------------------------------------------------------------------- Medical-marijuana rules insulting (A letter to the editor of the Oregonian from a man with incurable brain cancer says "no thank you" to such aspects of the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act as the need to apply for a registry card, the $150 registration fee, and the likes of Rep. Kevin Mannix, R-Salem, and his merry band of morality police.) Newshawk: Portland NORML (http://www.pdxnorml.org/) Pubdate: Sun, May 09 1999 Source: Oregonian, The (OR) Copyright: 1999 The Oregonian Contact: email@example.com Address: 1320 SW Broadway, Portland, OR 97201 Fax: 503-294-4193 Website: http://www.oregonlive.com/ Forum: http://forums.oregonlive.com/ Author: Tony Kneidek, Southeast Portland Medical-marijuana rules insulting I was diagnosed with treatable but incurable brain cancer on March 2, 1998. My life changed that day in ways that no legislator, health-division bureaucrat, doctor, lawyer, cop, friend, lover or acquaintance can begin to understand. Everything I do, every decision I make, every song I sing to my young daughters, every moment of every day is now filtered through the haze of this life-threatening disease. Death is no longer abstract, and neither is life. I have survived major brain surgery. I have endured 32 treatments of radiation. I have struggled through six months of chemotherapy. I have found relief from the nausea, fatigue, sleeplessness, depression, pain and lack of appetite with the help of one primary drug: marijuana. Now I'm told that I need to apply for a permit, pay $150 for a registration card and be looking over my shoulder for the likes of Rep. Kevin Mannix, R-Salem, and his merry band of morality police (May 1 article). No thank you. There are enough indignities and losses involved in having this disease without the state bureaucracy, police agencies and the Legislature hounding me like I'm a criminal. [They should] go look for real bad guys and leave the sick and dying alone.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Marijuana activist convicted of cultivation, possession (Our Times, in Santa Monica, California, says Joe "Hemp" Kidwell, a motorcycle mechanic turned marijuana activist, faces a maximum of three years in prison after a jury convicted him of growing and possessing 14 pot plants on the roof of his office building in Venice last summer, despite his status as a medical-marijuana patient under Proposition 215.) Date: Sat, 15 May 1999 10:56:48 -0700 To: firstname.lastname@example.org From: Jim Rosenfield (email@example.com) Subject: DPFCA: art/smot: Marijuana activist convicted of cultivation, possession Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: Jim Rosenfield (email@example.com) Organization: DrugSense http://www.drugsense.org/dpfca/ [I'd sure like to know why the jury convicted. I have spoken with Joe and he says it was precisely his intention to get busted and to make case law. He is not kidding.] *** Newshawk: Jim Rosenfield Source: Santa Monica Our Times Contact: SMOurTimes@earthlink.net Pubdate: May 9, 1999 Author: GINA PICCALO Marijuana activist convicted of cultivation, possession * Joe 'Hemp' Kidwell to be sentenced for growing pot plants on roof of Venice office building. VENICE - Joe "Hemp" Kidwell, a motorcycle mechanic turned marijuana activist, faces a maximum of three years in prison for growing 14 pot plants on the roof of his Lincoln Boulevard office building last summer. After two days of deliberation, a jury in Santa Monica Superior Court on Wednesday convicted Kidwell, 45, of illegally cultivating and possessing marijuana. He was arrested on Aug. 10 after Los Angeles police, who were summoned by citizen complaints, spotted the plants from the road. Kidwell's office is in the building at 4059 Lincoln Blvd. Kidwell's sentencing is scheduled June 2. He faces a 16-month to three-year sentence on the cultivation charge and an additional six months and a possible $500 fine for possession of the marijuana. Deputy District Attorney Decio Rangel declined to comment on the details of the case until after the sentencing phase of the trial. Defense attorney Seymour Friedman promised to file a motion that calls the jury's verdict "illogical." The jury ruled there is no evidence to convict Kidwell of selling marijuana, then convicted him of illegally possessing and growing the drug. However, a doctor's testimony proved that Kidwell is legally protected by Prop. 215 to possess and cultivate marijuana for medical use, Friedman said. Friedman argued his client was growing and using marijuana to treat his arthritis and back pain as recommended by his doctor. Proposition 215, passed in 1996, allows the use and cultivation of marijuana for medical purposes with a physician's verbal or written recommendation. Orthopedic physician Dr. Fred Hakmet testified that he recommended Kidwell use marijuana for his arthritis and chronic back pain. Kidwell pleaded no contest three years ago to charges of marijuana possession. At a preliminary hearing last month, West Los Angeles Judge Rosemary Shumsky ruled there was insufficient evidence to try Kidwell's business partner, David Clancy, 44, on similar charges. *** Joe "Hemp" Kidwell can be reached at 310-208-8898. Joe is the founder of the Firt Hemp Bank Distribution Network (a medical marijuana cooperative) Jim Rosenfield Insight Web Design http://www.insightweb.com firstname.lastname@example.org tel: 310-836-0926 fax: 310-836-0592 Culver City CA [postal by request]
------------------------------------------------------------------- Hemp's Backers Try For A Comeback (The San Francisco Examiner says Sam H. Clauder II, a strait-laced Southern Baptist political consultant from Orange County, is heading a campaign to get industrial hemp legalized in California. The quiet political campaign is gaining support, an Examiner/KTVU Channel 2 report found, but big obstacles remain. Clauder hopes to find a legislator willing to carry a bill or attract enough public enthusiasm for a ballot measure.) Date: Sun, 9 May 1999 11:57:03 -0700 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: US CA: Hemp's Backers Try For A Comeback Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: John Smith Pubdate: Sun, 09 May 1999 Source: San Francisco Examiner (CA) Copyright: 1999 San Francisco Examiner Contact: email@example.com Website: http://www.examiner.com/ Forum: http://examiner.com/cgi-bin/WebX Author: Katherine Seligman OF THE EXAMINER STAFF HEMP'S BACKERS TRY FOR A COMEBACK Legalization Sought For Cousin Of Pot In California these days there is the hemp movement and the other hemp movement -- this second one backing the kind you can't smoke or bake into brownies for an altered state. Its leader wants it known that he is a strait-laced Southern Baptist "white-bread" guy from Orange County who doesn't smoke marijuana. Though he's got support from some who do smoke openly and often, he also has in his corner the former director of the CIA and agriculture officials from such non-trendy states as Wisconsin who see the plant as an ecological and economic bonanza. "I'm a member of the NRA, I'm overweight, I'm a meat eater, I'm no dope-smoking hippie," said Sam H. Clauder II, a political consultant who's heading a campaign to get industrial hemp -- the unsmokable cousin of marijuana -- legalized in California. "I wouldn't be near the marijuana issue until a year and a half ago when a few key people convinced me that marijuana and hemp are not the same thing." The quiet political campaign to turn industrial hemp into a legal crop is gaining support, an Examiner/KTVU Channel 2 report found, but big obstacles remain. There's the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, for one. All hemp is listed as a controlled substance, regulated by the DEA, and is therefore illegal to grow. Indeed, industrial hemp and marijuana are part of the same species, Cannabis sativa. But there the similarity ends, say industrial hemp activists. Very little THC The industrial variety has only a fraction of the psychoactive chemical THC found in marijuana. The smokable drug commonly has as much as 16 to 20 percent THC, compared with 0.3 percent in industrial hemp, which can't be smoked to produce anything but a headache or sore throat, activists