------------------------------------------------------------------- Where's Public Outrage Over Nonviolent Criminals in Jails? (A letter to the editor of the Seattle Times notes the U.S. Justice Department recently reported the nation's jails and prisons now warehouse over 1.8 million individuals, and the Justice Policy Institute found 1.1 million of them were nonviolent offenders. Do the taxpayers really enjoy wasting $24 billion every year to house nonviolent criminals?) Date: Sun, 16 May 1999 14:38:27 -0700 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: US WA: PUB LTE: Where's Public Outrage Over Nonviolent Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: John Smith Pubdate: Sun, 16 May 1999 Source: Seattle Times (WA) Copyright: 1999 The Seattle Times Company Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.seattletimes.com/ Author: Glenn H. Early, The November Coalition, Colville Note: This letter has been printed twice in the Seattle-Times. See http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v99.n506.a10.html Judicial System WHERE'S PUBLIC OUTRAGE OVER NONVIOLENT CRIMINALS IN JAILS? Where is the public outrage? The Justice Department reported that our nation's jails and prisons now warehouse over 1.8 million individuals. When the Justice Policy Institute analyzed the report, it found that 1.1 million of those incarcerated are nonviolent offenders. Do the taxpayers really enjoy wasting $24 billion every year to house nonviolent criminals? I certainly doubt it. It is time for the American people to demand effective and sensible solutions to incarceration. With the foolish policies now, it will not be long before one-third of our citizens are behind bars, with one-third keeping an eye on them and the other third working to pay for it all. Glenn H. Early, The November Coalition, Colville
------------------------------------------------------------------- Court Rules Agents Can Consider Ethnicity When Stopping Drivers (An Associated Press article in the Houston Chronicle says a 2-1 ruling by a panel from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco on Thursday upheld the convictions of two Hispanic men. The judges said a search of their car, which yielded "two large bags of marijuana" and a pistol, was justified partly by the men's ethnicity and partly because they turned their car around to avoid a checkpoint.) Date: Sun, 16 May 1999 14:38:25 -0700 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: US: Court Rules Agents Can Consider Ethnicity When Stopping Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Art Smart (ArtSmart@neosoft.com) Pubdate: Sun, 16 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 COURT RULES AGENTS CAN CONSIDER ETHNICITY WHEN STOPPING DRIVERS SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Border Patrol agents can consider ethnicity when they make traffic stops, a federal appeals court ruled in a case involving two Hispanic men who turned their cars around to avoid a checkpoint. The ruling comes at a time when the use of ethnic background as the basis for traffic stops is receiving increasing attention throughout the country. In a 2-1 ruling, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday upheld the detention of two Hispanic men stopped 50 miles inside the United States after they tried to avoid a highway checkpoint. The court said it was appropriate that among the things the officers considered in making the stop were that the men turned around and that they were Hispanic. Writing for the majority, visiting U.S. District Judge Frank C. Damrell of Fresno pointed to a Supreme Court decision in a 1975 case, in which the court listed a number of things the police could consider in such an instance. Among them were the character of the area; nearness to the border; traffic patterns; previous smuggling problems in the area, the officer's experience; and the behavior of the passengers. After a motorist told authorities that two cars with Mexican plates turned around a mile from the checkpoint, they were stopped. Agents searched the cars of German Espinoza Montero-Camargo and Lorenzo Sanchez-Guillen and found two large bags of marijuana and a .32-caliber pistol. The men were charged.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Students Fight Ban On College Funds For Drug Offenders (The Chicago Tribune says opposition is growing on college campuses to a provision in the Higher Education Act that withholds federal financial aid from students convicted merely of possessing "drugs," including marijuana.) Date: Sun, 16 May 1999 14:38:39 -0700 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: US IL: Students Fight Ban On College Funds For Drug Offenders Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Steve Young Pubdate: Sun, 16 May 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: Carol Lewis STUDENTS FIGHT BAN ON COLLEGE FUNDS FOR DRUG OFFENDERS Opposition is growing on college campuses to a provision of the Higher Education Act that withholds federal financial aid from students convicted of selling or possessing drugs. Congress passed the provision in the fall to send a message to young drug users, but opponents say that it denies money to troubled students when they need it most to turn their lives around, that it fails to address drug intervention and education, and that it ignores other types of criminal behavior. Many college students are becoming aware of the provision but worry about its ramifications. "I am a little scared myself. I know how people's names get dropped, and they can get arrested," said Hunter Russell, a junior at the University of Texas at Dallas. "My main fear is being in the wrong place at the wrong time. I could lose my financial aid. I'm pretty dependent on it." The provision, part of the Higher Education Act Amendments of 1998, goes into effect in fall 2000 and denies grants, loans and work assistance to students convicted under federal or state law. Students can lose at least one year of financial aid for a drug possession conviction and at least two years for a conviction of selling drugs. Eligibility can be reinstated during the suspension if students complete rehabilitation and pass two random drug tests, but the law does not define rehabilitation, said Judy Schneider, assistant vice president and director of Student Financial Aid at the University of Texas at Arlington. "We are somewhat hopeful that Congress will address some of the questions and actually reverse its position and not tie financial aid to the issue," said Schneider, president of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators. "We do not feel like it's an issue that should be tied to receiving financial aid." The opinion is shared by Drug Reform Coordination Network officials in Washington, who are trying to spread awareness of the provision through an online newsletter. Student leaders at 130 campuses are reviewing the provision to determine whether they will support a resolution to ask Congress to overturn it, said Adam Smith, the network's associate director. "The provision is a misguided way to fight the war on drugs," said Smith, who is helping students coordinate the campaign. "Given the racial disparity in drug law enforcement, this will inevitably have a discriminatory impact. It will deny education to those for whom it is most vital: the poor, the non-white and non-violent young people who have had previous contact with the criminal justice system and who are trying to turn their lives around." Reports of increasing drug arrests among college students have contributed to lawmakers' frustration, but their approach should have focused on intervention and treatment, said Irma P. Jones, coordinator of substance abuse prevention and vice president for student affairs at the University of North Texas. U.S. Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) gave the students' campaign a boost by introducing a bill to repeal the provision. But it most likely will be opposed by lawmakers such as House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas), who strongly supported the provision. "Every criminal who gets funding takes away from other students who need it," said Jim Wilkinson, Armey's press secretary. "There are so many kids in the inner city who do not have access to money for education who want to get out of their situations and to make something out of their lives. To think that some students get turned down because a drug dealer gets it is a big concern."
