------------------------------------------------------------------- The NORML Foundation Weekly Press Release (Judge denies California AIDS patient's urgent plea for medical marijuana; Marijuana successfully treats Tourette's Syndrome, study shows; New Hampshire considers medical marijuana, decriminalization legislation; Federal judge allows medical marijuana class action suit to proceed; questions why government supplies medical marijuana to some patients, not others)From: NORMLFNDTN@aol.com Date: Thu, 11 Mar 1999 18:09:14 EST Subject: NORML WPR 3/11/99 (II) The NORML Foundation Weekly Press Release 1001 Connecticut Ave., NW Ste. 710 Washington, DC 20036 202-483-8751 (p) 202-483-0057 (f) www.norml.org email@example.com March 11, 1999 *** Judge Denies California AIDS Patient's Urgent Plea For Medical Marijuana March 11, 1999, Los Angeles, CA: A federal judge refused this week to alter the conditions of release that bar a California AIDS patient from using potentially life saving medicine, marijuana, ruling that the denial is not a violation of his constitutional rights. "They're just going to let me die," said patient Peter McWilliams, a New York Times best-selling author who uses medical marijuana to alleviate side effects of the AIDS wasting syndrome and the nausea associated with his AIDS medications. "My doctor and I have tried every [other medication,] and we made this very clear in the documents filed with the court," he said. "Medical marijuana was the only alternative." McWilliams physician, Dr. Daniel Bowers, an AIDS specialist at Pacific Oaks Medical Center in Beverly Hills, said that his patient's viral load has skyrocketed from undetectable to dangerously high levels since a federal magistrate barred McWilliams from smoking marijuana. Bowers said that McWilliams risks permanent damage to his immune system if his levels are not reduced. A judge ordered McWilliams to stop smoking marijuana as a condition of his bail release last fall after a federal grand jury charged him and eight others with conspiracy to cultivate marijuana for commercial sale. This week's ruling by U.S. District Judge George King upholds that ban despite McWilliams' worsening health. "We conclude that imposing the aforesaid conditions of bond does not violate any of the defendant's constitutional rights," Judge King ruled. "We do not mean to express indifference to the defendant's situation, [but] we are not empowered to grant the defendant what amounts to a license to violate federal law," he said. King made no mention of California's law legalizing marijuana for medical use. McWilliams is a California resident. King also refused McWilliams' request that he be placed in a federal program that supplies medical marijuana to a handful of patients with serious diseases. McWilliams said he will appeal the ruling. McWilliams' criminal trial on marijuana charges is scheduled to begin on September 7, 1999. For more information, please contact either NORML Foundation Executive Director Allen St. Pierre or Litigation Director Tanya Kangas, Esq. @ (202) 483-8751. Peter McWilliams' attorney Thomas Ballanco may be contacted @ (310) 259-6976. ***Marijuana Successfully Treats Tourette's Syndrome, Study Shows March 11, 1999, Hanover, Germany: German researchers report that the consumption of the marijuana compound THC alleviates symptoms of Tourette's Syndrome. The researchers published their findings in this month's issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry. "Earlier reports suggested beneficial effects in Tourette's syndrome when smoking marijuana," the German research team wrote. "We report a successful treatment of Tourette's syndrome with delta-9-tetrahydocannabinol, the major psychoactive ingredient of marijuana."Tourette's syndrome is a complex neuropsychiatric disorder that is characterized by sudden spasms, so called "tics," that occur especially in the face, neck, and shoulders. The researchers found that a 25-year-old patient treated with 10 mg of THC experienced marked improvement of both vocal and motor tics associated with behavioral disorders. "The improvement began 30 minutes after treatment and lasted for about seven hours," the researchers reported. "No adverse effects occurred." Researchers stated, "This is the first report of a successful treatment of Tourette's syndrome with delta-9-THC." They said they are planning to confirm their preliminary results in an upcoming double-blind, placebo controlled, crossover study.NORML board member Dr. Lester Grinspoon of Harvard Medical School called inhaled marijuana's effects on patients suffering from Tourette's "impressive," and said that the drug holds tremendous potential as a course of treatment for the disease. For more information, please contact either Allen St. Pierre of The NORML Foundation @ (202) 483-8751 or NORML board member Dr. Lester Grinspoon of Harvard Medical School @ (617) 277-3621. *** New Hampshire Considers Medical Marijuana, Decriminalization Legislation March 11, 1999, Concord, NH: NORML board member Dr. Lester Grinspoon of Harvard Medical School and former New Haven, Connecticut Police Commissioner Nick Pastore testified before the New Hampshire legislature yesterday in favor of a pair of bills that would allow the use of medical marijuana, and decriminalize simple possession of the drug. NORML Executive Director R. Keith Stroup, Esq. endorsed the legislative proposals. "People are tired of filling our jails and prisons with nonviolent marijuana smokers," he said. "It is a positive sign that states like New Hampshire are beginning to take a serious look at reforming these laws, and debating decriminalization as a legitimate policy option." NORML coordinated witnesses for yesterday's hearing and is working closely with Rep. Tim Robertson (D-Cheshire), primary sponsor of both bills, to lobby for the reform legislation. House Bill 87 proposes changing possession of less than one ounce of marijuana from a class A misdemeanor to a violation. House Bill 202 proposes legalizing the possession and cultivation of marijuana for medical purposes. Both bills await action from the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee. "I just think prohibition doesn't work," Robertson says. "Marijuana decriminalization is a subject we ought to be discussing in this country." For more information, please contact either Keith Stroup or Paul Armentano of NORML @ (202) 483-5500. *** Federal Judge Allows Medical Marijuana Class Action Suit To Proceed; Questions Why Government Supplies Medical Marijuana To Some Patients, Not Others March 11, 1999, Philadelphia, PA: A U.S. District Judge ruled this week that a government program that supplies medical marijuana to a small group of seriously ill patients, but refuses to enroll new applicants suffering from similar diseases, may violate "equal protection of the law" guaranteed by the Constitution. District Judge Marvin Katz's ruling allows a federal medical marijuana class action suit launched by Philadelphia attorney Lawrence Hirsch to proceed forward. Hirsch filed the suit on behalf of more than 100 patients who find medical relief from marijuana. "We are gratified by Judge Katz's decision to recognize the central equal protection of law claim of the plaintiffs' class that it is fundamentally unfair, and apparently irrational for the United States government to supply therapeutic cannabis to a total of seven or eight Americans because it is medically necessary for their conditions, [but deny it to others,]" Hirsch said. The federal Compassionate Investigational New Drug (IND) program began distributing marijuana cigarettes to select patients in 1978. The program ceased accepting new applicants in 1992, but continues to supply 300 marijuana cigarettes monthly to eight patients suffering from diseases such as glaucoma and epilepsy. Similar statewide programs also distributed medical marijuana to approximately 1,000 patients in the 1980s, but are no longer active. Judge Katz dismissed in his ruling several other constitutional violations alleged by the plaintiffs. NORML Legal Committee members Michael Cutler, Esq. of Boston Massachusetts and William Panzer, Esq. of Oakland, California have joined as co-counsel in the suit. For more information, please contact either NORML Foundation Executive Director Allen St. Pierre or Litigation Director Tanya Kangas @ (202) 483-8751. Attorney Michael Cutler may be contacted @ (617) 739-9093 and William Panzer, Esq may be reached @ (510) 834-1892. - END -
------------------------------------------------------------------- Making A Hash Of The Law (A staff editorial in the Bend, Oregon, Bulletin says the newspaper still thinks voters erred last November in approving the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act. But the attempt by state representative Kevin Mannix to gut the law by introducing HB 3052 with the support of the Oregon Association of Chiefs of Police is a terrible idea too. His objections may be valid, but the decision of voters to ignore them last fall clearly indicates that Measure 67 reflects their will. Mannix should respect it. Subverting it will merely encourge future petitioners to forsake statutory initiatives and play around with the Constitution instead.) Date: Fri, 12 Mar 1999 04:00:02 -0800 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: US OR: Editorial: Making A Hash Of The Law Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Curt Wagoner Pubdate: March 11th, 1999 Source: Bulletin, The (OR) Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.bendbulletin.com/ Section: Editorial Page: A-6 MAKING A HASH OF THE LAW Just so nobody gets the wrong idea, we thought Measure 67 - the medical marijuana initiative - was a terrible idea before it passed at the polls last November, and we haven't changed our opinion since. That said, we think Rep. Kevin Mannix's attempt to prune the law is a terrible idea too. His objections may be perfectly valid, but the decision of voters to ignore them last fall clearly indicate that the existing law reflects their will. Mannix should respect it. Mannix's two most significant "fixes" involve the role of law enforcement, which is appropriate given that the bill, HB 3052, originated with the Oregon Chiefs of Police. The first change would jetison the so called "affirmative defense" available to people who either possess marijuana without the proper authorization or possess more marijuana than the law allows. Under the current law, such people could simply claim that they need pot for medical reasons, and the state would have to prove them wrong. Mannix would shift the burden of proof to the pot user. The affirmative action defense makes prosecution for pot possession absurdly difficult, as opponents of Measure 67 made abundantly clear last fall. Oregonians ignored this objection, however, just as they ignored the one responsible for Mannix's second fix. If police seize marijuana plants from any registered pot user or any other pot user who claims medical need, Measure 67 requires that the plants be kept alive until the court determines quilt or innocence. Mannix's bill would remove this requirement and, further, allow the police to keep the pot. We agree that the prospect of turning police departments into de facto marijuana farms isn't a pleasant one, but, again, it is something to which Oregonians implicitly agreed when they passed Measure 67. If, as is likely, the difficulty of prosecution drastically reduces the number of marijuana arrests in the state, that's too bad, but it's the will of the electorate. Subverting it may win Mannix some points with the Oregon Chiefs of Police, but will merely encourge future petitioners to forsake statutory initiatives and play around with the Constitution instead.