------------------------------------------------------------------- Medical pot law remains untested in mid-valley (The Albany Democrat-Herald says law enforcement officials in the mid-Willamette Valley haven't encountered any medical-marijuana cases yet, two months after the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act began to take effect. However, Benton County, District Attorney Scott Heiser still thinks the law is ripe for abuse. For instance, he worries about what would happen if somebody is arrested and insists on smoking medicinal marijuana while in jail on the grounds that his illness is a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Albany Police Chief Pat Merina says "Marijuana is used pretty subtly in this community," meaning that pot smokers don't usually beat up women or get in car accidents with the dope in their vehicles. "Maybe they're not as dumb," Merina allows, begging the question, what good purpose is served by persecuting nonmedical marijuana consumers?) Date: Tue, 2 Feb 1999 08:55:20 -0900 To: email@example.com From: Ed Glick (firstname.lastname@example.org) Subject: DPFOR: Mid-valley SUNDAY, Jan, 31, 1999 Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: DrugSense http://www.drugsense.org/ Medical pot law remains untested in mid-valley * Prosecutors in both counties report not having had anyone use new law as a defense. By Hasso Herring Mid Valley Sunday, January 31, 1999 [note - this article was attributed by the sender to the Mid Valley Sunday. However, MVS is an online consortium involving several small newspapers in the central Willamette Valley, in Oregon. In the past Herring has written for the Albany Democrat-Herald, where it's assumed this really originated. - ed.] The Albany Democrat Herald Albany Democrat-Herald 600 Lyon St., SW Albany, OR 97321 Telephone 541-926-2211 http://www2.mvonline.com/MV/ Letters to the editor: email@example.com For nearly two months it has been legal in Oregon to grow and smoke marijuana for medicinal reasons with a doctor's recommendation. But mid-valley law enforcement officials say they know of no one who has used the law as an excuse to avoid arrest or prosecution. "We've had no experience to date with anyone invoking the medicinal marijuana law," says Detective Lt. Dar Holm of the Linn County Sheriff's Office, the commander of the interagency anti-drug task force known as VALIANT. "We've asked a few people", he adds. "And we've been told that's not why they're smoking it." The reports from prosecutors in Linn and Benton counties are the same. In Benton County, District Attorney Scott Heiser has come across no cases where medicine was used as a defense against a marijuana charge. Neither has Jason Carlile, the DA in Linn County. "So far so good," Carlile says. Still, Heiser thinks the law is ripe for abuse. For instance, he worries about this: What if somebody is arrested and insists on smoking medicinal marijuana while in jail on the grounds that his illness is a disability under the ADA, the Americans with Disabilities Act? The situation has not come up. Albany Police Chief Pat Merina, too, says he is worried more about other aspects of the law, for example the potential liability of police if they seize marijuana that somebody claims to be medicinal. Do they have to keep it, tend it and return it when the case is resolved? In answer to a question, Merina notes dryly that the police department is not currently growing any marijuana. The Albany chief does not really expect the law to be invoked much, if at all. "Marijuana is used pretty subtly in this community," he says. He means that pot smokers don't usually call police attention to themselves they way meth users, for instance have a habit of doing. They don't beat up women or get in car accidents with the dope in their vehicles. "Maybe they're not as dumb", Merina allows. "They use it at home, and we're not as likely to get neighborhood complaints." As long as pot smokers cause no other trouble and don't call attention to themselves, "we're not looking for them," the chief explains. In Corvallis, DA Heiser notes that the law does not become completely operative until May 1, when the Oregon health division is supposed to have procedures in place for issuing certificates in response to doctors' recommendations that patients be allowed to smoke pot as medical treatment. In the meantime, Oregon police have guidelines spelling out how to react when somebody raises the point. They are to ask, among other things, for the doctor's recommendation and about the illness that the person suffers. Voters enacted the marijuana law as an initiative last November 3. It took effect Dec. 3, 1998. The law allows people who qualify to possess and use marijuana for relief of symptoms and effects of "debilitating medical conditions." Those with qualifying medical conditions may designate a primary care giver who could grow the plant for them and help them use it. Under the new law it is still illegal to drive under the influence of marijuana, to use it in any public place or to sell it.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Supporters Call for Legislation to Implement Prop. 215 after Orange County Medical Cannabis Provider is Sentenced to 6 Years (A press release from California NORML says the harsh prison sentence handed down to medical marijuana patient/activist Marvin Chavez by Superior Court Judge Thomas Borris, who did not allow Chavez to invoke Proposition 215 in his defense, has outraged patient advocates and sparked calls for further reform of the state's marijuana laws. California NORML is aware of more than 20 medical cannabis cases in the past three or four months. In Tulare County, medical-marijuana patients Penny and C.D. McKee were convicted of felony cultivation for growing 43 plants, while a Lake County jury acquitted patient Charles Lepp for growing 131 plants.) Date: Sun, 31 Jan 1999 19:36:14 -0800 To: firstname.lastname@example.org From: email@example.com (Dale Gieringer) Subject: DPFCA: Cal Med MJ Legislation Needed Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: DrugSense http://www.drugsense.org/dpfca/ Supporters Call for Legislation to Implement Prop. 215 after Orange County Medical Cannabis Provider is Sentenced to 6 Years Outraged medical marijuana advocates are calling for further reform of the state's marijuana laws in response to the harsh, six-year prison sentence handed down to medical marijuana patient Marvin Chavez, director of the Orange County Cannabis Cooperative, by Superior Court Judge Thomas Borris. Chavez, who was not allowed to invoke Proposition 215 in his defense, was sentenced last Friday for selling small amounts of marijuana to two undercover narcotics agents posing as patients and mailing marijuana to a cancer patient. "A six-year sentence for medical marijuana distribution by a patient with severe medical need of marijuana is indefensible," said California NORML coordinator Dale Gieringer. "The real crime is the failure of our public officials to address Prop. 215's mandate to implement a 'safe, affordable distribution system' for medical marijuana." Chavez is the latest in a series of medical marijuana martyrs arrested for providing marijuana to fellow patients in the false hopes they would be protected by Prop. 215. In a related case, Orange County Cannabis Cooperative patient volunteer David Herrick was sentenced to four years for supplying less than an ounce to fellow patients. Other patient providers who face potentially lengthy sentences include Steve McWilliams and Dion Markgraaf of the San Diego cannabis center, San Jose cannabis center director Peter Baez, Los Angeles cancer patient Todd McCormick, author and AIDS patient Peter McWilliams, and another Orange County defendant, Jack Schachter. A host of other patients have been arrested on criminal charges for trying to exercise their legal right under Prop. 215 to grow medical marijuana for their own use. Many have been forced into costly court trials trying to prove that the number of plants they were growing was not excessive for their own medical needs. California NORML is aware of over 20 medical cannabis cases in the past three or four months. In Shasta County, Kim and Rick Levin have spent over $12,000 in legal fees fighting felony cultivation charges for a modest, 41-seedling medical marijuana garden that they thought was legal under Prop. 215. The Levins complain that Shasta County authorities have been unwilling to discuss setting guidelines for Proposition 215 compliance. According to guidelines adopted by the city of Oakland, based on the federal government's own experimental medical marijuana program, patients are allowed to grow up to 144 indoor or 90 outdoor plants. However, in many localities, law enforcement officials take a far more aggressive line, arresting all patients regardless of plant numbers or medical documentation, and leaving it to courts to sort out the issues, with unpredictable results. In Tulare County, Penny and C.D. McKee, who use marijuana for severe medical problems, were convicted of felony cultivation for growing 43 plants for the two of them. In contrast, a Lake County jury acquitted patient Charles Lepp for growing 131 plants. In another, high-profile case in Placer County, Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Steve Kubby and his wife Michele, both of them legal patients, were arrested for growing some 270 marijuana plants in their basement. An interstate task force investigated the Kubbys for six months, staking out their home, spying on them with a telephoto lens, and rifling through their garbage. California NORML denounced the investigation as a "tremendous waste of law enforcement resources." "Unfortunately, California is spending more money trying to arrest, prosecute, and imprison medical marijuana patients than in trying to implement the legal distribution system called for in 215," says Gieringer. Despite the passage of Prop. 215, the number of marijuana prisoners in California has been soaring to record levels, up nearly 2000% in the past two decades, at a cost to taxpayers of some $50 million per year. California NORML is calling for legislation to implement Prop. 215 and to reduce the number of marijuana offenders in prison. In particular, it is calling for legislation to decriminalize the distribution of medical marijuana. Under current law, distribution or sale of even the smallest quantities is a felony. Prop. 215 was written with the intent of allowing patients to organize collectively to acquire medical marijuana for themselves, but so far this has not been recognized by the courts. As a result, medical marijuana providers currently risk felony arrest. More generally, California NORML is calling for legislation to reduce other minor marijuana offenses, such as personal use cultivation and petty sales, to misdemeanors instead of felonies. This would reduce court and imprisonment costs and avoid excessive prison sentences such as those imposed on Marvin Chavez and David Herrick. Contact: Dale Gieringer, Coordinator: (415) 563-5858 firstname.lastname@example.org *** Dale Gieringer (415) 563-5858 // email@example.com 2215-R Market St. #278, San Francisco CA 94114