------------------------------------------------------------------- A Public-Safety Fix - About Time (The Boston Globe says Elana Ennis, the chief of police in Burlington, Vermont, announced last week she would kill the local DARE program at the end of the school year, calling it "lame," and citing nationwide studies showing it does not work. While outspoken proponents of the program remain, several studies, including one by the U.S. Department of Justice, have suggested Drug Abuse Resistance Education is not worth the $750 million it costs every year. Burlington will be the first major city in New England to drop the program.) Date: Mon, 17 May 1999 17:25:54 -0700 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: US MA: Editorial: A Public-Safety Fix -- About Time Sender: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Dick Evans Pubdate: 05/16 1999 Source: Boston Globe (MA) Copyright: 1999 Globe Newspaper Company. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.boston.com/globe/ Author: Matthew Taylor A PUBLIC-SAFETY FIX -- ABOUT TIME BURLINGTON, Vt. - Ask Allen Charbonneau about the DARE drug education classes he took, and the 16-year-old's face contorts like he's in pain. ''We got a lot of stickers and T-shirts...but that's it,'' scoffed the sophomore, standing before a row of cars in the Burlington High School parking lot. ''We'd sit there and do absolutely nothing while some cop would run his mouth about `don't do this' and `don't do that.' It was a waste.'' Charbonneau is not alone. Burlington Police Chief Elana Ennis announced last week that she would kill the program, long popular throughout New England, at the close of the school year, calling it ''lame,'' and citing nationwide studies showing it does not work. While outspoken proponents of the program remain, several studies, including one by the Department of Justice, have suggested that DARE is not worth the $750 million it still commands each year. The move will make Burlington the first major New England city to drop the program, following the lead of Omaha, Houston, and Seattle, which have sought newer strategies in the war on drugs. ''Basically, we need to update our approach,'' Ennis said. ''It's not that the DARE program is bad, it's just that we can do more. I think DARE is basically a feel-good program. The officers are great, and I don't want to take anything away from them, but it's time to update it. I think we can do a lot better.'' Initiated in Los Angeles in 1983, the Drug Awareness Resistance Education program burst into schools nationwide on the coattails of substantial federal subsidies from the Bush administration. The program, through a 17-week course taught in classrooms by uniformed police officers, has a simple goal: keeping youths away from drugs and violence. Officers employ a hodgepodge of lectures, role-playing, and essays to warn children away from temptation. For years the program - used in roughly 80 percent of the nation's school districts, including Boston - has been touted as a classroom boon, a mix of education and entertainment that teaches children while creating a bond with police officers. T-shirts and bumper stickers bearing the motto ''DARE To Keep Kids Off Drugs'' have inundated the country. And Burlington is no different. The DARE program is currently taught in three Burlington elementary schools. A police officer teaches 17 lessons in classrooms for roughly an hour a week. This past Friday, the Mater Christi School, a sprawling campus on a hill beside the University of Vermont, celebrated its final DARE graduation, a festive affair attended by parents and teachers. A final essay project recapping the basic principles of the program is required for graduation. Bill Ward, a Burlington officer who has taught DARE classes for seven years, and who conducted the graduation Friday at Mater Christi, said he thinks the program works and will be sad to see it go. ''I know it makes a difference,'' Ward said. ''I mix it up and make it exciting for the kids. I bet if you asked a bunch of high school kids what they thought of middle school math, they'd roll their eyes, too. That doesn't mean it shouldn't be taught.'' Ward's assessment of the program echoes that of national DARE officials, many of whom feel a truly accurate DARE study would take years to complete and would cost between $3 million and $5 million. Still, the official view remains at odds with several studies conducted over the past five years. One of the most exhaustive studies to date on the effectiveness of DARE was conducted four years ago by North Carolina's Research Triangle Institute, at the behest of the Department of Justice. The study found the program's ''limited effect on adolescent drug use contrasts with the program's popularity and prevalence. ...DARE could be taking the place of other, more beneficial drug education programs.'' Massachusetts' Governor's Alliance Against Drugs surmised from various studies that ''the conclusions are mixed as to the effectiveness of DARE in decreasing drug use among students who have participated.'' But DARE executive Glen Levant has criticized the studies as ''flawed'' and has been quoted as saying: ''Scientists will tell you bumblebees can't fly, but we know they can.'' Ennis said her decision to halt the program was reached after police and education officials identified the need for a more effective drug-education approach. What that new approach will be, she conceded, is not yet clear. But some of these alternatives may include switching the classroom speakers from police officers to recovering addicts, and striving to impart deeper truths about drugs and alcohol rather than teaching a code of sweeping abstinence. ''We need to stay one step ahead of the kids,'' she said. ''I don't mean to say it's a terrible program without merits, but it does need to be updated. ...It's lame. Kids have said that to me.'' One 16-year-old Burlington freshman, who declined to give his name and acknowledged occasionally smoking marijuana, criticized the program for lumping all drugs together, making youths view harder drugs like heroin and cocaine in the same light as pot. ''You'll never stop it,'' said the teenager. ''Look around this parking lot. There's cigarettes in most cars. Kids are kids. You got 200 bucks, you can get anything you want.'' Edward Scott, director of guidance at Burlington High School, is not surprised by the students' reactions. Scott said he agrees that the DARE program does not work. ''One reason it's ineffective is that kids are too sophisticated these days,'' he said. ''They're not impressed by the badge and the gun anymore.'' Jennifer Cushman, a central Vermont teacher, tried a different approach in her seventh-grade classroom. She brought in a recovering drug addict to talk to the students. Her class, she recalled, was rapt. ''They saw a human figure talk about how he got into drugs at their age,'' Cushman said. ''He was able to show them what addiction was all about, how horrible it is.'' In Scott's view, the key to drug education is better integrating it into the curriculum, rather than having a police officer visit the school once a week. School Resource Officers - who are stationed in public schools - are a good start, he said, but not the complete solution. Chief Ennis plans to hold focus groups this summer to determine a better approach. Her initial plan is to designate three police officers who will be stationed in public schools. ''That's one part of DARE I want to keep,'' she said. ''It's just that we can do better.'' One alternative Ennis likes is a program used in Los Angeles called ''Every Fifteen Minutes.'' The approach is to single out one student a day, dress him or her differently, and not allow contact with other students. The goal is to drive home the consequences of drinking and driving. But beyond that, the chief admitted, it's touch and go. ''We're going to work on it,'' she said. ''It's too important a message not to work at finding the right approach.''
------------------------------------------------------------------- DARE Gets Updated In Some Area Schools, Others Drop Program (The Boston Globe says this fall, Lexington, Massachusetts, will become the third school district in the region to drop DARE, although retaining some elements of the national antidrug course taught by police officers mainly to fifth-graders. Lawrence public schools eliminated the once-a-week Drug Abuse Resistance Education classes two years ago, weaving elements of it into health classes. And schools in Bedford last fall introduced Project Adventure, an alternative health-physical education program that delivers much the same messages about peer pressure and decision-making as DARE. Otherwise, DARE appears to be thriving at other school districts in the region, except Arlington, which never adopted the program created by the Los Angeles police in 1983.) Date: Mon, 17 May 1999 16:57:31 -0700 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: US MA: DARE Gets Updated In Some Area Schools, Others Drop Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Dick Evans Pubdate: 05/16 1999 Source: Boston Globe (MA) Copyright: 1999 Globe Newspaper Company. Contact: email@example.com Website: http://www.boston.com/globe/ Author: Jerry Taylor, Globe Staff, Globe Correspondent, DARE GETS UPDATED IN SOME AREA SCHOOLS, OTHERS DROP PROGRAM In the fall, Lexington will become the third school district