------------------------------------------------------------------- NORML Foundation Weekly News Release (U.N. calls for medical marijuana research, maintains hardline on recreational use; Body Shop owner sends White House hemp, congratulations; South Dakota governor proposes mandatory jail time for pot offenses; South Carolina mulls making sale of urine a felony offense) From: NORMLFNDTN@aol.com Date: Thu, 25 Feb 1999 16:25:48 EST Subject: NORML WPR 2/25/99 (II) NORML Foundation Weekly News Release 1001 Connecticut Ave., NW Ste. 710 Washington, DC 20036 202-483-8751 (p) 202-483-0057 (f) www.norml.org email@example.com February 25, 1999 *** U.N. Calls For Medical Marijuana Research, Maintains Hardline On Recreational Use February, 25, 1999, New York, NY: The United States should begin scientific trials to determine marijuana's medicinal value, a United Nations report recommended this week. The U.N. "renews its call for additional scientific research to be carried out on ... the use of cannabis for certain medical purposes," states the report, released Tuesday by the International Drug Control Board. The 13-member board oversees U.N. drug treaties. The Board's request comes one week after leaders of 17 national AIDS organizations demanded that White House officials allow doctors to prescribe marijuana to people suffering from the disease. NORML Foundation Executive Director Allen St. Pierre said that U.S. officials typically refuse to conduct medical marijuana research, even when their own commissions recommended it. "Similar requests made by the National Academy of Sciences and the National Institutes of Health Workshop on the Medical Utility of Marijuana have gone unanswered," St. Pierre said. The National Academy of Sciences is scheduled to release an updated report on medical marijuana next month, he said. The U.N. board remained unyielding on the use of marijuana for recreational purposes. However, it concedes that, "The abuse of cannabis has become widespread in virtually all countries of the world ... in recent decades," despite international efforts to prohibit the drug. The report also said that new technologies like the Internet pose a significant threat to drug prohibition. "Governments ... should work in close cooperation with the Internet industry, community organizations, families and educators to set up a framework that will ensure that such emerging technologies are not misused for the proliferation of drug abuse," it said. For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre of The NORML Foundation @ (202) 483-8751. Excerpts of the report are available online from: http://www.marijuananews.com. *** Body Shop Owner Sends White House Hemp, Congratulations February 25, 1999, Washington, D.C.: Body Shop International Founder Anita Roddick sent President William Clinton several hemp goods last week, and urged him to support legal distinctions between hemp and marijuana. "Don't go wobbly with misinformation," Roddick plead. "Hemp is a good product and not a drug. Across the planet people use it for food, clothing, fuel and lotions to make people more comfortable in their own skin." The Body Shop distributes several hemp-based skin care products including lip conditioner, hand oil, soap, and body lotion. Roddick sent her appeal to Clinton after learning that Air Force One stewards offered the President hemp beer while returning from Mexico. "Congratulations on breaking the hemp barrier on Air Force One," she wrote. A spokesman for the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) announced that officials will no longer serve the beverage, Hemp Golden Beer, aboard Air Force One. Despite the beer's legality, the spokesman called it an "inappropriate" drink to have on the President's plane. Ironically, the Air Force, which operates Air Force One, recently prohibited all personnel from ingesting any food or nutritional products containing hemp because military drug tests can not distinguish between the legal products and marijuana. For more information, please contact either Allen St. Pierre of The NORML Foundation @ (202) 483-8751 or NORML board member Don Wirtshafter of The Ohio Hempery @ (740) 662-4367. *** South Dakota Governor Proposes Mandatory Jail Time For Pot Offenses February 25, 1999, Pierre, SD: Gov. William Janklowe has introduced legislation that would impose mandatory jail sentences for all marijuana offenders, including children. NORML Executive Director R. Keith Stroup, Esq. criticized the proposal. "Marijuana smokers work hard, raise families, and contribute to their communities," he said. "They are not part of the crime problem and we should not treat them like criminals. This proposal would needlessly wreck the lives, careers, and families of thousands of otherwise law abiding citizens who smoke marijuana." Stroup continued, "In addition, there is no evidence that making the possession of small amounts of marijuana punishable by mandatory jail time will do anything to reduce use, particularly among adolescents." He noted that the only federal study ever to compare marijuana use patterns among decriminalized states and those that still arrest marijuana smokers determined that, "Decriminalization has had virtually no effect on either marijuana use or on related attitudes about marijuana use among young people." He concluded, "Rather than imposing harsh and mandatory jail sentences for minor marijuana offenders, we should develop a policy that distinguishes between use and abuse, and which reflects the importance we have always attached in this country to the right of the individual to be free from the overreaching power of the state." Senate Bill 210 states that any individual convicted of a marijuana violation shall serve ten days in jail. Janklowe's initial proposal mandated a 30 day sentence for all offenders, but the Senate Affairs Committee amended the measure before passing it 5 to 3 last week. The Senate approved it days later and the bill now awaits action by the House. For more information, please contact either Keith Stroup of NORML @ (202) 483-5500 or Allen St. Pierre of The NORML Foundation @ (202) 483-8751. *** South Carolina Mulls Making Sale Of Urine A Felony Offense February 25, 1999, Columbia, SC: Legislation proposed by Sen. David Thomas (R-Greenville) seeks to crack down on individuals who attempt to skirt a drug test by using someone else's urine. General Bill 277 makes "selling or purchasing urine with intent to defraud a drug screening test a felony" punishable by up to five years in jail. "Legislators must not have much to do if they have time to consider this measure," NORML's R. Keith Stroup said. "Consider the irony here. Failing a drug test is not a crime, but trying to pass it would be a felony under this measure. This proposal illustrates the disproportionality of the 'war on drugs.'" Kenneth Curtis, owner of Privacy Protection Services, a Marietta-based company that markets urine substitution kits, surmises that the measure is in response to the ability of products like his to thwart a urine test. "Lawmakers are trying to shoot the messenger here," he said. "This situation is an example of law enforcement encroachment into what is now mostly a private sector testing business. People should be concerned about government officials that would support over stepping into private sector testing." Thomas argues that his legislation is necessary because "the safety of the public is at stake here." His measure awaits action by the Senate Judiciary Committee. For more information, please contact either Keith Stroup of NORML @ (202) 483-5500 or Allen St. Pierre of The NORML Foundation @ (202) 483-8751. Kenneth Curtis of Privacy Protection Services may be contacted @ (864) 836-4341. - END -