say. And, they add, industrial hemp is tall and gawky, better for harvesting the long fibers that make it valuable. Marijuana is shorter and bushier, ideal for harvesting buds. But the Office of National Drug Control Policy says the two are look-alikes, distinguishable only by chemical analysis, and that would make drug enforcement a nightmare. "The government is messed up on this," said James Woolsey, former CIA director, now a lobbyist in Washington, D.C. for the North American Industrial Hemp Council, an organization working to legalize the crop. A DEA spokesman said the agency is considering whether to relax its rules -- perhaps by licensing farmers or in other ways regulating the crop -- but hasn't yet reached a decision. Six Kentucky farmers who want the ban lifted sued the DEA last year. Meanwhile, growing the plant remains a violation of federal law. But that hasn't stopped more than 10 states from passing laws or resolutions in the past few years calling for studying or growing hemp, although the state decisions are largely symbolic. California is important Any legislation in California, a state that has been a hotbed of hemp support, could be important, possibly influencing federal policy, says Erwin Sholts, an official with the Wisconsin agriculture department and head of the hemp council. "Whatever California does impacts the entire nation to a degree," said Sholts. "It's a huge state with huge agriculture." So far, Clauder's gotten support from the California Democratic Party, which in March passed a resolution calling for legalized growing of industrial hemp. He now hopes to find a legislator willing to carry a bill or attract enough public enthusiasm for a ballot measure. Industrial hemp has no shortage of supporters in California. The plant, which has been around thousands of years, has bred loyalists who speak with an ardor unlike those who sing praises of, say, corn and rice. The reason? Hemp has lore and what Mari Kane, publisher of Hemp World, a journal and directory for the hemp industry, calls "an archival memory." It's "highly suspected" that Jesus wore hemp, she said. Middle Eastern nomads planted it long ago and knew the value of its long, sturdy fibers. So did Colonial Americans. Hemp was used in early drafts of the Declaration of Independence. George Washington and others after him grew it until the herb became associated with its pot relative in the 1930's and the government banned farmers from planting it. In the 1990s, the hemp movement is growing as it appeals on a broad level, Kane said. Environmentalists like it because it is eco-friendly, requiring less water than conventional crops and no pesticides or insecticides. Its high canopy also naturally controls weeds. Supporters say its fibers can be used for paper, cardboard, even building materials, auto parts and fuel, thereby saving trees and relieving dependence on petroleum. Counterculture support Its eco-friendly reputation has made it popular with youth and counterculture consumers, of which there are plenty in the Golden State. The bulk of the nation's retail hemp stores are now on the West Coast, primarily in California, Kane said. Though they have to import the hemp from other nations -- China, Canada and Switzerland, to name a few -- retailers here are making it into everything from paper and clothes to soda pop and shampoo. Berkeley's Two Star Dog store offers skirts, pants, shoes, purses, backpacks and body lotion made of hemp. The clothes, in a variety of styles, are sewn in the back of the store. "I wear hemp all the time," said Charles Gary, a community activist in Berkeley, who was first drawn to Two Star Dog for environmental and political reasons but grew to appreciate the look. "It's reminiscent of linen but with none of the drawbacks. You can throw it in the washing machine and it dries very quickly in the air. I even have a suit (made) out of it." Willie Phalanger was interested in the nutritional properties of hemp oil when he started making Willie's Hemp Soda in San Rafael last year. Now, he said, he's selling 3,000 cases a month of root beer, ginger beer and black cherry soda. The creator previously of Root Zing -- "a really strong ginseng drink" -- is also readying what he believes is the world's first butterscotch hemp soda. Last year the first Santa Cruz Hemp Expo attracted 87 vendors, said organizer Paul Gaylon. The event featured a hemp house, a fashion show and food of every kind, said Gaylon, who runs an herbal nutritional product company that works with hemp oil, and is making a video on hemp entitled "Hemp Hemp Hurrah." The need to lobby Despite hemp's cachet with certain crowds, supporters in California still have work to do to enlist support of farmers, many of whom have not yet considered the possibilities of hemp. "I work with alternative crops and it's tough working with farmers until a trust is developed and you can present the options," said Gary Banuelos, a plant nutritionist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Fresno. He said he'd like to work with hemp if the law allowed it. "It's great to have a plant, but you have to be able to present what you can do with it. Finding the plant is just part one." Banuelos also predicts that industrial hemp may run into the same problems facing kenaf, another eco-friendly crop grown for its fiber. Kenaf farmers must ship what they grow to a processing plant in Texas because there are none in California. And then there are the poachers. Like industrial hemp, kenaf looks a lot like pot. "People were always stopping and ripping me off," said Banuelos, who grew kenaf in a field off Interstate 5 and was once even questioned by Highway Patrol officers who thought he was growing marijuana. "You'd be surprised how many people had their cars break down beside my kenaf field." Woolsey said hemp would be most welcome in areas that grow rice, wheat and corn, crops whose markets are "in the tank," which explains why farmers in states like North Dakota already are interested. Farmers there have watched as Canadian growers got higher prices for hemp than they do for their conventional crops. After piquing the interest of farmers, the hemp movement must also, ironically, woo the original hemp movement, the one devoted to removing all legal restrictions against any plant in the hemp family, even the most potent cannabis, marijuana. Jack Herer, for instance, is a hemp activist and founder of Help End Marijuana Prohibition who said he can't support a movement or any law that would lift restrictions from industrial hemp and keep them for marijuana. "If you grow this plant with restrictions the government will come in and invite police in," he said. "The law would put growers under threat of having police on their land." But Woolsey, the former CIA director, said marijuana growers actually have a reason to worry about industrial hemp. Its thick pollen can cross-pollenate with pot plants and lower the THC in future generations, meaning what's harvested would give less of a buzz. "Industrial hemp in large quantities is a marijuana grower's nightmare ..." he said. "The only person stupid enough to plant marijuana plants in hemp fields is Homer Simpson." See this story Sunday night on KTVU Channel 2's "10 O'Clock News."
