the ministry of agriculture may have said about the Canadian project. Wylie is adamant that Hemp-Agro was not raising a marijuana crop. This might be difficult to prove now, though, because the entire hemp field has been burned and destroyed. At the preliminary hearing, Nicaraguan authorities said that the plant they had tested had 1.6 per cent THC - above the level that would be legal in Canada, but still, according to Wirtshafter, well below a level that could be sold as a drug. John Adams, the Canadian consul in Managua, has been to see Wylie three times since his arrest. He stresses that, under Nicaraguan law, an individual is considered guilty until proven innocent. ``Perhaps the ministry of agriculture got hoodwinked and they were made to look foolish by smooth-talking foreigners who happen to be from Canada,'' says Adams. This case has received intense media coverage over the last three weeks. On Friday, local newspapers here carried stories alleging that Wylie had once been arrested for break-and-enter in the United States. Wylie denies this, but does admit he has one conviction for possession of a ``small'' quantity of pot, ``a long time ago.'' He also claims not to have smoked marijuana in ages. Wylie is evasive about his whereabouts and activities over the past 20 years. He says he was employed as a hemp specialist in Europe and in the Ukraine, but provides no dates nor names of the companies for which he worked. He won't even say where he lived for most of that period. ``I just went back and forth a lot.'' The Star was welcomed with great civility by the warden at La Modelo prison Friday. But yesterday, jail officials refused to allow a second interview with Wylie, nor would they permit him to take a telephone call or accept a written note. Overnight, all jail guard friendliness had disappeared and the prison had returned to what it always was - an ancient, squalid facility with terribly overcrowded conditions, where 2,575 inmates are held. Forty of them are foreigners. Only one is Canadian.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Nicaragua hemp farm will live on, says Hamilton-area entrepreneur (A Canadian Press article in the Calgary Herald says Grant Sanders, the owner of a hemp farm in Nicaragua, says he isn't about to pull the plug on the operation - even though it landed his partner in jail. Nicaraguan officials have destroyed the crop. Earlier this week, Nicaraguan Judge Orieta Benavides ordered Sanders and six other partners in Hemp Agro International to stand trial on suspicion of growing marijuana on a 100-hectare plantation outside Managua.) Date: Sun, 10 Jan 1999 10:45:34 -0700 Subject: Nicaragua hemp farm will live on, From: "Debra Harper" (firstname.lastname@example.org) To: mattalk (email@example.com) FYI: This article appeared on the website but not in hard copy edition. Newshawk: firstname.lastname@example.org Source: Calgary Herald Pubdate:January 10, 1999 Contact:email@example.com Author: Paul Legall Nicaragua hemp farm will live on, says Hamilton-area entrepreneur HAMILTON (CP) - The owner of a hemp farm in Nicaragua says he isn't about to pull the plug on the operation - even though it landed his partner in jail. Nicaraguan officials have destroyed the crop and threatened to extradite Grant Sanders and his five Canadian associates. They all face criminal charges for cultivating marijuana. The businessman from nearby Ancaster, Ont., said he hopes to clear his name and return to Nicaragua to resume the hemp project, which he said could grow into a multibillion-dollar business worldwide. Earlier this week, Nicaraguan Judge Orieta Benavides ordered Sanders, 35, and six other partners in Hemp Agro International to stand trial on suspicion of growing marijuana on a 100-hectare plantation outside Managua. One of the partners, Paul Wylie, of Burlington, Ont., has been held in a squalid jail cell since Nicaraguan police arrested him at gunpoint on last Dec. 23. "Our first priority is to exonerate ourselves at the criminal level, free Paul Wylie, and continue growing industrial hemp as we had planned to do," Sanders said in an interview on Friday. "We have not given up." Wylie, 45, was recently transferred from a jail in the centre of Nicaragua known as the "bunker" to another facility, where he is the only foreigner among the inmates, said Sanders. He described the conditions as unsanitary, with little food and areas of open sewage. Wylie, who has had no contact with his family in Canada, is allowed one 15-minute visit each week with his Nicaraguan girlfriend, who brings him food, said Sanders. Following Wylie's arrest, police burned down the plantation. The other partners - including Nicaraguan Oscar Danilo Blandon who is believed to be in the U.S. - were out of the country at the time of the raid. The Canadians - Stanley Ross, Don Malman, Jamie Dean, and Garry Wade - are all of Vancouver. Sanders said the charges are largely political and probably stem from his association with Blandon, who is a controversial figure in Nicaragua, with a record for cocaine trafficking in the United States. Blandon was one of the founders of the Contra guerrilla movement which waged a eight-year civil war against the previous Sandinista government. In a book entitled Dark Alliance, it's alleged that Blandon was working with the CIA and sold tonnes of crack cocaine in the United States to raise money for the counter revolution in Nicaragua. Sanders said Blandon still has a lot of contacts with the current Liberal government in Nicaragua and was able to open doors for the Hemp Agro partners. He said, however, there are still Sandinistas in the military and national police who might have old scores to settle with Blandon. Police spokesman Carlos Bendana said the other Canadians involved in Hemp Agro will be arrested on the spot if they set foot in Nicaragua again. Bendana also said the authorities might try to have them extradited for trial. Hamilton Spectator (c) The Canadian Press, 1999