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Oregon class sizes grow (The Oregonian says limited data show Oregon's classroom student-teacher ratios, already the fourth worst in the nation, are still deteriorating. If you don't understand the connection to the war on marijuana users, check out Portland NORML's "Oregon Services Plundered for Drug War" page.) The Oregonian Contact: email@example.com 1320 SW Broadway Portland, OR 97201 Fax: 503-294-4193 Website: http://www.oregonlive.com/ Forum: http://forums.oregonlive.com/ Thursday March 11, 1999 By Steven Carter and Holly Sanders of The Oregonian staff The limited data on Oregon's class sizes show they are growing. The following figures reflect the ratio of licensed staff -- including teachers, counselors, special education instructors, music and physical education instructors -- to students. The actual ratio in typical classrooms is higher. Based on the data, Oregon is ranked fourth worst in the nation for class sizes. School type 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 All schools 19.2 19.4 19.3 19.7 19.6 20.1 Elementary 19.1 19.3 19.1 19.3 19.2 20.4 Middle/junior high 19.4 19.9 19.8 20.0 19.2 19.8 High schools 19.5 19.7 19.8 20.3 20.5 20.5 Source: Oregon Department of Education and National Assessment for Educational Progress Class sizes in Oregon districts A 1997-98 survey of teachers by the Oregon Education Association offers the only tracking of class size at the district level throughout the state. District Overall average Beaverton 24.26 Centennial 24.67 David Douglas 26.89 Forest Grove 25.94 Gresham/Barlow 25.94 Hillsboro 26.04 Lake Oswego 24.79 North Clackamas 24.75 Oregon City 26.48 Parkrose 23.27 Portland 25.51 Reynolds 25.08 Tigard-Tualatin 23.09 West Linn-Wilsonville 25.14 Source: Oregon Education Association
------------------------------------------------------------------- Schoolrooms feel the squeeze (The Oregonian, which, like Oregon legislators, would rather bankrupt public education than end the war on some drug users, says Oregon lawmakers Wednesday held their first hearing this session on reducing large classes in crowded schools. Supposedly nobody knows where more money for schools can be found.) The Oregonian Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org 1320 SW Broadway Portland, OR 97201 Fax: 503-294-4193 Website: http://www.oregonlive.com/ Forum: http://forums.oregonlive.com/ Thursday March 11, 1999 Schoolrooms feel the squeeze * Parents threaten another initiative if Oregon legislators don't act to shrink teacher-pupil ratios, but finding the money is the challenge By Steven Carter and Holly Sanders of The Oregonian staff SALEM -- Smaller classes: Everybody is for them, but how do you pay for them? Faced with the fourth-worst class sizes in the nation, Oregon lawmakers Wednesday held their first hearing this session on an issue dear to parents -- easing large classes in crowded schools. Virtually every witness said smaller class sizes would help discipline problems and give students a better educational experience. But finding enough money to reduce class sizes across the state points to the downside of the goal: Reducing class sizes is among the most costly ways to improve student achievement. More than 25 states are considering initiatives to reduce class size. California has spent $1.5 billion to cap class sizes at 20 children in the primary grades. Texas has limited class sizes in kindergarten through fourth grades. And Virginia is considering similar legislation for struggling students. In Oregon, proposals abound, including the threat of an initiative. Rep. Randall Edwards, D-Portland, and Sen. Randy Miller, R-Lake Oswego, appeared before the state Senate Education Committee on Wednesday to support their measure, which would require school districts to have class sizes of 20 students in kindergarten through third grade, and 25 students in grades four through six. Edwards warned that if the Legislature didn't address the issue, parents will reactivate an initiative that forces the state to reduce class sizes. Initiative organizers quit their effort last year and turned to the Legislature for action after their petition was challenged by the Oregon Public Employees Union, which was concerned about the initiative's costs. Tight school budgets in the 1990s have produced class sizes of 25 or 26 in many elementary schools, and 35 or more in many high schools. "On a personal level, I have seen (elementary) classes in my school district with 28 kids in one classroom," Edwards said. "It's a struggle to maintain some semblance of order." Edwards and Miller said reducing class size isn't a "silver bullet" that by itself will boost student achievement, but it should help. But Senate Bill 447 contains no order that school districts reduce class size to 20 to one, nor does it appropriate the money to do it. "Stating that you should reduce class size is a wonderful goal, but without the money to pay for it, it remains that -- just a wonderful goal," said George Mardikes, a Portland lawyer and part of the group that mounted the class size initiative last year. Miller said the bill was purposely drafted as a target so that districts wouldn't be forced to cut other programs to reduce class sizes. And, Edwards said he is supporting a general state school budget of $5.1 billion, which should be large enough for many districts to reduce class size. Many state leaders like the idea of reducing class sizes. Gov. John Kitzhaber has provided $100 million in his school budget for school improvement programs, one of which is class size reduction in early grades. A school improvement model issued last week by Rep. Lynn Lundquist, R-Powell Butte, advocated reducing class size in elementary schools to 20 to one, and 29 to one in academic classes in high school. And Stan Bunn, the new state superintendent of schools, has a plan to add between 600 and 900 new teachers in Oregon to reduce class size. He would use $11.6 million the state will get from the federal government, plus some state funds that school districts could apply for if they used some of their own money to reduce class sizes. More and more evidence points to small classes in the early grades boosting student achievement. In the largest study yet, Tennessee commissioned experts to study varying classroom sizes. Testing showed that, particularly in the primary grades, students in small classes -- those with fewer than 20 students -- raised their scores by about 10 percentage points by the end of the year. Sam Stringfield, an education researcher at Johns Hopkins University, said most studies show smaller classes help students, especially low-income and minority ones. But Stringfield said it would cost the state millions to reduce the average class size by just one student -- not enough to make a real difference. "Every parent would like their kid in a smaller class and every teacher would like to provide more one-on-one attention," he said. "But is this the way to get the biggest bang for your buck?" Stringfield said more cost-effective ways of boosting student scores include better teacher training and research-based curriculum. Portland's Lynch Wood Elementary School has tried different tacks to reduce class size. The Centennial School District shifted the school's boundaries about six years ago. That helped class sizes until urban growth pushed up the population again. Then, voters rejected a bond to build another elementary school. Principal Ellen Seawell said most classrooms have more than 25 students, which led the school to put a cap on the number of children at each grade level. "We definitely need more teachers," said Seawell. "But even if we had them, we don't have the building space." The situation is more frustrating for teachers, who say crowding shifts the focus in schools. Teachers say large classes make it even harder to help children with special needs, such as those with disabilities or limited English proficiency. "The more students come in, the more I deal with management and social problems rather than academics," said sixth-grade teacher Andrea Meinig. Hallmark, a leader of the class size reduction initiative, told the Education Commiftee Wednesday his group would reactivate their drive if the Legislature doesn't deal with class size this session. "I'm still hopeful we can get some kind of plan out of the Legislature," Hallmark said. "But if we don't, we will file a new petition." You can reach Steven Carter at 503-221-&521 or by e-mail at email@example.com. You can reach Holly Sanders at 503-294-4065 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Police seek way to halt traffic stop race bias (According to the Oregonian, Oregon State Police Superintendent LeRon Howland and Portland Police Chief Charles Moose say that documenting traffic stops would help determine how frequently minorities are stopped for no other reason than the color of their skin. But don't expect that to happen in Oregon anytime soon. Characteristically, the newspaper doesn't even mention it's the drug war that leads to such profiling.) The Oregonian Contact: email@example.com 1320 SW Broadway Portland, OR 97201 Fax: 503-294-4193 Website: http://www.oregonlive.com/ Forum: http://forums.oregonlive.com/ Police seek way to halt traffic stop race bias * Portland's police chief and the Oregon State Police superintendent say record-keeping could defuse minority fears of discrimination Thursday March 11, 1999 By Gwenda Richards Oshiro of The Oregonian staff Two of Oregon's top law enforcement officers say that documenting traffic stops would help determine how frequently minorities are stopped for no other reason than the color of their skin. But how best to document is at the heart of state and national debates over the most effective way to gauge "race-based" policing. Despite the uncertainty, Oregon police want to address minorities' perceptions that they are treated unfairly, say Oregon State Police Superintendent LeRon Howland and Portland Police Chief Charles Moose. "At least we're not in denial," Moose said of the issue. "We all agree there's a problem because, real or perceived, it's a problem." Howland added: "Without the data, I don't know how big it is. But I think it is real. What I . . . have to do is recognize the problem exists and that we have to do something about it." Their comments follow a report to the state Legislature last week that showed minorities continue to perceive bias in traffic stops. And Congress is about to take up a bill that would mandate documentation of traffic stops nationwide. The comments also coincide with the firing last week of New Jersey's state police superintendent after he said certain minority groups were more responsible for some kinds of drug trafficking than others. Critics say his comments are classic examples of race-based "police profiling." . Complaints of bias have led to lawsuits, including one by a Harvard-educated African-American lawyer stopped and detained in 1992 by Maryland State Police as he and his relatives drove home from a funeral. The state settled the suit and agreed to document traffic stops. The data showed that a disproportionate number -- 75 percent at one point -- were African Americans. In a report delivered to the Oregon Legislature last week, a survey showed that minorities' perception of police fairness had improved slightly since a 1997 law went into effect giving