------------------------------------------------------------------- Drug Problem In Central Utah Called 'Epidemic' (According to an Associated Press article in the Salt Lake Tribune, prohibition agents say the illegal drug trade has reached "epidemic" proportions in south-central Utah. Cordell Pearson, commander of the Central Utah Narcotics Task Force, said more people are involved with drugs on a per capita basis in the rural area than in some large cities.) Date: Tue, 11 May 1999 16:47:28 -0700 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: US UT: Drug Problem In Central Utah Called 'Epidemic' Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Luciano Colonna Pubdate: Sun, 09 May 1999 Source: Salt Lake Tribune (UT) Copyright: 1999, The Salt Lake Tribune Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://utahonline.sltrib.com/ Forum: http://utahonline.sltrib.com/tribtalk/ Author: The Associated Press DRUG PROBLEM IN CENTRAL UTAH CALLED 'EPIDEMIC' RICHFIELD -- Drug enforcement officials say the illegal drug trade has reached "epidemic" proportions in south-central Utah. Cordell Pearson, commander of the Central Utah Narcotics Task Force, said more people are involved with drugs on a per capita basis in the rural area than in some large cities. In the past few weeks, law enforcement has responded to the problem with a series of drug busts. The most recent was in Monroe in Sevier County, and in the small town of Jerusalem in Sanpete County. There also have been major drug busts in Garfield County and Millard County, and 15 were arrested in one sweep in Sanpete County. Methamphetamine labs have been raided during several drug busts, and a small house in Fillmore was seized for drug violations, the first time that has happened in Millard County. Laboratory equipment, narcotics paraphernalia and weapons also have been seized. Among the weapons that have been seized are rifles, shotguns and handguns -- some fully loaded. Authorities say the drugs are being distributed from county to county. It is believed that the illegal drugs from the two labs recently discovered in Sevier County were distributed to dealers in Piute, Wayne, Sanpete, Garfield, Millard and Sevier counties. And methamphetamine labs can be dangerous, Pearson noted. At a residence near South Sevier Middle School in Monroe, "There was a great deal of evidence which indicated the lab had exploded during the process of manufacturing meth," he said. Residue bled through the paint on a wall and meth was embedded in linoleum on a floor.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Actress Plato Dies of Overdose (The Associated Press says Dana Plato, a former actress on television's "Diff'rent Strokes," died from an accidental overdose of Valium and Loritab, a painkiller, Saturday night in Moore, Oklahoma, while en route from Florida to Los Angeles.) Date: Sun, 9 May 1999 19:40:00 -0700 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: US OK: Actress Plato Dies of Overdose Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: EWCHIEF Pubdate: Sun, 09 May 1999 Source: Associated Press Copyright: 1999 Associated Press ACTRESS PLATO DIES OF OVERDOSE MOORE, Okla. (AP) Former "Diff'rent Strokes" actress Dana Plato, who had battled drug problems over the years, died of an accidental overdose Saturday night, police said. Police Sgt. Scott Singer said Ms. Plato, 34, had apparently taken the painkiller Loritab and Valium. "The death appears to be an accidental overdose. We don't suspect suicide," Singer said Sunday. Ms. Plato played Kimberly Drummond on the NBC sitcom that ran from 1978 to 1984. Like her fellow child co-stars Gary Coleman and Todd Bridges, she has found herself in and out of trouble over the years since the show was canceled. In 1992 she received five years' probation for forging prescriptions for Valium. That probation was added to five years' probation for robbing a Las Vegas video store in 1991. "If I hadn't gotten caught, it could have been the worst thing that happened to me because I could have died of a drug overdose," she told reporters in 1992. Ms. Plato and her fiance, Robert Menchaca, had stopped at his parents' home in Moore for Mother's Day. She had arrived in Oklahoma after having appeared on the "Howard Stern" show in New York on Saturday as part of an effort to jumpstart her career. Her recent career included mainly low-budget films such as 1992's "Bikini Beach Race" and the 1997 film "Different Strokes: A Story of Jack and Jill," a direct-to-video softcore tale about a sexual threesome. Ms. Plato and Menchaca, 28, were en route to Los Angeles. They lived in Navarre, Fla. Singer says Ms. Plato complained of being tired and went to take a nap Saturday afternoon. He said Menchaca, who was with her, realized about 9:40 p.m. that there was a problem. Menchaca's mother, a nurse, and his brother tried cardiopulmonary resuscitation to revive her but were unsuccessful. Rescue workers were called and she was dead on arrival at Southwestern Medical Center. Singer says toxicology results aren't expected for about six weeks. Coleman, who played the lovable Arnold on the show, pleaded no contest in February to disturbing the peace for punching an autograph-seeker in the eye. He was ordered to attend anger management classes, fined and given a suspended jail sentence. Bridges, who played Willis on the sitcom, has been arrested several times. In 1990, Bridges was acquitted of assault with a deadly weapon in the near fatal shooting of a narcotics dealer in a Los Angeles drug den. He once testified that he became depressed and turned to drugs after his show was canceled.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Drug Abuse Fight Could Use Cash Fix (Houston Chronicle columnist Thom Marshall observes that both drug traffickers and the police, including DARE officers, make a good living off prohibition. Money, however, is in short supply at Houston's Palmer Drug Abuse Program, or PDAP, which offers free, outpatient substance-abuse recovery services for youth, using methods based on Alcoholics Anonymous.) Date: Sun, 9 May 1999 17:45:14 -0700 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: US TX: Column: Drug Abuse Fight Could Use Cash Fix Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: G. A ROBISON Pubdate: Sun, 09 May 1999 Source: Houston Chronicle (TX) Copyright: 1999 Houston Chronicle Contact: email@example.com Website: http://www.chron.com/ Forum: http://www.chron.com/content/hcitalk/index.html Author: Thom Marshall DRUG ABUSE FIGHT COULD USE CASH FIX Almost Everywhere Drugs Go, Money Follows Money is why farmers produce plants to be processed into illegal drugs instead of cultivating crops of less-profitable food or fiber. Money is the motivation driving drug dealers. Stealing for money to buy drugs is behind that big percentage of crime attributed to substance abusers. Fighting drugs is but the flip side of the same coin. Seizing assets from suspects in drug cases has proved quite lucrative for law enforcement agencies. This is on top of the vast sums of public money the government continues pouring into its so-called drug war year after year, despite an appalling lack of progress to show for it. Even when it comes to treatment of drug abusers, some high-cost private facilities have gleaned great profits by keeping drug abusers until their insurance coverage is exhausted and then releasing them. Money, however, is in short supply at Houston's Palmer Drug Abuse Program, or PDAP, which offers free, outpatient substance-abuse recovery services for youth, using methods based on Alcoholics Anonymous. Beth Alberts, PDAP executive director, and some of the organization's trustees, said they have been frustrated by recent fund-raising efforts. Raising funds a challenge PDAP was started in 1971 at Palmer Memorial Church. It boasts a success rate of 65 percent, meaning 65 out of 100 of those who come for help manage to achieve sobriety during their first 90 days. The organization has grown to six locations in the Houston area and has spread to 10 other cities. Alberts is working to expand to more Houston locations and said the only roadblock has been a lack of money to pay counselors to run the programs. She said PDAP has many longtime loyal contributors and conducts a few fund-raisers, such as an annual golf tournament, but coming up with new sources of funding is difficult. Helping kids with drug problems is one of those things most of us had rather not think about, unless we have to. It makes us uncomfortable. It is one of those problems we want others to take care of. Some of the city's major contributors to charities have let Alberts know they had rather put their donations into worthy causes that are more pleasant for people to ponder, such as the city's many arts programs. So recently, for the first time, Alberts went to City Hall requesting a $100,000 grant for PDAP. It seemed a reasonable request, considering the $3.7 million per year the city pays to finance the much-criticized DARE program. Many studies over several years show DARE to be, basically, an expensive flop in cities across the country and here at home. A better approach than DARE Some $3.3 million of that DARE budget goes to pay salaries and benefits for 63 police officers who teach the program. Much of the rest is spent on T-shirts, bumper stickers, pencils, and