------------------------------------------------------------------- Drug War Priorities (A letter to the editor of the San Francisco Chronicle from a marijuana offender incarcerated in Texas says the drug war is not about kids dying of heroin. It is about money. Some drugs can kill, such as heroin. Some drugs can't kill, such as marijuana. Until the American people understand the difference and demand a change in enforcement priorities, they will continue to bury their children and pay to incarcerate marijuana offenders.) Date: Mon, 1 Feb 1999 05:30:11 -0800 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: US CA: SFC: PUB LTE: Drug War Priorities Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: firstname.lastname@example.org (Frank S. World) Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA) Copyright: 1999 San Francisco Chronicle Website: http://www.sfgate.com/chronicle/ Forum: http://www.sfgate.com/conferences/ Contact: email@example.com Author: WILLIAM E. HALL /Seagoville, TX Pubdate: Sun, 31 Jan 1999 DRUG WAR PRIORITIES Editor -- Of the 100,000 Americans arrested every month for illegal drugs, over 56,000 are for marijuana alone. The fewest arrests are for heroin. Why the lopsided numbers? With millions of users, marijuana is America's illegal drug of choice. Consequently, marijuana users are not only the primary targets of the drug warriors, but most important, they are the principal source of asset forfeiture for county, state and federal drug cops. The drug war is not about kids dying of heroin, it is about money. Some drugs kill (heroin). Some drugs don't kill (marijuana). Until the American people understand the difference (most don't) and demand a change in enforcement priorities, they will continue to bury their children and pay for incarcerating marijuana offenders. Note: I do not have a phone as I am in prison for marijuana. WILLIAM E. HALL / Seagoville, Texas
------------------------------------------------------------------- Pot Holds No. 1 Spot (The Arizona Republic briefly notes a recent survey of Express Personnel Services franchises found that 82 percent of franchise owners reported drug testing revealed marijuana smoking to be the No. 1 reason for penalizing workers and applicants. Ten percent of respondents said drug tests revealed alcohol to be their biggest problem, while 6 percent cited amphetamines and 1 percent cited cocaine.) Date: Wed, 3 Feb 1999 06:40:44 -0800 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: US AZ: Pot Holds No. 1 Spot Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: General Pulaski Pubdate: Sun, 31 Jan 1999 Source: Arizona Republic (AZ) Copyright: 1999, The Arizona Republic Contact: Opinions@pni.com Website: http://www.azcentral.com/news/ Forum: http://www.azcentral.com/pni-bin/WebX?azc POT HOLDS NO. 1 SPOT Marijuana use is the most prevalent reason for an employee failing pre-employment and random drug and alcohol tests, according to a recent survey of personnel company owners. Eighty-two percent of the Express Personal Services franchise owners reported marijuana smokers are their No. 1 disqualification problem followed by alcohol (10 percent), amphetamines (6 percent) and cocaine (1 percent). "At a time when employers are desperate to find qualified workers, marijuana users are watching their job chances go up in smoke," said Linda Haneborg, a vice president at Express Personnel Services in Oklahoma City.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Welfare Drug Test Plan Gets Mixed Reaction (The Tulsa World says the American Civil Liberties Union is questioning the Oklahoma Department of Human Services' plans to start drug testing welfare recipients. Earlier this week, DHS Director Howard Hendrick said his agency, beginning in mid-March, will require welfare recipients and those seeking aid to take a written exam to determine their propensity to abuse drugs and alcohol. The results will be used to determine which clients will be required to give a urine sample for analysis. Welfare recipients who don't cooperate will be denied benefits.)Date: Sat, 6 Feb 1999 16:09:41 -0800 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: US OK: Welfare Drug Test Plan Gets Mixed Reaction Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Michael Pearson (firstname.lastname@example.org) Source: Tulsa World (OK) Copyright: 1999, World Publishing Co. Website: http://www.tulsaworld.com/ Contact: email@example.com Author: Barbara Hoberock, World Capitol Bureau Pubdate: 31 Jan 1999 WELFARE DRUG TEST PLAN GETS MIXED REACTION The ACLU Says It's An Invasion Of Privacy. OKLAHOMA CITY -- The ACLU is questioning the Department of Human Services' plans to start drug testing welfare recipients. But recipients aren't too bothered by it. Earlier this week, DHS Director Howard Hendrick said his agency in mid-March will require welfare recipients and those seeking aid to take a written exam to determine their propensity to abuse drugs and alcohol. The results will be used to determine which clients will be required to give a urine sample for analysis. Welfare recipients who don't cooperate will be denied benefits. Shannon James, a 20-year-old single mom who has been on welfare for seven or eight months, thinks the drug tests are a good idea. "There are people out there abusing their money, using it for drugs when it should be going to their kids," she said. "You also feel like it is a big invasion of your privacy. I can see it both ways. I think it is good." The American Civil Liberties Union in Oklahoma City opposes such a plan, spokesman Michael Camfield said. "The ACLU opposes suspicious drug testing by the government as an invasion of privacy," Camfield said. "The gathering of bodily fluids is an intimate invasion of individual liberty. And the receipt of governmental benefits should not be conditioned on surrendering one's privacy rights." Camfield points to the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures. "And it says that this right shall not be violated but upon probable cause," Camfield said. "So when you talk about these mass searches of people, I think clearly if the government wants to do that, it is a violation of a very important principle that is set forth in the Fourth Amendment." Camfield uses an example to illustrate his point. "We are all in this country allowed the privilege of driving a motor vehicle," he said. "I think there would be a great deal of unrest in the body politic if government decided that we needed to stop and search every vehicle without probable cause." Tulsan Elvis Trahan, 33, who began receiving benefits about six months ago, said "I think it is a good way to keep the crack and cocaine addicts off it." Robbyne Thurman, 22, has been on and off welfare for about four years. "I think it is good because that money is for the children and to pay their bills," she said. "They don't need to be going out and buying drugs with it. On the other hand, it does seem like an invasion of privacy, but we don't want people using the money for their children for drugs." The Department of Human Services' plan to test its clients isn't the first time a state agency has ventured into such an arena. The Oklahoma Department of Corrections randomly drug tests inmates. The agency also drug tests its employees. Gary Jones, Oklahoma Public Employees Association executive director, said he is concerned about how the DOC's policy works. An individual can report that he suspects someone, he said. "That person can be tested and go through humiliation," Jones said. "We think that is wrong. There needs to be some type of evidence to indicate there is a problem rather than just somebody pointing an accusing finger." The OPEA has asked the department to take another look at its policy. Jones said he doesn't consider employee drug testing to be an invasion of privacy. "We have to ask ourselves are we going on witch hunts or is there reason to believe it is warranted and resources expended to these supposed drug abusers," Jones said. The Oklahoma Department of Human Services set aside $3 million to administer the tests, train personnel on how to interpret the written test, and other functions, said Mary Stalnaker, a department programs supervisor. The written exam takes 15 to 20 minutes to complete, Stalnaker said. "It is designed to tell you if there are tendencies for substance abuse by an individual or within the family," Stalnaker said. One section of the written test asks the client to rate from never to repeatedly how often they had done certain things: had drinks with lunch; argued with family or friends because of drinking; used drugs or alcohol at the same time; taken drugs to feel better about a problem; or felt drug use kept them from getting what they want out of life. Another section asks 67 true or false questions, such as: I always behaved well in school; I often feel that strangers look at me with disapproval; I have never felt sad over anything; I am a restless person; I am often resentful. Officials say drug and alcohol abuse are barriers to employment, which is the goal of the welfare system, to get people employed. Those who indicate they may have a problem will be referred to treatment, she said. "We will be contracting with mostly mental-health type providers within the state, proven certified substance abuse providers who routinely do drug testing as part of their treatment program," Stalnaker said. "These will be providers who have a contract to provide some type of service through Medicaid."