------------------------------------------------------------------- Trial begins in dispute over responsibility in smoker's death (The Associated Press says a Multnomah County Circuit Court jury on Wednesday heard opening statements in a lawsuit brought by the family of Jesse D. Williams of Portland, a lifetime cigarette smoker and lung cancer fatality whose survivors are seeking $110 million in damages from Philip Morris. His family says Philip Morris Inc. duped Williams into thinking smoking wasn't harmful. The cigarette company says Williams knew the health risks. Legal experts say the trial's outcome could have national significance, coming as it does after a San Francisco jury's groundbreaking award earlier this month of $51.5 million to a former smoker with inoperable lung cancer.)Associated Press found at: http://www.oregonlive.com/ feedback (letters to the editor): firstname.lastname@example.org Trial begins in dispute over responsibility in smoker's death * The family of Jesse D. Williams, who died of lung cancer, is seeking $110 million in damages from cigarette-maker Philip Morris Thursday February 25, 1999 By Patrick O'Neill of The Oregonian staffJesse D. Williams died of lung cancer after a lifetime of smoking. On that, everyone agrees. But disagreements about responsibility for Williams' death are many. His family thinks Philip Morris Inc. duped him into thinking smoking wasn't harmful to his health. An attorney for the cigarette company says Williams knew the health risks but kept smoking anyway. On Wednesday, jurors in Multnomah County Circuit Court heard opening statements in a trial that will determine whether Williams' wife and family can claim $110 million in damages from Philip Morris, manufacturer of Marlboro cigarettes, the world's leading brand of smokes. The trial will determine who, legally, was responsible for Williams' death. Lawyers for both the family and the cigarette company gave the jurors a preview of their evidence, to be presented during the next four weeks. Both sides acknowledge that the case revolves around questions of choice: * Was Philip Morris at all responsible for Williams' death by choosing to manufacture a defective product, by failing to take reasonable steps to make a safer product and by downplaying the possibility of cancer or addiction in its public statements? * Or was Williams, a three-pack-a-day smoker, responsible for his own death by choosing to smoke, by failing to heed the warning labels on cigarette packs, by ignoring news articles about the hazards of smoking and by turning a deaf ear to the pleas of his wife and family to stop smoking for his health's sake? A jury of six men and six women will decide the outcome. The panel includes three smokers -- one whose father died of lung cancer -- and four former smokers, including a Mormon who recently returned to her church, which forbids tobacco use. Legal experts say the trial's outcome could have national significance, coming as it does after a San Francisco jury's groundbreaking award earlier this month of $51.5 million to a former smoker with inoperable lung cancer. Attorneys for the family portrayed Williams, a former janitor with the Portland public school system, as a heavy smoker who puffed his first cigarette in his early 20s while serving in the U.S. Army in Korea. There, one of his sergeants told him that cigarette smoke would drive away the voracious mosquitoes that plagued the GIs. From 1955 on, Williams smoked Marlboros exclusively, the attorneys said. Heavily addicted Williams died of cancer at his home on March 17, 1997, at age 67, a Williams family attorney, Raymond Thomas, told the jury. Thomas said Williams was so heavily addicted to nicotine that he smoked Marlboros from October 1996, when he was diagnosed with lung cancer, until the day of his death five months later. William Gaylord, another attorney for the family, painted Philip Morris as a corporation that valued profits over the health of its customers, manipulated the level of nicotine in cigarettes to better addict smokers, buried research that would have brought about safer cigarettes and tried to discredit mounting evidence about the link between cigarettes and lung cancer. "This is the story of a company whose executives made choices . . . that substantially contributed to the largest epidemic in U.S. history," Gaylord said. In his opening statement, Gaylord presented portions of 18 internal documents from Philip Morris that, he said, demonstrated the company's eagerness to avoid responsibility for damage to smokers' health caused by their product. Those documents, which will be presented during the trial, he said, will show that Philip Morris executives knew that cigarettes caused cancer and that nicotine was addictive. But instead of taking action to protect its customers, he said, the company adopted a strategy of "manufacturing controversy" -- of suggesting that medical evidence against cigarettes was the result of hysteria by health officials who wanted to trample individual freedoms. Did he know risks? Much of the case will center on the question of whether Williams knew that smoking was hazardous. Walt Cofer of Kansas City, Kan., attorney for Philip Morris, told the jury that evidence will show there's no doubt that Williams knew smoking was bad for people's health and that he could have quit if he'd really wanted to. Philip Morris didn't force Williams to smoke, Cofer said. Williams made that decision himself, as an adult. Cofer said Williams was a frequent reader of The Oregonian, which for years has published articles about the hazards of smoking. In 1954, a year before Williams began smoking Marlboros, a study found that 90 percent of people surveyed had recently heard that smoking could cause lung cancer, Cofer said. "This case is about Jesse Williams," he said, "and whether his family is entitled to receive money damages because Mr. Williams chose to smoke cigarettes." The answer is no, he said. "Fifty million Americans have stopped smoking for good," he said. "Ninety percent stopped without help. Eleven members of his family stopped. "Where is the evidence that Mr. Williams is any different from 50 million Americans who quit? How is he any different from 11 members of his family?" Cofer told jurors they would hear tobacco company evidence that Philip Morris has reduced the amount of tar and nicotine in cigarettes by 70 percent since the 1950s. The tobacco company will produce witnesses who will testify about cancer and its many possible causes, including genetics, and substances such as asbestos and cleaning solutions, with which Williams had worked. It's impossible that Williams didn't know about the dangers of smoking, he said. The debate about smoking and health has been widespread in the United States for decades, he said, "in Congress, on the front page of newspapers and in people's homes, including Mr. Williams' home." Today, attorneys for the Williams family are scheduled to begin presenting witnesses. Both sides in the case will call medical, tobacco industry and mental health experts in addition to Williams family members. You can reach Patrick O'Neill at 503-221-8233 or by e-mail at email@example.com
------------------------------------------------------------------- AG Seeks Pot Reclassification (Yahoo says California Attorney General Bill Lockyer will travel to Washington, D.C., next week to ask the federal government to re-classify marijuana as a prescription drug.) From: "Todd McCormick" (firstname.lastname@example.org) To: "DRCTalk Reformers' Forum" (email@example.com) Subject: AG Seeks Pot Reclassification - (SACRAMENTO) Date: Thu, 25 Feb 1999 10:00:07 -0800 Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Sender: email@example.com http://dailynews.yahoo.com/headlines/local/state/california/story.html?s=v/r s/19990225/ca/index_1.html#13 Yahoo! News California Headlines Thursday February 25 6:57 AM ET AG Seeks Pot Reclassification - (SACRAMENTO) -- Attorney General Bill Lockyer will travel to Washington D-C next week to ease the implementation of California's medicinal marijuana law. Lockyer says federal drug rules make it difficult for doctors to prescribe marijuana for patients who need it. He will try to convince the federal government to re-classify marijuana as a prescription drug.