in the region to drop DARE, although retaining some elements of the national antidrug course taught by police officers mainly to fifth-graders. Lawrence eliminated the once-a-week Drug Abuse Resistance Education classes two years ago, weaving elements of it into health classes. Bedford last fall introduced Project Adventure, an alternative health-physical education program that delivers much the same messages about peer pressure and decision-making as DARE. Come September, instead of a DARE officer delivering 17 scripted lessons to fifth-graders at its six elementary schools, Lexington will have a "school resource officer" assigned to its Diamond and Clarke middle schools, helping deliver a health curriculum - to be created over the summer - for grades 6-8. "We'll look at all kinds of materials and pull out what we feel is best for our kids," said Jennifer Wolfrum, health coordinator for the Lexington school system. She is collaborating on the new course with the middle school principals, Joanne Hennessy at Diamond and Pamela Houlares at Clarke. "All substance programs are about building skills - in decision-making, listening, resolving conflicts, dealing with peer pressure, analyzing the impact of the media, explaining what drugs are and how they work," Wolfrum said. "One of the things I'd like to see us do is have it more interactive with students, to work with them on actual situations in Lexington where students behaved in certain ways, to see what alternatives there are, and do more analyzing of the media." One other community will not offer DARE instruction this year or next. Boxborough, with one school for K-6, has been unable to spare an officer for the program. But DARE appears to be thriving in all other school districts in the region, except Arlington, which has never adopted the program created by the Los Angeles police in 1983. "We have five DARE officers, some of them part-time, working with fifth-graders in all our elementary schools," said Woburn's assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, Louise Nolan. "Every summer we run a two-week DARE camp at the Joyce Middle School for incoming seventh-graders. Our DARE officers run an after-school program at the Joyce. Kids do woodworking and produce a play. DARE officers lead activities at the Joyce on Saturday mornings. We want our children to reach out to police officers just as they do to parents or teachers." Over and over, champions of DARE point to the relationships that youngsters form with cops as perhaps the greatest benefit. Bedford's former DARE officer, Jeff Wardwell, is now a youth officer taking part in many of the weekly Project Adventure classes, in which fifth-graders at the Lane School gain confidence through rope-walking exercises and other group endeavors. "We still get phone calls from parents asking for Jeff," Bedford's police chief, Jack McGrath, said. "They know the name and know their kids liked him. There were a lot of benefits. Kids get to realize police officers aren't different from other people and officers get to know kids." The principal of Chelmsford's Parker Middle School, Robert Bennett, raves about his town's DARE officer, Rick Hallion. "This is our third year with DARE," Bennett said. "It's a very positive program for kids. It's a way for law enforcement to interact with children in a nonthreatening fashion. It supports what we do in health education. Youngsters learn to make better decisions. DARE sponsored a basketball game in March. Students and faculty played police officers and firefighters. The middle school jazz band played. We had a contest for posters kids made. We had families there." Lawrence, Bedford, and Lexington officials say they were motivated to drop DARE not only by a desire to establish a comprehensive health curriculum but also by scheduling pressures in fifth grade, with music, foreign languages and other "pull-out" distractions from core subjects. "We're struggling with the same things," said Littleton's school superintendent, Joseph Franco. "We have DARE in fifth grade, with followup in grades 7 and 8. Our former DARE officer, John Kelly, is now police chief. He and I have talked about getting away from the rigidity of DARE, with the canned lessons. It sounds like what Lexington is doing and what we're thinking about is bringing DARE to a higher level. Next year we might not have it. That's in the talking stage." Franco said he was taken aback by one of the findings in a survey Emerson Hospital made of risky behaviors by students in grades 6, 8, and 11 in Littleton, Acton, Boxborough, Carlisle, Concord and Westford. "One out of three kids here is thinking about suicide," he said. "That's sad. What can they be dealing with that's so hard to reconcile? There's a lot more isolation in families today. Kids aren't likely to have aunts and uncles to turn to when things aren't going well at home. Kids have fewer support systems now. Schools try to fill that gap." The new health and physical education course at Lane in Bedford was a success, according to the school's principal, Jill Cane. "In my first two years here, we had three different DARE officers, so it was difficult for kids to form a relationship," she said. "We've incorporated a lot of the lessons from DARE. They're important for 10-year-olds to have." Wolfrum, Lexington's health coordinator, said the current consensus is to have 10 or 11 classes next year for sixth-graders and perhaps as many for eighth-graders. She said the soon-to-be-hired resource officer will also work with fifth-graders in 1999-2000. "I know few educators in any school system who take any curriculum and use it exactly as the publisher intended," Wolfrum said. "Most teachers will add pieces. ... That's what education is all about."
------------------------------------------------------------------- Drug-Law Reform Gains Steam (The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle says numerous proposals to reform New York's Rockefeller-era mandatory-minimum drug laws are floating around the state capitol. Many legislators are waiting on a report due later this month from the conservative Manhattan Institute, whose scholars are criticizing the use of mandatory sentences in drug cases. The state's burgeoning prison population is now about 70,000, of which about 22,000 are drug offenders.) Date: Sun, 16 May 1999 14:38:46 -0700 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: US NY: Drug-Law Reform Gains Steam Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Keith Sanders Pubdate: Sun, 16 May 1999 Source: Rochester Democrat and Chronicle (NY) Copyright: 1999sRochester Democrat and Chronicle Contact: email@example.com Address: 55 Exchange Blvd. Rochester, NY 14614 Fax: (716) 258-2356 Website: http://www.democratandchronicle.com/ Author: Yancey Roy Note: Rochester Democrat and Chronicle only accepts letters under 175 words from NY-area residents DRUG-LAW REFORM GAINS STEAM State Legislation From The Rockefeller Era Is Among The Strictest In The Nation. ALBANY - Numerous proposals to change New York's strict Rockefeller-era drug laws are floating around the State Capitol, leading advocates and legislators to believe such reform could happen this year. The proposals range from tinkering to full-scale overhauls and they come from liberal Democrats, conservative Republicans, and even the state's top judge. "This is the most serious activity on this issue ever, since the laws were passed 26 years ago," said Robert Gangi of the Correctional Association, a prisoner-rights group that has been advocating broad changes. "It means there's a greater possibility that something will happen this year than ever before. Of course, it's also possible that nothing will happen." The state's drug laws, adopted in 1974 under the late Gov. Nelson Rockefeller, are among the nation's strictest. For example, someone selling more than 2 ounces of a narcotic or possessing more than 4 ounces could be sentenced to 15-years-to-life. Critics have blamed the drug laws for the state's burgeoning prison population, now about 70,000. About 22,000 of those are drug offenders. Even one of the original Senate sponsors of the drug laws has said it's time to realize the measures haven't reduced drug use or crime. "They've proven to be a failure. They've been ineffective and unfair and an extra burden for the taxpayers," said former Sen. John Dunne, a Nassau County Republican who chaired the Judiciary Committee in the early 1970's. "They are no longer relevant or helping the community." Dunne said legislators thought then "heavy draconian penalties would drive the sellers off the streets." "But for every one you get off the street, three are there to volunteer to take his place," Dunne said. He added that drug-treatment programs and alternative-sentencing plans are much more sophisticated and effective now. Dunne was one of several panelists at a forum last week discussing proposals to revamp the drug laws. Here's a synopsis of the sponsors and ideas: * Assembly Corrections Committee Chairman Jeffrion Aubry, D-Queens: End mandatory-minimum sentences by giving trial judges discretion on sentences, allow convicts already in jail to have their sentences reduced and expand drug-treatment programs. This plan is considered the most far-ranging. * Dunne and the bipartisan Campaign for Effective Criminal Justice: Similar to Aubry's proposal. While not ending mandatory-minimums, it would double