------------------------------------------------------------------- Straw Gives Go-Ahead To Convict Criminals On Hearsay Evidence (The Daily Telegraph, in Britain, says Jack Straw, the Home Secretary, has proposed that written evidence from frightened or intimidated witnesses, or those who have died or are too ill to attend court, "or any other hearsay evidence from absent witnesses," should be automatically admitted in court "in the interests of justice," without cross-examination. Straw says the changes are needed to convict more drug dealers.) Date: Mon, 11 Jan 1999 05:47:25 -0800 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: UK: Straw Gives Go-Ahead To Convict Criminals On Hearsay Evidence Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Martin Cooke (firstname.lastname@example.org) Pubdate: 10 January 1999 Source: Daily Telegraph (UK) Contact: email@example.com Website: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/ Copyright: of Telegraph Group Limited 1999 Author: Tim Reid and David Bamber STRAW GIVES GO-AHEAD TO CONVICT CRIMINALS ON HEARSAY EVIDENCE HEARSAY evidence is to be made admissible in criminal trials in an attempt to convict more drug dealers and sex offenders. Jack Straw, the Home Secretary, hopes that the radical changes to one of the oldest and most fundamental rules of English justice will mean an increase in successful prosecutions of serious criminals, many of whom intimidate witnesses. But the proposals, contained in a draft Bill to be published this summer, were attacked last night by lawyers and civil liberty campaigners as a dangerous erosion of the rights of defendants. Under the changes, written evidence from frightened or intimidated witnesses, those who have died or are too ill to attend court, or any other hearsay evidence from absent witnesses that should be admitted "in the interests of justice" will automatically be admissible in court. The recommendations of the Law Commission overturn part of the so-called hearsay rule which lays down that, with some exceptions, a witness must give evidence at a trial in person. That is because unless a witness is cross-examined, the fact-finders - in most cases the jury - will be less able to decide whether the witness is telling the truth. In addition, testifying to what someone else said is often dangerously inaccurate. In the case of frightened witnesses, the written statement will not need, as now, to have been made to a police officer to be admissible, and witnesses who started giving evidence but were scared into stopping would be able to put in a statement instead. Mr Straw said: "The Government considers the Law Commission's report a thorough and comprehensive review of the law on hearsay evidence. They have concluded that the proposals will simplify the law and enable more evidence to be deemed admissible, while maintaining proper safeguards to protect the interests of the defendant. The Government has decided to accept all the recommendations in the report." But John Wadham, from the civil liberties group Liberty, said: "The Bill going to Parliament aims to improve the position of victims and some witnesses but it tilts the balance away from the defendant's right to a fair trial. These provisions, which although taken individually may be sensible, taken collectively push us further in the direction of eroding this important right." But the Government argues that many prosecutions, particularly for drugs offences, are being dropped, wasting millions of pounds, because witnesses fail to turn up to testify, fearing reprisals from drugs barons. The changes would also enable more prosecutions to be brought against child sex abusers, abusers of mentally disabled people and rapists. At present, prosecutions of alleged abusers often collapse or fail to get the go-ahead in the first place because the child victim is too young or a witness too disadvantaged to cope with the stress of a trial and cross-examination. The same rules would apply in rape cases where the victim is too traumatised to face her alleged attacker in court. The Law Commission emphasises that the changes will help accused people as well as prosecutors and could help to avoid miscarriages of justice. The report cites a 1994 case in which an eight-year-old witness had provided a statement to the police which contradicted the prosecution case. The child was later unable to recollect the events. Because of the existing rule, evidence indicating that the defendant had not committed the murder he was charged with never reached the jury. The Law Society hailed the proposals. A spokesman said: "We broadly welcome the recommendations. They breathe some fresh air into a subject where at present there is not much common sense." But a senior criminal law QC, who did not want to be named, said last night: "The hearsay rule is a fundamental safeguard in a fair trial. Any change could be detrimental to basic justice. There are certainly reservations that a fair trial could not be achieved by admitting evidence that cannot be tested during the court process."