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Bay Area Coalition for Alternatives to the War on Drugs sponsors workshop Friday in Oakland (The Oakland Tribune publicizes a public meeting that will focus on such topics as "Drugs and the CIA," featuring former Los Angeles police narcotics officer Michael Ruppert. Other topics include the courts, youth drug prevention, and jury nullification.) Date: Thu, 25 Feb 1999 08:45:32 -0800 To: "DRCTalk Reformers' Forum" (firstname.lastname@example.org) From: Gerald Sutliff (email@example.com) Subject: "...alternative ideas to war on drugs" Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Sender: email@example.com Dear Talkers (especially those of us in Northern California) News item in the Oakland Tribune (2-25-99): OAKLAND -- As U.S. drug czar Barry McCaffrey prepares to justify spending $18.9 billion to fight the war on drugs before a House Committee on Government Oversight today, critics of his tactics are planning a community meeting to discuss alternative ways to curb drug use. The Bay Area Coalition for Alternatives to the War on Drugs (BACAWOD) is sponsoring a three-topic workshop Friday at 7:15 p.m. inside the Lake Merritt Church at 1330 Lakeshore Ave. in Oakland. Topics will include "Drugs and the CIA," with former Los Angeles police narcotics officer Michael Ruppert discussing the CIA's alleged role in saturating the black community with crack cocaine. Others will cover the courts, youth drug prevention and jury nullification -- when a jury refuses to convict regardless of the evidence presented, law written or a judge's instructions. Representatives from various law enforcement and court agencies have been invited, including Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown, the Alameda County Public Defender's office, District Attorney, Oakland Board of Supervisors and others. BACAWOD is a recently formed coalition of various organization including Crack the CIA, North Coast Xpress, National Latina Health Organization, Libertarian Party and a host of others. For more information, call (510) 451-4430
------------------------------------------------------------------- Government: State voters approved the use of medical marijuana. The feds should honor that. (An op-ed in the Los Angeles Times by California state senator John Vasconcellos says state and federal governments have colluded to thwart the will of voters who passed Proposition 215 in California. Together, they closed most of the providers of medical marijuana in California, threw several legitimate caregivers in jail and currently are preventing a seriously sick defendant - author Peter McWilliams, now in failing health as a result - from using medical cannabis. A tidal wave of support for medical marijuana has begun in the Western United States. The future of many federal officials will depend, in large part, on whether they ride that wave into a compassionate future or, standing in the way, are rendered irrelevant by the voters.) From: "Peter McWilliams" (firstname.lastname@example.org) Subject: DPFCA: From Today's LA Times -- Date: Thu, 25 Feb 1999 11:40:24 -0800 Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: "Peter McWilliams" (firstname.lastname@example.org) Organization: DrugSense http://www.drugsense.org/dpfca/ Government: State voters approved the use of medical marijuana. The feds should honor that. What kind of a government carries on a crusade against the will of its voters, favors pain and even death for some of its people? From a president still distancing himself from youthful experimentation with marijuana, a drug czar who has effectively declared war on American citizens and a Congress that forbids the counting of votes on a Washington, D.C., ballot initiative on medical marijuana (sure to pass), our federal government continues to bungle the issue of medical marijuana. There is an utter disregard of states' rights, to try to silence the proponents of medical marijuana, to threaten the integrity and livelihood of California physicians and, ultimately, to engage in a campaign against the health and care of sick and dying Californians. In November 1996, 56% of California voters passed Proposition 215, which allows the medicinal use of marijuana - a critical treatment and care option for sick and dying patients. The voters declared they want their relationship with their physician (rather than the government) be the arbiter of their health and healing modalities. In good faith, California local government and law enforcement leaders have spent the past two years working with patients, physicians and providers of medicinal marijuana to ensure responsible, compassionate implementation of Proposition 215. Yet our federal government has assumed it knows best what's good for our people. It has engaged in activities that demonstrate an outrageous disregard for the will of our California voters (and since November, Arizona, Oregon, Washington and Alaska voters as well). How ironic that Bill Clinton - who won our state by a smaller margin than voters approved Proposition 215 - has the temerity to send federal law enforcement into our state to contravene the decision of our citizens. Until the beginning of this year, our state and federal governments colluded to thwart the voters' mandate. Former California Atty. Gen. Dan Lungren publicly vowed to respect the voters' decision, yet then proceeded to take every action he could to ensure that Proposition 215 could not be safely implemented. To the extent he refrained from overtly violating our voters' mandate, he relied on the feds to do his dirty work. Together, they closed most of the providers of medical marijuana in California, threw several legitimate caregivers in jail and currently are preventing a seriously sick defendant - author Peter McWilliams, now in failing health as a result - from access to medicinal marijuana. Fortunately, California has begun, since the inauguration of a new attorney general and governor in January, to look more respectfully upon the will of our people. Atty. Gen. Bill Lockyer has kickstarted efforts to implement the voters' wishes regarding medical marijuana. He's convened a statewide task force of all key stakeholders, naming Republican Santa Clara County Dist. Atty. George Kennedy and me to co-chair it. Our charge is to find ways to make Proposition 215 work responsibly. Sadly, our charge will be largely Sisyphean as long as the federal government does not change its position or have its position changed by more sympathetic federal courts. Until Washington allows marijuana to be prescribed under the controls applied to other drugs like morphine and cocaine, its benefits will be available to those willing to risk greater harm by getting their medicine from street pushers. A tidal wave of support for medicinal marijuana has begun in the Western United States. The future of many federal officials will depend, in large part, on whether they ride that wave into a compassionate future or, standing in the way, are rendered irrelevant by the voters. It is now incumbent on Californians to convince the federal government to abide by our will, rather than have Big Brother consigning them to pain and even death. State Sen. John Vasconcellos is a Democrat from the Silicon Valley Letters to the editor: email@example.com
------------------------------------------------------------------- Peter McWilliams Hearing 3:30 p.m. Friday in Los Angeles (The best-selling author, medical-marijuana patient/activist and federal defendant invites Southern California activists to attend his court hearing tomorrow, where he will seek permission to resume using cannabis to combat AIDS.) From: "Peter McWilliams" (firstname.lastname@example.org) Subject: DPFCA: Peter McWilliams Date: Thu, 25 Feb 1999 16:19:51 -0800 Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: "Peter McWilliams" (firstname.lastname@example.org) Organization: DrugSense http://www.drugsense.org/dpfca/ My hearing before federal Judge George King will be at 3:30 tomorrow at the Roybal Federal Building, 225 East Temple, in downtown Los Angeles. The federal prosecutors in the case will argue why I should not be allowed medical marijuana, my attorney will argue that I should, and Judge King will be able to ask any questions he may have. Those who can come down and show support would be most welcome. Enjoy, Peter