other promotional items. When you consider that the kids PDAP helps are the kids that DARE had failed to steer away from drugs, doesn't it seem fair that the DARE budget should be cut enough to fund the PDAP grant request? Actually, considering DARE's dismal track record after more than a dozen years, doesn't it seem that we might be better off doing away with DARE altogether and finding and funding programs that show better results? That isn't likely to happen, though. Police officials wouldn't give up control of all that money without a big battle. Whenever it is suggested, DARE advocates promise improvements and suggest the real problem is that they don't have enough money. And whenever the discussion turns to money for drug programs here in Houston, we should remember to factor in the politics. Mayor Lee Brown was Houston's police chief when DARE was started, and he has led the federal war as the nation's drug czar. He isn't likely to break ranks and abandon any government-controlled programs, regardless of how many studies show they are ineffective. Mayor Brown also is listed as an advisory member of the PDAP board, but that hasn't yet counted for anything in the quest for funding. The funding request before City Council is pending. Meanwhile, if you know kids who could benefit from PDAP and would like to know more about the program, you can call Beth Alberts at 713-507-5354. Thom Marshall's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
------------------------------------------------------------------- Committee Considers Compromise On Hemp Legalization (The Minneapolis Star-Tribune says a proposal before a Minnesota legislative conference committee would allow Governor Jesse Ventura to apply for federal permits that would allow state farmers to grow experimental and demonstration plots of industrial hemp. An earlier bill to legalize industrial hemp passed the Senate but was stopped in a House committee.) Date: Mon, 10 May 1999 18:05:28 -0700 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: US MN: Committee Considers Compromise On Hemp Legalization Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Frank S. World Pubdate: Sun, 09 May 1999 Source: Minneapolis Star-Tribune (MN) Copyright: 1999 Star Tribune Feedback: http://www.startribune.com/stonline/html/userguide/letform.html Website: http://www.startribune.com/ Forum: http://talk.startribune.com/cgi-bin/WebX.cgi COMMITTEE CONSIDERS COMPROMISE ON HEMP LEGALIZATION ST. PAUL (AP) -- A proposal before a conference committee would allow the governor to apply for federal permits to authorize the growing of experimental and demonstration plots of industrial hemp. A proposal to legalize hemp as a crop passed the Senate earlier this session but was stopped in a House committee. The amendment, part of a House governmental finance bill, would also allow individuals to apply to grow the hemp in demonstration plots. Gov. Jesse Ventura has supported the legalization of industrial hemp, a cousin of marijuana with a low amount of the psychoactive ingredient THC. Hemp has become a trendy product of choice used in items ranging from designer clothing to expensive German automobiles. Hemp was legalized in Canada last year and was once used in the United States to make rope and other products. Opponents of legalizing hemp say it is indistinguishable from marijuana and could lead to law enforcement problems.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Inmates' Suits Target Wide Range Of Officials (The St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Missouri state Attorney General Jay Nixon is defending state employees against 711 prisoners who have filed 33 lawsuits over alleged abuse they suffered at the hands of Texas jailers. Prisoners blame not only the Texans who ran the jail, they blame leaders of the Missouri Department of Corrections for ignoring their complaints until the scandal got too big to cover up when a videotape surfaced in 1996 that showed Missouri prisoners being stomped on, bitten by attack dogs and zapped with a stun gun. "We're having to deal with about 2 million pages of documents . . . .," Nixon said. "It is the largest paper case we've had . . . ." Nixon has 26 lawyers on his staff working on the case. He also hired three private lawyers at $100 an hour or less, and rented space in an office park to use as a depository where 97 boxes and nine filing cabinets fill two rooms.) Date: Fri, 21 May 1999 03:52:53 -0700 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: US MO: Inmates' Suits Target Wide Range Of Officials Sender: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: MAP Pubdate: Sun, 09 May 1999 Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch (MO) Copyright: 1999 Post Dispatch Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.stlnet.com/ Forum: http://www.stlnet.com/postnet/index.nsf/forums Author: Kim Bell, Post-Dispatch Jefferson City Bureau INMATES' SUITS TARGET WIDE RANGE OF OFFICIALS NIXON VOWS MISSOURI WON'T PAY FOR ALLEGED ABUSE BY TEXAS JAILERS More than 700 men, once known by Missouri as merely prisoners of the state, are now plaintiffs - suing state officials for alleged abuse they suffered at the hands of Texas jailers. The lawsuits followed the 1996 videotaped jail shakedown that showed Missouri prisoners being stomped on, bitten by attack dogs and zapped with a stun gun in Brazoria County, Texas. Although convicted of Missouri crimes, the prisoners were sent to Texas as part of a rent-a-cell program because prisons here were packed. Prisoners blame not only the Texas sheriffs deputies and the private company that ran the jail, they blame leaders of the Missouri Department of Corrections for allegedly ignoring their complaints until the tape surfaced nearly a year later. Attorney General Jay Nixon is representing the state employees against 711 prisoner-plaintiffs in 33 lawsuits. "We're having to deal with about 2 million pages of documents in those cases alone," Nixon said. "It is the largest paper case we've had to deal with in a quick, short time period since I've been attorney general. " Nixon has 26 lawyers on his staff working on the case. He also hired three private lawyers at $100 an hour or less. Lawsuits were filed in Texas and Missouri, in federal and state courts. Most prisoners sued about 40 different entities, from Dora Schriro, the prisons chief of Missouri, to the jailers and sheriffs of Brazoria and other Texas counties that had contracts with Missouri. The prisoners also are going after the private jail-management firm, Capital Correctional Resources Inc. Millions are at stake, but Nixon's chief of staff, Chuck Hatfield, said: "The attorney general has specifically said we are not interested in paying any money on these cases, period." Hatfield said the prisoners' lawyers are negotiating with CCRI's insurance company. The jail management firm had a $2 million insurance policy covering all events that occurred in Texas. Barring a settlement, the earliest trial date would be June 2000. Monstrous workload Because of the monstrous workload, Nixon rented space in an office park east of the Capitol to use as a depository. Ninety-seven boxes and nine filing cabinets fill two rooms. An oversized Texas fly swatter hangs on one wall; on another wall is a map of Texas with color tabs marking seven key counties that held Missouri prisoners. "I think our defenses are strong," Nixon said. "We did not send our prisoners down there to be treated inhumanely." Nixon declined to comment on the specific allegations against Missouri officials. Typical allegations include: * Schriro and the Missouri Department of Corrections "knew or should have known" of the alleged mistreatment through audits and interviews with prisoners. * Prisoners were abused immediately after arriving in Texas. Guards hit, kicked, pushed and shoved the inmates, struck them with riot batons, shocked them with stun guns and forced them to crawl on their stomachs and scream "I love Texas" under threat of physical abuse or punishment. * Missouri dumped violent prisoners on Texas, in violation of the contract, by "improperly and illegally" changing the inmates' security classifications. * Prisoners repeatedly reported the abuse to Missouri, but officials did not do thorough investigations. * Missouri