police broader powers to stop and search motorists. But the report also found that African Americans and Latinos were more likely than whites to think police are unfair. On a scale of zero to 10, with 10 being routinely unfair, 175 African Americans surveyed in Multnomah County gave police an average 7.2 rating on the issue of race, color or national origin, compared with the 4.7 average rating from 200 whites surveyed. The 175 Latinos surveyed around the state gave police an average 5.4 rating compared with the 4.0 rating by 200 whites. Spencer "Mike" Neal, a Portland attorney who for 16 years has made police misconduct cases a cornerstone of his practice, said as a Filipino American, he has endured such stops. He gets calls almost daily complaining about police treatment, he says. "The problem for my clients is who are their witnesses?" he says. "They're typically alone against the police." Police departments vigorously deny their officers practice profiling. But it is difficult to know without data, police say. Howland and Moose worked with nearly 60 other law enforcement officials, civil rights and civil liberties advocates to monitor the effect of Oregon's new law. The monitoring group struggled to develop ways to document all traffic stops, not just the roughly 1 million each year that result in citations. So far, the group has not come up with a method that would not bury police in paperwork. The group has recommended the Legislature approve roughly $179,000 to compile some data from officers, conduct training and continue efforts to monitor complaints. Moose and Howland say that Oregon is ahead of other states because police and minority groups are talking together about the problem, and because, as required by the 1997 law, every police department has adopted a policy against targeting persons based on race. U.S. Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., expects to introduce soon a bill that would mandate documentation of every stop, said Cynthia Martin, Conyers' legislative counsel. A similar bill passed the House last session, but failed in the Senate. Moose said he hopes to learn from San Diego's intention to document all traffic stops because police leaders fear that the perception that police unfairly stop minorities erodes public trust. Liz Cruthers, president of Oregon Council of Police Associations, said documenting each stop would be a monumental task, but that it could be useful. "Officers are frustrated that people view them as racist," she said, "when in fact, I've never met one who is." She instead thinks the problem is one of miscommunication between police and citizens, and that the solution rests in community policing. Others concur that simply compiling data won't solve the problem. Howland and Moose emphasize that training officers and teaching citizens about their rights are key, along with ensuring officers deal respectfully with those they stop. Howland also is intrigued by the idea of mandating video cameras in patrol cars. He estimates 40 to 50 of the 400 troopers use video cameras, largely for drunken driving stops. Robert Stewart, executive director of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives based in Alexandria, Va., praised efforts in Prince Georges, Md., near Washington, D.C., where complaints against police have declined as police stops have gone up. That department has an early warning system. If an officer gets several complaints over a short period, his supervisor calls him in to discuss them, Stewart said. The department also has started to advertise more broadly how citizens can file complaints. Moose, who as an African American has experienced such stops in the South and in Oregon, said police departments have lost enough lawsuits and endured enough community wrath for this to be a priority. "We want people to wave at us with all five fingers," Moose said. But he also notes that problems that spring from race are larger than law enforcement. "Police should be given credit for being willing to discuss this issue," he said. "That's more than what is being done in some businesses." Researcher Kathleen Blythe of The Oregonian contributed to this report. You can reach Gwenda Richards Oshiro at 503-221-8219 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
------------------------------------------------------------------- May 1st Marijuana Rally in San Francisco (A bulletin from California NORML publicizes the Million Marijuana March, co-sponsored by the Drug Peace Campaign and California NORML as part of a coordinated worldwide effort to promote reform.) Date: Thu, 11 Mar 1999 08:53:53 -0800 To: email@example.com From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Dale Gieringer) Subject: May 1st MJ Rally in S.F. March for Marijuana!: Join the Million (or at least Myriad) Marijuana March in SF on May Day May Day is Jay Day! The Drug Peace Campaign and Cal NORML are pleased to announce their co-sponsorship of the Million Marijuana March in San Francisco on May 1st as part of a worldwide coordinated demonstration of support for the rights of millions of marijuana users. The SF event will take place at Civic Center Plaza from high noon until the Pot Pride Parade begins at 4:20 pm. It will feature speakers, entertainment, a dance party, a drum circle, exhibits, information booths, a Pot Sing-a-thon, a Free Speech Platform and fun for all! Dale Gieringer (415) 563-5858 // email@example.com 2215-R Market St. #278, San Francisco CA 94114
------------------------------------------------------------------- States Push Medical Marijuana Challenge (UPI notes Alaska this week joined the small but growing list of states with medical marijuana laws in effect that defy the federal government. The Minnesota legislature is also considering similar legislation. Efforts to get the federal government to change its position on medical marijuana include a bill introduced by Rep. Barney Frank March 2 to lift the federal ban and reclassify marijuana as a Schedule II drug. And in Philadelphia, U.S. District Judge Marvin Katz on Wednesday allowed a class-action suit seeking to legalize the herb's use for medical reasons to proceed.) Date: Sun, 14 Mar 1999 06:29:45 -0800 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: US: Wire: States Push Medical Marijuana Challenge Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: MAP Pubdate: Thur, 11 Mar 1999 Source: United Press International Feedback: http://www.sciencenews.org/sn_forms/sn_ctact.htm Copyright: 1999 United Press International Author: ELLEN BECK, UPI Science News Writer STATES PUSH MEDICAL MARIJUANA CHALLENGE WASHINGTON,- Alaska this week joined a small but growing list of states with medical marijuana laws in effect. Yet, despite legislative and voter approval, the new statutes run head first into a stone wall of federal codes prohibiting the use of the drug in any circumstance. California, Arizona, Washington State and Oregon also have laws that lift the risk of state prosecution for any seriously ill patient prescribed marijuana cigarettes for a very short list of illnesses and diseases. In most states, smoking medical marijuana is limited to treating glaucoma, chronic pain, seizures and spasms and AIDS and nausea from cancer chemotherapy, The Minnesota Legislature this week also is considering similar legislation and voters in Colorado and Maine are expected to see ballot issues in 2000. Nevada voters have approved a law, but it requires a second verification vote that will be held in 2000 as well. Many of the states with laws, however, are still working out ways patients can legally obtain and use the drug. Federal statutes prohibit the growth, use or distribution of marijuana for any purpose. So while patients may be exempt from state prosecution, they are not off the hook in the event of a federal drug bust. ``The new laws are trying to compromise and...help patients without running into conflict with federal law,'' said Paul Armentano, of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, or NORML. ``No state is going to challenge the federal government.'' And the federal government isn't showing any sign of giving in. After the 1998 elections, in which the Alaska law was approved, federal prosecutors made it clear they will continue to enforce statutes against marijuana use while encouraging medical research into the efficacy of smoking marijuana. Joe Lockhart, President Clinton's press secretary, also reiterated last November the administration opposes legalized medical marijuana without convincing scientific evidence. Nathan Barankin, of the California attorney general's office, said while the state does not support legalized marijuana for recreational use, it has ``engaged in a dialogue'' with the federal government regarding the possibility of reclassifying marijuana from a Schedule I drug to a Schedule II prescription drug, as has been done with cocaine. ``Our objective is to fulfill the will of California voters (in 1996),'' Barankin said. ``The problems between the federal and state laws are almost irreconcilable.'' On Capitol Hill, Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) introduced legislation March 2 to lift the federal ban and reclassify marijuana as a Schedule II drug. The bill would affect only those states that have laws on the books allowing the use of marijuana for medical purposes. In September 1997, the U.S. House went on record opposing a change in the classification of marijuana. In a special resolution, it agreed that ``Congress continues to support the existing federal legal process for determining the safety and efficacy of drugs and opposes efforts to circumvent this process by legalizing marijuana, and other Schedule I drugs, for medicinal use without valid scientific evidence and the approval of the Food and Drug Administration.'' It also called on the Food and Drug Administration to report back on ``specific efforts underway'' to enforce the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act with respect to marijuana and other Schedule I drugs. In Philadelphia, a federal judge has allowed a class-action suit seeking to legalize the drugs use for medical reasons. U.S. District Judge Marvin Katz, in a ruling issued Wednesday, said the suit could proceed on the plaintiff's claim that they were being denied the equal protection of the law, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. The lawsuit notes that the federal government settled a lawsuit in 1978 by allowing a group of 14 people with serious medical problems to receive as many as 300 marijuana cigarettes a month. The cigarettes were produced from government-grown crops. Dr. Eric Voth, a Topeka, Kan. internist and addiction specialist and head of the International Drug Strategy Institute, said he doesn't believe efforts to change federal law will be successful. ``No other smoked medicine (is approved). Why break the standards just for pot?'' Voth said. Voth said the push for medical marijuana is really a cover by groups, such as NORML, to legalize the drug for recreational use. ``They initiated the whole process back in the early 1970s,'' he said. ``One executive director is quoted as saying this is pivotal to the move to legalize marijuana.'' Armentano said NORML sees recreational and medical use of marijuana as two separate issues. He said cocaine is a Schedule II drug but there has been no move to make it legal for recreational use and added recent public opinion polls show while up to 70 percent of respondents favored marijuana for medical use, less than 50 percent wanted it legalized for recreational use.