------------------------------------------------------------------- Is The Party Over For The Hash Bash? (The Detroit News says Republican state senators Beverly Hammerstrom and Mike Rogers, who represent districts bordering Ann Arbor, have co-sponsored a bill in the Michigan legislature that would prohibit local communities from enacting drug ordinances with penalties less severe than state law. The bill was introduced about a month before the 28th annual Hash Bash, scheduled for the first Saturday of April. Ann Arbor levies a $25 fine for marijuana possession. It's the only city that deviates from the state law, which calls for a $100 fine and up to 90 days in jail.) Date: Thu, 25 Feb 1999 21:58:11 -0800 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: US MI: Is The Party Over For The Hash Bash? Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: email@example.com (Frank S. World) Pubdate: February 25, 1999 Source: Detroit News (MI) Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.detnews.com/ Copyright: 1999, The Detroit News Author: B.G. Gregg and Jodi S. Cohen / The Detroit News IS THE PARTY OVER FOR THE HASH BASH? Law would toughen fines to help end Ann Arbor pot rally Ann Arbor -- Two state senators want to trash the Hash Bash. Republicans Beverly Hammerstrom and Mike Rogers, who represent districts bordering Ann Arbor, have co-sponsored a bill to prohibit local communities from enacting drug ordinances with penalties softer than state law. The move comes about a month before the 28th annual Hash Bash, scheduled for the first Saturday of April. The internationally known event, which promotes the legalization of marijuana, draws about 5,000 people, many of whom openly smoke marijuana. The event created clashes with police in the early years, but has become a quiet gathering of young and old advocates of the drug. Both lawmakers said their bill is out of concern for teen-agers who think it is OK to attend the Hash Bash. The city levies a $25 fine for marijuana possession. It's the only city that deviates from the state law, which calls for a $100 fine and up to 90 days in jail. James Millard, owner of Pure Productions, an Ann Arbor store that specializes in hemp clothing, called Hammerstrom's and Rogers' bill "ridiculous."
------------------------------------------------------------------- Discrimination Plagues Act (An op-ed in the Cavalier Daily at the University of Virginia, in Charlottesville, by Adam J. Smith of the Drug Reform Coordination Network points out the racial and social iniquities to be fostered by the Higher Education Act's ban on aid to students convicted of possessing marijuana or other controlled substances.) Date: Fri, 5 Mar 1999 13:52:53 -0800 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: US: OPED: Discrimination Plagues Act Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: email@example.com Source: The Cavalier Daily (University of Virginia) Copyright: 1999 The Cavalier Daily, Inc. Pubdate: Thu, 25 Feb 1999 Section: Cavalier Daily University Forum Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org FAX: (804) 924-7290 Mail: Basement, Newcomb Hall; Charlottesville, VA 22904 Website: http://www.cavalierdaily.com/ Author: Adam J. Smith Note: Adam Smith is the Associate Director for the Drug Reform Coordination Network Also: Information on DRCNet's HEA reform campaign is at http://www.u-net.org/ DISCRIMINATION PLAGUES ACT ON OCT. 7, President Clinton signed into law the Higher Education Act of 1998, which includes a provision that will deny or delay federal financial aid to any student with a drug conviction, no matter how minor. In response, students across the country are participating in a growing campaign to have the provision overturned. They have good reason to get involved. Whatever Congress' intent, the law's impact will be discriminatory on several levels. First, the law represents an additional penalty, over and above court-imposed sanctions, levied upon lower and middle class students. Wealthier students, the children of legislators for instance, will be virtually unaffected. While the law allows for provisional reinstatement of eligibility if a student undergoes drug treatment and random drug testing, such treatment is largely unavailable to those without significant resources. The federal government's own 1997 study indicates that 48 percent of America's drug treatment needs are currently unmet. In fact, only 7 percent of the federal drug war budget is earmarked for treatment, while the overwhelming majority goes to enforcement and military interdiction. Finally, for most young offenders, getting caught with a small amount of marijuana no more indicates a medical need for substance abuse treatment than a college sophomore's underage drinking citation indicates alcoholism. Next, the law singles out young drug offenders - the overwhelming majority of whom are convicted of non-violent possession - as singularly unworthy of federal financial aid. Convictions for sexual assault, stalking or perjury, for example, carry no such penalties. Most disturbingly, this law will discriminate based on race. The reality of the drug war in America is that it is prosecuted most vigorously in poor and non-white neighborhoods. According to a 1995 report from the Sentencing Project, blacks, who are 12 percent of the population, and who make up approximately 13 percent of all drug users, comprise 55 percent of those convicted of drug offenses. The Sentencing Project's report also indicates that today in America, fully one in three black males in the 18-29 age group is under the "supervision" of the criminal justice system. Overall, 75 percent of those entering the corrections system are either black or Latino. Are the drugs gone yet? Why should we believe that making it more difficult for those who've already been punished to enter the mainstream through education will have a positive impact? The drug war is decades old, costs taxpayers tens of billions of dollars per year and has given America the highest per-capita incarceration rate on the planet. In states such as California, Maryland, New York and others, more money is now being spent on prisons than on higher education. Imprisoning a young person, by the way, costs taxpayers far more than does a Pell Grant or a Stafford loan--and once educated, these students will be contributors to society, on the tax rolls and productive. Escalation of the drug war has long been justified as necessary to "protect children" from drug use. But it would be difficult to find a single college student who could not have bought illicit drugs while in high school. The University of Michigan's "Monitoring the Future" survey indicates that 90 percent of high school seniors say that illicit drugs are "easy" or "fairly easy" to obtain. Today's college students were the same children the escalation of the war was designed to protect. But have we "protected" a single young person from access to drugs? Can we point to a single "drug free" high school? If not, when exactly will it be time to reevaluate the punitive focus of our policies? The newest weapon in Washington's drug war places obstacles in the path of young people who are trying to get their lives together through education. Surveys show that more than 50 percent of high school seniors have used an illicit substance. Are half of our young people unworthy of financial aid? Or just the poor, the non-white and the unlucky? Assuming that this law does not make kids "drug free," what's next? Underage drinking is illegal, and inarguably a more widespread and pressing campus problem than illicit drug use. Will Washington decide to withhold financial aid for illicit alcohol use? It is time for college students to speak up. Today's college students have become the pawns of politicians who are as adamant about "zero tolerance" as they are out of touch with the realities of young people. Impeding education is not a rational policy by any measure. The Higher Education Act of 1998 gives students the opportunity, even the responsibility, to join the debate.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Coalition Protests Government's Hard-Line Drug Policies (According to the Los Angeles Times, more than two dozen scholars and activists joined in Washington, D.C., to protest the federal government's anti-drug strategy, and accused the White House of spreading misinformation. The campaign, organized by the Virginia-based nonprofit group Common Sense for Drug Policy, issued a letter to the White House drug czar, saying participants were "deeply troubled" by Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey's "inaccurate and misleading statements" in opposition to needle exchange programs and medicinal marijuana, among other issues.) Date: Tue, 2 Mar 1999 18:44:18 -0800 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: US: Coalition Protests Government's Hard-Line Drug Policies Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: kevin zeese