------------------------------------------------------------------- When police work goes fatally wrong (An op-ed in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune by Neil Haugerud, a former law enforcement officer and state legislator, says something has gone drastically wrong in law enforcement. Shouldn't we be asking ourselves: Has this pervasive drug war, this win-at-all-costs mentality, made innocent men, women and even children expendable in Minnesota? Considering that upwards of 60 percent of our total law enforcement and judicial resources are spent on the war on drugs, we should begin to ask the questions posed by Mayor Kurt Schmoke of Baltimore. At public meetings, the mayor asks three questions: Have we won the drug war? People laugh. Are we winning the drug war? People shake their heads. If we keep on doing what we are doing, will we have won the drug war in 10 years? A resounding no.) Minneapolis Star-Tribune Published Sunday, January 31, 1999 Commentary: When police work goes fatally wrong Neil Haugerud PRESTON, MINN. -- Last November, two innocent young men were killed after being broadsided by a Minneapolis police car. Since then four more people in the metro area have been killed directly or indirectly as a result of police actions. I am sickened with grief for those killed and their families, and I have the deepest concern for the officers involved. Since that incident, the Star Tribune has reported that state and federal agencies keep few records on how often police accidentally kill. My mind keeps running back over similar incidents in the past, and I'm alarmed. Here is a sample from a few scattered files I have kept: * Two children and a 58-year-old woman killed by State Patrol car speeding through intersection without stopping. (No emergency or chase involved.) * A 19-year-old girl killed when hit by police car in a cornfield. * State Patrol car runs red light, collides with pickup. Driver of pickup injured. * Two unarmed 13-year-old boys killed by police shotgun blast. * Mentally ill man killed near park -- shot three times by police officers. * A 7-year-old killed by suspected shoplifter's vehicle during police chase. Incidents like these are not unique to Minnesota. They are happening all over the United States. Someone needs to ask why, and something needs to be done about it. * In Iowa City, Iowa, a young, unarmed businessman talking on the phone, with the light on, is shot and killed in his own business by police officers. They thought he might be a burglar. * Joseph D. McNamara, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford and former chief of police for San Jose, Calif., believes much of the problem has to do with the war on drugs. Police officers believe they are in a war. McNamara cites the following: * An innocent 75-year-old minister died of a heart attack struggling with Boston cops who were mistakenly arresting him because an informant had given them the wrong address. * A rancher was killed by a California SWAT team serving a search warrant in the mistaken belief that he was growing marijuana. Economist Milton Friedman, a Nobel Prize laureate, has estimated that as many as 10,000 homicides a year can be attributed to the drug war. Question the training Being critical of police procedures is not popular with the public or police, but we need to take a comprehensive look at what's happening. In February 1991, I felt as I do now -- that someone had to speak out. Then, too, there had been a flurry of questionable police actions that injured or took the lives of an alarming number of unfortunate citizens in Minnesota. I appeared as a concerned citizen before the state Senate Judiciary Committee on crime. My intent was to apprise the Legislature of the potential danger and open discussion on suggested corrective measures. One suggestion was to look into the type of training Minnesota police officers receive -- to see if the training might be part of the problem. I think some committee members looked upon me as some kind of a flake. It's not at all pleasant being one of the lone voices in the wilderness. Several weeks after my testimony, however, the Rodney King situation came to light, and many of the senators gave me a call asking if this was the type of thing I was talking about. More training seems to be the universal solution regarding police misconduct, notwithstanding that the Los Angeles police were already some of the most highly trained in the nation. Shouldn't we look to the training, I asked at the time, as potentially part of the problem? I served 11 years as a county sheriff and deputy sheriff in Minnesota, nearly eight years as assistant commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, a term on the Minnesota Peace Officer Standards and Training Board and nine years in the Minnesota House of Representatives. I have the greatest understanding and respect for the responsibilities placed on police officers. I've come in contact and worked with hundreds of officers, from sheriff's and police departments to the State Patrol and crime bureau. Seldom did I meet an officer who wasn't highly trained, honorable and dedicated to his or her job, and I find it disheartening to write this article. But something's gone drastically wrong. I was first at the scene of an accident not long ago. The driver was unconscious behind the wheel, bleeding from the nose and mouth and having difficulty breathing. Two passengers were shaken up; one was able to go call for a doctor and ambulance while I looked after the driver. I held his head up so he could breathe. Thank goodness, a State Patrol officer was on the scene within minutes. I knew he would be up to date on first aid and could help me with the injured driver; but, to my surprise, he began searching the area for evidence of liquor, ignoring the injured. I'm sure this was a dedicated officer, but something must have gone wrong during his training. It seemed all he was concerned about was writing a ticket. I had to yell at him before he came to assist with the injured. Hennepin County Sheriff Pat McGowan was quoted in the Dec. 15 Star Tribune as asking, "Can it be in the public's interest when law enforcement sends a signal to criminals that we will not pursue you?" He also said, "Suspects have the choice to pull over and stop. We don't." John Laux, former Minneapolis police chief and former head of the Peace Officer Standards and Training Board, was quoted Dec. 10 as saying, "You'd never catch a bad guy if you had to stop at every sign." I think we should ask what kind of message these statements are sending Minnesota police officers. Is this what they learn in training? Shouldn't we be asking ourselves: Has this pervasive drug war, this win-at-all-costs mentality, made innocent men, women and even children expendable in Minnesota? The Legislature should begin an immediate inquiry regarding police training courses. The governor should appoint a citizens' panel to look into these matters and issue a comprehensive report. The governor also should consider including a sociologist on the public safety staff and be personally involved in the selection of members of the Peace Officer Standards and Training Board and its executive director. The mayors of our major cities should review present training programs, with input from other than police agencies. And one of the major newspapers in the state should have the courage to underwrite a special investigation of police training. And on a broader scope, considering that upwards of 60 percent of our total law enforcement and judicial resources are spent on the war on drugs, we should begin to ask the questions posed by Mayor Kurt Schmoke of Baltimore. At public meetings, the mayor asks three questions: Have we won the drug war? People laugh. Are we winning the drug war? People shake their heads. If we keep on doing what we are doing, will we have won the drug war in 10 years? A resounding no. -- Neil Haugerud is a former law enforcement officer and state legislator. (c) Copyright 1999 Star Tribune. All rights reserved.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Man Says Drug Use Is Religious (The Standard-Times, in New Bedford, Massachusetts, says Richard W. Nichols, of West Burke, Vermont, is challenging the constitutionality of Vermont's laws prohibiting the herb, claiming he uses marijuana for medical and religious reasons. Burke will appeal drug convictions handed down to him Wednesday, citing his Christian values, certain Bible verses, and his assertion that marijuana helps him meditate and alleviates his depression.)Date: Mon, 1 Feb 1999 04:07:12 -0800 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: US CA: MMJ: Man Says Drug Use Is Religious Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: John Smith Source: Standard-Times (MA) Copyright: 1999 The Standard-Times Pubdate: Sun, 31 Jan 1999 Contact: YourView@S-T.com Website: http://www.s-t.com/ MAN SAYS DRUG USE IS RELIGIOUS ST. JOHNSBURY, Vt. -- A West Burke man who claims he uses marijuana for medical and religious reasons is challenging the constitutionality of state laws prohibiting the drug. Richard W. Nichols, 45, plans to appeal drug convictions that were entered against him Wednesday at a hearing in Caledonia District Court. Nichols' attorney, Steven B. McLeod, said he would take the case to the Vermont Supreme Court. McLeod said in court papers that Nichols has a mode of Christian worship "which is personal to him." Based on certain Bible verses, Nichols believes he has a religious right to use marijuana, he said. Nichols claims marijuana helps him meditate, and said it also alleviates his bouts of depression. Deputy Caledonia County State's Attorney Alan W. Singer described Nichols' argument as a "plain attempt to legalize marijuana for personal use." Nichols pleaded no contest Wednesday to two counts of marijuana possession plus related charges of violating bail. Both drug counts date from last March,. Judge Alan W. Cook sentenced Nichols, per the agreement, to six to 18 months in jail, all suspended except for 30 days on furlough. He also put Nichols on probation, including a condition that Nichols has to abstain from marijuana. The sentence is on hold pending the state supreme court appeal.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Re: Religious Defense (A list subscriber posts URLs for the text of the Boyll decision and a good review of the religious defense to illegal drug charges.) Date: Wed, 03 Feb 1999 20:49:15 -0600 To: "DRCTalk Reformers' Forum" (firstname.lastname@example.org) From: "Carl E. Olsen" (email@example.com) Subject: Re: Religious Defense Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org At 10:48 AM 2/3/1999 -0800, Keith Miller wrote: >My question is this, what precedents are their besides Leonard Mercado and >ROBERT LAWRENCE BOYLL of a non-native American using the defense of >'religious' or 'spiritual' use of a substance (namely a psychedelic, and to >keep it simple, an organic ethno-substance) to avoid conviction? I've got the text of the Boyll decision on my web sites: http://www.commonlink.com/~olsen/RELIGION/boyll.html http://www.calyx.com/~olsen/RELIGION/boyll.html A good review of the religious defense can be found at: http://www.commonlink.com/~olsen/RASTAFARI/mazur.html http://www.calyx.com/~olsen/RASTAFARI/mazur.html Sincerely, Carl Olsen