------------------------------------------------------------------- The Drug War: Suppression Tactics Will Never Work (An op-ed in the Arizona Daily Star by Rodney S. Quinn, the former Maine secretary of state and a retired Air Force officer, notes Thomas Constantine, the head of the Drug Enforcement Administration, blames the failure of the war on some drug users on a public that is unwilling and unable to fight the war. It seems more likely the public is willing to fight, but dissatisfied with current tactics. From the beginning, official exaggerations and manipulation of statistics have guided the drug war, elevating "drugs" in the public consciousness from a behavioral and psychological concern to a major national depravity. These essentially natural products that have been with us for history have suddenly become evil incarnate - the 20th century snake in the American Garden of Eden. The war on drugs is simply not winnable as long as we insist on using the tactics of suppression. The true measure of drug availability is cost. For the past 20 years, the street price of drugs, in constant dollars, has hardly kept up with inflation.) Date: Sun, 14 Mar 1999 15:01:39 +0000 To: firstname.lastname@example.org From: Peter Webster (email@example.com) Subject:  The Drug War: Suppression Tactics Will Never Work Pubdate: Thursday, 11 March 1999 Source: Arizona Daily Star (AZ) Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.azstarnet.com/ Author: Rodney S. Quinn THE DRUG WAR: SUPPRESSION TACTICS WILL NEVER WORK (Rod Quinn, who lives in Green Valley, was the Secretary of State of Maine for five terms and is a retired Air Force officer.) Drug Enforcement Administration chief Thomas Constantine blames the failure of our drug war on the public; he said the public is unwilling and unable to fight the war. Maybe. It seems more likely the public is willing to fight a war, but dissatisfied with the present tactics. The drug war as presently conducted, it turns out, may be a grand mistake. From the very beginning, official exaggerations hold an honored place in the government mendacity hall-of-fame. During the Nixon administration when the program first needed a worthwhile enemy, the Federal Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs decided that for every known addict there were four unknown and, a year later, seven unknown, causing the ``official'' number of addicts to rise from 68,088 to 559,000 in only two years. Along with the manipulation of statistics, the drug war has waged a vigorous campaign to elevate drugs in the public consciousness from a behavioral and psychological concern to a major national depravity. These essentially natural products that have been with us for history have suddenly become evil incarnate - the 20th century snake in the American Garden of Eden. There is reason to believe much of the purple prose about the horrors of drugs may be as suspect as the bureaucratic guesstimates of addict numbers. Alcohol, too, is a drug. But we've managed to live with it. Marijuana (Asian hemp, kief) has been in worldwide recreational and agricultural use for thousands of years. Poppy derivatives have been used to ease human suffering for the same millennia. As recently as this century, morphine (or its siblings) was a key ingredient of many patent medicines that provided a few relaxed moments in the day of overloaded farm wives and lonely widows. Laudanum (morphine) was the only commonly available anesthetic for Civil War medicine. By the end of 19th century, it was in broad use but declined as the old soldiers died off. Cocaine, the addiction of Sherlock Holmes and many early soda pop drinkers in Georgia, has been in recreation use for centuries. The cocoa leaf, from which cocaine is processed, is legal in many South American countries, especially at high altitudes, where it makes life more bearable and workers more efficient. Here in the United States, the overwhelming majority of cocaine use is by well-educated, financially secure professionals. Many drugs have valuable medicinal qualities. Heroin possesses unique pain-killing properties with few side effects and is prescribed for the terminally ill in most civilized countries. Known in England as a Brompton cocktail, it is widely used to ease the final hours of terminal cancer patients. Marijuana is believed by a growing number of responsible scientists to reduce or ameliorate side effects from cancer chemotherapy, as well as from some glaucoma symptoms. All that aside, however, the basic failure of the war on drugs is, it is simply not winnable as long as we insist on using the tactics of suppression. According to the director of the Office of Drug Abuse and Law Enforcement, the entire U.S. market for heroin could be provided from crops grown in 10 square miles of poppy farming and two 10-ton trucks can carry enough of the product to supply the U.S. market for one year. So much for programs that pay foreign countries not to produce. The physical parameters of drug entry into this country mean even the fabulously rich United States cannot eliminate drugs by force and interception any more than British muskets arranged in close-order drill were able to defeat frontiersmen shooting from undercover with squirrel rifles. Entering the United States each year are more than 100 million cars, 300 million people, 500,000 airplanes and 200,000 ships (each of which, Customs officials estimate, has more than 30,000 potential hiding places). The Associated Press quoted Francis X. Kinney, Director of Strategic Planning for the Office of National Drug Control Policy; ``Our current interdiction efforts almost completely fail to achieve our purpose of reducing the flow of cocaine, heroin and methamphetamines across the border.'' But we hardly need to consult Kinney. The true measure of drug availability is cost. For the past 20 years, the street price of drugs, in constant dollars, has hardly kept up with inflation. Beyond the obvious inadequacies of the drug war strategy is the damage being done our society. In one year, from 1997 to 1998, prosecution for drug offenses in federal courts increased 19.2 percent, one quarter of all criminal cases. The drug war is a lawyer's dream of a growth industry. We are not, nor are we likely to be, even close to winning the war, and the costs in human misery and taxes are escalating at a rate that is fast becoming unsustainable. In the 1920s, we thought the problems associated with alcohol could be solved by police and jails. Prohibition taught us we were wrong. The strategy of the present drug war is Prohibition redux.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Judge Wants Pot Explanation (The Philadelphia Daily News says U.S. District Judge Marvin Katz ruled yesterday that the federal government must explain why it provides marijuana to some sick people for medicinal reasons, but not to others. The Compassionate Investigational New Drug program stopped taking new applicants in 1992 and only about eight people continue to participate. Katz's ruling stems from the class action lawsuit for medical marijuana filed on behalf of 170 plaintiffs by Philadelphia public interest attorney Lawrence Elliott Hirsch.) From: email@example.com (Mapnews-Digest) Newshawk: firstname.lastname@example.org (Frank S. World) Pubdate: 11 March 1999 Source: Philadelphia Daily News (PA) Copyright: 1999 Philadelphia Newspapers Inc. Contact: Dailynews.email@example.com Website: http://www.phillynews.com/ Forum: http://interactive.phillynews.com/talk-show/ Note: Excerpted from NewsBites Correction: This was originally posted as being from the Philidelphia Inquirer. Both newspapers have the same owner and website, so the error in identifying the proper newspaper is understandable. Sorry for the confusion. JUDGE WANTS POT EXPLANATION The federal government must explain why marijuana can be given to some sick people for medicinal reasons, but not to others, a federal judge in Philadelphia ruled yesterday. U.S. District Judge Marvin Katz upheld the constitutionality of federal laws that criminalize the use, possession or distribution of drugs. But the judge said he needs "a factual record" so he can determine whether the government may exclude people with various illnesses from a so-called "compassionate use program" when others are still getting marijuana through this program. The medicinal marijuana program stopped taking new applicants in 1992 and only about eight people continue to participate. The government says it concluded the program was "bad public policy" since there was no proof that marijuana was safe or effective in treating various diseases. Katz's ruling stems from a lawsuit filed by 170 named plaintiffs who purportedly hope to decriminalize marijuana use for everyone, sick or not.