Pubdate: Thu, 25 Feb 1999 Source: Los Angeles Times (CA) Copyright: 1999 Los Angeles Times. Contact: email@example.com Fax: (213) 237-4712 Website: http://www.latimes.com/ Forum: http://www.latimes.com/home/discuss/ Author: Eric Lichtblau, LA Times Staff Writer COALITION PROTESTS GOVERNMENT'S HARD-LINE DRUG POLICIES WASHINGTON--Black leaders and public health advocates on Wednesday joined to protest several hard-line aspects of the federal government's anti-drug strategy, accusing the White House of spreading misinformation. In a letter to Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, more than two dozen scholars and activists said they were "deeply troubled" by McCaffrey's "inaccurate and misleading statements" in opposition to needle exchange programs and medicinal marijuana, among other issues. McCaffrey has often found himself at odds with groups that want to ease enforcement actions and strict sentencing guidelines and place more emphasis on drug treatment and research. Those signing the statement included scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. and several of his colleagues at Harvard University, San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, former Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders and representatives of public health groups involved in AIDS research and other issues. The African American leaders said McCaffrey's hard-line policies have unfairly harmed minorities. McCaffrey said the letter simply reflects "different, legitimate viewpoints" about how to interpret available drug research, rather than any distortion by his office. But he acknowledged that the campaign, organized by the Virginia-based nonprofit group Common Sense for Drug Policy, had managed to attract a group of prominent signatories. Calling the incident unfortunate, McCaffrey said he would send an aide to speak with the group about their concerns. The missive was delivered the same day McCaffrey met with Pino Arlacchi, his drug-fighting counterpart at the United Nations, to map out ways of beefing up multinational anti-drug efforts. At a news conference later, the two men offered little in the way of specific new strategies, but stressed the need for increased international teamwork in combating drug traffickers, and in developing new sources of revenue for rural areas that now depend on drug production. Those signing Wednesday's letter to McCaffrey said the United States' effort has been misguided, focusing on border interdiction and law enforcement crackdowns at the expense of treatment and research. "We're disappointed with the White House policy. It's more of the same, and more of the same isn't working," said Kevin Zeese, president of the drug policy group. Pointing to a surge in drug overdoses and incarcerations, Zeese said: "We've got to look at the drug policy honestly and recognize the failure." Voters already have begun to do so, Zeese said, by approving measures in six states last year that make medicinal marijuana legal and authorize other more liberal policies in the areas of sentencing and treatment. "The voters are way ahead of the politicians on this," he said. Harvard sociologist Orlando Patterson, a specialist in racial issues who signed the letter to McCaffrey, said he is appalled by the administration's misleading public statements concerning drug issues, including McCaffrey's assertion that needle exchange programs are "a magnet for social ills." "Anyone who has done any work on this will tell you that this can only do good in terms of reducing AIDS" and other diseases among drug users, he said.
------------------------------------------------------------------- DEA: Mexican Cartels Penetrate U.S. (The Associated Press says Thomas Constantine of the Drug Enforcement Administration reported Wednesday to a Senate panel that monitors illegal-drug trafficking that the leaders of Mexico's most powerful drug trafficking organization, the Arellano-Felix group, appear to be immune from any law enforcement effort. Constantine said corruption in Mexican law enforcement has no parallel with anything he has seen in 39 years of police work. The DEA chief sidestepped a question from Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., as to whether Mexico should be certified as an ally in the United States' war on some drug users. But, he said, there has been a dramatic increase over the past five years in the "penetration" of the United States by Mexican illegal-drug importers.) Date: Thu, 25 Feb 1999 12:34:29 -0800 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: US: Wire: DEA - Mexican Cartels Penetrate U.S. Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: General Pulaski Pubdate: Thu, 25 Feb 1999 Source: Associated Press Copyright: 1999 Associated Press Author: George Gedda, Associated Press Writer DEA: MEXICAN CARTELS PENETRATE U.S. WASHINGTON - Top leaders of Mexico's most powerful and perhaps most violent drug trafficking organization appear to be immune to any law enforcement effort, a senior U.S. counternarcotics official says. That assessment was made Wednesday in a report by Drug Enforcement administrator Thomas Constantine to a Senate panel that monitors narcotics trafficking. Constantine cited a number of perceived shortcomings in Mexico's law enforcement efforts despite an expected endorsement of Mexico's performance on Friday by President Clinton. Each year, drug transit and drug source countries are evaluated by the State Department. Most are "certified" as fully cooperative with U.S. counternarcotics efforts while the rest are decertified and some are subject to economic sanctions. Clinton has said Mexico "should not be penalized." During his testimony, Constantine sidestepped a question from Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., as to whether he believes Mexico should be certified. But, he said, there has been a dramatic increase over the past five years in the penetration of the United States by Mexican drug cartels. He also said the corruption in Mexican civilian law enforcement has no parallel with anything he has seen in 39 years of police work. Randy Beers, the State Department's top counternarcotics official, said Mexico deserves credit for a "serious effort" to deal with drug traffickers, saying it has conducted an "unprecedented antidrug campaign that, to my knowledge, has never been duplicated" elsewhere. He added that, proportionally, Mexico earmarks a higher percentage of its national budget to counterdrug efforts than does the United States. He also noted that Mexico plans to spend more than $400 million over the next three years to combat narcotraffcking through high technology. In his written report to the panel, Constantine said the Arellano-Felix organization has a cocaine and marijuana distribution network that has expanded to U.S. cities in the Midwest and East Coast in recent years. "In spite of existing U.S. warrants, government of Mexico indictments and actionable investigative leads provided to Mexico by U.S. law enforcement, limited enforcement action has taken place within the last year." He said there has been a consistent lack of success in obtaining evidence, locating those indicted and arresting any major figures. "The few arrests that have been made to date have not included the leaders and command structure of the Arellano-Felix Organization syndicate," Constantine said. "The truly significant principals have not been arrested, and appear to be immune to any law enforcement efforts." Constantine also alleged that corruption has impeded efforts to break up the Caro-Quinero organization, also alleged to be involved in drug smuggling. He said the head of the organization, Miguel Angel Caro Quintero, was able to use "a combination of threats and bribes" to have charges against him dismissed by a federal judge in Sonora. "U.S. officials have corroborated the fact that Miguel Caro-Quintero collaborates with some Mexican law enforcement officials as evidenced by photographs which have shown him meeting with police officials at his residence," Constantine said.
