DRCNetDrug Reform Coordination Network

9/5/97

The Week Online with DRCNet, issue #10

  1. International News: Britain feels the pangs of a stirring revolution... Costa Rica hands over its sovereignty to the DEA... Drug War Eco-damage in the Amazon... AND, Dutch minister to provide heroin maintenance to hard-core addicts from church.
  2. Death Threats: Cartels threatening U.S. officials?
  3. Publishing News: Ex-CIA drug runner signs with Doubleday Books to tell all. (And of course, sells the movie rights!)
  4. Medical Marijuana: New Mexico board says "tell it to the feds." And... Journey for Justice II getting ready to hit the road.
  5. The Activist Guide: New issue of DRCNet's newsletter -- hot off the press!
  6. Calendar Updates: Exciting event listings that have come in since our last calendar distribution.
  7. Protests in Washington! Activists from various drug policy causes take it to the front line.
  8. "A Third Way": A group of "moderates" issue "Principles for a Practical Drug Policy"
  9. Link of the Week: Kemba's Nightmare
  10. Quote of the Week: This guy's running for sheriff? Bob Marley should've moved to Mendocino County.
  11. Op-ed: Contrasting views on the new "moderates", from the Associate and Executive Directors of DRCNet!

(visit last week's week online)


1. International

U.K. IN THE THROES OF PROHIBITION'S LAST GASP?

On the heels of the announcement that the prestigious Police Foundation will begin studying the effects of the U.K.'s drug policies, Tony Blair's Labour government, in an effort to counteract widespread criticisms of the Prohibitionist regime, has announced a plan to step up the War on Drugs, American style. On Thursday, August 28, British foreign minister Robin Cook told the London Times that M16 (British foreign intelligence) would dramatically increase its involvement in the drug war. According to the Times, the M16 priorities would "focus on attacking the drug supply chain at every stage, from stifling the production at source to preventing profitability and stopping money laundering."

Two London Times Op-Ed's illustrate a very serious split in the views on drug policy in the U.K. The first was written by Simon Jenkins, a member of the Police Foundation Commission, who decries the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act in his opening sentence which reads, "I doubt if any law on the statute book has done less good and more harm than (the Act)." Jenkins discusses a "startling divide" between an older generation of Britons who want a more intense effort at enforcement and "a younger one which (by two-to-one according to polls) believes the precise reverse."

In response, Ann Taylor, Leader of the House of Commons and chair of the Cabinet's drugs committee, checked in with "Why this government won't legalize drugs" in the same space. Taylor, however, resorts to wholly unsupported statements as to the consequences of ending punitive Prohibition to make her case. This statement ignores the entire history of legal but regulated substances in both Britain and the U.S. Taylor also states, "Look ahead ten years. Any step along the legalisation route and we can be sure that both demand for and use of drugs would massively increase - with no letup in organized crime - along with the creation of a dulled, unhealthy, selfish society, desperate for a "buzz."

Finally, Ms. Taylor cheerfully notes that the Prime Minister would soon be appointing a U.S. style "Drug Tsar" to coordinate its war. Here at DRCNet, we see in this tempest a strong reason for optimism. Faced with mounting evidence as to the failure of its Prohibition, and the emergence of a popular movement to re-examine it, the Prohibitionists are left with only one choice... push down harder in order to prove that the paradigm can work. By definition, more enforcement will mean more corruption, more violence and larger expenditures, without significantly reducing the problem of substance abuse or widespread availability. In the face of the gathering opposition, the "Americanization" of Britain's Drug War might well mark the beginning of the end of a failing regime in the U.K. Not to mention a preview of the final gasps of Prohibition at home.

JOINT OPERATIONS

The U.S. and Costa Rica have drafted a plan which would allow U.S. law enforcement personnel to track, detain and search boats and aircraft suspected of carrying illegal drugs, operating within Costa Rican waters and air space, according to the Associated Press.

ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT OF THE DRUG WAR

Brazil's federal police, and its environmental agency released a report this week which claims that illegal cocaine labs are dumping millions of gallons of chemical pollutants, used in the manufacture of cocaine, into the Amazon River. DRCNet says: REGULATE.

DUTCH CHURCH TO PROVIDE HEROIN TO ADDICTS

Hans Visser, a Protestant minister in the city of Rotterdam, has decided that his conscience will not allow him to wait while the Dutch government haggles over the politics and the details of their long-awaited heroin trials. Visser will work with local doctors and social workers, as well as "several dealers" to provide clean heroin out of his church, at cut rates, to a test group of ten long-term addicts who are currently compelled to risk their lives to buy expensive, black market heroin of uncertain purity in order to stave off withdrawal.


2. Death Threats?

On Thursday, August 28, the Associated Press reported that "sources in the national office of drug control policy" (ONDCP) had told their reporter that a Mexican drug trafficker had placed a phone call to the FBI threatening to kill U.S. Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey, by missile attack, during his week-long tour of the U.S.-Mexican border. The alleged threat coincided surprisingly well with McCaffrey's scheduled next-day press conference which was to highlight the ongoing drug (war) related violence in the region. A call by this office to the ONDCP to verify the story was not returned. At the press conference, which, coming the day after the death threat "leak" was well-attended by the media, McCaffrey declined to confirm or deny the threat. Appearing on CNN Morning News on Friday, McCaffrey was evasive when asked three times whether there had, in fact, been a threat on his life, instead repeatedly praising the U.S. Marshall's service for the security they provide him.

The same day, the Los Angeles Times reported that an alleged gunman for the Tijuana drug cartel, Emilio Valdez Mainero, had threatened to arrange the killing of a U.S. prosecutor who is seeking his extradition. The allegations were made in support of a drug case against Valdez, and were recorded by electronic surveillance in the jail cell of another inmate, Cesar Trevino, according to prosecutors.

DRCNet says: end the threats and violence -- END PROHIBITION.


3. Publishing News

Doubleday books has reportedly inked a deal with a former CIA agent who claims to have smuggled drugs into the U.S. for the agency from 1974-1992. The former agent, who has only been identified by a pseudonym, "Bob King," says that both he and the men who used to work for him are under threat of assassination by their former employer. King's agent, David Vigliano, insists that the story is true, and that the author's identity will be revealed once the book has been published and the account can be independently verified. Movie rights to the book, titled "Spooky 8," have been purchased by the Hughes Brothers, directors of "Menace II Society."


4. Medical Marijuana

Bryann Krumm, R.N. of New Mexicans for Compassionate Use reports that on August 29, the New Mexico Board of Medical Examiners refused to issue a statement of position on Medical Marijuana. Board members were apparently supportive of the concept, but with medical marijuana already legal under state law, the matter was out of their hands. "We already endorsed the concept of medical marijuana 20 years ago," said one board member. Another added, "The DEA needs to keep out of the practice of medicine."

Up north, the Wisconsin Journey for Justice, a 210 mile wheelchair trek from Mondovi to Madison, will be taking place from Thursday, September 11th through Thursday, September 18th. The organizing committee still needs to raise $3,500 to cover the expenses of the trip, including adequate hotel accommodations for the patients during this long journey. Also, a number of individual patients are seeking sponsorship for transportation to and from.

According to Journey organizers, the support of Rep. Frank Boyle, Democrat from Superior, Wisconsin, remains strong. Boyle is planning to introduce a medical marijuana bill in the Wisconsin State Legislature upon the Journey's arrival at the Capitol Building in Madison. He has gained a co- sponsor, Rep. Tammy Baldwin a Democrat from Madison, WI.

If you can help, please make checks payable to:

If you wish to make a tax-deductible contribution, please contact patient and organizer Kay Lee for further information. Donations made directly to Journey for Justice are not tax-deductible.