------------------------------------------------------------------- U.S. Judge Will Allow Pot Lawsuit (A second account in the Philadelphia Inquirer says U.S. District Judge Marvin Katz refused yesterday to dismiss a class-action medical-marijuana lawsuit, ruling that the plaintiffs deserved the chance to prove the government had no reason to deny the drug to seriously ill people. The victory for Philadelphia attorney Lawrence Elliott Hirsch keeps alive the lawsuit that many legal experts assumed had no chance of success when it was filed in July.) Date: Fri, 12 Mar 1999 03:45:43 -0800 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: US PA: MMJ: U.S. Judge Will Allow Pot Lawsuit 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) Pubdate: 11 March 1999 Source: Philadelphia Inquirer (PA) Copyright: 1999 Philadelphia Newspapers Inc. Contact: Inquirer.Opinion@phillynews.com Website: http://www.phillynews.com/ Forum: http://interactive.phillynews.com/talk-show/ Author: Joseph A. Slobodzian, Inquirer Staff Writer U.S. JUDGE WILL ALLOW POT LAWSUIT Plaintiffs Seeking To Legalize The Drug For Medical Use Will Get Their Day In Court A federal judge yesterday refused to dismiss a lawsuit that seeks to legalize the medical use of marijuana, ruling that the plaintiffs deserved the chance to prove the government had no reason to deny the drug to seriously ill people. "The answer must come from facts, not the abstractions and dogma presently in the record," wrote U.S. District Judge Marvin Katz in a 25-page opinion and order. Katz's ruling keeps alive a class-action lawsuit that many legal experts assumed had no chance of success when it was filed in July. Justice Department spokesman Brian Steel said lawyers had not had the chance to review Katz's ruling and could not comment. "Our basic position is that marijuana remains an illegal drug," Steel said. Lawrence Elliott Hirsch, the Center City lawyer who filed the suit on behalf of 165 people nationwide, praised the opinion as a "tremendous job of analysis. . . . Whatever the ultimate outcome, the judge has done an excellent job of framing the issues." Some medical researchers have said marijuana seems to help in treating glaucoma and combating the nausea caused by drugs used in treating cancer and AIDS. Although a synthetic form of a key compound of marijuana has been marketed as the prescription drug Marinol, the lawsuit contends it is not as effective as smoking the herb itself. In some ways, Katz handed victories to both sides. He denied Hirsch's motion for a judgment in favor of the plaintiffs, and granted the government's motion to dismiss Hirsch's most novel claim -- that, unlike the 18th Amendment's ill-fated ban on alcohol except for medicinal use, Congress prohibited marijuana improperly in the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. Katz wrote that numerous federal courts have upheld the 1970 law. But the judge said it was premature to dismiss the plaintiffs' claim that they were being denied equal protection of the law. Despite the prohibition of marijuana, the lawsuit contends, the government in 1978 settled a federal lawsuit by implementing a limited "compassionate use" program in which as many as 300 government-grown marijuana cigarettes a month were provided to people found to have serious medical conditions that benefited from marijuana use. About half of the 14 people admitted into the program -- it was closed to new participants in 1992 -- still receive the drug.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Judge declines to dismiss medical marijuana lawsuit (A slightly longer version of the Philadelphia Inquirer article, apparently from a different edition) Date: Thu, 11 Mar 1999 10:53:07 -0600 From: "Frank S. World" (email@example.com) Organization: Rx Cannabis Now! http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/Lobby/7417/ To: DRCNet Medical Marijuana Forum (firstname.lastname@example.org) Subject: US PA: Judge declines to dismiss medical marijuana lawsuit Sender: email@example.com Source: The Philadelphia Inquirer Contact: Inquirer.firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.phillynews.com/ Pubdate: 11 March, 1999 JUDGE DECLINES TO DISMISS MEDICAL MARIJUANA LAWSUIT Plaintiffs seeking to legalize the drug for medicinal use will get their day in federal court. By Joseph A. Slobodzian INQUIRER STAFF WRITER A federal judge yesterday refused to dismiss a lawsuit that seeks to legalize the medical use of marijuana, ruling that the plaintiffs deserved the chance to prove the government had no reason to deny the drug to seriously ill people. "The answer must come from facts, not the abstractions and dogma presently in the record," wrote U.S. District Judge Marvin Katz in a 25-page opinion and order. Katz's ruling keeps alive a class-action lawsuit that many legal experts assumed had no chance of success when it was filed in July. Justice Department spokesman Brian Steel said lawyers had not had the chance to review Katz's ruling and could not comment. "Our basic position is that marijuana remains an illegal drug," Steel said. Lawrence Elliott Hirsch, the Center City lawyer who filed the suit on behalf of 165 people nationwide, praised the opinion as a "tremendous job of analysis. . . . Whatever the ultimate outcome, the judge has done an excellent job of framing the issues." Some medical researchers have said marijuana seems to help in treating glaucoma and combating the nausea caused by drugs used in treating cancer and AIDS. Although a synthetic form of a key compound of marijuana has been marketed as the prescription drug Marinol, the lawsuit contends it is not as effective as smoking the herb itself. In some ways, Katz handed victories to both sides. He denied Hirsch's motion for a judgment in favor of the plaintiffs, and granted the government's motion to dismiss Hirsch's most novel claim -- that, unlike the 18th Amendment's ill-fated ban on alcohol except for medicinal use, Congress prohibited marijuana improperly in the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. Katz wrote that numerous federal courts have upheld the 1970 law. But the judge said it was premature to dismiss the plaintiffs' claim that they were being denied equal protection of the law. Despite the longstanding prohibition of marijuana, the lawsuit contends, the government in 1978 settled a federal lawsuit by implementing a limited "compassionate use" program in which as many as 300 government-grown marijuana cigarettes a month were provided to people found to have serious medical conditions that benefited from marijuana use. About half of the 14 people admitted into the program -- it was closed to new participants in 1992 -- still receive the drug. "The court cannot say," Katz wrote, "that the government's decision to give marijuana to several people who are ill and the government's refusal to give it to the plaintiffs who are also ill is rational as a matter of law when plaintiffs have not had the opportunity to try to prove otherwise."