------------------------------------------------------------------- ACM-Bulletin of 10 January 1999 (An English-language news bulletin from the Association for Cannabis as Medicine, in Cologne, Germany, focuses on Britain's first legal harvest of marijuana for medical use, and other research in England on the properties of endocannabinoids to reduce blood pressure.) Date: Sun, 10 Jan 1999 18:44:13 -0500 To: DRCNet Medical Marijuana Forum (firstname.lastname@example.org) From: Richard Lake (email@example.com) Subject: ACM-Bulletin of 10 January 1999 Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Sender: email@example.com *** ACM-Bulletin of 10 January 1999 *** * Great Britain: First legal harvest of marijuana for medical use * Science: Research on the properties of endocannabinoids to reduce blood pressure 1. Great Britain: First legal harvest of marijuana for medical use Britain's first crop of government-licensed cannabis has been harvested secretly for medical research on 30 December by a specially vetted team of mature botanists. Several years' trials on up to 2,000 people will begin once medicine has been made from the plants in the spring, in the hope of developing treatments for illnesses such as multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. The crop has been guarded round the clock as hundreds of fully potent plants have reached 8ft in the past four months. No one but the Home Office and the staff of GW Pharmaceuticals know the location of the greenhouse in southern England. Dr. Geoffrey Guy, chairman of the company, holds the only licence for growing the controlled drug for medical research. The Government approved guidelines for a separate series of trials by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society. Dr. Guy said that Britain was alone in its pragmatic and open-minded approach to research of the drug. "We enjoy a very liberal research environment," he said. "Our first objective is to get research done, not to find a thousand reasons to block it." Botanists chose ten varieties for the first crop, aimed at getting a high yield of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). The estimated 1,000 MS sufferers who use cannabis illegally in Britain buy a product high in THC, the most important pyschoactive ingredient. Scientists are also interested in CBD as it is believed to reduce the side-effects of THC and be useful in treating strokes and epilepsy. Dr. Guy said: "Eventually we aim to breed a special MS variety or epilepsy variety." After the harvest, the plants were hung up to dry, then will be processed to produce a liquid extract for use in inhalers. (Source: The Times of 28 December 1998, personal communcation of David Watson) 2. Science: Research on the properties of endocannabinoids to reduce blood pressure Researchers at the University of Nottingham Medical School (UK) are studying the effects of endocannabinoids on circulation. These substances produced by the body bind to the same receptors as cannabinoids of the hemp plant. The prototypic encocannabinoid anandamide (N-arachidonylethanolamide) derived from arachidonic acid, has been shown to be a vasorelaxant, particularly in the resistance vasculature (arteries), which can reduce blood pressure. The study is being funded with a 120,000 pounds grant from the British Heart Foundation. Dr. David Kendall, one of the scientists, said: "This research should tell us a great deal more about how these substances affect our circulation.This is a new and exciting area of research which could ultimately lead to better treatments for a range of cardiovascular diseases." Professor Brian Pentecost, medical director of the British Heart Foundation, said: "These are natural substances, present in all our bodies, that seem to have important effects on our circulation. Hopefully this project will shed new light on how we could use these effects to help heart patients." High blood pressure, or hypertension, affects between 10 and 20 percent of adults in western societies. Hypertension puts a strain on the heart and blood vessels and greatly increases the risk of stroke and heart disease. The activation of Kalium channels seems to play a role in the vasorelaxation caused by anandamide. Dr. Michael Randall and Dr. David Kendall from Nottingham propose that an endocannabinoid may mediate the nitric oxide- and prostanoid-independent component of endothelium-dependent relaxations. It has recently been shown that anandamide is produced by endothelial cells. (Endothelial cells cover the the inner walls of blood vessels. Nitric oxide and prostaglandins play a major role in endothelium-dependent relaxation but do not explain all effects.) This hypothesis has generated some scientific controversy. It is unclear wether the effect