the amount of drugs required to constitute each grade of crime. It also calls for allowing judges to defer up to two years of a sentence if the offender enters drug treatment. * Sen. John DeFrancisco, R-Syracuse: Doubles the amount of drugs required to constitute the most serious felonies. * Chief Judge Judith Kaye: Would allow those convicted of the most serious felonies to reduce their sentences from 15 years to life to five years to life, if an Appellate Division judge agrees. Would allow low-level offenders to enter drug treatment instead of prison, if a local district attorney agrees. * Gov. George Pataki: Similar to Kaye's proposal but would allow a reduction to only 10 years to life. Wants to trade any change in the drug laws for severely limiting parole for all nonviolent offenders. DeFrancisco, both a former prosecutor and a former defense lawyer, said trial judges must be given some sentencing flexibility. "All the options, now, are in the district attorney's office," said DeFrancisco, referring to current laws that allow someone to enter drug treatment instead of jail only if a prosecutor agrees. "That, I don't believe is a fair process," he said. "And allowing appeals to only Appellate Division judges... that doesn't make any sense whatsoever. Sentencing judges (at the county or city level) are paid to do their jobs. Let's let them." DeFrancisco said his proposal calls for only small changes, but he's offering it as a starting point. He's willing to consider many of Aubry's suggestions. Advocates say the key is getting Pataki to talk with Senate and Assembly leaders about the laws. But with the state budget talks simultaneously stalled and prohibiting action on other topics, no one's sure when that will happen. Meanwhile, many are awaiting a report on the drug laws due later this month from the conservative Manhattan Institute. Scholars from the think tank are criticizing the use of mandatory sentences in drug cases. Advocates, like Gangi, said the report could give Pataki and other conservatives the philosophical and statistical backing needed to support broad changes.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Drug Reform Sense (A staff editorial in the Times Union, in Albany, New York, says a proposal from a coalition headed by John Dunne, a former state senator who voted for the Rockefeller mandatory-minimum drug laws back in 1973, holds out the best hope for a just and humane compromise in achieving reform. Mr. Dunne offers common ground between those who want incremental change and those favoring an aggressive overhaul. He would not repeal the mandatory minimum sentences but instead lower them. More important, he would give judges the discretion to mandate treatment for offenders instead of prison, even if the prosecutor objects. The last provision is surely the most controversial. Under the Rockefeller laws, prosecutors hold most of the cards. They effectively decide the punishment in selecting which charges to bring against an offender. But justice should be about punishment fitting the crime, not about punishment imposed by blind mandate.) Date: Sun, 16 May 1999 14:52:45 -0700 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: US NY: Editorial: Drug Reform Sense Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Capital Region NORML Pubdate: Sun, 16 May, 1999 Source: Times Union (NY) Copyright: 1999, Capital Newspapers Division of The Hearst Corporation Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Fax: 518-454-5628 Address: Box 15000, Albany, NY 12212 Feedback: http://www.timesunion.com/react/ Website: http://www.timesunion.com/ Forum: http://www.timesunion.com/react/forums/ DRUG REFORM SENSE A proposal by a reform coalition holds out the best hope for a just and humane compromise After more than 25 years, New York state's Rockefeller drug laws have proved unduly harsh on low-level offenders and woefully ineffective in stemming the drug trade. It's no wonder, then, that everyone from Governor Pataki and Chief Judge Judith Kaye to public advocacy groups is searching for ways to reform the laws. But when the dust settles, the best hope for a just and humane overhaul lies in a proposal put forth by John Dunne, a former state senator who voted for the Rockefeller laws back in 1973. Nowadays, Mr. Dunne, a former assistant attorney general under President Bush, heads a coalition of liberals and conservatives that is seeking to reform the antiquated statutes. The Times Union examined the Rockefeller laws from a variety of perspectives in a four-day series last week. We looked at the cold statistics on drug crime and the heated rhetoric of politicians who call for retaining the statutes. We looked at the lives shattered by drugs, and we examined the views of experts on addiction and rehabilitation. But the most compelling stories came from those caught in the Draconian system -- the small-time offender who wound up serving a sentence of 15 or 20 years or more, even as the kingpin pushers walked free because of a loophole in the otherwise punitive statutes. Yet even as New York state grapples with reform proposals, other states have long since embraced more enlightened approaches to drug crimes. In Florida, for example, treatment is more likely to be ordered by the courts than incarceration. In Arizona, state lawmakers have enacted the antithesis of the Rockefeller laws by mandating treatment for nonviolent drug offenders. The results are astounding. The Arizona Supreme Court found that 77.5 percent of those referred to treatment had remained drug free after one year. As our series found, in New York the first thing that many drug offenders do when leaving jail is to look for a fix. There is no shortage of reform proposals now before the Legislature, but all fall into three main categories. One is incremental reform, such as Mr. Pataki's proposal to give appellate judges the power to reduce the mandatory minimum sentences of 15 years for first-time offenders convicted of possessing, but not selling, illegal substances. The governor, to his credit, also advocates closing the loophole that is now exploited by drug kingpins. A second approach lies in the sweeping overhaul suggested by Assemblyman Jeffrion L. Aubrey, D-Queens. He would repeal the Rockefeller laws and establish new sentencing guidelines. Ideally, that is what New York needs. But with politicians so fearful that they might be criticized for being soft on crime, the chances of sweeping reform seem remote at best. That leaves Mr. Dunne's proposal, which offers a common ground between the incremental and aggressive overhaul. He would not repeal the mandatory minimum sentences but instead lower them. More important, he would give judges the discretion to mandate treatment for offenders instead of prison, even if the prosecutor objects. The last provision is surely the most controversial. Under the Rockefeller laws, prosecutors hold most of the cards. They can decide which offenders to indict and at what level. If they win a conviction, the judge has no choice but to impose the mandatory minimum. But justice should be about punishment fitting the crime -- not about punishment imposed by blind mandate. Lawmakers should endorse Mr. Dunne's plan as quickly as possible.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Employers Almost Free To Drug Test (The Star-Ledger says the New Jersey legislature is poised to pass a bill that would authorize employers to force all employees, no matter what their jobs, to submit to random drug testing. The bill would expand the power of employers to find out what their workers are doing on their own time in other ways, too.) Date: Sun, 16 May 1999 14:38:43 -0700 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: US NJ: Employers Almost Free To Drug Test Sender: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Mineral Pubdate: Sun, 16 May 1999 Source: Star-Ledger (NJ) Copyright: 1999 Star-Ledger Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Address: 1 Star-Ledger Plaza, Newark, N.J., 07102-1200 Website: http://www.nj.com/starledger/ Forum: http://forums.nj.com/ Author: Robert Schwaneberg Star-Ledger Staff EMPLOYERS ALMOST FREE TO DRUG TEST Unprecedented Power Allowed By Bill Trenton Is Ready To Pass New Jersey has long barred employers from delving too deeply into the lives of their workers, whether by asking them to submit to a polygraph or genetic test or by discriminating against those who smoke off the job. Now the Legislature is poised to pass a bill that would make New Jersey a national leader in regulating drugtesting in the workplace. But unlike earlier laws, this bill would expand the power of employers to find out what their workers are doing on their own time. The bill would authorize employers to force all employees, no matter what their jobs, to submit to random testing for illegal drugs. Workers whose jobs do not affect the safety of the public could not be fired the first time they flunk a drug test, as long as they undergo treatment. "The bill tries to strike a balance," said Assemblyman Richard Bagger (R-Union), the sponsor of the legislation, which already has been passed by the Assembly. Bagger said employee drug abuse threatens not only the profits of the employer but the careers and lives of workers should they be allowed to sink deeper into addiction. "We're saying we want to help the employer and the employee simultaneously deal with their problem," Bagger