------------------------------------------------------------------- Breaking News: Judge rules against government in medical marijuana class action suit (A list subscriber posts a URL where Judge Katz's decision is located, and summarizes key elements of his decision.) From: "Peter McWilliams" (email@example.com) Subject: DPFCA: Breaking News: Judge rules against government in medical marijuana class action suit Date: Thu, 11 Mar 1999 05:30:07 -0800 Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: DrugSense http://www.drugsense.org/dpfca/ To all recipients: the full text of the opinion will be available on the http://www.fairlaw.org Website within 24 hours. The Heart Of The Judicial Opinion (From Section II, p. 4): "It is premature to dismiss the plaintiffs' equal protection claims regarding access to the compassionate use program by which marijuana is distributed to select individuals, and the motion to dismiss will be denied as to that allegation." (From pp. 18-20): "A different conclusion must be reached, however, with respect to plaintiffs' claims regarding the compassionate use program. Here, the classification being challenged is apparent: plaintiffs argue that it is a violation of equal protection for the government to make an exception to its criminal laws for one group of individuals but not for another group of individuals that is similarly situated. As was described previously, thereof the plaintiffs were approved for admission to that program but then denied marijuana. Other plaintiffs have been denied the ability to apply for the program.(13). The government's motion defends the decision to refuse to accept any new applicants by stating both that no useful scientific results as to the efficacy and safety of marijuana to treat such illnesses came from that program and that it was "bad public policy and bad medical practice." See Mot. to Dismiss at 12. While, when defending government actions under a rational review standard, the government has no burden to present evidence supporting its decision, see, e.g., Heller v. Doe, 509 U.S. 312, 320-21 (1993), it is not clear that there is no set of facts that could be proven under which the plaintiffs would prevail. Notwithstanding the government's inclusion of attachments that purport to explain some of the operative facts regarding the compassionate use program(14), without development of a factual record, the court cannot say that the government's decision to give marijuana to several people who are ill and the government's refusal to give it to the plaintiffs who are also ill is rational as a matter of law when plaintiffs have not had the opportunity to try to prove otherwise. Nor can the court say that the government's claimed failure to derive any useful scientific data from the program is a rational reason as a matter of law to exclude the plaintiffs from the program when the plaintiffs have not yet had the opportunity to challenge the basis for the government decision. That is, while actions such as those taken in the present case bear a strong presumption of validity, and those attacking the classification have burden "to negative every conceivable basis which might support it," Beach Comm., Inc., 508 U.S. at 317 (citations omitted), the plaintiffs must at least be given the opportunity to make that challenge. The rational basis standard sets a very low threshold for governmental action, but it is not a rubber stamp that should automatically approve every government decision. See e.g., Schumacher v. Nix, 965 F.2d 1262, 1269 (3d Cir. 1992). Therefore, the court will deny the motion to dismiss only as to the equal protection challenges to the compassionate use program and allow limited discovery to permit plaintiffs to attempt to show that the decision was irrational under every conceivable justification. Footnotes: 13. For purposes of this motion, the court will not address the question of whether proper analysis compares the present recipients in the compassionate use program with all individuals who wish to receive medical marijuana or with only those individuals who were accepted into the program but then denied marijuana. 14. There were two attachments to the motion. The first documents the withdrawal of plaintiff Robert Randall's motion for a TRO or a preliminary injunction in his case against the United States. That order states that "Mr. Randall, therefore, is no longer subject to the threat of irreparable injury to his vision caused by the unavailability of marijuana which formed the factual basis for his request for temporary relief." Notice of Withdrawal, Mot. to Dismiss, Ex A. at 1. The second attachment is a letter from Philip Lee, the Assistant Secretary of Health, written to Representative Dan Hamburg. In this letter, Mr. Lee explains to the representative why the FDA will not reopen the "Food And Drug Administration's single patient investigational new drug program for therapeutic marijuana." Id. at Ex. B. at 1. The letter includes various fact sheets explaining the problems with medical marijuana. 15. The government called two cases to the court's attention during the oral argument on the motion. The court notes that the case in the D.C. Circuit, Steffan v. Perry, 41 F.3d 667 (D.C. Cir. 1994), was based on a factual record presented during the district court's evaluation of a motion for summary judgement. See id at 684. The second case cited, Dandridge v. Williams, 397 U.S. 471 (1969), also was not decided on the basis of a motion to dismiss. See Dandridge v. Williams, F. Supp. 450, 452 (D. Md. 1968) (noting rejection of a motion to dismiss). *** Date: Thu, 11 Mar 1999 07:33:14 -0600 To: DRCNet Medical Marijuana Forum (email@example.com) From: "Carl E. Olsen" (firstname.lastname@example.org) Subject: Re: Action Class -Equal Justice Under Law-Justice Journey Proceeds I posted the text of the March 3 hearing on the medical marijuana class action at: http://www.calyx.com/~olsen/MEDICAL/hirsch.html Sincerely, Carl Olsen
------------------------------------------------------------------- Ann Landers: Views On Marijuana Come In All Varieties (The nationally syndicated advice columnist based at the Chicago Tribune shares a variety of "pro" and "con" responses to her recent column calling for the reform of marijuana laws.) Date: Thu, 11 Mar 1999 21:27:14 -0800 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: US IL: Ann Landers: Views On Marijuana Come In All Varieties Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Steve Young (email@example.com) Pubdate: Thur, 11 March 1999 Source: Chicago Tribune (IL) Copyright: 1999 Chicago Tribune Company Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.chicagotribune.com/ Forum: http://www.chicagotribune.com/interact/boards/ Author: Ann Landers VIEWS ON MARIJUANA COME IN ALL VARIETIES Dear Ann Landers: This is in response to the letter from "A Sad Mother in Va.," whose son was arrested for marijuana possession. You said our laws on possession are too harsh. You sure got it wrong. Marijuana is not the benign, innocuous drug that many believe it is. People use it to alter what's going on in the brain. It impairs one's ability to think, to move, to remember, to drive, to study and so on. Would it bother you if your doctor were a regular pot smoker? Your police officer? Your teachers? Ask people in drug treatment if drugs should be legal. They'll tell you that if drugs were legal, they never would have been able to quit. I admit I am biased. I've been a police officer for 22 years and have seen the damage drugs do -- including marijuana. Please reconsider your position on this one, Ann. Pasadena, Calif. Dear Pasadena: I agree that marijuana can alter one's judgment, and I do not advocate its use. However, I see no point in harsh jail sentences for users. They need help to get off the weed. It can be a tough battle. Read on for more: >From Evanston, Ill.: Thank you for your courage in taking such an unpopular stand. I was injured in a train accident three years ago and have been in constant pain ever since. Marijuana helps, but it is illegal. How sad that I am a criminal just because I am struggling to survive. Baltimore, Md.: Your comments on the legality of marijuana are right on. Marijuana, like alcohol, should be legal, and people should be held fully responsible for their actions while under the influence. Boulder, Colo.: I do not understand how the government can justify spending my tax dollars pursuing and arresting citizens for participating in an activity that harms no one. Alcohol, which has caused so much pain, suffering and death, is legal. Yet marijuana, which has proven medical benefits, is not. Akron, Ohio: I'm disappointed in you, Ann. To relax the laws on drug possession would be a huge mistake. When I was in high school, I saw kids unable to sit still because they were high. Many of these same students failed classes on a regular basis. I do not want my children to grow up thinking it's OK to smoke pot. Corvallis, Ore.: Three days after your column on marijuana appeared, the residence adviser in my dorm called the police, and I was arrested for possession of pot. My stash was confiscated, and I had to go to court and pay a small fine. The police officer who cited me was the same officer who had pulled over a drunk friend of mine earlier that week and allowed him to continue driving. Roanoke, Va.: "Sad Mother" said her son was a good kid. Aren't they all? She said he wasn't hurting anyone but himself with his drug use. What happens when he is stoned? Is his judgment sound? I have smoked pot myself and grew up with an alcoholic father. I know what drugs can do. This "good kid" is a threat to society. Knowing pot smokers are driving cars scares me to death. I have no problem paying taxes to prosecute and incarcerate people who break the law. Bethel, Conn.: Marijuana has not contributed to nearly as many deaths, injuries or diseases as other perfectly legal substances such as alcohol and tobacco. I realize your comments do not make you an advocate for pot, and your approach sounds reasonable to me. Thank you. Tampa, Fla.: I am certain many Americans share your view about decriminalizing possession. It is totally senseless for our government to make this plant illegal. Marijuana may be bad for you, but 30 years of incarceration is insane. Let's not throw the baby out with the bath water.