contends the Texas jail warden downplayed the incident and kept the video secret. Missouri has sued Brazoria County for breach of contract. * Missouri failed to review the hiring practices in Texas that put jailers with violent and criminal pasts in charge of Missouri prisoners. Two jailers at Brazoria County were hired despite misdemeanor convictions for abusing inmates. The head of security in CCRI's Limestone County jail was a former deputy sheriff who was demoted for abusing a handcuffed prisoner. Missouri said it was not aware of their guards' troubled pasts; the hiring was left to the company and Brazoria County. Wilton David Wallace, a CCRI jailer, had served prison time for beating a prisoner 13 years before he came into contact with Missouri inmates. Wallace faces criminal charges for violating the civil rights of Missouri inmate Clarence Fisher in 1996 by ramming Fisher's face into a wall at the Brazoria County Detention Center. The alleged attack was not captured on video; Fisher lost a tooth and required stitches. The criminal trial is set for July 12. On the video, a CCRI guard identified as Wallace steps on an inmate's back and kicks another inmate in the groin as he crawls across the jailhouse floor. Wallace and three deputies face federal criminal charges for their alleged roles in the 1996 videotaped shakedown. All four have pleaded not guilty and await trial Aug. 9 on the civil rights violation charges. Videotape spurs litigation Not until the tape surfaced did Missouri officials begin to take the prisoners' allegations seriously, the suits allege. Prisoners say they signed a complaint and sent it to Nixon. Hatfield declined to comment. Lynn Klement, of Angleton, Texas, represents 25 prisoners in lawsuits. He did not sue any Missouri officials. Instead, he targeted the Brazoria County sheriff, deputies and CCRI. "I really went after the wrongdoers, the perpetrators of the beatings, rather than a shotgun blast where I go after everyone," Klement said. "Missouri's involvement was more benign neglect, ignoring their pleas." The videotape Sept. 18, 1996, was taken by a Texas deputy as part of a training exercise. The sheriff's riot team orders prisoners to crawl into a hallway while jailers shake down the bedding looking for drugs. One deputy holding a black tazer, or stun gun, shocks at least three prisoners on the back or buttocks as they crawl past him. One of the slower-moving prisoners is a young man with a bandaged ankle, who was dragged at times by a deputy. Although this 32-minute video is what sparked the litigation, lawyers say they uncovered as many as 100 videotapes of Missouri prisoners at various jails in Texas. Some of the footage is dry, showing a monotonous stream of prisoners eating or being unloaded from buses. One video shows inmates in Gregg County, Texas, being hosed down as someone adds pepper spray to the water. Klement said other tapes had been erased. In summer 1997, Missouri had 1,091 inmates in Texas jails, a $12 million program that relieved overcrowding at home. Shortly after the videotape surfaced, Missouri ordered the return of all its prisoners.
------------------------------------------------------------------- The Drug Odyssey Of A Senator's Son (The Standard-Times, in New Bedford, Massachusetts, recounts the 25-year heroin addiction and eventual healing of Doug MacLean, the son of William Q. "Biff" MacLean, a once influential state Senate majority leader. All three of MacLean's children became drug addicts, and all three recovered. The first-hand experience has given him new insight into the city's drug problems. "What I've learned from my kids is that you can spend a lot of money, but nothing will work until an individual makes up his or her mind that they want help and are ready to help themselves out." He's learned something else, as well. "Don't criticize people because it could happen to you.") Date: Sun, 9 May 1999 19:39:56 -0700 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: US MA: The Drug Odyssey Of A Senator's Son Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: John Smith Pubdate: Sun, 09 May 1999 Source: Standard-Times (MA) Copyright: 1999 The Standard-Times Contact: YourView@S-T.com Website: http://www.s-t.com/ Author: Polly Saltonstall, Standard-Times staff writer THE DRUG ODYSSEY OF A SENATOR'S SON Doug MacLean Tells Of His 25-Year Addiction - And His Recovery During almost three decades in office, William Q. "Biff" MacLean earned a reputation as one of the state's most influential politicians. The former state Senate majority leader made things happen. But even this consummate power broker could not make the problems in his own family go away. All three of his children became drug addicts. This is the story of the senator's son Doug, who abused heroin for almost 25 years before flushing the drugs out his system for the last time in a jail cell five years ago. "You get to a point where you don't realize how you got there," says Doug, who decided to talk about his addiction and his recovery in the hope it might inspire others. Poised and gregarious with blue eyes, short dark hair, a wide smile and a ready, rolling laugh, he came to recent interview wearing pressed gray flannel pants, a jacket and tailored wool overcoat that mark him as a young professional on the way up. Yet this was the same person who checked into New Bedford's Ash Street Jail in early 1994. A snapshot taken that day shows tangled black hair and blood-shot eyes staring vacantly from a gaunt face. "I started out at 17 shooting dope and the next thing you know I was 37, helpless, homeless and destitute, wondering how in the hell did I get here?" he says. This story has two morals: Heroin addiction does not recognize class and economic boundaries -- it hits the privileged as well as the poor. And once the addiction takes hold, it can't be cured by money or influence -- drug abuse in his family left even one of the state's most powerful politicians powerless. Outsiders can show the way, but ultimately only the addict can cure himself. "There is hope for people. I want them to know there is a way out," says Doug. "You can lead a horse to water. You can't make him drink, but you can make him thirsty. That's the point -- to make them thirsty, to let them know there's another life." The first time Doug MacLean tried heroin, he could not stick the needle into his arm himself. A friend did it, while the squeamish 17-year-old turned his head away. The initial prick hurt. But the physical pain only lasted for a second as the potent drug pulsed to his brain and took over. He quickly overcame his fear of needles for pragmatic reasons. When he asked someone else to inject him, he had to share with that person, which meant less drugs for him. An active child who loved boats and ice hockey and was never at a loss for friends, Doug suffers from a learning disability called dyslexia. The dyslexia made reading and writing difficult for Doug. Held back in school as a result, he felt stupid and worthless. He drifted away from academics and was introduced to drugs by friends. They started out drinking. They tried speed, sometimes called crystal meth, so they could stay up late and drink more. Soon they moved on to heroin. Initially, Doug just shot up on weekends, but within two years he had developed a daily habit and was overdosing on a regular basis. "I didn't feel good about myself. I was insecure," he said. "When I used, it got me out of myself." Doug's initial exposure to drugs was smoking marijuana at the age of 13. His mother, Martha Cardoza, recalls the first time she and her husband became aware of the situation. Doug had come home one evening acting strangely. "Biff was so mad he grabbed Doug," she says. Both parents yelled. They threatened to send Doug away to school. They threatened to lock him in his room. "We didn't know how to handle it," she says. "And you know what's so strange is they were doing this anti-drug stuff in school, showing the kids what happened if you got involved. And Biff was very strong about telling them what to do. I just didn't think we'd ever have this problem." Ms. Cardoza, who was divorced from the senator in 1986 after 20 years of marriage, took her son to weekly sessions with a psychologist. But he defiantly announced he