------------------------------------------------------------------- Is Plea Bargaining An Illegal Tactic? Lawyer Says The Age-Old Practice Gives Prosecutors An Unfair Advantage (The Morning Call, in Allentown, Pennsylvania, says John V. Wachtel, the lawyer in Wichita, Kansas, who represents Sonya Singleton, intends to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court the recent decision by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that federal prosecutors who offer leniency to one defendant in return for testimony against another do not violate a federal bribery statute. Allentown lawyer Tommaso Lonardo has used Wachtel's argument in the case of Stephen M. Konya, charged with running a cross-country methamphetamine ring. "The cooperating witnesses were bought and paid for," Lonardo said. So far, at least four cases in state and federal courts have challenged such plea bargains and won when judges said such testimony couldn't be used.) Date: Wed, 3 Feb 1999 06:40:25 -0800 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: US PA: Is Plea Bargaining An Illegal Tactic? Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: aahpat (email@example.com) Pubdate: Sun, 31 Jan 1999 Source: Morning Call (PA) Copyright: 1999 The Morning Call Inc. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.mcall.com/ Author: DEBBIE GARLICKI, The Morning Call IS PLEA BARGAINING AN ILLEGAL TACTIC? LAWYER SAYS THE AGE-OLD PRACTICE GIVES PROSECUTORS AN UNFAIR ADVANTAGE. Wichita, Kan., lawyer John V. Wachtel didn't know he would be starting a legal trend when he challenged the long-standing practice of prosecutors offering deals in exchange for testimony. He just believed he was right and hoped he could convince three judges on the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. In July, he did. The judges ruled that the government's offers of leniency in return for testimony against co-defendants violate a federal bribery statute. Criminal defense lawyers cheered. Prosecutors scratched their heads at what they called an absurd decision. An appeal before the 12 judges of the 10th Circuit in Denver followed. This month, in a 9-3 decision, the judges handed prosecutors a victory by finding that the statute prohibiting someone from offering anything of value for testimony doesn't apply to them. But the issue Wachtel raised in the case of a woman convicted of money laundering and conspiring to distribute cocaine isn't buried. Wachtel, who recently filed an application to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court, intends to ask the high court to hear the issue. "I think the court of appeals has misunderstood the law," he said. "And there are some things that are just plain wrong and ought to be fixed, and this is one of them." He's not overly confident the Supreme Court will accept the appeal. He's been told the chances are "somewhere in the vicinity of slim and none." The Supreme Court generally only takes about one of 100 cases presented to it, and half of those are civil cases. News of the original decision spread like wildfire in the legal community. Since Wachtel's initial win, defense lawyers nationwide have been filing motions in state and federal courts to try to prohibit prosecutors from using testimony of co-defendants who were offered deals. The 10th Circuit's ruling only applies in cases within Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah and Wyoming. So lawyers in other state and federal courts, including Lehigh County, have borrowed Wachtel's idea and arguments. In some cases, they have won. "We have gotten hundreds of requests for copies of Mr. Wachtel's motion and briefs from lawyers across the country," said Jack King, director of public affairs for the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers in Washington, D.C. Those lawyers have sent their briefs to the association, which has a "brief bank" for its 10,000 members in the United States, Canada, England, Puerto Rico and Guam, according to King, also a criminal defense lawyer. After the July decision, Allentown lawyer Tommaso Lonardo used Wachtel's argument in the case of Stephen M. Konya, who was charged with running a cross-country methamphetamine ring. Konya and 10 others were arrested in April. In Konya's trial, Lonardo asked a Lehigh County judge to prevent the state attorney general's office from using testimony from five witnesses who were offered plea bargains. Each plea agreement specified the crime each person was admitting and the "set sentences" they were to get. "The cooperating witnesses were bought and paid for," Lonardo said. That, Lonardo argued, violated the federal statute outlawing promising anything of value in exchange for testimony. In October, Judge Carol K. McGinley ruled against him and denied the request to suppress the testimony of co-defendants who accepted plea bargains. A jury convicted Konya, 41, of Allentown, who later was sentenced to 24 years in prison, 10 years' probation and a $150,000 fine. So far, at least four cases in U.S. state and federal courts have challenged such plea bargains and won when judges said that testimony couldn't be used. Two were in Florida and Louisiana. But in the appellate stage, two of the decisions were overturned. One appeal in the District of Columbia Circuit is pending. *** The anti-gratuity provision of the federal bribery statute states: "Whoever ... directly or indirectly, gives, offers, or promises anything of value to any person, for or because of the testimony under oath or affirmation given or to be given by such a person as a witness upon a trial ... before any court ... shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for not more than two years, or both." How did this federal statute find its way into the limelight? It had been on the books, but as Wachtel pointed out, no one really sits around reading federal laws. Wachtel, a lawyer for 24 years, was appointed by the court to represent Sonya Evette Singleton, 25, a mother of two who was accused of sending and getting drug proceeds by Western Union wires. A co-conspirator had reached a plea agreement with the U.S. Justice Department to testify against Singleton. In return, the government promised not to prosecute him for certain offenses and to tell the sentencing judge and a parole board of his cooperation. About that same time, Wachtel had read an article written by California tax lawyer Richard Johnston, who questioned the fairness of the government being able to offer incentives for people to testify. It got Wachtel thinking. "If we, as defense lawyers, did that, we would go to jail," he said. "Why do the same rules not apply to the government?" He knew of one case where a federal prosecutor offered U.S. citizenship to a potential witness. The federal statute was again called to his attention in a civil case in which his firm was involved. A plaintiff in a lawsuit in Texas had offered a reward for testimony in a case without first talking to his lawyer. The opposing lawyer cited the statute, and a judge granted a motion to exclude testimony of the witness who was promised a reward. Wachtel said he wondered why testimony presented by a government witness who accepts a deal is more believable simply because it is offered by the government. Though the statute existed, no one thought to question or apply it in cases where the government promised deals, said King of the defense lawyers association. Plea bargains were routinely made. "It's just the way things have always been done," he said. In the meantime, Singleton was convicted and sentenced to almost four years in prison. She is serving her sentence in a Texas prison and will be eligible for parole in April. Wachtel appealed her conviction and argued before three U.S. Circuit judges that the trial judge should have prevented prosecutors from using the testimony of the co-defendant because they violated the statute. "You know you are going to lose," lawyers told him. But in a ruling that stunned prosecutors, three judges agreed with Wachtel. "The judicial process is tainted and justice cheapened when factual testimony is purchased, whether with leniency or money," the judges said. Offering leniency is the most obvious incentive for lying, they said. They ordered a new trial, but the decision was vacated, and all 12 judges of the 10th Circuit reheard the appeal. Federal lawyers argued that the statute didn't apply to the government and that Congress never intended for it to apply to federal prosecutors. The defense said it did. In a Jan. 8 decision, the majority of the judges said the defense argument was "patently absurd." In part, they said the term "whoever" in the statute means "a being," or a person, and not an inanimate entity, like the government. The judges also found that applying the law to the government would undercut a practice that has been ingrained in the criminal justice system. Citing another court ruling, they said, "The concept of affording cooperating accomplices with leniency dates back to the common law in England ..." The decision didn't surprise Lehigh County District Attorney James B. Martin or Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli. "I expected that decision would be overturned either through the judicial process or legislatively," Morganelli said. Even if the initial ruling had been upheld, prosecutors predicted that Congress would have amended the law to exempt them from it. "I think that any practical, pragmatic look at how the criminal justice system operates requires that cases be disposed of by ... guilty pleas, and the inducement to enter a guilty plea is most often by a plea agreement of some sort," Martin said. Last year in the county, 55 criminal cases were tried before juries and judges. "If we were unable to resolve cases by plea agreement, you could imagine what a significant impact that would have on the disposition of criminal cases," Martin said. The panel of three judges who agreed with Wachtel the first time filed a dissenting opinion. After they issued their controversial July decision, the judges said, "Prosecutors from coast to coast have attempted to portray it as the death knell for the criminal justice system as we know it." Prosecutors had said that not being able to offer deals would affect their ability to arrest criminals and get convictions and would result in more trials than the courts could handle. The dissenting judges said prosecutors made the same grave forecasts when, in 1966, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that suspects be told of their right to remain silent and to have a lawyer. "Experience has proven that the government, just like the private citizens it regulates and prosecutes, can live within the rules," the dissenters said. Even if the statute is applied to the government, prosecutors can still charge anybody they want, the judges said, adding that the statute would only limit how they could prosecute the case. Allowing rewards for testimony ignores "the fundamental policy of ensuring a level playing field" between the government and the accused, the judges said.