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Nightline: Getting Straight (ABC News' last night of a three-part series by Dave Marash continues last night's focus on Rafael Flores, a freelancer who combs the streets of New York at night trying to con addicts into accepting treatment and treatment centers into giving them a bed. Flores is also a walking barometer of our own failure. No matter how much we succeed in cutting the supply, no matter how many dealers we throw in prison, until we make drug treatment accessible to those who need it, we're losing the war.) Date: Sat, 13 Mar 1999 12:47:05 -0800 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: US: Part 3 of 3, Nightline, Getting Straight Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Marcus/Mermelstein Family (email@example.com) Pubdate: Thu, 11 Mar 1999 Source: ABC News - Nightline Contact: http://184.108.40.206/onair/nightline/email.html Website: http://www.abcnews.go.com/onair/nightline/transcripts/nl990310_trans.html Copyright: 1998 ABCNEWS and Starwave Corporation. Note: This is an unedited, uncorrected transcript. NIGHTLINE, GETTING STRAIGHT, PART 3 TED KOPPEL There is a line somewhere at the far end of dedication and if you cross that line, you will have entered the world of obsession. It's not easy to describe what goes on in that world because among its inhabitants are those who have taken leave of their senses and those whose clarity of vision is so acute that they can only see things in black and white. Gray is invisible to them. Rafael Flores, who works as an intake counselor at a drug treatment clinic in New York, appears to be such a man. We introduced you to him last night, explained to you that Rafael does the bulk of his work on his own time. Before and after he goes to his job, Rafael prowls the streets of New York looking for drug addicts, trying to convince them that it is time for them to get unhooked from the crack or the cocaine or the heroin that controls their lives. But that, as Nightline Correspondent Dave Marash showed you last night, is merely the beginning of Rafael's labor. Once he's convinced the addict that the time is right to seek treatment, Rafael has to find the clinic or center or hospital that will take the addict in right then, at that moment, when the will to seek help is greater than the craving for another hit. Here's Dave Marash. DAVE MARASH, ABCNEWS (VO) From predawn to dusk, we watched freelance New York City drug counselor Rafael Flores offer his service, leading addicts from the streets towards rehabilitation and hopefully redemption. At the East Harlem apartment of Sister Leotina O'Gorman, he worked with two long time drug abusers, John Curtis and Cathy Ortiz, convincing them to seek help, working to find them hard to find places in treatment facilities. RAFAEL FLORES All I know it's possible to be clean and to learn how to live without substance. DAVE MARASH (VO) At the end of the day, John was booked for 5 a.m. delivery to a city crisis center and Cathy seemed about to get a bed at the city's largest rehab facility. RAFAEL FLORES And tonight is a critical night. They need to stay alive in order to live, yeah. DAVE MARASH (VO) But that was yesterday. LEOTINA O'GORMAN You know, there's a situation, he had, he is, he was picked up by the police last night, came back in handcuffs. DAVE MARASH (VO) Four thirty in the morning and it's been quite a night at Sister's. Both Cathy and John seem to have gotten high on crack and then someone dropped a dime on John and he was arrested and later released. LEOTINA O'GORMAN Well, what scares me is it looks as if, you know, somebody probably called the police on him. Somebody's ... RAFAEL FLORES So he was set up? LEOTINA O'GORMAN Somebody's trying to set him up and I just want to get him out of here. RAFAEL FLORES So a little anger towards him, OK. LEOTINA O'GORMAN He wants to get out of the city. JOHN CURTIS I just want to get out of New York period and not come back here ever. RAFAEL FLORES That's cool. JOHN CURTIS Drug treatment programs ain't gonna take care of that bum cause I've still gotta come back to New York. RAFAEL FLORES No you don't. No you don't, John. No you don't. JOHN CURTIS I'm gonna stay at a rehab forever? RAFAEL FLORES John, no, the rehab will place you in another state. DAVE MARASH (VO) Sister wants John out of the city for his own protection. But for Rafael, protecting John means getting him immediately into drug treatment. RAFAEL FLORES Your system needs to be free of the chemical and things could begin to happen. You can begin to feel things. DAVE MARASH (VO) But detox is only the beginning. RAFAEL FLORES I'll escort you. I'll send you to detox. I'll secure the detox services for you only if you agree to go into a follow-up program the same day you get out. DAVE MARASH (VO) Follow-up to Rafael means rehabilitation, which can go from 10 to 28 days. RAFAEL FLORES You focus on all these issues that you have blocked out, you have denied yourself of feeling and they encourage you to talk about them, cry about them, write about them, draw about them, read poetry about them. That's what rehab does. Rehab is good. Rehab is a good foundation. From rehab you could then get into a program of a year or six months. John, are you going to keep running? JOHN CURTIS No, I'm not going to keep running. RAFAEL FLORES You're not going to keep running? JOHN CURTIS I shouldn't have gone out last night. I told Sister I want to get out of New York period. RAFAEL FLORES Then why don't you run into treatment? JOHN CURTIS Today. Today. RAFAEL FLORES Why don't you run into treatment today? Today, now. DAVE MARASH (VO) Rafael still sees John completing that full program, if only he can get him to take the first step to detox. RAFAEL FLORES And I'll get you into the hospital today. JOHN CURTIS Later on today? RAFAEL FLORES Today. Within a few hours. Could you just put on your beauty face and we just get together and go over what's going to happen within the next hour or two? DAVE MARASH (VO) While he waits for John's decision, Rafael confronts Cathy on last night's slip. RAFAEL FLORES You know, Cathy, most people that I've worked with in 28 years, the time that they most mess up is always the night before. CATHY ORTIZ Look, but I didn't mess up. RAFAEL FLORES OK, cause if you did anything I could also use that to get you into detox. It would be almost easier to get you into rehab. Will you be down for that? OK. She's agreed to go into detox, which implies there's been use. We didn't have to get into what type of use, how long and so on. The fact that she's agreed to go into detox is enough for me. DAVE MARASH (VO) Meanwhile, John Curtis has made his decision. He will go, as planned, to a city crisis center and then hopefully on to detox at Doctor's Hospital within 24 hours. JOHN CURTIS Y'all see the pain I'm going through, right? Well, today's the day, my son's birthday. RAFAEL FLORES What are you feeling? What's happening? JOHN CURTIS Today my son would have been 20 years old. Five years old, five years ago today he was blown away in front of my face, you know what I'm saying? Because he was trying to be like daddy. RAFAEL FLORES I don't think we'll wait. I think we're gonna just leave now and then I'm gonna come back. Cathy? CATHY ORTIZ Yeah? RAFAEL FLORES We're getting ready to leave and I'm gonna return for you but there was something that you promised John that you were going to get rid of and he would like to see to it that that's gotten rid of in order for him to feel free to move on with me to detox. DAVE MARASH (VO) As he leaves Sister's John throws the crack pipe into the street and gets into the car and heads for what could be a beginning. TED KOPPEL Crack and cocaine addicts routinely say that they want to kick their habits, but getting them to keep that resolution is Rafael's toughest challenge. That part of the story when Dave Marash comes back. (Commercial Break) DAVE MARASH (VO) In front of the grim crisis center, Rafael braces John for the familiar fake ritual he must go through to get into the center to get to detox, rehab and long-term treatment. RAFAEL FLORES They're going to ask you questions. If you say the right answers, chances are you can get in. JOHN CURTIS What's the right answer? Let me know before I go in there cause I can't, you know ... RAFAEL FLORES What do you, well, it's up to you. What do you think, because you've been through this before? JOHN CURTIS I know just cause I'm on drugs I've gotta tell 'em I'm drinking now to get in, right? RAFAEL FLORES It's up to you. JOHN CURTIS I'm asking you a question, yes or no? RAFAEL FLORES Normally, yes. DAVE MARASH (VO) In New York City, two-thirds of the crisis and impatient rehabilitation services are specifically designated alcohol treatment centers and in many of those facilities and in all of the city crisis centers like the one John is entering, a declaration of alcoholism is required to get you into treatment, even if the declaration is a lie. RAFAEL FLORES I just need, if it's at all possible, Mr Fields, if you could do your magic and try to get, to get him into Doctors today. MR FIELDS Oh, he got to get into Doctors Hospital. OK. RAFAEL FLORES Yeah. He needs Doctors. He needs it. You can trust this gentleman right here. He's really good people. I'm going to leave him in your hands and I'm going to check in a couple of hours, I'm going to call here. MR FIELDS OK. DAVE MARASH (VO) So John Curtis is safely stowed at the Central Harlem Crisis Center. He should move on to detox within hours, at worst within a day. Now it's back to Sister's to pick up on the case of Cathy Ortiz. RAFAEL FLORES OK, what I want to try to do is hook up one of two hospitals that will take you for today. DAVE MARASH What about the fact that Cathy has started using again? How does that change yesterday's plan? RAFAEL FLORES Well, as opposed to getting her straight into rehab, we now have to get her into detox cause detox completion is a