would not stop smoking pot. He also told them he was too smart to try anything stronger. "Then one thing led to another and before you know it, he had left home," she says. "Biff tried everything he could. We both did. But we didn't know anything about drugs. I can't describe how awful it is. To not be able to do anything is the worse thing a parent can go through." To this day, her brain tells her there was nothing she could have done, but her heart continues to ask why. Was it peer pressure? Was it teen-age rebellion that got out of hand? She confesses to over-drinking herself at times, but neither her family nor the senator's had a history of problems with substance abuse. Ms. Cardoza remembers how the young Doug doted on his grandparents, how he loved to go out in boats, to play with his friends. One summer he went to Ted Williams baseball camp. His grandfather, who had played minor league ball in Rhode Island, lent Doug a baseball signed by Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth. "He told Doug to be sure not to allow anyone to write on it. When Doug showed it to Ted Williams, he offered to sign it, but Doug wouldn't let him. Can you imagine?" she says, speculating how much a ball with those three signatures might be worth today. "Doug did not want to disappoint his grandfather." But she also remembers that sometimes the young boy would get a sad look in his eyes and stare off to someplace she couldn't reach. A slow learner, he started to talk later than other children and occasionally had trouble saying what he wanted. Senator MacLean did not notice his son's drug use initially. "Don't forget I was running businesses. I was involved with seven fishing boats. I had a real estate business. I was in the legislature. I was so busy trying to make a living, I couldn't see the forest for the trees." Sitting in his wood-paneled insurance office on a rainy afternoon, he folded his arms tightly over his chest as he looked down at a photo on his desk of his three grown children and reflected back on their childhoods. The normally confident senator spoke in soft tones, punctuating his conversation with long pauses as he remembered. A star athlete in high school, Senator MacLean was proud when his son turned out to be a good hockey player. But the father who loved sports so much never went to athletic events with Doug, or his two daughters. "The shame of it is they always went with a man named Arthur Martin (a family friend). I had the tickets but they went with him because I was in the legislature." Something close to regret slips into his voice, as he describes how he has told young legislators serving after him to spend more time with their families. "You think it's so glamorous," he says looking up at framed photographs of him with various state and national politicians. "But it's only a short time. Your family is going to be with you the rest of your life." He wonders whether the pressure of being his son might have sparked some of his children's rebellious behavior. "I never considered myself a famous father. I just tried to be a father. Whether I was a good one, only time will tell." Doug says his father was rarely around during his childhood. "You don't know what you don't know. I guess you can't miss something you never had," he says. "He really intimidated me. For one I didn't know him and for two, he was a powerful person. He carries himself that way. It's especially difficult for someone who isn't full of self-esteem and self-worth. I used to stutter around him. I was scared to speak my mind." He does not think his father noticed the changes in him as he grew older. "One moment I was a cute little kid, the next I was in the seventh grade with long hair and smoking dope. He probably wondered where did this guy come from." By the time he was 18, Doug already had been arrested a handful of times on charges ranging from breaking and entering to illegal possession of drugs and alcohol. He dropped out of school when he was 16, around the time he moved out of his parents' house. Soon afterward, he went to Florida on a swordfishing boat. When he returned to New Bedford a year later he got a job working in a fish market. Laid off from that, he was hired at United Liquors, working in the warehouse and making deliveries. "I was drunk all the time." Still using drugs, he was charged, along with three others, with stealing $425 worth of brass fastenings and screws from a Fairhaven business. The business owners and district attorney's office agreed to not to press charges if Doug, who was then 18, joined the Navy. He served from 1976 to 1979 in Norfolk, Va. When he got out he signed on as a deckhand with scallopers fishing out of New Bedford. He also worked as an engineer and cook on the big boats. It was a rough, tense life. "Living-on-the-edge type of thing," says Doug. "It's not a pleasant life but you make a decent living at it. It enables you to be very irresponsible." Like his colleagues, when he came in from a long trip offshore flush with thousands of dollars in cash, Doug gravitated to downtown bars where he binged on alcohol and heroin before going back out to sea. "You get hired in the barrooms, you get fired in the barrooms and you get paid in the barrooms." During the 14 years he worked on fishing vessels, Doug would flush the drugs out of his system while offshore, then come back to port in New Bedford and "blow my brains out" with heroin. Despite those dry periods at sea, his habit intensified until no boat captain would hire him. "They were tired of my bullshit." He came back from his last fishing trip in January 1993. Then he hit the bottom. Doug met a prostitute named Joanne. The two moved around between motels and boarding rooms. They spent one winter in an abandoned house, heating their room with a two-burner electric cooking unit. They subsisted on a diet of Little Debbie snacks and water, washed up in bathrooms around the city and dressed in "our cleanest dirtiest clothes." "All our money went for drugs," explains Doug. When they woke up in the morning they shot up heroin and "nodded out" for a few hours. At lunch time, they injected cocaine to wake back up and as the afternoon wore on went back to heroin. After several days of nonstop bingeing they would crash and sleep for 12 hours before starting the cycle all over again. The heroin "took all my problems away," says Doug. "The cocaine made me wide awake and very paranoid." Sometimes they did speedballs -- injecting cocaine and heroin simultaneously. The cocaine provides a quick rush and the heroin takes the edge off. Doug's addiction was defined not by what it was, but by what it wasn't. He got high, not necessarily because it felt good, but because it didn't feel bad. A main focus was not to be "dope sick," the term addicts use for the physical flu-like symptoms of withdrawal, the achy bones and muscles, the runny nose, hot and cold chills and insomnia. Then there were the psychological aches. Like a hung-over drinker the morning after a binge, Doug was hit during his sober moments with flashes of remorse about the course of his life. "The more I did the worse I felt. The worse I felt the more I used. And the more I used the more things I had to do to get the drugs." Ever before one high ended, he was thinking about where to get money for the next batch. "You know it's going to run out, that the high will go away. My whole existence was finding the ways and means to get more drugs. No matter how much I had it was never enough," he says. "My whole world existed within a few blocks' radius of New Bedford." He would get drug money anyway he could, including robbing the men who picked up Joanne. She would lure them in and when they took their pants off, Doug would steal their clothes and their wallets. Once they found a grocery list in a victim's pocket with money attached. "I felt kind of bad for that guy," says Doug. "He left his house and his wife and kids to go grocery shopping and now he has to explain to his wife how he has no money and no groceries because he got robbed going for a hooker." The amount of drugs they consumed depended on the money. A normal day might bring in $500. Once they robbed $2,000 off one of Joanne's tricks. "That only lasted two days," says Doug. Once an angry victim came back and shot