said. The state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union takes a very different view. It sees the bill as a retreat from earlier laws safeguarding worker privacy, "I think it's a huge step backwards, and I think it's unconstitutional," ACLU staff attorney David Rocah said. "It dramatically restricts employee rights in this area." Bagger said the bill was requested by the Governor's Council for a Drug-Free Workplace, now part of the Partnership for a DrugFree New Jersey, to clarify when and how private employers may test their workers for drugs. Paul I. Weiner, a Livingston lawyer who has represented employers in major drug testing cases, said there is "an absolute need" for such guidance. He noted that the New Jersey Supreme Court asked the Legislature to establish rules for drug-testing almost seven years ago. Weiner said that if Bagger's bill is enacted, "we'll be the only state with this far-reaching law. We're going to be a leader, not a follower." "It's a first," said Sen. C. Louis Bassano (R-Union). who is sponsoring the legislation in the upper house. In its 11 pages, the bill spells out precise standards for when and how drug testing may be conducted by private employers. The bill establishes that all job applicants can be tested and, once hired, retested as part of a routine medical examination. In addition, any employee can be forced to take a drug test at any time if his boss has a "reasonable suspicion" that the worker is abusing drugs. Such testing could be based, for instance, on a tip from a co-worker, or if the employee is behaving erratically or is involved in an accident. The most controversial part of the bill concerns the drug testing of employees who show no signs of drug abuse. Federal regulations already require it for masstransit operators and heavy-truck drivers. Many police agencies require their armed officers to submit to a system of random drug testing. But for other workers, it is legally questionable. Weiner said a few states, notably Connecticut and Vermont, ban it. Bagger's bill would allow it. The New Jersey Supreme Court wrestled with the issue in 1992 and unanimously concluded that random drug testing could be an invasion of privacy that entitles a worker to sue the employer. It depends, the court said, on whether the employee is performing a "safety-sensitive" job, which in that case involved controlling the flow of oil at a refinery. Finding that a spill could pollute the Delaware River or cause a catastrophic explosion, the court upheld the refinery's decision to fire a lead pumper who had tested positive for marijuana and Valium. The Bagger bill would not change that. Someone performing a safety sensitive job could still be forced to undergo random drug testing and fired the first time he failed or refused the test. But unless they are covered by a union contract that forbids it, employees who are not performing safety-sensitive jobs also could be forced to provide urine, blood, hair or other samples for testing should they be picked under an employer's "neutral selection procedure." Under existing law, Bagger said, "it is uncertain how the courts would view that. He wants to encourage such testing as a way of identifying employees with drug problems and forcing them into rehabilitation. That goes too far in the ACLU's view. "Any employee, from the 65-year-old grandmother who's working as an executive secretary to the nun working at a nonprofit organization, could be required to submit to a drug test, and that's just crazy," said Rocah. Under the bill, drug-testing laboratories would have to meet standards to be established by the state Department of Health and Senior Services. Samples could be tested only for illegal drugs, not to determine whether an employee had a condition that would drive up the employer's health insurance premiums. An initial test indicating drug usage would have to be confirmed by a second analysis. Test results would have to be interpreted by a physician and kept confidential. Employers who violated those standards could be sued, while those who followed the law would be immune to lawsuits. Rocah views the bill as a dramatic retreat from laws protecting worker privacy. The Genetic Privacy Act of 1996 forbids employers from requiring their workers to submit to genetic testing. For at least two decades, state law has made it a criminal offense for an employer to even ask a worker to take a lie-detector test unless the employee handles narcotics as part of his job. In 1991, the Legislature made it illegal for employers to fire or otherwise discriminate against workers who smoke tobacco on their own time. The ACLU supported that bill to establish the principle that employers may not control what their workers do off the job. It sees that principle threatened by random drug testing, "These drug tests don't measure on-the-job impairment. They measure past use," Rocah said. "We should not turn employers into an auxiliary of the police force." He predicted that the bill, which is ready for a Senate vote and then would go back to the Assembly in amended form, will be challenged if it becomes law. Jeff Stoller, a vice president at the New Jersey Business and Industry Association, said this is not a mat-ter of employers policing the work force, but of employers looking out for their own legitimate interests. That includes preventing accidents caused by addicted workers and guarding company funds against em-bezzlement by employees with expen-sive drug habits, he said. "If your treasurer has developed a heroin addiction, that is a real threat," Stoller said. Weiner said that if the Bagger bill passes, companies are likely to require random drug testing for employees who handle money or are in a position to cause an accident that will get the company sued. But he does not foresee random drug testing of all workers regardless of their duties. "No. 1, it's expensive. Two, employers are not looking to do it. They won't do it without a reason," Weiner said. "I'll still advise my clients that they should have a reason. To do it without a reason will only cause bad morale."
------------------------------------------------------------------- Bill would OK drug testing for all workers, but ACLU hates it (The Associated Press version) From: GranVizier@webtv.net Date: Mon, 17 May 1999 01:35:14 -0400 (EDT) To: email@example.com Subject: [cp] The End of Freedom as We Know It Bill would OK drug testing for all workers http://wire.nj.com/cgi-bin/nj_nview.pl?/home1/wire/AP/Stream- Parsed/JERSEY_NEWS/j0177_AM_NJ--WorkplaceDrugTest New Jersey Online (c) Bill would OK drug testing for all workers, but ACLU hates it The Associated Press 05/16/99 4:28 PM Eastern TRENTON, N.J. (AP) -- The American Civil Liberties Union says a bill that would authorize New Jersey employers to conduct random drug tests of employees goes too far. The bill, which has passed the Assembly and is currently before the state Senate, would force workers -- no matter what their job -- to submit to random testing for illegal drugs if asked. Only those whose jobs affect public safety could be fired upon a first offense. The bill was suggested by the Governor's Council for a Drug-Free Workplace and sponsored by Assemblyman Richard Bagger, R-Union. "I think it's a huge step backwards and I think it's unconstitutional," said David Rocah, staff attorney for the ACLU. "Any employees, from the 65-year-old grandmother who's working as an executive secretary to the nun working at a non-profit organization, could be required to submit to a drug test, and that's just crazy." Bagger said the legislation was necessary to protect the interests of private companies and the lives of those who are using drugs illegally. "We're saying we want to help the employer and the employee simultaneously deal with their problem," he told The Star-Ledger of Newark for Sunday's editions. Under the bill: -- all job applicants could be tested for drugs when they apply for jobs and retested as part of medical examinations. -- any employee could be forced to take a drug test if his boss had a "reasonable suspicion" that he was abusing drugs. "Reasonable suspicion" could include a tip from a co-worker, involvement in an accident or erratic behavior. -- any worker not covered by a union contract banning drug tests could be forced to submit to testing of urine, blood or hair samples as part of the employer's "neutral selection procedure." In 1992, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that random drug testing could be an invasion of privacy that entitles workers to sue their employers. It depends on whether the person's job is "safety-sensitive," the court said. Jeff Stoller, vice president of the New Jersey Business and Industry Association, said drug abuse is a legitimate threat for employers. Workers on drugs can embezzle money to support their habits or become involved in accidents because of impairment, he said. "If your treasurer has developed a heroin addiction, that is a real threat," he said. Paul Weiner, a Livingston lawyer who has represented employers in drug-testing cases, said that even if Bagger's bill passes, not all workers will be subject to testing. "Number one, it's expensive. Two, employers are not looking to do it. They won't do it without a reason. I'll still advise my clients that they should have a reason. To do it without a reason will only cause bad morale," Weiner said. Please send any questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Copyright 1999 Associated Press. All rights reserved. *** [Workers can embezzle money to support gambling addictions, too. Should we test everyone for gambling?] - GV *** To subscribe to the Constitutional Cannabis Patriots send a blank message to email@example.com *** Posting:To post to the Constitutional Cannabis Patriots send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org Constitutional Cannabis Patriots http://www.teleport.com/~nepal/canpat.htm