on blood vessels is cannabinoid receptor dependent (Randall 1997) or cannabinoid receptor independent (Plane 1997). A research group of the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee suggests that the vasodilatory effect of anandamide results from its metabolism to arachidonic acid followed by enzymatic conversion to vasodilatory eicosanoids such as prostaglandins (Pratt et al. 1998). Further observations concerning the role of endocannabinoids in vasorelaxation from other research groups: Activation of peripheral CB1 cannabinoid receptors contributes to hemorrhagic hypotension in septic shock. They seem to be activated by anandamide derived from makrophages as well as by platelet-derived 2-arachidonyl glyceride (another endocannbinoid) (Varga 1998). An anandamide signaling system is present in the kidney, where it exerts significant vasorelaxant and neuromodulatory effects. The CB1 receptor and the CB2 receptor is found. The vasorelaxation is blocked by a CB1 cannabinoid receptor antagonist (Deutsch 1997). (Sources: PA News of 29 December 1998; Randall MD, Kendall DA: Eur J Pharmacol (1998) 346:51-53; Randall MD, Kendall DA: Trends Pharmacol Sci (1998) 19:55-58; Varga K, et al: FASEB J (1998) 12:1035-1044; Deutsch DG, et al.: J Clin Invest (1997) 100:1538-1546; Plane F, et al: Br J Pharmacol (1997) 121:1509-1511; Pratt PF, et al: Am J Physiol (1998) 274:H375-381; Randall MD, et al: Eur J Pharmacol (1997) 333:191-197) 3. News in brief USA: Incoming Californian Attorney General Bill Lockyer has signalled that a new view of Proposition 215, California's two-year old medical marijuana law, is being taken by the state's top law enforcement officer. Under Mr. Lockyer's predecessor, Dan Lungren, virtually no leeway was given to local counties and cities in the implementation of the law. Mr. Lockyer says he's going to implement the will of the voters. (Source: Orange County Register of 4 January 1999) The Netherlands: The Netherlands has significantly fewer cannabis users than thought before, according to a study published on 5 January. The study, financed by the health ministry and conducted by Amsterdam University and the Central Bureau of Statistics found that 15.6 percent of Dutch people aged 12 and over had used or tried cannabis, versus a U.S. figure of 32.9 percent. 2.5 percent of Dutch people aged 12 and over had used cannabis within the last month. (Source: Reuters of 6 January 1999) France: France should take a more pragmatic approach to fighting drug abuse and take into account the fact that alcohol and tobacco kill far more people than heroin or cocaine, an inter-ministerial committee has told the government. Le Monde newspaper, which published extracts from the report on 7 January, said the committee urged the government to adopt a policy "which takes into account all types of addictive behaviour, regardless of the legal status of the product." An estimated two million people in France (about 5 percent) smoke cannabis. (Source: Reuters of 7 January 1999) 4. THE COMMENT .. on the way his predecessor, Dan Lungren, dealt with Californian Proposition 215: "I joke that there are days when I thought Dan had a copy of 'Reefer Madness' at home." (Note: 'Reefer Madness' is an US-film from the 1930s, produced by proponents of the prohibition of marijuana.) Bill Lockyer, Attorney General elect of California (Orange County Register of 4 January 1999) Association for Cannabis as Medicine (ACM) Maybachstrasse 14 D-50670 Cologne Germany Fon: ++49-221-912 30 33 Fax: ++49-221-130 05 91 E-mail: ACMed@t-online.de Internet: http://www.acmed.org If you want to be deleted from or added to the email-list please send a message to: ACMed@t-online.de *** Forwarded by: Richard Lake Senior Editor; MAPnews, MAPnews-Digest and DrugNews-Digest email: rlake@DrugSense.org http://www.DrugSense.org/drugnews/ For subscription information see: http://www.MAPinc.org/lists/ Quick sign up for DrugNews-Digest, Focus Alerts or Newsletter: http://www.DrugSense.org/hurry.htm *** Information on the state and topic discussion lists supported by DrugSense is at: http://www.drugsense.org/lists/ *** University Drug Policy Forum - UDPF is an email discussion list where students and faculty members can educate themselves and others about the War on Drugs. We hope to inspire activism at local campuses. You may sign up at: http://www.drugsense.org/udpf/ *** The FACTS are at: http://www.drugsense.org/factbook/ *** We also sponsor an interactive chat room for activists. Point your web browser to: http://www.mapinc.org/chat/. And join the discussion. The chat starts at about 9:00 p.m on Saturday and Sunday night Eastern time. -------------------------------------------------------------------
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