------------------------------------------------------------------- D.E.A. Chief Warns Senate On Traffickers In Mexico (The New York Times version) Date: Thu, 25 Feb 1999 11:50:00 -0800 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: US: D.E.A. Chief Warns Senate On Traffickers In Mexico Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: firstname.lastname@example.org (Dick Evans) Pubdate: Thur, 25 Feb 1999 Source: New York Times (NY) Copyright: 1999 The New York Times Company Contact: email@example.com Website: http://www.nytimes.com/ Forum: http://forums.nytimes.com/comment/ Author: Christopher Wren D.E.A. CHIEF WARNS SENATE ON TRAFFICKERS IN MEXICO WASHINGTON -- The head of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Thomas Constantine, warned Wednesday that Mexican drug trafficking organizations pose the worst criminal threat to the United States that he has seen in nearly 40 years in law enforcement. Speaking days before the Clinton administration deadline for certifying that Mexico is cooperating in drug-fighting efforts, Constantine sketched a bleak picture in testimony before the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control. "Unlike the American organized crime leaders, organized crime figures in Mexico have at their disposal an army of personnel, an arsenal of weapons and the finest technology that money can buy," Constantine said. "They literally run transportation and financial empires, and an insight into how they conduct their day-to-day business leads even the casual observer to the conclusion that the United States is facing a threat of unprecedented proportions and gravity." But with the administration on the brink of declaring that Mexico deserves certification, he did not address the central question of the level of official cooperation that Mexico has offered to the United States. The State Department must submit an annual report to Congress by Monday that lists which countries have failed to cooperate in fighting drugs. Clinton said last week on a brief visit to Mexico that it should not be penalized for "having the courage to confront its problems" with illegal drugs. But Wednesday, some senators who last year objected to seeing Mexico certified found in Constantine's testimony fresh ammunition for another challenge in Congress this year. "My purpose here is not to bash Mexico," said the chairman of the caucus, Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa. "But the problem is too serious to ignore." Constantine sidestepped a question about whether Mexico deserved to be certified, talking instead about its decline in drug seizures, its pervasive corruption and its failure to extradite any Mexicans sought by the United States in connection with trafficking. Other administration officials sought to play down any differences over Constantine's bleak assessment, which drew heavily from reports by the DEA agents in the field. "Factually there's very little difference between any of us," said Gen. Barry McCaffrey, the White House director of national drug policy, who supports certifying Mexico. McCaffrey said U.S. and Mexican officials agreed that drug-related crime in Mexico had grown rapidly and become more violent and that its administration of justice was inadequate. "If you want to protect the American people, you've got to work with Mexico for the next 15 years," McCaffrey said. Rand Beers, the assistant secretary of state for international narcotics and law-enforcement affairs, who also testified at the hearing, said Constantine had been careful to distinguish between the government and organized crime. "He was not saying it was the Mexican government that engaged in drug trafficking," Beers said. But Constantine made clear that Mexico had yet to staunch the flow of cocaine, heroin and marijuana across its U.S. border. He stressed that almost no traffickers of significance had been arrested and or extradited. When his agency asked Mexico to help capture one trafficker, Constantine said, officials replied, "It would be difficult to apprehend this individual, because he was too dangerous to pursue, due to the number of bodyguards and corrupt law-enforcement officials he employs." Constantine described a corruption so widespread that even sensitive information shared with elite anti-drug units reached traffickers. "Because of the unparalleled levels of corruption within Mexican law-enforcement agencies with whom we must work to insure that these individuals are brought to justice, our job is made that much more difficult," Constantine said. "Until we can work with our law-enforcement counterparts in a relationship that is free from suspicion, the burden to bring the drug lords before a jury of their victims' peers will remain largely ours." The failures listed by Constantine led Grassley to ask what Mexico would have to do to be refused recognition as an ally in the war against drugs. Beers referred to Colombia, which was denied certification after President Ernesto Samper had been accused of taking drug money for his re-election campaign. By contrast, Beers said, Mexico had made "significant progress" since President Ernesto Zedillo took office in December 1994.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Mexico Rails At U.S. Drug Cop's Finger-Pointing (According to Reuters, Mexican Interior Minister Francisco Labastida said DEA director Thomas Constantine was "totally wrong" to hold Mexican crime syndicates responsible for a large chunk of the drug distribution, violence and crime north of the border. Constantine told a Senate hearing on Wednesday that Mexican illegal-drug traffickers had more money and firepower today in the United States than the Mafia ever did in its heyday.) Date: Thu, 25 Feb 1999 12:34:02 -0800 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: Mexico: Wire: Mexico Rails At U.S. Drug Cop's Finger-Pointing Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: General Pulaski Pubdate: Thu, 25 Feb 1999 Source: Reuters Copyright: 1999 Reuters Limited. MEXICO RAILS AT U.S. DRUG COP'S FINGER-POINTING MEXICO CITY, - Mexican Interior Minister Francisco Labastida criticised the head of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration on Wednesday for blaming Mexicans for much of the drug trade in the United States. Labastida said DEA director Thomas Constantine was "totally wrong" when he held Mexican crime syndicates responsible for a large chunk of the drug distribution, violence and crime north of the border. Constantine's remarks "reflect a vision in which the good are on one side and the bad on the other," Labastida told reporters. "I deeply lament what he said." The DEA head was scathing in his criticism this week of corruption in Mexican law enforcement. Labastida, who is responsible for law and order in Mexico, said the DEA chief's remarks sought to "brake" the search for understanding and cooperation between the two sides in the war on drugs. Constantine's remarks came less than a week before the White House was due to decide whether to recertify Mexico and other countries in the war against drugs. President Bill Clinton was expected to recertify Mexico on Friday, but the decision was likely to ignite a heated debate in the U.S. Senate. Decertification could mean a loss of some trade and economic benefits. Mexican newspapers said Constantine attributed much of the drug-related violence and crime in the United States to the growing power of Mexican cartels, which control the trade on the West Coast and have made inroads in Chicago and New York. Miami, one of the main entry points for cocaine, continued to be run by Colombian mafias, he said. U.S. drug enforcement officials say about 70 percent of the cocaine sold in the United States passes through Mexico. Constantine told a Senate hearing on Wednesday that the Mexican drug cartels had more money and firepower today in the United States than the Mafia ever did in its heyday. He added that corruption in Mexican law enforcement institutions was "unparalleled by anything I have seen" and hampered efforts to stop illegal drugs flowing across the 2,000-mile (3,200-km) border onto U.S. streets.