------------------------------------------------------------------- Unequal Justice (An op-ed in the Baltimore Sun by David Cole, a law professor at Georgetown University and author of "No Equal Justice: Race and Class in the American Criminal Justice System," says that thanks to New York police, Abner Louima and Amadou Diallo have become household names. Thanks to state police in New Jersey, Maryland and elsewhere, "Driving While Black" has entered the general lexicon. For the moment, the nation seems to be taking seriously the issue of racial bias in the criminal justice system. It's about time. The issue is not new. Nothing corrodes public trust and faith in the criminal justice system like perceptions of bias. And much of what drives the disparities is the war on drugs. Cole then proposes four reforms.) Date: Sun, 16 May 1999 14:59:35 -0700 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: US MD: Unequal Justice Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Rob Ryan Pubdate: Sun, 16 May 1999 Source: Baltimore Sun (MD) Copyright: 1999 by The Baltimore Sun, a Times Mirror Newspaper. Contact: email@example.com Website: http://www.sunspot.net/ Forum: http://www.sunspot.net/cgi-bin/ultbb/Ultimate.cgi?action=intro Author: David Cole UNEQUAL JUSTICE Although the American criminal justice system has a long history of racial bias, the United States is only now starting to take an honest look at the problem. THANKS TO the New York police force, Abner Louima and Amadou Diallo have become household names. Thanks to state police in New Jersey, Maryland and elsewhere, "Driving While Black" has entered the general lexicon. For the moment, the nation seems to be taking seriously the issue of racial bias in the criminal justice system. It's about time. The issue is not new. Were it not for some of its dated rhetoric, the 1968 Kerner Commission Report, which discussed the causes of the urban riots of the mid- and late 1960s, could well be a description of many of our cities today. "Negroes firmly believe that police brutality and harassment occur repeatedly in Negro neighborhoods. This belief is unquestionably one of the major reasons for intense Negro resentment against the police," the report said, adding: "Physical abuse is only one source of aggravation in the ghetto. In nearly every city surveyed, the Commission heard complaints of harassment of interracial couples, dispersal of social street gatherings and the stopping of Negroes on foot or in cars without objective basis." Often, the patterns of harassment were more than isolated incidents of sidewalk justice dispensed by rogue cops. In fact, they reflected a widespread pattern of police abuses rooted in departmental policies. In some cases, police departments created roving task forces that swooped down on high-crime neighborhoods and conducted indiscriminate street stops and searches. "Police administrators, pressed by public concern about crime, have instituted such patrol practices often without weighing their tension-creating effects and the resulting relationship to civil disorder," the report said. As the riots of the 1960s taught us, nothing corrodes public trust and faith in the criminal justice system like perceptions of bias. Unfortunately, those perceptions are as well-grounded today as they were then. Consider these facts: During a three-year period, from 1995 through 1997, 70 percent of those stopped on Interstate 95 in Maryland were black, though black motorists constitute only 17.5 percent of the speeders. During a 10-year period in Illinois, from 1987 to 1997, police in a special drug-interdiction unit stopped African-Americans at a rate double their presence on the roads, and Hispanics at a rate eight times greater than their presence on the road. Last month, New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman admitted that state troopers there had been using a racial profile to stop motorists, and two troopers were charged with falsifying their records to hide their discrimination. Blacks are only 12 percent of the general population, but more than half of the nation's incarcerated population. One out of every three young black men from age 20 to 29 is under criminal justice supervision, either in prison or jail or on probation or parole. For every black man who graduates from college each year, 100 are arrested. Much of what drives these disparities is the war on drugs. According to the United States Public Health Service, African-Americans make up 14 percent of the nation's illicit drug users, roughly equal to their representation in the general population. Yet African-Americans are 35 percent of those arrested for drug possession, 55 percent of those convicted for drug possession, and 74 percent of those sentenced to prison for drug possession. Thus, for a crime they commit at a rate no greater than any other group, blacks are imprisoned at a rate six times their representation in the U.S. population (12 percent, in the 1990 Census). Unacceptable stereotypes The racial character of the prison population, in turn, affects profiling. It leads police officers (and, indeed, all of us) to be more suspicious of minorities than of white citizens. For some crimes (although not for drug use), the greater suspicion is not entirely irrational, because there is evidence that minorities are more likely than whites to commit certain crimes, just as the young are more likely than the old, and men more than women. But the fact that such stereotypes might be minimally rational does not make them acceptable. Relying on racial stereotypes is not necessary to good police work. The comparative statistics regarding blacks and whites are drawn from the very small subset of blacks and whites who engage in criminal conduct. Because most people of all races do not commit crimes, using race as a proxy for suspicion will necessarily sweep in large numbers of innocents. Every year, for example, approximately 98 percent of African-Americans are not arrested for any crime. And while officers are watching people of particular races, they will miss offenders of other races. Most important, relying on race as a factor of suspicion violates the first principle of criminal law: individual responsibility. The state's authority to take citizens' liberty - and, in extreme cases, their lives - turns on the premise that all are equal before the law. Racial generalizations fail to treat people as individuals. As a result, policies that tolerate racial profiling undermine the criminal law's legitimacy. How, then, do we restore legitimacy to a criminal justice system that has fostered so much skepticism and alienation among minorities? First, government officials must make absolutely clear that racial profiling is unacceptable. Some police chiefs have said so, but others have tolerated the practice through their silence. Some courts have said racial profiling is unconstitutional, but others have said it's permissible as long as race is not the sole factor, a position that is indefensible as a matter of constitutional law. The Supreme Court has never addressed the question. So long as the practice is not clearly condemned, police officers will continue to do it, in part because it is not entirely irrational. Second, police departments must be willing to lay bare the demographics of their enforcement tactics. The absence of publicly available data exacerbates the racial divisions on this issue. It allows many in the white majority to ignore or minimize the problem while leading many minorities to fear the worst. And without reporting, the police cannot be held accountable. Common struggle Third, police departments must be made more representative of the communities they serve. The NYPD street crimes unit that shot and killed Amadou Diallo was a mostly white force patrolling mostly minority neighborhoods. Increasing diversity is not sufficient in itself, but it increases the likelihood that communities and police will see themselves as friends in a common struggle, rather than enemies. Finally, and fundamentally, we need to think beyond policing. It sometimes appears that the only public resources that the majority is eager to supply to the inner cities are more (and more aggressive) police officers. But, if similar levels of crime were occurring in white neighborhoods, and large numbers of white children were under criminal-justice supervision, isn't it likely that we would be hearing calls for different kinds of social investments, such as better schools, more job training, better after-care programs and drug treatment? To restore legitimacy, the majority needs to show that it is willing to invest in something other than the strong arm of the law. David Cole, a law professor at Georgetown University and Senior Justice Fellow at the Center for Crime, Communities and Culture, is author of "No Equal Justice: Race and Class in the American Criminal Justice System."