For info, contact Kay Lee at (715) 926-4950, e-mail rxganja@win.bright.net, or visit http://www.gnv.fdt.net/~jrdawson/justice2.htm on the web.


5. The Activist Guide

Issue #10 of DRCNet's newsletter is hot off the press and is winding its way through the U.S. to our print subscribers. If you have a print subscription, you should be receiving your copy any day now. If you haven't gotten it by late next week, please e-mail us at drcnet@drcnet.org and include your full name and mailing address.

The web version of issue #10, and all the back issues, can be viewed at http://www.drcnet.org/pubs. The e-mail version is in preparation. To subscribe to The Activist Guide via e-mail, send a message to listproc@drcnet.org with the line "subscribe guide your name" in the body of the message (not in the subject field).

Cracks in the Wall
Government bending under pressure on medical marijuana?
Needle Wars Continue
The continuing turbulent saga of needle exchange in the United States.
The Scientists and the General
Contrast between the scientist panel's objective look at medical marijuana and the drug czar's attempts to kill the issue any way he could.
Friendly Fire
U.S. Marines on anti-drug border duty proved a recipe for tragedy in the small town of Redford, Texas.
DPF Heads to New Orleans
The 11th International Conference on Drug Policy Reform heads south this fall.
Mandatory Minimums Cost-Ineffective
A sophisticated numerical analysis by the RAND Corporation verifies common sense.
International Update
U.S. drug policy out of step with the world.
Still Crazy After All These Years
The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws marks marijuana prohibition's 60th anniversary with a special report.
Marijuana Myths, Marijuana Facts
New book by Drs. Morgan and Zimmer blows the lid off the government's mythology.
Resources
Listings of recently released reports, videos, and reviews of recently published books.
The Reformer's Calendar
Drug policy reform events as well as events relating to a wide range of topics of interest to reformers.
Disparity Dilemma
Why are we losing the fight for the most popular reform currently on the table?


6. Calendar Updates

Since distributing our Reformer's Calendar last month, members and others have sent us quite a few new listings, mainly for events in Washington, DC, but also in Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Hawaii and elsewhere, covering topics ranging from mandatory minimums to methadone to harm reduction to women in prison and more. Some of them are coming right up, so if you're interested, take a look at it now at http://www.drcnet.org/calendarnew.html. (Normally the filename is calendar.html, but this has been changed temporarily due to a brief technical problem.)

Some of our friends sent us listings for events that came and went during the time between the last calendar and this one. We like to be able to get these listings in time to get people to your events, but aren't always able to update the calendar every week. The moral of the story is: send in your listing as soon as you have the information available. This will maximize the chances that we'll be able to get the information out to our members.

DRCNet's isn't the only drug policy calendar on the net. The National Drug Strategy Network has one online at http://www.ndsn.org/CALENDAR.html. The Legalize! group has one at http://www.legalize-usa.org/events.htm. The Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse has a health/service oriented calendar at http://www.ccsa.ca/calendar.htm. Please send us info on other online calendars you've seen.


7. Protests in Washington!

The month of September will see a number of advocacy events taking place in Washington, DC on a range of drug policy issues, including mandatory minimum sentencing, needle exchange, and methadone maintenance. All these issues are important to us, and DRCNet members are urged to attend and participate. Please remember that while we have much in common with the organizations staging these events, they have the need to keep the focus of their events tightly on the issues that they are addressing, not the larger issue of prohibition vs. legalization or regulation, and it's important that we respect that.

Wednesday, September 10: Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM) will be holding a demonstration from noon to 1 p.m. on the eastern steps of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, September 10 to protest the harsh mandatory minimum sentencing laws which have led to unjust prison sentences for Kemba Smith, of Dayton Ohio and other non- violent, low-level, first-time drug offenders. Demonstrators will include high school students from Dayton, Ohio, and members of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Dayton, Washington, DC, Virginia and Maryland. Speakers will include Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA) Dick Gregory, Rev. Joseph Lowery and more! For more information, contact Monica Pratt at (202) 822-6700, or visit the FAMM web site http://www.famm.org and click on "FAMM hotline".