at the house while Doug and his girlfriend huddled inside. It could have been worse. He considers himself extremely lucky not to have tested positive for HIV. Doug's family and friends tried to help him cure his habit. His sisters enrolled him in a 30-day detoxification program in New Hampshire, a former girlfriend sent him to a clinic and a good friend picked him off the street and took him to a program on the Cape. But each time, he could not live with himself sober and relapsed. "I felt my life would get better without drugs and it did get better, but I felt lousy," he says. "After so many years of lying and manipulation, when I took the drugs out of my system, I felt like a scared little kid. I lived in fear to the point where I felt uncomfortable in my own skin." When he fell back into his old habits, he made a conscious effort to stay away from his family. "Would you want your mother to see you that way?" he says, describing himself as "probably the most polite junkie on the street." Once while sitting stoned on the front step of a Fairhaven motel room, Doug helped save the life of a woman whose boyfriend had slit her throat. She came around the corner, holding a bedspread over her naked, bloody body. Doug got a towel and told her to hold it against the pulsing red gash in her neck. He yelled for someone to call 911 and went to the woman's room where he found a naked man lying on the floor with a knife wound in his throat. "The cops thought I had done it because I was covered in blood." Both the man and the woman survived. His family connections made Doug one of New Bedford's better-known addicts. Each new arrest -- and there were quite a few -- made headlines in the local newspaper. The stories made his mother cringe. "I didn't want to go to the grocery store or the hairdresser." She remembers looking out her window one night and seeing Doug curled up asleep on her front lawn. "I wanted to bring him in, give him a bath and some food and tell him everything would be OK," she says. But despite her anguish and her belief that her son's lifestyle was killing him, she did not go outside. "I knew that wasn't the right thing to do. By then, I knew about the importance of tough love. I knew I had to let him be." The next morning when she looked out again, Doug was gone. She never found out what happened or why he came to her house that night. Senator MacLean also never saw his son during this period. "It wasn't hell. It was worse than that," he says. "Everybody thought Doug was in a situation where he was my son and that whenever he went to court, I would get him out. That was never the case. I never picked up a hand for him." He stops talking for a few seconds, and looks up at the ceiling. "I'm proud of these kids," he adds about his three children, all of whom have recovered from their addictions. "They've done it all on their own. I wasn't there. Sometimes my temper was worse than anything else because I was so disgusted with their attitude. Their success now is not because of me, it's because of them." The first-hand experience has given him new insight into the city's drug problems. "What I've learned from my kids is that you can spend a lot of money, but nothing will work until an individual makes up his or her mind that they want help and are ready to help themselves out." He's learned something else, as well. "Don't criticize people because it could happen to you." One of the senator's daughters works in the correction system helping inmates recovering from additions. The other is a guidance counselor for elementary school students. Both declined to be interviewed for this story. "If you only used one quote it might be that after all these years I still want to be invisible. After 14 years, I'm still worried about the stigma of drugs," says one. April 25, 1994, Doug went to jail again, sentenced to five and a half months on various drug-related charges, including heroin distribution and possession. Over the years, he had been in and out of jail, but this was his longest stint yet. He does not remember much about checking in to New Bedford's aging Ash Street lockup, addled as he was by the symptoms of withdrawal. But he carries in his pocket a snapshot taken by a caseworker, as a reminder of those times. Doug obtained a copy of the snapshot after leaving jail. He was counseling other addicts at the time and found many did not believe he had once been one of them. "It brought tears to my eyes the first time I looked at it," he says. "I'm in jail looking at doing some time. I feel pretty hopeless and helpless. I'm at the point of no return, thinking how am I going to change this situation I'm in." After years of abusing his body, Doug was tired. He was ready to try one last time to clean up his life. He kept to himself in jail, weaning himself from the heroin without any medical treatment. His mother gave him some money and sent him a letter urging him to get his life together. His father never visited or wrote. "I thought if I went there it might have an effect on the other prisoners. But more importantly, I was thoroughly disgusted with him. So many people along the way had tried to help him," the senator says. When Doug's mother and a sister visited on his birthday they saw a new person. "When he walked down the stairs, I couldn't believe it was him. He had changed, gained weight. He looked so good," Ms Cardoza says. His decision never to go back to drugs came quietly in a moment of reflection soon after he had been released from jail. Living in Harmony House, a halfway house in New Bedford's North End, he took a written test to assess what he needed to learn in order to earn his high school equivalency diploma. Halfway through, stuck for an answer, he almost gave up. "I was stressed out, sweating with a headache, thinking do I really need this. Then I just came to a realization: let's just get through the day," he says. "I closed the book, then opened it and continued on. Five years later I'm still in school." Soon after he left Harmony House, Doug moved into low-income housing near New Bedford's Weld Square. His mother helped furnish the apartment, buying pots and pans, a bedspread and other accouterments. He worked his way into a new life slowly. With no car, he depended on friends for rides, or rode a bicycle. Up at 6 a.m. every day he went to self-help group meetings and classes, volunteered with the drug treatment and referral group Positive Action Against Chemical Addiction and spent his evenings doing homework. He resisted the temptation to return to lower Union Street and his fishing friends. "Once I started achieving things its started snowballing. I realized if I wanted to get a life I had to get off my ass and do something. You have to learn how to feel good about yourself." His studies paid off. Enrolled at Bristol Community College, he quickly moved into the top ranks of his class, winning numerous awards, including one for leadership, character and integrity. He was one of a handful of community college students in the state chosen for USA Today's All USA Academic Team. And he was elected as a student member of the board of trustees. Both of Doug's parents came to his graduation in 1997. His mother cried as she learned for the first time about the scholarships and awards won by the son she thought she had lost. "To this day I look at him in awe. I am so proud of him." Doug went on to attend UMass Dartmouth where he is one year away from earning a BA in sociology and criminal justice. A director on the board of the New Bedford Council on Alcoholism, he also works part-time as an alternative sentencing officer in Third District Court, helping place criminals with addiction problems into treatment. "I'm definitely my own person now and my accomplishments are due to what I'm doing," he says. "You see me walking around and going to work in a suit. I did the footwork." And he has rebuilt ties with his father, who has become one of his son's biggest boosters, along with most other people who come into contact with Doug these days. As he talks about his children, Senator MacLean's voice softens and he grins. "Everytime I turn around someone is telling me about Doug."