------------------------------------------------------------------- Here's Why I Smoke Marijuana (An op-ed in the Toronto Star by Barbara Turnbull, a staff reporter, explains that in 1983, a bullet in the neck made her a quadriplegic. Pot helps her deal with the resulting muscle spasms in a way no legal drug can. "And I refuse to feel fear or shame because of that.") Date: Sun, 16 May 1999 14:48:27 -0700 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: Canada: OPED: Here's Why I Smoke Marijuana Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Dave Haans Pubdate: Sun, 16 May, 1999 Source: Toronto Star (Canada) Section: Point of View Page: A3 Copyright: 1999, The Toronto Star Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.thestar.com/ Author: Barbara Turnbull, Toronto Star Staff Reporter HERE'S WHY I SMOKE MARIJUANA In 1983, a bullet in the neck made me a quadriplegic. Pot helps me deal with the resulting muscle spasms in a way no legal drug can. I smoke marijuana. I inhale every time, too - usually once or twice a week for the past four years, since I discovered pot's incredible medicinal value. Every time I do it, I break the law. Possessing marijuana for any purpose is a criminal offence. I need to smoke marijuana. Simply put, the quality of my life is improved by marijuana in a way that pharmaceutical medication cannot accomplish. I have been a quadriplegic since 1983, when a bullet in the neck put an end to my short-lived career as a convenience store clerk. Although I cannot move a muscle from my shoulders down, the muscles themselves can move. Shortly after my injury, they began to twitch spontaneously. At first it was the odd jerk of one of my legs or arms, but fairly quickly my limbs became much more spastic. The spasms are a common symptom of quadriplegia. Doctors say it's the body's reflexes responding on their own, since, with spinal cord injury, the messages from the brain that controls the body are cut off. Early on, I was given a drug, Baclofen, for the problem. I have been at the maximum dosage for the past 15 years. Without that, I am sure my body wouldn't sit still for a second. As it is, the spasms can come at any time and are of varying degrees of intensity. It's like my body is a rubber band, getting stretched tighter and tighter. When it is impossibly taut, it snaps. That is the spasm. Sometimes one of my legs will bounce up and down for several seconds, earning me the nickname Thumper from my kid sister (after the rabbit in Bambi). They aren't painful, but they can be overwhelming. They affect my ability to operate my electric wheelchair, and they can keep me awake at night. Sometimes, when I am driving my chair, they can put me in jeopardy. Nothing stops the spasms as instantly and effectively as smoking a bit of pot. And the effect lasts for hours. But marijuana is a drug, critics say. People smoke it to get high. Very true. I'd be lying if I said marijuana doesn't affect my mind as well as quell my spasms, because it does - that's why I only smoke after work or on weekends. The therapeutic benefits of cannabis have been documented for 5,000 years. The drug originated in the East, but came to western Europe when Napoleon invaded Egypt and brought "hash hish" back to France. Cannabis for recreational use became illegal in 1923, although it could be prescribed as a medicine until 1932, when prohibition of it became complete. Many attribute the ban to the pharmaceutical companies, which began to wield great power and influence at that time. They theorize marijuana was too much competition for manufactured drugs. Since that time, marijuana has been "demonized," says noted scientist David Suzuki. "It's obviously a very beneficial, useful drug," he told me last week. The evidence of its therapeutic value is "indisputable." Suzuki wants marijuana decriminalized. "There's good literature now that would suggest that it's time to get on with making it widely available," he says. People didn't look again at marijuana's medicinal benefits until the 1970s. Many clinical studies suggest it alleviates muscle spasticity, nausea, pain, epilepsy, glaucoma, anorexia, bronchial asthma, insomnia, depression and some psychiatric disorders. But, without government or pharmaceutical studies, it is still not known how - or why - cannabis works. There are more than 60 compounds, or cannabinoids, unique to marijuana. In all, marijuana contains some 240 active ingredients. It's likely that different compounds work for different symptoms. The only cannabinoid that has been isolated is THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the psychoactive one. A synthetic version of THC has been created, called Marinol, but without marijuana's other unique ingredients, it's not the same. Many people say it's not effective; others find it makes them violently ill. Even with studies under way in several countries - including Canada, after Health Minister Allan Rock announced clinical trials would begin this year - it will still be years before cannabis is fully understood. The real question is, what will happen in the meantime? The medicinal benefits are well documented and widely accepted. My own experience testifies to it and so do the experiences of my friends. In 1995, my friend Dan was dying of AIDS. Sitting at my dining room table, I saw his face turn green at the sight, smell or even thought of food. Then he smoked some pot. Within minutes, his colour returned, he smiled and dug in. Anti-nausea drugs are okay. Why not marijuana? Then there was the mother of a friend of mine who got through her chemotherapy by smoking pot. She treated each joint as seriously as she did all her other medication, except for one difference - because of the stigma, it had to be hidden from all but her family and closest friends. She needed marijuana in order to tolerate her cancer treatment, yet - like so many people - she felt she had to keep her use of it hush hush. That angers me. It distresses me even more that so many people don't even try it, or worse, can't get it. Why are pharmaceutical products so easily accepted, but this drug isn't? Until a couple of months ago, I bought my marijuana from dealers I met through friends. I would call a pager and get a home delivery. I've been lucky that I've never been sold anything laced with bad chemicals. That risk alone justifies a legally approved source. I recently learned about Toronto's Medical Marijuana Resource Centre and, with my doctor's endorsement, became a member. For my condition, marijuana works and my doctor acknowledges this fact. (So do my parents. My mother is among the family and friends who have helped me pack, hold and light the pipe I use.) Through this buyer's club, I can buy marijuana that is guaranteed to be high-quality and organic. Since joining, I've met and spoken to many people who are in the movement to decriminalize marijuana for those with medical conditions. I have developed tremendous respect for these people who are putting themselves on the line for their beliefs. Of course, there are some people who do use pot to excess. But basing policy on that fact doesn't make sense. If excessive use was a valid reason to maintain prohibition, then alcohol would still be illegal. In fact, compared to marijuana, liquor is clearly far more destructive. So it's ironic that it is marijuana that is still illegal. Even marijuana used for therapeutic purposes. If charged and found guilty of possession, most people - at least those without a previous record - will get a discharge or a small fine. But judges have the power to send users to prison for as long as three years. Even without being jailed, a person usually ends up with a record. With tobacco and alcohol so universally available and acceptable, and so potentially destructive to one's health, it's ludicrous that marijuana is prohibited, even for medicinal purposes. Like all other supporters of therapeutic marijuana, I am encouraged that this government is holding clinical trials. But in the meantime, there are many people who could benefit from cannabis right now. As I do. I smoke marijuana because it improves my medical condition considerably. And I refuse to feel fear or shame because of that.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Son of Camilla Parker Bowles Snorted Cocaine (The Sunday Times, in London, says Tom Parker Bowles, 24, the son of the longstanding companion of Prince Charles, has admitted to having a drug problem after he was seen taking cocaine at a party. A friend who asked not be named said he had been provoked to disclose details of Parker Bowles's drug abuse because of his closeness to Prince William, the future king of England. Bowles was cautioned for possession of cannabis and ecstasy four years ago.) Date: Sun, 16 May 1999 14:38:32 -0700 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: UK: Son of Camilla Parker Bowles Snorted Cocaine Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Martin Cooke (email@example.com) Pubdate: Sun, 16 May 1999 Source: Sunday Times (UK) Copyright: 1999 Times Newspapers Ltd. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.sunday-times.co.uk/ Author: Christopher Morgan SON OF CAMILLA PARKER BOWLES SNORTED COCAINE The son of Camilla Parker Bowles, the longstanding companion of the Prince of Wales, has admitted to having a drug problem after he was seen taking cocaine at a party. Tom Parker Bowles, 24, who is a friend of Prince William and a godson of Prince Charles, was cautioned for possession of cannabis and ecstasy four years ago. The admission that he has continued taking drugs came after The Sunday Times approached him yesterday with evidence of cocaine abuse at a weekend party. Parker Bowles was said last night to be "very sorry" and "humbled" by the revelations. A friend, increasingly concerned by his habit, had earlier described how Parker Bowles, a public relations consultant, turned up at a party in west London carrying his own supply of cocaine. "Tom arrived looking dishevelled and pale wearing a T-shirt," he said. "He walked in and one of the 20 people present said, 'Do you want some charlie [cocaine]?' Tom said, 'I've got my own.' "He then used a table to cut his cocaine. He racked up a couple of lines and sniffed those. Someone was trying to roll a joint and was having a considerable amount of difficulty. Tom picked it up and happily went on with it." The friend, who has asked not be named, said he had been provoked to disclose details of Parker Bowles's drug abuse because of his closeness to Prince William, 16, who is still at school at Eton. The friend said that Parker Bowles needed a "shot across his bows" to slow down and wean himself off drugs. He was concerned that he might otherwise be a "bad influence" on Prince William. "I am concerned that he is William's mentor," the source said. "Any way you look at it Tom Parker Bowles is a bad influence on the future king of England. Tom already considers he has shown William what life is like for a teenager today. His attitude is that we can get away with anything because we are minor celebrities. "Tom is not wise. He is his own worst enemy. He is careless and believes that nothing can stop him in his pursuit of a good time. He is convinced the Establishment will protect him. Tom thinks he call pull strings wherever he goes." Parker Bowles was at the Cannes film festival yesterday. Speaking from the local office of Dennis Davidson Associates, the film PR company, he first denied taking cocaine at the party. But later friends told The Sunday Times that he "accepted he had taken illegal drugs" and he was "very sorry that he had distressed his parents". He spoke to his mother yesterday afternoon and admitted his drug abuse. Although Parker Bowles is seven years older than William, they share much in common, not least the fact that they have both experienced parental separations and been taunted for their parents' conduct. If Prince Charles were ever to marry Camilla Parker Bowles - something that has officially been ruled out - they would become step-brothers. In 1995 Parker Bowles, while still an undergraduate at Oxford, was cautioned for possession of cannabis and ecstasy. He escaped expulsion from Worcester College, Oxford, where he was reading English.