------------------------------------------------------------------- The dope on hemp (The Toronto Star says industrial hemp is poised to become big business in Canada, largely because it is still illegal to grow in the United States, the world's biggest importer of hemp fibre and textiles. The excitement surrounding this wonder plant is so widespread that even Disney is planning a new exhibit on the bio-based economy at Disney World in Florida. Cadillac has announced plans to build a car using hemp, in which everything but the engine and drive train are biodegradable. Some estimates put worldwide trade in hemp products at more than $100 million last year. That dollar figure could double in the next few years as new hemp-based businesses spring up globally.) Date: Sun, 31 Jan 1999 11:39:35 -0500 To: email@example.com From: Dave Haans (firstname.lastname@example.org) Subject: TorStar: The dope on hemp Newshawk: Dave Haans Source: The Toronto Star (Canada) Pubdate: Sunday, January 31, 1999 Pages: C1, C6 Website: http://www.thestar.com Contact: email@example.com Author: Stella Yeadon, Special to The Star The dope on hemp Hailed as a `wonder plant,' marijuana's straight kin is headed for the mainstream Hemp, the darling of the eco-friendly consumer, is going mainstream. Signs the consumer pendulum is swinging and that there are heady, profitable years to come for marijuana's straight kin are everywhere. * Cooking oil and flour, produced from hemp by a Mississauga-based company, will hit the shelves of major supermarket chains in Ontario this spring. * A Canadian company processing hemp into a textile fibre has a deal afoot to supply several large U.S. manufacturers. They, in turn, will spin the fibre into a new line of carpets. * Environmental stores selling hemp housewares and clothing can be found throughout trendy shopping districts in southern Ontario. * Last fall, The Body Shop launched a line of hemp toiletries. ``This kind of diversity is virtually unprecedented in a plant. It (hemp) will revolutionize what we buy and it is probable we could convert our society to a carbohydrate economy from our fuel-based one today,'' boasts Greg Harriott, president of Hempola, a Brampton company in business since 1993. The excitement surrounding this wonder plant is so widespread that even Disney is planning a new exhibit on the bio-based economy at Disney World in Florida. Cadillac has announced plans to build a car using hemp, in which everything but the engine and drive train are biodegradable. Kenex, another Canadian hemp-processing company, has developed prototype car side panels and dashboards made from hemp fibre. It is also producing a world-class seed bank, readying for the day when widespread hemp farming rivals cotton cultivation. Hemp is poised to become big business in Canada, largely because it is still illegal to grow in the United States, the world's biggest importer of hemp fibre and textiles. It is possible, say those involved in the burgeoning Canadian industry, that many of the everyday products we have in our homes will some day be made from processed hemp. Industry insiders are quick, too, to point out industrial hemp is one of nature's finest renewable fibre sources, is virtually pest-resistant and, unlike cotton, not fertilizer- or chemical-dependent. It has the strength and versatility to be turned into many of the things we consume. There are 25,000 potential known uses for hemp - from textiles, cellophane and dynamite to low-fat cheese and cooking oil, hemp marketers say. But perhaps the largest potential market will be in fibreboard and panelling used by the building industry. ``There will be a time in the near future when it will be possible to build an entire house from hemp fibre. The furniture in that house will not only be covered with hemp fabric, but the frame will be made from it, as well. And the food we have in that house will also include many forms of edible hemp,'' says Geof Kime, president of Hempline Inc., and guru of the fledgling industry in Canada. ``There are opportunities here for Canada to be at the forefront of a growing global shift toward sustainable development and a bio-based economy. In Canada, we didn't grow a textile fibre crop until last summer. Hemp gives us a chance to grow textile fibre for export. ``The possibilities are immense when you consider that 5 billion pounds of cotton are produced in the U.S. each year,'' Kime adds. Invariably, whenever there is talk about hemp production here, all conversations lead to Kime, who in 1994, along with tobacco farmer Joe Stroebel, became the first government licensed hemp growers in Canada since farming the plant was banned in 1938. Hempline sold its 1998 crop to U.S. carpet manufacturers and ``there will be a significant product launch, probably by mid-1999,'' says Kime, who won't divulge which companies will be marketing the carpet. He will say that hemp carpets are mildew-resistant and more durable than existing carpet materials, and that it will resemble a soft Berber texture. Perhaps the biggest indicator that the ``hemp home revolution'' is already underway, is the growing number of retail stores selling everything from table linens to clothing, paper and furniture made from hemp. Brampton's Hempola has developed a line of salad dressings, flour, pre-mixed muffin mixes and butter that it says will be sold in large supermarket chains. Hempola uses the seeds of plants grown in Manitoba to make its products, Harriott says. The seeds are cold-pressed to extract the oil, which has a nutty flavour, is emerald green in colour and is high in the good kind of essential fatty oils known as omega-3. That oil will be blended with sunflower oil to produce three types of dressings that will be ``premium priced at around $5 a bottle, but they're the first really nutritious salad dressings on the market,'' says Harriott. Hemp flour products, milled from hulled seeds, have a 45 per cent protein content and are gluten-free. As well as its edible properties, there are many industrial uses for hemp oil. Harriott points to research being conducted on the lubricant qualities of hemp oil. While Hempola's hemp is Canadian grown and the products made from it are manufactured locally, many of the hemp goods sold in Toronto-area stores are imports from Eastern Europe and Asia. Kathy Fairfield, owner of Terraware, two eco-friendly retail stores, one in Oakville the other in Dundas, says most of the housewares and clothing she stocks are imports. ``While there are some local companies beginning to make goods from hemp, mostly textile and fabrics, the fibres are grown and processed elsewhere and then shipped here. I can see that changing as we develop our domestic hemp farming as well as the businesses to process the raw fibre into textiles,'' she says. Fairfield says she plans to open a new store in downtown Toronto by next summer. She is also expanding her Dundas store to include a by-the-metre hemp fabric section and hopes to source out more hemp furniture such as futons and director's chairs. A line of table linens, cloths, napkins and place mats are already custom-made for her stores by a local company and Fairfield has plans to include custom-ordered bedspreads and curtains as part of the expanded linen section. ``We are a very mainstream housewares store. There is nothing fringe about us. We do choose products for the stores based on environmental principles, but I think more consumers are beginning to see the benefits of buying with a social conscience,'' Fairfield says. That awareness has been, until recently, a tough sell with consumers, retailers say, largely due to a lack of awareness about the benefits of industrial hemp and the perceptions about it's kinship with marijuana. According to Kime, hemp has been getting a bum rap because ``of a lack of correct information out there. Our federal government thoroughly investigated hemp's potential before passing legislation to allow for licensed farming of the plant.'' Although both are part of the same species of plant, cannabis sativa, hemp and marijuana are not the same plant. The difference is in the cultivation. Hemp is densely planted to produce a short, stalky plant and allowed to pollinate and grow seeds. Marijuana plants require more sun and light, need more space to grow and must be cultivated before pollination and seed production. As a result, hemp has a very low THC (the psychoactive substance in marijuana) content, about 0.3 per cent, compared to 2 per cent in most marijuana plants. In short, you can't get high from smoking hemp. But opponents to widespread growing of industrial hemp in Canada argue legalized hemp farming is just one step closer to the decriminalization of marijuana. To combat that view, proponents of hemp farming have distanced themselves from groups lobbying for the legalization of marijuana. They've concentrated on educating consumers about the environmental positives associated with hemp cultivation, such as its pest resistant qualities. Rod Grand of Earthly Goods, a clothing, food and housewares emporium on Toronto's Danforth Ave., says educating the consumer about the benefits of hemp farming and products has been a focus at his store for a number of years. Last year, Earthly Goods featured a month-long education campaign, including information seminars with none other than Kime. ``Our focus, not just on the hemp issue, is on education. We believe a green consumer is an educated consumer. And while a lot of younger people are starting to find out about the positives of farming hemp, they have never seen it in its raw form. ``Older Canadians remember using products made with hemp, like rope and canvas, before farming the plant was made illegal,'' Kime adds. Some estimates put worldwide trade in hemp products at more than $100 million last year. That dollar figure could double in the next few years as new hemp-based businesses spring up globally.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Mexico hires lobbyists in drug-certification bid (The Dallas Morning News says Mexico has stepped up its lobbying and hired three public relations firms to help win the annual battle to be certified by Congress that it is cooperating with the United States in the war on some drug users. Even Mexico's staunchest friends on Capitol Hill acknowledge that Mexico faces a tough fight. The White House drug czar, General Barry McCaffrey, is outspoken in his defense of Mexico.) From: "Bob Owen@W.H.E.N." (firstname.lastname@example.org) To: "_Drug Policy --" (email@example.com) Subject: Mexico hires lobbyists in drug-certification bid Date: Sun, 31 Jan 1999 18:52:14 -0800 Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Sunday, 31 January 1999 Mexico hires lobbyists in drug-certification bid The Dallas Morning News WASHINGTON - Mexico has stepped up its lobbying and hired three outside firms to help sell its case to a wary White House and Congress in the face of stiffened criticism of its anti-drug efforts. Even Mexico's staunchest friends on Capitol Hill acknowledge that Mexico probably faces a tough fight to win certification as cooperating with the United States in the fight against drugs. ``It is going to be very difficult,'' said Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, a Texas Republican who helped deflect past attacks aimed at Mexico. ``People are getting anxious to see results. We can't continue to have drugs come to our country unabated.'' In an annual exercise that has grown increasingly fractious, the Clinton administration grades U.S. allies as a passing or failing partner in the drug fight. Some law enforcement agencies are clamoring to fail Mexico, but outside observers expect certification again this year. White House drug czar Barry McCaffrey, for one, is outspoken in his defense of Mexico. But he cautioned that the decision rests with Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and President Clinton. Still, McCaffrey said in an interview, ``I think an emerging viewpoint on the part of most of us who work with Mexico is that, in accordance with the law, they should be certified.'' That would throw the fight into Congress, which can overturn the administration's decision. The House two years ago voted to decertify Mexico, but Hutchison crafted a Senate compromise defusing the confrontation. Mexican officials say the certification debate is counterproductive. Mexico, like its critics, would like to see more progress in the drug fight, said Mexican Ambassador Jess Reyes-Heroles. ``The way to achieve that is probably not to irritate everyone with the certification process every year,'' he said. The divisive 1997 debate was driven by the arrest, just before the certification deadline, of Mexico's top anti-drug official on charges of aiding traffickers. With no surprises in 1998, the debate about Mexico was more low-key. House Republicans appeared more critical of the administration's decertification of Colombia, the first major U.S. ally to get a failing grade under the decade-old law. This year, many observers expect Colombia to get a better grade, largely because it elected a new president seen as tougher on drugs than his predecessor. ``We don't have Colombia to kick around anymore, which leaves Mexico,'' said Delal Baer, a Mexico specialist at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington study group. She and other analysts, however, welcome what they say is a more aggressive approach by Mexico's government to the certification debate. In November, Mexico put three firms on six-month retainers - including one whose associates include former Senate majority leaders Bob Dole, a Republican, and George Mitchell, a Democrat. The firms also will help on other immigration and law-enforcement issues, according to disclosure reports filed with the U.S. government. The firms won't represent Mexico on Capitol Hill but, instead, help develop strategies and information for debates. Mexico is paying $100,000 a month for the help. Mexico paid similar fees to one of the firms in past years, but for public relations work across the country. The firms are helping Mexico explain progress in creating corruption-resistant police forces, Reyes-Heroles said. He also cited Mexico's arrest of major drug kingpins and its willingness to extradite Mexican citizens on drug charges to the United States, which it had not done in past years. *** When away, you can STOP and RESTART W.H.E.N.'s news clippings by sending an e-mail to email@example.com. Ignore the Subject: line. In the body put "unsubscribe when" to STOP. To RESTART, put "subscribe when" in the e-mail instead (No quotation marks.)