------------------------------------------------------------------- Time To Prick A Drugs Myth (An op-ed in Britain's Sunday Times by Ian Oliver, the former chief constable of Grampian Police, says needle-exchange programs increase heroin use without reducing the transmision of disease.)Date: Sun, 9 May 1999 21:00:17 -0700 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: UK: Time To Prick A Drugs Myth Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Martin Cooke (email@example.com) Pubdate: 9 May 1999 Source: Sunday Times (UK) Copyright: 1999 Times Newspapers Ltd. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.sunday-times.co.uk/ Author: Ian Oliver, former chief constable of Grampian Police TIME TO PRICK A DRUGS MYTH In 1998, three pharmacies on the fringes of Aberdeen distributed more than 120,000 hypodermic syringes to people who were injecting illicit drugs. It is a common and rising statistic throughout the UK's big cities. The original intention behind the introduction of needle exchange programmes (NEPs) was based on the hypothesis that they would play an important part in the prevention of HIV transmission and thus reduce the spread of Aids. At the time the Scottish Office was sounding out opinions on NEPs, Edinburgh was widely described as the "Aids capital of Europe". The first programmes in Scotland began in 1987 and the time has come to question their effectiveness. For example, there are grounds to argue that they have not stopped the spread of infection and may have exacerbated the problem of drug abuse. General Barry McCaffrey, the American "drugs czar", recently blocked the federal funding of NEPs. His reasoning was based on a report on the Vancouver NEP, the largest in North America, which currently distributes more than 2.5m needles a year, a figure that is expected to grow to an estimated 10m at present user rates. Vancouver has been described as the "drugs and crime capital of North America". In summary, McCaffrey's concerns were: * The science is uncertain. Currently there is no scientific or empirical evidence to demonstrate that NEPs reduce the spread of infection and there are concerns that they may exacerbate drug use. When the programme started in Vancouver in 1988, only 1%-2% of addicts were HIV positive; in 1998 that percentage had increased to 30%. * Public health risks may outweigh potential benefits. There is strong evidence to suggest that heroin and cocaine use is increasing among intravenous drug users and the risk that needle exchanges might promote that use outweighs any possible benefits. Research has shown that the Aids/HIV rate is declining, as a result of improved education, in areas where there are no NEPs. Vancouver has the highest heroin death rate in North America and there is evidence that needles are now used in cocaine abuse (previously "snorting" was the norm for this drug), where an addict may make up to 50 "hits" a day. Coincidentally, heroin abuse has increased significantly with the proliferation of NEPs in North America. * Treatment must be a priority. Where budgets are restricted, it is better to treat addicts than to support a strategy that may directly or indirectly encourage addiction. * Federal support of NEPs may undermine support for drug-control programmes. Spending federal money on NEPs detracts from spending on Aids research, treatment and prevention programmes. Such expenditure on drug paraphernalia could seriously undermine support for effective drug prevention and treatment programmes. * Supporting NEPs sends the wrong message to children. Lending official support to a programme that appears to encourage addiction and illegal conduct is inconsistent with the goals of a national youth-orientated, anti-drug campaign and sending a mixed message will threaten to undermine the credibility of other anti-drug initiatives. * NEPs do nothing to ameliorate the impact of drug use on disadvantaged neighbourhoods. NEPs are usually located in impoverished neighbourhoods. The programmes attract addicts and result in a concentration of the negative consequences of drug use, including criminal activity." The biggest concerns in North America seem to turn on the lack of any evidence that they are beneficial. In fact, there is every indication from the Vancouver experience that it created thousands of extra "shared" needles. In Scotland there is no official information available that assesses the efficacy or otherwise of needle exchanges. Separate budgetary allocations are made for health authorities who undertake NEPs and the Scottish Office is reviewing the HIV health-promotion strategy. In 1997, the National Institutes of Health Consensus Panel Report on HIV Prevention praised the NEP in Glasgow but made no reference to the heroin epidemic that appears to reflect the Aberdeen experience and that of North America. Evidence from Australia has raised serious doubts about the hypothesis that ready access to clean injecting equipment would play an important role in the control of HIV transmission. It points to a contemporaneous rise in the spread of hepatitis C among intravenous drug users, which is also apparent in Glasgow and other UK cities. Much of the support for NEPs in North America and the UK appears to be based on anecdotal evidence and the use of statistics, which have been demonstrated to be unreliable. What is of great concern is that after 12 years there has been no official assessment of this "act of faith" when there has been a concomitant rise in drug use. A trawl of the scientific literature has failed to produce any conclusive evidence that NEPs reduce the spread of Aids/HIV and hepatitis C or that they discourage drug use. Indeed, the reverse of that hypothesis might well be true, given the evidence that there is a massive increase in heroin use and that drug-related deaths among intravenous drug users are "sky-rocketing" across Scotland, particularly in Aberdeen and Glasgow. There are fears in North America that the support for NEPs is part of an international drug legalisation campaign which will lead to the free supply of heroin as has occurred in Switzerland and the Netherlands. There are also legitimate concerns that NEPs are acting directly in contradiction to the philosophy behind the drugs courts which depend on a "carrot and stick" approach in order to persuade users to refrain from drug use. A recent survey in 1997 by the Family Research Council in America has indicated that, by very large majorities across the social spectrum, there is opposition to NEPs. This opposition rests on the belief that they are not the most effective use of public funds to prevent Aids/HIV and they are thought to exacerbate other social problems. The survey found substantial majorities of Americans believed Aids prevention should focus on drugs treatment instead of "needle giveaways" with strong evidence that thousands of these clean needles will become "dirty" when shared with other addicts. Simultaneously maintaining and trying to reduce the harm in an inherently destructive practice and lifestyle is thought to be both unsuccessful and hypocritical. By a margin of 56% to 34%, Americans concluded that government-funded NEPs represented an official endorsement of illegal drug use. If we are serious in our attempts to enhance public health and reduce the demand for dangerous drugs as part of our anti-drug strategy, then it is surely sensible to undertake a scientific audit of a programme that has been promoted in Scotland for more than a decade. Before continuing to spend money on such programmes we should assess how they are controlled and apply "performance indicators" to demonstrate beyond doubt that they are achieving what they set out to achieve. We cannot continue to spend money and divert resources away from other projects such as the much-needed treatment centres on the assumption that a well-intentioned hypothesis propounded in 1987 continues to be valid at the end of the millennium. There are other, more effective and less controversial ways to prevent the spread of infection. If these NEPs represent little other than a public funding of an illegal and self-damaging activity, which itself is the cause of too many deaths and serious public health concerns, then the question has to be asked: "Where is the point?" -------------------------------------------------------------------
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