------------------------------------------------------------------- ACM-Bulletin of 16 May 1999 (An English-language bulletin from the Association for Cannabis as Medicine, in Cologne, Germany, features - Science: Cannabis use appears not to affect cognitive functioning; Australia: Calls for treating drugs as a health and social issue; Canada: Ontario Superior Court permits AIDS patient to use marijuana; 4. News in brief; The comment.) From: "Association for Cannabis as Medicine" (email@example.com) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Date: Mon, 17 May 1999 00:23:31 +0200 Subject: ACM-Bulletin of 16 May 1999 Sender: email@example.com *** ACM-Bulletin of 16 May 1999 *** 1. Science: Cannabis use appears not to affect cognitive functioning 2. Australia: Calls for treating drugs as a health and social issue 3. Canada: Ontario Superior Court permits AIDS patient to use marijuana 4. News in Brief 5. The Comment *** 1. Science: Cannabis use appears not to affect cognitive functioning According to a large-scale U.S. study on the effects of long-term use of cannabis, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, the age-related decline of cognitive functioning "does not appear to be associated with cannabis use" (Lyketsos 1999). Constantine Lyketsos and colleagues of John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore conducted a follow-up study of 1,318 persons, divided in heavy users, light users, and nonusers of cannabis. All participants had completed a special test, the Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE), in 1981, 1982, and 1993-1996. The individual score differences between 1982 and 1993-1996 were calculated for each study participant. Within these 12 years the mean score decline was 1.2 points. The Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE) is a brief and widely used, standardized method for assessing cognitive mental status. It assesses orientation, attention, immediate and short-term recall, language, and the ability to follow simple verbal and written commands. The maximum achievable score is 30. Researchers found a decline in all age groups. There was "no significant differences in cognitive decline between heavy users, light users, and nonusers of cannabis." And there were also no sex differences in these subgroups. This is the first large-scale prospective study to examine the effects of long-term cannabis use on cognitive function. Recent research has given support to the hypothesis that there may be subtle impairment of special "higher cognitive functions, which include the organization and integration of complex information involving various mechanisms of attention and memory processes" (Solowij 1999). But these observations are hampered by the fact that they are based on retrospective studies with single measurements. In a commentary by Martha Clare Morris and colleagues of the Rush Institute for Healthy Aging in Chicago, the difficulties encountered with the use of single measurements of cognition and the importance of measuring changes are stressed (Morris 1999). On the other hand one may argue, that the MMSE might not be an adequate tool to detect minor cognitive alterations, that are suspected to be caused by cannabis, especially a subtle impairment of functions of the frontal lobe of the brain. (Sources: Lyketsos CG, et al: Am J Epidemiol (1999) 149:794- 800; Morris MC, et al: Am J Epidemiol (1999) 149:789-793; Solowij N, in: Kalant H, et al (eds): The Health Effects of Cannabis. Toronto 1999, 195-265) *** 2. Australia: Calls for treating drugs as a health and social issue The Australian Medical Association (NSW) and the Law Society of New South Wales said on 14 May they wanted to trial making cannabis available for medicinal use, and they call for treating drugs as a health and social issue rather than a criminal issue. Their call comes on the eve of a week-long drug summit to be held from 17-21 May at NSW parliament house. "While reform was risky, efforts to reduce supply and demand have been relatively ineffective," the AMA and Law Society said in a statement. NSW AMA president Peter Thursby said it was easier to buy illicit drugs than enter treatment and rehabilitation programs. The two organizations demand: -- clinical trials in which cannabis was available to people with terminal illnesses, -- the scrapping of criminal penalties for possession and cultivation of small quantities of cannabis, -- trialling of cautions to people found with small amounts of illegal drugs, including ecstasy and heroin, and a review of the efficacy of needle-exchange programs, -- an examination of overseas research on safe injecting rooms, -- a doubling of state government funding for drug treatment and detoxification from $70 million a year, and -- giving prisoners the same treatment as other people. Led by the Nimbin HEMP Embassy, pro-cannabis activists will held a five-day People's Drug Summit at the Domain next to parliament house. They will be calling for the decriminalization of cannabis for small amounts and the legalization of the drug for medicinal purposes. "We're expecting thousands to come and participate in the People's Drug Summit over the five days," HEMP Embassy spokesman Michael Balderstone said. (Sources: AAP of 12, 13 and 14 May 1999) *** 3. Canada: Ontario Superior Court permits AIDS patient to use marijuana The Canadian government has indicated that it doesn't intend to appeal an Ontario Superior Court ruling that permits a Toronto AIDS patient to use marijuana for medicinal purposes. However, federal Health Minister Allan Rock says the decision doesn't mean that smoking marijuana has been legalized. The court ruling handed down on 10 May gave 54-year-old Jim Wakeford a constitutional exemption from being prosecuted if he smoked pot to relieve his symptoms. Justice Harry LaForme also ruled that Wakeford would not have to tell the government where he got the marijuana. Wakeford is the second person in Toronto to receive court permission to use marijuana for medicinal purposes. In 1997, a lower court stayed drug possession charges against Terry Parker who said he needed marijuana to treat epilepsy symptoms. The federal government has appealed that decision. (Source: UPI of 12 May 1999) *** 4. News in brief USA: The First National Conference on Cannabis Therapeutics will be held at the University of Iowa on 7 and 8 April 2000. The conference is sponsored by the College of Medicine and the College of Nursing of the University of Iowa, with the assistance of Patients Out of Time. Professional health care participants will be provided current state-of-the-art clinical information about Cannabis as medicine. Contact: Patients@MedicalCannabis.com (Source: Press release of Patients out of Time of 11 May 1999) *** USA: Oregonian people who use marijuana for medicinal purposes will have to pay 150 US-dollars a year for a registration card. The cards exempt medicinal marijuana users and their helpers from state laws against owning and raising marijuana. The fee, approved by the Oregon Health Division, is part of the regulations to implement a law passed by voters in November 1998 allowing seriously ill people to use marijuana. (Source: The Oregonian of 1 May 1999) *** 5. The Comment ... on the reaction of Barry McCaffrey, White House drug policy director, to the report of the Institute of Medicine of 17 March: "McCaffrey's forcing the medical-marijuana issue downstream to states and communities that have to deal with reality, and not bullshit. (...) He's attempting to stop the conversation, but the conversation is happening all around him. He's making himself more and more irrelevant." Michael Cutler, a Brookline attorney who coordinates the U.S. Voluntary Committee of Lawyers, Boston Phoenix of 6 May 1999 Association for Cannabis as Medicine (ACM) Maybachstrasse 14 D-50670 Cologne Germany Phone: +49-221-912 30 33 Fax: +49-221-130 05 91 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Internet: http://www.acmed.org If you want to be deleted from or added to the ACM-Bulletin mailing list please send a message to: email@example.com -------------------------------------------------------------------
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