------------------------------------------------------------------- Anti-Drug Aid Endangered (A Washington Post article in the San Jose Mercury News says there has been a recent spate of massacres in Colombia carried out by right-wing paramilitary groups who rely on illegal-drug trafficking to finance their operations. The massacres pose a new challenge to the Clinton administration's policy of combating the country's illegal-drug trade by increasing aid to Colombia's police and military.) Date: Sun, 31 Jan 1999 09:47:46 -0800 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: Colombia: Anti-Drug Aid Endangered Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: General Pulaski Pubdate: Sun, 31 Jan 1999 Source: San Jose Mercury News (CA) Copyright: 1999 Mercury Center Website: http://www.sjmercury.com/ Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Author: Douglas Farah, Washington Post ANTI-DRUG AID ENDANGERED Colombian killings raise doubts about help for military SAN PABLO, Colombia -- A spate of massacres by right-wing paramilitary groups in Colombia has posed a new challenge to the Clinton administration's policy of combating the country's rampant drug trade by increasing aid to the Colombian police and military, officials say. Despite concerns about human rights abuses, U.S. assistance to the Colombian army and police has been growing rapidly, in large part to help combat resurgent leftist guerrillas who protect drug traffickers. Colombia supplies 80 percent of the world's cocaine supply and two-thirds of the heroin consumed in the United States. In recent weeks, however, right-wing paramilitary units that also rely on drug trafficking to finance their operation have been on a rampage, claiming responsibility for a dozen mass killings of suspected leftists that left 137 people dead. In this sun-scorched riverside city, 40 armed men embarked from canoes on the night of Jan. 8, pulled 15 people out of a pool hall and two bars, and killed them in the street one block from a police station. The offensive has raised the question of whether the U.S.-funded military, which has long been accused of supporting the paramilitary groups, is willing to crack down on them and their drug networks. If not, senior U.S. officials fear that the fragile bipartisan consensus in Washington to aid the military and the police could rupture. "The government of Colombia, the armed forces and the police need to go after the paramilitaries and protect the innocent civilian population," U.S. Ambassador Curtis W. Kamman said. Although most of the $289 million the Clinton administration has pledged to Colombian anti-drug efforts this year is slated for counternarcotics police, about $40 million will go to the armed forces. After years in which the Colombian army received little or no U.S. aid because of its dismal human rights record, the U.S. military is forging a closer relationship with its Colombian counterpart out of concern that the Marxist guerrillas pose a serious threat to the state -- and hence to efforts to stanch the flow of drugs. Last month the United States agreed to train and equip a 900-person anti-drug battalion, and the first 200 troops will be trained by U.S. Special Forces troops beginning in February, U.S. military officials said. Although about 70 percent of the estimated 1,100 political assassinations carried out in Colombia last year were attributed by Colombian and U.S. human rights groups to right-wing paramilitary organizations, only recently have senior Colombian military officials and U.S. officials begun to speak of the paramilitary groups in the same harsh terms used for years to condemn the Marxist insurgents. Senior officials cautioned that eradicating the groups will not be easy. The military is already outmatched by the guerrillas and has few resources to open another front in the seemingly intractable war.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Massacres Imperil US Aid To Colombia (The uncut Washington Post version) Date: Mon, 1 Feb 1999 18:41:39 -0800 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: Colombia: Massacres Imperil US Aid To Colombia Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Jim Galasyn Pubdate: 31 Jan 1999 Source: Washington Post (DC) Contact: http://washingtonpost.com Website: http://www.washingtonpost.com/ Copyright: 1999 The Washington Post Company Author: Douglas Farah MASSACRES IMPERIL U.S. AID TO COLOMBIA Paramilitary Groups Linked to Army SAN PABLO, Colombia--A spate of massacres carried out by right-wing paramilitary groups in Colombia has posed a new challenge to the Clinton administration's policy of combating the country's rampant drug trade by increasing aid to the Colombian police and military, officials say. Despite concerns about human rights abuses, U.S. assistance to the Colombian army and police has been growing rapidly, in large part to help combat resurgent leftist guerrillas who protect drug traffickers. Colombia supplies 80 percent of the world's cocaine supply and two-thirds of the heroin consumed in the United States. In recent weeks, however, right-wing paramilitary units that also rely on drug trafficking to finance their operation have been on a rampage, claiming responsibility for a dozen mass killings of suspected leftists in which 137 people died. In this sun-scorched riverside city, 40 armed men disembarked from canoes on the night of Jan. 8, pulled 15 people out of a pool hall and two bars and killed them in the street, one block from a police station. The offensive has raised the question of whether the U.S.-funded Colombian military, which has long been accused of supporting the paramilitary groups, is willing to crack down on them and their drug networks. If not, senior U.S. officials fear that the fragile bipartisan consensus in Washington to aid the military and the police could rupture. "The government of Colombia, the armed forces and the police need to go after the paramilitaries and protect the innocent civilian population," U.S. Ambassador Curtis W. Kamman said in an interview. Few people here in San Pablo were surprised by the killings. A few days earlier, right-wing paramilitary units distributed one-page fliers written on an antiquated typewriter, warning the residents that Marxist guerrillas, union members and anyone else "helping the forces of the left" were "military targets." "It was a massacre that was announced," said Felix Fuentes, 58, a small farmer in tattered clothes whose oldest son was killed that night; another son was wounded. The killers "were wearing military uniforms and masks. They gunned [the victims] down like dogs. The police were there but they never came out to stop the blood." While most of the $289 million that the Clinton administration has pledged to Colombian anti-drug efforts this year is slated for counternarcotics police, about $40 million will go to the armed forces. After years in which the Colombian army received little or no U.S. aid because of its dismal human rights record, the U.S. military is forging a closer relationship with its Colombian counterpart out of concern that the leftist Marxist guerrillas pose a serious threat to the state -- and hence to American efforts to stanch the flow of drugs. Last month the United States agreed to train and equip a 900-man anti-drug battalion in the army, and the first 200 troops will be trained by U.S. Special Forces troops beginning in February, U.S. military officials said. Although about 70 percent of the estimated 1,100 political assassinations carried out in Colombia last year were attributed by Colombian and U.S. human rights groups to right-wing paramilitary organizations, only recently have senior Colombian military officials and U.S. officials begun to speak of the paramilitary groups in the same harsh terms used for years to condemn the Marxist insurgents. While both irregular forces feed off the illicit drug trade, the army, police and paramilitary groups all view the Marxist-led guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia as a common enemy. Having earned millions of dollars by protecting drug traffickers and cocaine and heroin laboratories, the rebels have almost doubled their strength to about 15,000 members in the past two years, according to Colombian and U.S. intelligence assessments. As the rebel group has grown and the military has suffered a string of setbacks on the battlefield, the paramilitary organizations, also profiting handily from the drug trade, have almost doubled their size to about 7,000 armed men in the past two years, according to those same intelligence assessments. "The objective fact is that the military has not gone after the paramilitaries," a U.S. official said. The military, the official added, usually commits "sins of omission, not commission, where they lie low if something is happening and often what is happening is a massacre." The paramilitary units were formed two decades ago with the army's blessing. They were supported financially by wealthy landholders seeking to protect themselves from kidnapping and extortion by the guerrillas. But in the mid-1980s drug traffickers such as Pablo Escobar and Gonzalo Rodriguez Gacha, leaders of the infamous Medellin cartel, bought huge tracts of land in the Magdalena River valley and transformed the self-defense groups from poorly trained peasant militias into sophisticated fighting forces. By the early '90s, the main paramilitary leaders, brothers Fidel and Carlos Castano, had allied themselves