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Don't Advocate A Trial, Advisers Told (According to the Sydney Morning Herald, in Australia, Prime Minister John Howard's hand-picked advisory body on drugs has been told the Government will never support a heroin-maintenance trial and is not interested in receiving contrary advice, even though up to 12 of the 15 council members favour the option.) Date: Wed, 24 Feb 1999 18:54:20 -0800 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: Australia: Don't Advocate A Trial, Advisers Told Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Russell.Ken.KW@bhp.com.au (Russell, Ken KW) Pubdate: Thu, 25 Feb 1999 Source: Sydney Morning Herald (Australia) Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.smh.com.au/ Author: Margo Kingston DON'T ADVOCATE A TRIAL, ADVISERS TOLD The Prime Minister's hand-picked advisory body on drugs has been told the Government will never support a heroin trial and is not interested in receiving contrary advice, despite most of the council's 15 members favouring the option. The Government's intransigence has forced the council not to adopt any policy on a trial, giving its prohibitionist chairman, the Salvation Army's Major Brian Watters, free rein to oppose the trial publicly in a personal capacity. It is understood that at least two council members are now considering resigning after Mr Howard's social policy adviser, Mr John Perrin, confirmed the Government's closed mind at a council meeting in Hobart this week. It is understood Mr Perrin said it was pointless for the council to give the Government advice that it should allow a heroin trial, and that the Government did not want members to make statements supporting one. Up to 12 of the 15 council members support a limited heroin trial to assess whether prescribing heroin to addicts unsuited to any other treatment is helpful. A spokesman for Mr Howard said Mr Perrin denied he had "gagged" the council. Two members of the council are on the international body assessing the results of heroin trials around the world but Mr Howard has not sought their advice. He has also refused to meet academics from the body which designed the aborted ACT heroin trial, the Australian National University's Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, and has defied expert medical opinion to claim heroin trials have not worked. The Swiss heroin trial showed a 60 per cent decrease in addicts committing criminal offences, a significant increase in permanent employment among them and an end to their homelessness. Council member Professor Margaret Hamilton, from Melbourne's Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Service, said there was "considerable support" within the council for a heroin trial. "If it does nothing more than keep people alive who would otherwise be dead it's something we ought to try," she said. Professor Hamilton said the council would like to have an input into Mr Howard's latest plans to tackle the heroin epidemic, which he will put to a Premiers' Conference in April. But she said that since Mr Howard set up the council to advise him on drugs policy in March last year, "he's not sought the advice of the council" on any drugs policy issue. Another council member said the council had this week commissioned research on the treatment options for heroin addicts, which would include heroin trials, because "as a council the very least we can do is be honest". Mr Howard's stance on a trial has left his Health Minister, Dr Wooldridge, a sitting duck for criticism, because he cleared a proposed heroin trial in the ACT in 1997 with the agreement of all the States, only to be rolled by Mr Howard. It is understood the Prime Minister's office is suspicious of Dr Wooldridge's department on the issue, believing it is too liberal. Mr Howard's office has also stripped the Health Department of its role as council secretariat. Mr Howard said yesterday the Government's stand against a regulated heroin trial was based on evidence rather than any moral stand. His main concern about a heroin trial stemmed from a desire to combat the "drug scourge". "The potential of death and deprivation and quality of life, particularly for young people, concerns me far more than some abstract moral theory," he told the Nine Network.
------------------------------------------------------------------- PM Puts Drugs On Agenda (The Age, in Melbourne, says Australian Prime Minister John Howard will try to enlist the support of state and territory leaders for his war on drugs by offering more money for anti-drug education and rehabilitation programs when he meets the premiers on April 9.) Date: Thu, 25 Feb 1999 07:41:12 -0800 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: Australia: PM Puts Drugs On Agenda Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Russell.Ken.KW@bhp.com.au (Russell, Ken KW) Pubdate: Thu, 25 Feb 1999 Source: Age, The (Australia) Copyright: 1999 David Syme & Co Ltd Contact: email@example.com Website: http://www.theage.com.au/ Author: Tony Wright and Sandra McKay PM PUTS DRUGS ON AGENDA The Prime Minister, Mr John Howard, will try to enlist the support of all state and territory leaders for his war on drugs, and is expected to offer more money for anti-drug education and rehabilitation programs when he meets the premiers in April. Mr Howard has directed the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet to draw up detailed proposals designed to broaden his options and win state support for his ``tough-on-drugs'' policy. The decision to put the issue on the agenda for the 9 April Premiers' Conference underlines the Prime Minister's move in the past week to push his anti-drugs message to the centre of the national political debate. Government sources said Mr Howard considered the matter was as important in his second term as his efforts to introduce tough gun laws in his first term. He denied yesterday that he was involved in a personal moral crusade, but reiterated that he would not give in to pressure for the introduction of free heroin trials, despite a new proposal by the NSW director of public prosecutions, Mr Nicholas Cowdery, to license and tax heroin dealers and importers. ``No community will accept a government that goes soft on people who are making money out of other people's misery and death,'' Mr Howard said in Sydney. Earlier, Mr Howard said he would ``also be bringing to (the premiers') meeting certain new proposals of Federal Government''. Sources said he had directed his department to canvass options with the Health Department, other government agencies and the Australian National Council on Drugs. The emphasis would be on education programs in schools and rehabilitation, which were primarily the responsibility of state and territory governments. The sources said Mr Howard was likely to offer the states and voluntary organisations extra money for these programs. The Prime Minister said he believed Australia should take a ``zero tolerance'' attitude to drugs in schools, just as he believed law enforcers should take a zero tolerance attitude to drug traffickers. On another front, the drugs debate became personal yesterday when the Premier, Mr Jeff Kennett, accused the Federal Health Minister, Dr Michael Wooldridge, of taking a ``head-in-the-sand approach'' to the problem. While Mr Kennett welcomed the Prime Minister's support for a premiers' forum on drugs, he said radical proposals, including licensing and taxing heroin dealers, should not be left off the table. He said Dr Wooldridge, who earlier accused him of derailing the national drug strategy by pushing for a national heroin trial, should take a more intellectual approach and be open to all ideas. Dr Wooldridge said later the attack was like ``water off a duck's back'', and that he was pleased drugs had become a fashionable topic of the premiers. He also warned that concentrating on heroin trials as part of the solution to drug abuse was undermining existing efforts, including alternative pharmacotherapy trials across the nation. Mr Kennett also called for a commission to address the broader problems of addiction, depression, homelessness and suicide.