requirement to get into the rehab unless she's been clean and she obviously hasn't been clean. If you're going to step out ... CATHY ORTIZ I ain't going nowhere. RAFAEL FLORES Let me know first. CATHY ORTIZ Yes. RAFAEL FLORES It's like a schoolteacher, raise your hand. Ask for permission DAVE MARASH (VO) Once again, Rafael starts the process of trying to find Cathy treatment. He connects with her methadone counselor, letting him know Cathy is going to try once more to clean up her life. RAFAEL FLORES With your blessings, we're going to try this again, detox and a rehab to stabilize the situation and I just needed your cooperation with that. Yeah, could you place me with the intake for detox? DAVE MARASH (VO) Once Rafael starts phoning for Cathy, his day brightens. RAFAEL FLORES I wonder if I might give you her name and I'm going to escort her in? Heroin, alcohol and cocaine crack. DAVE MARASH (VO) And soon he manages to find a bed. RAFAEL FLORES OK, thank you. Thank you. OK, bye. She has beds. They have her name, she's good to go. Pretty quick. Cathy? CATHY ORTIZ I'm here. RAFAEL FLORES Everything is confirmed. We're going to, we're going with St. Luke's Roosevelt. CATHY ORTIZ Well, I never been there so it sounds good. RAFAEL FLORES OK. DAVE MARASH Cathy-forgive me, Sister for saying this-but you've been at this point before, right? CATHY ORTIZ Yes. DAVE MARASH Does this feel different this time? CATHY ORTIZ Not really. Until I get to the place where I'll be away for a good long time, then it will be real. DAVE MARASH But you know it's going to be hard. CATHY ORTIZ I know it is but I'm looking forward to it. It's a challenge and I have to do it for myself before I do it for anybody else. LEOTINA O'GORMAN Bye, Cathy. CATHY ORTIZ Bye. LEOTINA O'GORMAN She's a very lovable person. A lot of people love her in the neighborhood. RAFAEL FLORES This is where it starts, Lord willing. But I tell everyone, take time now with the Lord. DAVE MARASH (VO) As their cab rolls towards St. Luke's Hospital on Manhattan's Upper West Side, Rafael is lobbying Cathy for a long-term program that will wean her of methadone. I'm in your hands, she tells him, and together they enter the hospital. DAVE MARASH With any kind of luck we know exactly what Cathy Ortiz's next year is going to be all about-saving her own life. For Rafael Flores, two chapters have now been brought to hopeful conclusions. And for New York City, two out of literally half a million stories may not end in tragedy. RAFAEL FLORES I escorted a client there this morning and I just want to know if he's admitted. DAVE MARASH (VO) Or so we thought for a good five minutes, until Rafael reached John's crisis center from a pay phone. RAFAEL FLORES Is there any reason why he left on his own? DAVE MARASH (VO) Even as he says it, Ralph knows the reason. RAFAEL FLORES Were you guys going to admit him? Yes. I took him there because he required the services of a sobering up station. People don't have to go there drunk. DAVE MARASH (VO) Rafael's worry is that John's motivation for treatment could disappear forever because of this one setback. RAFAEL FLORES I don't understand that. You did a semi-sabotage. Basically this is abuse, the fact that many clients need to say that they're an alcoholic when they're not. Indeed, they are drug addicts that need help and that are hurting and you give them an out and they'll use it to not follow through with treatment. DAVE MARASH (VO) It doesn't take long for John to turn up back at Sister's. Rafael suspects he's copped on his way back from the crisis center. RAFAEL FLORES He's going to inform Sister that he wasn't admitted into the program and that he thinks it's best that he goes to Denver. This is his answer for recovery. It's a false answer. It's an imitation answer. It's a camouflage to treatment. But it's going to be his answer and he'll be on that bus probably this evening. That or he'll be dead. Part of me loves you and want to work with you. There's another part of me that want to slap you across the head, knucklehead. I'm gonna call. OK, come on. JOHN CURTIS I do not ... RAFAEL FLORES Don't disappear. JOHN CURTIS I'm only going to go inside. RAFAEL FLORES Don't disappear. JOHN CURTIS Anything but St. Luke's. Anything but St. Luke's. RAFAEL FLORES Anything but St. Luke's. That's the place that has beds. Think about it. Think about it. JOHN CURTIS I ain't going to St. Luke's. RAFAEL FLORES Think about it. John, why do you want to flirt with death so obviously? JOHN CURTIS I ain't flirting with no death cause I know what's important. RAFAEL FLORES OK, we tried, John. JOHN CURTIS (unintelligible) RAFAEL FLORES OK, John, I want to go out there and find me some other clients that want to go into treatment. That's all I live for. That's all I want. JOHN CURTIS I know that. I know that. (unintelligible) RAFAEL FLORES If you change your mind, let me know. Other than that, bullshit. TED KOPPEL As we've seen, the odds against a street addict getting straight are slim. So what keeps Rafael Flores going? We'll find out, in a moment. (Commercial Break) RAFAEL FLORES I was hurt for John. I was deeply hurt for John cause I saw what was happening. To go into treatment would mean a major change in his life and he's not ready for that right now and he's setting himself up for death which, in my opinion, is quite obvious. If you know anyone that might need detox ... 1ST ADDICT Detox? There's a lot of people here needs detox. RAFAEL FLORES All right. Thank you. And when he's ready, I'll be ready to service him. But there are other people. If you know anyone ... 2ND ADDICT I need it myself. RAFAEL FLORES You know ... 2ND ADDICT I need it myself real bad, real bad. RAFAEL FLORES Talk to me.I don't want this to sound like a cliche. I see many coffins. I see many, many, many people that are dying, literally dying. OK, my name is Rafael and there's no money involved. MAN ON THE STREET OK. RAFAEL FLORES There's no money involved. All you've got to do is call that number and tell them you want to speak to me and I'll get back to you. MAN ON THE STREET Very good. Thank you. RAFAEL FLORES Do you have anyone in mind? MAN ON THE STREET I got somebody in mind. A close friend of the family's. RAFAEL FLORES I hear you. MAN ON THE STREET See if I can get him in. RAFAEL FLORES Definitely family. DAVE MARASH (VO) Rafael Flores, street angel, knows the odds against a cure and accepts every recovery as a miracle. Rafael speaks from experience. Long-term treatment helped him deal with his problems with alcohol. He admits in the years since he's had some slips, but he asserts strongly not with drugs, thank God. Never with drugs. RAFAEL FLORES Let's say two out of 10 who will be in recovery will succeed in their recovery in the sense that they will stay clean maybe a year. And there's only two out of 10. What happened to the other eight? Well, maybe the other eight will be two more part of another 10. But if you're in the business long enough, you will see many twos. ADAM PIANELLO (PH) Well, I used basically all drugs. DAVE MARASH (VO) Meet Adam Pianello, one of Rafael's favorite twos. ADAM PIANELLO Ralph is very, very sturdy but in his own way, you know? It's like a tough love kind of person. He might not tell you what you want to hear, but he'll tell you what you need to hear. Basically, you know, if you need help, I advise you to just shut your mouth and listen. DAVE MARASH (VO) Two years Adam has lived clean. He's got the best job of his life and his family is flourishing. Rafael Flores' service saw Adam from addiction to the other side. ADAM PIANELLO I was blessed to get it and it's put me in a spot in my life right now where I wouldn't give this up for anything right about now. LEOTINA O'GORMAN Ralph has that, he has a way of getting people to say what's hurting, how they're wounded and then he just goes at, shows them matter of factly what to do about it and it's just a very beautiful healing thing. RAFAEL FLORES My goal is not, I don't see it as curing all. Absolutely not. What I see it as are you going to offer your services to people? If we could do that in an aggressive manner in a consistent manner that's good enough. I could get you in today. 3RD ADDICT Yeah, but today I can't. I got things to do first, you know what I'm saying? RAFAEL FLORES OK, then ma=F1ana. I'll be here. LEOTINA O'GORMAN Never underestimate the power of love. And he does love. If somebody's in trouble, he'll go at it. He'll get up at four in the morning. He'll go at it any hour of the day or night. He'll stay up all night looking for them. I've seen him walking the streets to find somebody in trouble. It's love. It's love. DAVE MARASH A postscript. As Rafael says, success is possible but as he knows, it's also very difficult. In the days since we taped, Cathy Ortiz's rehabilitation fell apart. The issue-her methadone maintenance. Attempting to wean herself of methadone she crashed, left rehab and is today doing drugs again on the streets. I'm Dave Marash for Nightline. TED KOPPEL This time, Rafael Flores didn't even get two out of 10. I'll have a final thought, when we come back. (Commercial Break) TED KOPPEL Rafael Flores is a remarkable man who deserves our admiration for the passion that he brings to turning addicts toward treatment. But he is also a walking barometer of our own failure. To the extent that we need Rafael freelancing on the streets of New York at night trying to con addicts into accepting treatment and treatment centers into giving them a bed, the war on drugs is a mockery. No matter how much we succeed in cutting the supply, no matter how many dealers we throw in prison, until we have adequate drug treatment available and accessible for those who need it, we're still losing the war. You can talk to Rafael Flores online tomorrow between 2:00 and 3:00 pm Eastern Time at abcnews.go.com. That's our report for tonight. I'm Ted Koppel in Washington. For all of us here at ABCNEWS, good night. *** [link to Part 1, broadcast two nights ago.] [link to Part 2, broadcast the previous evening.] -------------------------------------------------------------------
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