with the Cali cocaine syndicate, according to Colombian police and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. In exchange for providing protection and intelligence on the movement of police and army units, the Castanos were given control of drug-trafficking routes that ran through the large swath of Cordoba province that is their stronghold. Despite a series of brutal massacres ordered by the Castanos, the army protected the brothers because of their intense hatred of the Marxist rebels, intelligence sources said. According to these sources, the Castanos' father was kidnapped by the rebels in the mid-1970s. Even though a ransom was paid, the rebels killed him and the sons vowed to undertake a full-scale war of revenge. Finally, when the level of violence in Cordoba caused a national outcry in 1996, a warrant was issued for the arrest of Carlos Castano and a reward of $1 million was offered for his capture. Fidel is believed to have died in combat with the rebels. Shortly thereafter, the main paramilitary organizations of the country coalesced under Castano's command, calling themselves the United Self-Defense Groups of Colombia. Since then, arrest warrants for six of Castano's brothers and sisters have been issued charging them with terrorism, torture and aggravated homicide. President Andres Pastrana, who took office in August, has promised to make crushing the paramilitary groups a priority and has dismissed several senior military officers with suspected ties to them. Following the killings earlier this month, Pastrana vowed to create a special joint army and police force to combat the organizations. Senior officials cautioned that eradicating the groups will not be easy. The military is already outmatched by the guerrillas and has few resources to open another front in the seemingly intractable war. While the government and rebels agreed to peace talks earlier this month, the rebels abruptly suspended participation in the talks after the latest massacres, saying they would not return to the negotiating table until steps were taken to curb the right-wing armies. "The paramilitary organizations are criminal bands, like drug cartels," Defense Minister Rodrigo Lloreda said in an interview. "They have the support of drug traffickers, they have the money to hire people. . . . When the guerrillas have success, it creates the idea the army can't protect places, so paramilitaries grow, which means there is a lack of faith in us. We need to win the people's trust more." But in places like San Pablo, a tropical city on the Magdalena River, winning trust will not be easy. After a string of similar massacres last year, 10,000 people fled to Barrancabermeja, the capital of the province, a 90-minute launch ride up the chocolate-colored river. After the government agreed in October to provide protection against the paramilitary organizations, most people returned to their homes. After that, according to community leaders and human rights workers, about 200 people were killed. Then came the Jan. 8 slaughter. A police spokesman said an investigation is underway to determine why police did not intervene to stop it. "The government makes promises it cannot keep, and we are the victims," said Edgar Quiroga, a community leader, in a heated meeting here recently with government representatives. "You have no credibility here. We don't believe in the police or the army anymore. They are killing us, and you do nothing."
------------------------------------------------------------------- British MEP Faces Grilling Over Gay Video, Cannabis (Reuters says Tom Spencer, a senior Member of the European Parliament from Britain's Conservative party and the chairman of the parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee, withdrew from this year's European parliament elections on Sunday after two cannabis cigarettes and a gay sex video were found in his suitcase after it was discovered unattended by airport security officers.) Date: Mon, 1 Feb 1999 13:05:01 -0800 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: UK: Wire: British MEP Faces Grilling Over Gay Video, Cannabis Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: General Pulaski Pubdate: Sun, 31 Jan 1999 Source: Reuters BRITISH MEP FACES GRILLING OVER GAY VIDEO, CANNABIS LONDON, Jan 31 (Reuters) - A senior British member of the European Parliament (MEP) was facing the prospect of political ruin on Sunday after airport security officers discovered cannabis and an explicit gay sex video in his suitcase. Tom Spencer, the Conservative chairman of the parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee, paid an on-the-spot fine of 550 pounds ($905) to customs authorities after the bag was opened at London's Heathrow Airport when he returned from France on Tuesday. Michael Ancram, the chairman of Britain's opposition Conservative Party, issued a terse statement after the incident was revealed in Sunday newspapers. "I will be inviting the Board of Management of the Conservative Party on Monday to refer this matter to the Ethics and Integrity Committee for urgent consideration," Ancram's statement said. In an interview with the Mail on Sunday newspaper, Spencer, 50, acknowledged he was a homosexual despite a 19-year marriage to his wife Liz. He said his wife, who has two teenage daughters by Spencer as well as one from a previous marriage, had turned a blind eye to a long-standing friendship with a man. "We have always loved each other and we are sticking together as a family," the couple said in a joint statement to the Mail. Spencer, whose attitude to the European Union is markedly more positive than that of his sceptical party, has been a member of the Strasbourg parliament since 1979. He represents the prosperous county of Surrey just south of London. Britain is switching to a proportional representation system to elect its MEPs when polling takes place on June 10. Spencer has been placed number two on the list of Conservative candidates for southeast England, a position which would almost guarantee his re-election. But newspapers speculated he was likely to be dismissed as a candidate in the wake of the discovery of the video and two joints as well as homosexual magazines sold legally in France. They said Spencer's bag had been opened after it was discovered unattended by airport security officers following a baggage mix-up on a flight from Strasbourg. The news came at the end of a bleak month for the Conservatives. On January 19, two other Conservative MEPs, John Stevens and Brendan Donnelly, resigned from the party over its opposition to Britain adopting the European single currency, reducing the party's ranks at Strasbourg to 15. Last week, an opinion poll in the Times newspaper put support for the Conservatives at just 24 percent, seven points below their showing at the 1997 general election when they suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of the Labour Party.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Gay MEP Guilty Of Importing Porn And Drugs (The version in Britain's Observer says Spencer was also caught with 1.5 grammes of cocaine.) Date: Mon, 1 Feb 1999 14:48:37 -0800 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: UK: Gay MEP Guilty Of Importing Porn And Drugs Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Martin Cooke (email@example.com) Pubdate: Sun, Jan 31 1999 Source: Observer, The (UK) Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Copyright: Guardian Media Group plc. 1999 Website: http://www.guardian.co.uk/ Author: John Sweeney and Patrick Wintour GAY MEP GUILTY OF IMPORTING PORN AND DRUGS Conservative MEP Tom Spencer's political career may be over after he confessed yesterday to importing cocaine, cannabis and gay erotica for his personal use. The MEP for the Guildford area, formerly the party's leader at Strasbourg, admitted that he had been fined £550 for importing the gay porn and 1.5 grammes of cocaine and cannabis into Heathrow Airport. He has been suspended from the party whip and will probably not be allowed to stand at the European elections in June, according to party sources. 'I've always been gay,' he told The Observer yesterday. 'When I married Liz, she knew all about it. It was like marrying your best friend. It sounds strange, but we have been very happy and have two daughters, and a third from Liz's first marriage.' Two weeks ago, he said, he was in Amsterdam, where someone made him a gift of the gay porn and a tiny package containing the cocaine and the cannabis. 'In a moment of hubris, I accepted them. It was lunatic. It's not part of my life. 'This,' he gestured to a Wild Havana cigar he was smoking, 'is my only addiction.' Customs intercepted his bag and discovered the drugs, the porn, a sexual accessory and an extremely large black leather suit, complete with waistcoat and hood. Spencer is over 6ft tall and weighs a good 18 stone. The bearded MEP quoted Anatole France: 'Of all sexual perversions, chastity is the most peculiar.' Spencer said 'I'm not capable of it', and laughed self-deprecatingly. 'I was called in to Customs. I wasn't charged, and they were very courteous. I was fined =A3550.' Standard Customs procedure for 'compoundings' - their term for an out-of-court settlement - is not to release names, but the story leaked. Without prejudging the outcome of the ethics inquiry into Spencer, Tory Central Office sources stressed that the committee has the power to prevent him standing as a Conservative candidate in the European elections.