------------------------------------------------------------------- This Is A Potty Situation, Surely? (An op-ed in the Independent, in Britain, by Sue Arnold, a medical marijuana patient, responds to the sentencing yesterday of Eric Mann, a Welsh grandfather, to a year in prison for growing cannabis to relieve his arthritis. At least this way he'll be guaranteed a regular supply without having to grow his own. Everyone knows that getting hold of pot in prison is easier than growing it organically oneself on the outside, as Mann did. "When I talked about the Welsh Connection to my friend Lester Grinspoon yesterday, his chief concern was that even now Mr Mann was being prescribed some really dangerous drug to relieve his arthritic symptoms by well-meaning prison authorities - aspirin for instance.") Date: Thu, 25 Feb 1999 11:50:04 -0800 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: UK: This Is A Potty Situation, Surely? Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Herb Zachary Pubdate: Thu, 25 Feb 1999 Source: Independent, The (UK) Copyright: Independent Newspapers (UK) Ltd. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.independent.co.uk/ Author: Sue Arnold THIS IS A POTTY SITUATION, SURELY? The sponge space-cake was delicious, as were the filo parcels with ricotta, basil and bud IF it's any consolation to the Welsh grandfather sentenced to a year's imprisonment yesterday for smoking cannabis to relieve his arthritis, at least this way he'll be guaranteed a regular supply without having to grow his own. Everyone knows that getting hold of pot in prison is a great deal easier than, say, finding an assistant in Sainsbury's to direct you to the organic carrots. "Organic" is the key word here. The 12 healthy marijuana plants that Inspector Knacker and his boys found when they busted Mr Eric Mann in his Pembrokeshire attic were prize specimens of bio-dynamic horticulture - no pesticides, no organic phosphates, no toxins. Let's hope his suppliers over the next 12 months will be as meticulous about the quality of their merchandise, though let's face it, most people would be pushed to tell whether their after dinner spliff had been sprayed with DDT or fertilised with the well-rotted ordure of last year's Derby winner. I know I couldn't. When I talked about the Welsh Connection to my friend Lester Grinspoon yesterday, his chief concern was that even now Mr Mann was being prescribed some really dangerous drug to relieve his arthritic symptoms by well-meaning prison authorities - aspirin for instance. Sorry, have I mentioned my friend Lester before? His full title is Dr Lester Grinspoon, Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard University Medical School. We first became acquainted when I published an account of the extraordinary effects that smoking cannabis has on my appalling eyesight - I have a tiresome condition known as RP, retinitis pigmentosa. Professor Grinspoon immediately sent me a copy of his latest book on cannabis, Marijuana - The Forbidden Medicine, a sequel to his best-seller Marijuana Reconsidered, first published in 1977 and recently reissued by Harvard University Press in their all time classic series. To describe Professor Grinspoon as being in favour of cannabis is a bit like calling Michael Schumacher a Sunday motorist. Professor Grinspoon reckons that in years to come people will regard the first decade of the next millennium in medical terms as the cannabis decade, in much the same way as they associate penicillin with the Forties. "They'll call it the wonder drug, and that's precisely what it is," he told me on the phone from Massachusetts. "No side-effects; no one's ever died from using cannabis. Do you know that in the US up to 2,000 people die from aspirin poisoning every year? Cannabis not only works for RP, glaucoma, MS, arthritis and weight recovery for Aids victims, but it's absolutely safe." I said gloomily that I wished he'd been on the radio phone-in I did the other day. In the blue corner me pro-cannabis; in the red corner a fierce Glaswegian drugs counsellor who said she could give us 20 case histories of hardened heroin addicts who had started out smoking pot. "Ah, the gateway hypothesis," said Professor Grinspoon. "It's never been proved. On the contrary, they did a survey the other day where they questioned 100 heroin addicts about the drugs they'd started out taking. Ninety-eight per cent said coffee, 95 per cent said alcohol, 92 per cent said Coca-Cola. Very few of them had ever smoked pot." Two years ago Lester and the then US attorney General Ramsey Clarke made an 11th-hour mercy dash to Kuala Lumpur where an American tourist, Kelly Wiley, had been found guilty of possessing cannabis and was due to be executed in a couple of days. The chief prosecutor told Lester cheerfully that he'd already had 100 Malaysians executed for possession, but hanging his first American would almost certainly result in a top government job. Lester had brought with him X-rays of Wiley's arm, which had been injured in an accident 20 years earlier. The bones had never properly healed, and to relieve the pain Wiley regularly used cannabis. The judge studied the X-rays, Wiley got off, the prosecutor never got his top government job. "Tell your readers, if they're interested they can log on to our website for all the latest medical information we've collated on the subject," says Lester. "I'm now working on another book, The Uses of Marijuana, which spreads the net much wider, illustrating how useful creative artists have found it in their work." It suddenly occurs to me that among the sackloads of mail I got following my dope-smoking piece there was a slim green paperback called Cooking with Ganja by someone calling himself simply "Eric". Good heavens, could that possibly be the arthritic grandfather from Pembroke Dock currently detained at Her Majesty's pleasure? If it is, thanks Eric. The all-in-one sponge space-cake was delicious; as for the filo parcels with ricotta, basil and bud - mmm, wonderful. If I were charitable I'd do a Sydney Carton and stand in for you - heaven knows I broadcast my crime often enough and, what's more, that my kids supply me - but hang on, was that a knock on the door? -------------------------------------------------------------------
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