The National Coalition To Save Lives Now will be holding a demonstration at noon, Sept. 17th, at the Dept. of Health and Human Services, 200 Independence Ave., protesting the ban on federal funding of needle exchange programs. Lifting the ban will give states the option of using existing federal AIDS funds for needle exchange, if they choose. For info, call the National Coalition to Save Lives Now! at (212) 213-6376, ext. 17, e-mail ncsln@dti.net, or visit http://www.safeworks.org/savelivesnow on the web.

The third event is not exactly a protest. On Sept. 29-30, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is holding "Heroin Use and Addiction: A National Conference on Prevention, Treatment and Research". Methadone patients and other advocates are planning to attend, and some are presenting, and a methadone advocates meeting is likely to take place. For information on the methadone advocates meeting, contact the National Alliance of Methadone Advocates at (212) 595-NAMA or e-mail nama@interport.net. For information on the conference, call (301) 468-6004 ext. 431 or visit http://www.nida.nih.gov/Brochure/Brochure.html on the web.


8. "A Third Way"

On September 2, a group of academics, elected officials, drug treatment professionals and scientists held a press conference to declare that in the debate between "legalizers" and Drug Warriors, science and rationality has been largely ignored. The group, headed by Charles R. Schuster, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse under Presidents Reagan and Bush, was organized by the Drug Policy Project of the Federation of American Scientists.

The group presented a list of 14 "Principles for Practical Drug Policies" which outlined their views on what drug policy should seek to accomplish in the absence of political posturing. "Polarization and strong emotions give rise to misrepresentations of facts and motives, oversimplification of complex issues, and denial of uncertainty," says the report.

While the group went out of its way to distance itself from what it termed "legalization," and "ending prohibition," even without defining these terms, it also made clear that a punitive, "zero tolerance" drug war was itself causing many unnecessary harms. The fourteen points called for strategies based upon science and results, rather than political posturing; an end to disproportionate punishments as a means of expressing social norms; policies tailored to individual substances based upon risks and use patterns; more stringent regulation of tobacco products; "taxation, regulation and public information" with regard to alcohol; prevention messages which accurately reflect what is known about the substances they discuss; and civility in debate, among others.

Other signatories to the document included William J. Bratton, former New York City police chief, William A. Donohue, President, Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, Robert MacCoun, Associate Professor, Graduate School of Public Policy, University of California at Berkeley, Dennis E. Nowicki, Chief of Police, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, North Carolina, and Sally L. Satel, Lecturer, Yale Medical School.

The report and list of signatories can be found at http://www.fas.org/drugs/Principles.


9. Link of the Week

In section 7 above, Protests in Washington, the name Kemba Smith appeared, as a victim of the war on drugs and mandatory minimum sentencing. Smith was a college student with an abusive boyfriend who had concealed his drug trade involvement from her. At age 24, she received a 24-year mandatory minimum prison term, longer than any of the people who were actually running the business. The judge had no power to give a shorter sentence, even though she was not really a criminal.

Read about Kemba Smith and our current and the indecency of current sentencing policies, on the Families Against Mandatory Minimums web site at http://www.famm.org/kemba2.html, our link of the week. Learn the facts about mandatory minimum sentences at http://www.famm.org/fact.html, including FAMM's new "Fact Flash" -- a different fact flashing on the screen every 10- 15 seconds. The press release for the upcoming protest can be viewed at http://www.famm.org/kemba1.html.


10. Quote of the Week

"Making marijuana legal isn't going to make it any worse. Why don't we just legalize it and move on?"

- Tony Craver, Sheriff's Lt. and candidate for sheriff of Mendocino County, CA, 8/28/97


11. Op-Ed

DRCNet's Adam J. Smith offers some thoughts on the new "middle-ground" initiative; then David Borden provides a different viewpoint, though a compatible one.

SMITH:

BORDEN:

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