------------------------------------------------------------------- UK MEP Caught With Drugs Withdraws From Election (A subsequent Reuters version) Date: Sun, 31 Jan 1999 19:31:23 -0800 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: UK: Wire: UK MEP Caught With Drugs Withdraws From Election Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: General Pulaski Pubdate: Sun, 31 Jan 1999 Source: Reuters Copyright: 1999 Reuters Limited. UK MEP CAUGHT WITH DRUGS WITHDRAWS FROM ELECTION LONDON, Jan 31 (Reuters) - A senior Member of the European Parliament (MEP) from Britain's Conservative party withdrew from this year's European parliament elections on Sunday after cannabis and a gay sex video were found in his suitcase. Tom Spencer, chairman of the parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee, released a statement saying he would not be standing for the elections in June, just hours after the party had suspended him from its Strasbourg group. Spencer had paid an on-the-spot fine of 550 pounds ($905) to customs authorities after his suitcase was opened at London's Heathrow Airport when he returned from France on Tuesday. "I have concluded it is in the best interests of all concerned that I should withdraw from the party's list for the next European elections," Spencer said in a statement issued on Sunday evening. Conservative Party chairman Michael Ancram said he welcomed Spencer's decision, adding, "I hope he may now be given the space to rebuild his life." In an interview with the Mail on Sunday newspaper, Spencer, 50, acknowledged he was a homosexual despite a 19-year marriage to his wife Liz. He said his wife, who has two teenage daughters by Spencer as well as one from a previous marriage, had turned a blind eye to a long-standing friendship with a man. "We have always loved each other and we are sticking together as a family," the couple said in a joint statement to the Mail. Spencer, whose attitude to the European Union is markedly more positive than that of his sceptical party, has been a member of the Strasbourg parliament since 1979, representing the prosperous county of Surrey just south of London. Britain is switching to a proportional representation system to elect its MEPs when polling takes place on June 10. Before the events that led to his withdrawal, Spencer had been placed number two on the list of Conservative candidates for southeast England, a position which would have almost guaranteed his re-election. The Mail and other newspapers reported that as well as the explicit gay sex video and two cannabis joints, homosexual magazines sold legally in France had been found in his suitcase. They said it had been opened after it was discovered unattended by airport security officers following a baggage mix-up on a flight from Strasbourg. The news came at the end of a bleak month for the Conservatives. On January 19, two other Conservative MEPs, John Stevens and Brendan Donnelly, resigned from the party over its opposition to Britain adopting the European single currency. Spencer's troubles have reduced its ranks at Strasbourg to 14. Last week, an opinion poll in the Times newspaper put support for the Conservatives at just 24 percent, seven points below their showing at the 1997 general election when they suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of the Labour Party.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Gay Porn And Drugs Found On Top Tory (A more elaborate account in the Daily Telegraph says Spencer denied using marijuana.) Date: Mon, 01 Feb 1999 13:30:26 +0000 To: email@example.com From: Peter Webster (firstname.lastname@example.org) Subject:  Gay Porn And Drugs Found On Top Tory Source: The Daily Telegraph (UK) Copyright: Telegraph Group Limited 1999 Pubdate: 31 January 1999 Contact: email@example.com Website: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/ Author: Jo Knowsley and Adam Lusher The Daily Telegraph (UK) Sunday 31 January 1999 Gay porn and drugs found on top Tory By Jo Knowsley and Adam Lusher TOM SPENCER, a leading Tory Euro-MP and former chairman of the Conservative group in Brussels, was under pressure to resign last night after drugs and explicit homosexual pornography were found in his luggage by Customs officials. The 50-year-old father of two, who is the chairman of the foreign affairs security committee at the European Parliament, admitted his homosexuality and confessed that he had brought two cannabis joints to Britain after a weekend with male friends in Amsterdam. Speaking from the family home he shares with his wife, Liz, and their daughters in Churt, Surrey, Mr Spencer said: "My actions were a moment of astonishing stupidity which is now causing a lot of pain to my family, friends and my electorate." He said he had not spoken to the Tory leader, William Hague, but had sought advice on whether he should resign from Don Porter, the Conservative regional campaign manager for the South-East, and Edward McMillan-Scott, who succeeded him as the chairman of the Tory MEPs. Mr Porter's advice, he said, was "not to do anything rash" and wait on party advice. But last night, senior Tory figures said it was likely Mr Spencer would be expelled. Mr McMillan-Scott said: "It is a very serious matter. Tom gave me a full explanation. The drugs issue is the key one. Someone's sexuality, if they want to keep it quiet, is a matter for them." Mr Spencer said he had an "understanding" with his wife over his sexuality since they married 19 years ago. Under the arrangement, he sometimes took weekends away. He had been enjoying such a weekend in Amsterdam two weeks ago when he was given the joints. He accepted the drugs, he said, but claimed not to have taken any. "I packed my bag, swept up everything in my room and thought no more of it," he said. "I then went off to Strasbourg to attend a preliminary session of a debate. But by Tuesday evening I felt unwell, had a high temperature, and came home." At Charles De Gaulle airport, however, where passengers from Strasbourg change planes for Britain, his luggage was lost. When he arrived at Heathrow, he waited for six hours then left his address with officials. The following day he was contacted by Customs officers who had discovered the drugs and pornography during a routine search. "I went down to see Customs and they were extremely courteous," Mr Spencer said. "I co-operated with them fully. I was given a £550 fine and the drugs and magazines and videos were confiscated, but I was told no further action would be taken. "I felt so bloody stupid. In my bags, as well as the cannabis there were also some gay magazines which are openly available in France, but are considered pornographic in the UK. I can't complain about this as it is a national issue." Mr Spencer said he had always been honest in politics, and did not intend to hide now. He said: "I have never flaunted my homosexuality or the arrangements of my marriage." He said he did not know if anyone in his electorate knew of his homosexuality. "No one has ever asked me," he said. I will stand down if that is what is required, though I am not going to do anything hasty. But I will not do anything to hurt a party I have served for 35 years." Mrs Spencer, standing beside her husband at their home, said: "I have known about Tom's sexuality since we were at university and so there is no question as to whether I will remain at his side. We chose to marry and there were never any secrets. We presumed we could make our marriage work and we have done. I have a daughter from a previous marriage and another two with Tom." Mr Spencer is regarded by his colleagues as an affable pro-European with few, if any enemies. One Tory MEP said: "It was complete news to me that he was gay. No one but his immediate family knew."
------------------------------------------------------------------- Euro-Lawmaker Suspended for Drugs (The Associated Press version) Date: Mon, 1 Feb 1999 13:06:12 -0800 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: UK: Wire: Euro-Lawmaker Suspended for Drugs Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: General Pulaski Pubdate: Sun, 31 Jan 1999 Source: Associated Press Copyright: 1999 Associated Press EURO-LAWMAKER SUSPENDED FOR DRUGS LONDON (AP) The opposition Conservative Party on Sunday suspended a European Parliament lawmaker who was fined by customs for bringing marijuana and homosexual pornography into Britain. Tom Spencer, 50, a member of the Conservative group in the European Union's parliament, based in Strasbourg, France, paid $900 to customs in an out-of-court settlement after pornographic videos, magazines and a small amount of marijuana were found in his briefcase during a routine check at London's Heathrow Airport. Such settlements are usually confidential and mean individuals do not have to appear in court. However, news of the fine was leaked to newspapers at the weekend. Spencer said he would not stand for re-election to the European Parliament in June, adding that he would understand if the Tories decided to drop him. "I am gay, I have always been gay," Spencer told reporters, standing alongside his wife, Elizabeth, outside their home in Churt, Surrey, 40 miles west of London. "Part of the way we run our lives is that occasionally I would go away for a weekend," he said. Spencer said he acquired the videos and marijuana during a weekend in Amsterdam. He absent-mindedly left them in his briefcase when he returned to London after taking part in a Jan. 14 debate in Strasbourg on fraud at the EU's headquarters in Brussels. "My actions were a moment of astonishing stupidity," added Spencer, chairman of the foreign affairs security committee in the European Parliament. In London, Conservative Party headquarters announced the suspension of Spencer pending an inquiry by its ethics committee. "We hope for a decision shortly," the party said in a statement. Spencer's wife said she had known he was homosexual since they first met at university. The couple have been married for 19 years and have two daughters. She has another daughter by a previous marriage. "We believed we could make it work and I have to say, I believe we have," she said. -------------------------------------------------------------------
The articles posted here are generally copyrighted by the source publications. They are reproduced here for educational purposes under the Fair Use Doctrine (17 U.S.C., section 107). NORML is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit educational organization. The views of the authors and/or source publications are not necessarily those of NORML. The articles and information included here are not for sale or resale.
Comments, questions and suggestions.Reporters and researchers are welcome at the world's largest online library of drug-policy information, sponsored by the Drug Reform Coordination Network at: http://www.druglibrary.org/
Next day's news
Previous day's news
to the 1999 Daily News index for Jan. 29-Feb. 4
to the Portland NORML news archive directory
to the 1999 Daily News index (long)
This URL: http://www.pdxnorml.org/ii/990131.html