DRCNetDrug Reform Coordination Network


DRCNet Update


>From David Borden, Director, Drug Reform Coordination Network Email: [email protected]

1. NEWSLETTER COMING OUT -- Issue #4 of The Activist Guide has been printed and is being mailed today to the hardcopy subscribers. The electronic version will be made available by this weekend. Remember, I am no longer automatically sending The Activist Guide to the entire DRCNet email membership. I am only emailing it to those of you who have specifically requested to receive it by email. If you would like to get The Activist Guide by email and you haven't already requested it, just let me know and I will add you to that list. You will also be able to get The Activist Guide from various UseNet newsgroups, including "talk.politics.drugs" and "alt.drugs", or by anonymous ftp (site and directory to be announced shortly). I will send another announcement when the document becomes available. This month we have focused on medical marijuana and the nationwide protests this Tuesday 11/15.

2. JAN PLEAS UPDATE -- Earlier this fall, DRCNet members and other supporters staged a letter writing campaign to Judge James Richardson of Council Bluffs, Iowa, asking him to let the jury decide the issue of medical necessity in the case of Jan Pleas, a 37-year-old mother of two teenagers who uses marijuana to relieve the pain of her severe glaucoma.

Attorney Don Fiedler, a former director of NORML, reports good and not so good news. Pleas received probation and a deferred judgment on her tax stamp violation, which means that if she fulfills the terms of her probation for one year, the charges will be expunged from her record. The not so good news is that the terms of probation include periodic drug testing. Pleas and Fiedler plan to appeal the judgment and ask that the probation is stayed pending this appeal.

When DRCNet members sent letters last summer to both judge and prosecutor in the Daniel Billingsly case (Nightmare in Idaho, May issue), they were well received by all parties involved. Judge Richardson reacted less positively. According to Fiedler, the DRCNet internet bulletin on the case had found its way to Judge Richardson, who stated for the record that the letters from around the country did not affect his ruling, and that if any member of the bar (meaning Fiedler) had initiated this campaign, he was "admonished". Apparently a Des Moines attorney saw the internet posting, printed it out and forwarded it to Judge Richardson (whose address was conveniently included). Fiedler, of course, did not initiate this campaign; he simply answered some of our questions, with the permission of his client. We have sent a letter to Judge Richardson explaining this.

If Judge Richardson is skilled at ignoring public opinion, he is less able to set aside his own biases. In not allowing Fiedler's motion for a retrial, he cited legal medications that were available, including alcohol, despite the testimony of University of Nebraska ophthalmologist Dr. Yablonski that he had examined Jan Pleas and that these medications were not medically viable. Hopefully the state Supreme Court will consider the actual evidence when it makes its decision.

Fiedler says that if he had to do it all over again, knowing the outcome, he might ask us not to send the letters. However, he doesn't think our actions were improper or even highly unusual, and he is even considering subscribing to The Activist Guide! He also pointed out that not all those reading our notices are our friends; we always knew this was possible but had never before experienced the effects directly. We will be careful, especially if we conduct similar campaigns in the future.

3. DRCNet IN THE MEDIA -- From time to time I hear from people who heard about DRCNet through the media. Recently this has included the San Francisco Bay Guardian and a Los Angeles radio station. We very much appreciate your efforts in publicizing this project. If any of you have newspaper clippings or details about these two items, we'd love it if you would send them along to DRCNet, P.O. Box 381813, Cambridge, MA 02238-1813, or by email to [email protected].

4. DPF CONFERENCE -- I will be attending the Eighth Annual Conference on Drug Policy Reform, hosted by the Drug Policy Foundation, next Wednesday through Saturday, 11/16 - 11/19. While there I will be working as a volunteer for the conference and also promoting DRCNet and The Activist Guide. This is the largest single yearly gathering of drug policy activists (about 500 are expected this year), and I hope to build DRCNet membership significantly. I will also have some involvement in the production of a daily conference newsletter that the Drug Policy Foundation plans to make available each morning to conference attendees. I hope to make these bulletins available on the internet each day during the conference, and may also supplement them with reviews of each preceding day. So if you can't make it to the conference, daily conference summaries from DRCNet may be the next best thing!

5. DRCNet CONTRIBUTES TO NATIONAL MEDICAL MARIJUANA DAY -- Our one page medical marijuana "What You Can Do" guide (similar to the email bulletin you received) is being mailed today to the organizers of the nearly 70 National Medical Marijuana Day rallies. Hopefully they will copy it and hand it out at the rallies so that people in attendance will know what they can do to continue to step up the pressure on the federal government. DRCNet thanks the Cannabis Action Network for doing this mailing for us.

6. PLEA FOR HELP -- This is the monthly ritual in which I humble myself and ask for your help in keeping DRCNet's efforts running. DRCNet is usually in a state of fiscal crisis; this problem was unexpectedly compounded this month when the computer we usually use for free to typeset the hardcopy version of The Activist Guide was unavailable, and we had to spend a very large amount of money renting computer time at a local copy shop in order to get issue #4 out in time for National Medical Marijuana Day. This has left us completely tapped out at a time when some critical expenses are literally days away. These include printing of promotional materials for the DPF conference, as well as internet and telephone bills (which we've put off as long as those companies will allow). If you consider DRCNet a worthy project, I hope you will consider supporting it by becoming a member and/or making a donation. Full membership if $25, and entitles you to 12 issues of The Activist Guide in hardcopy (much prettier than email -- includes several pictures this time) and the "rapid-response-team" bulletins in your choice of paper, fax, or email. (Though you already receive all this material and more for free through email.) Newsletter alone is available for $18 for 12 issues, and membership in only the rapid- response-team is $10 per year. Make checks payable to "DRCNet", and send them to P.O. Box 381813, Cambridge, MA 02238-1813. Many email subscribers have been generous enough to support us in this way, and this has been critical to the project's success. So if you've been thinking of making a contribution, or now feel that you would like to, this would be an excellent time to do so.

Donations notwithstanding, DRCNet will continue to make all its materials available on the internet for free. We greatly appreciate the efforts of all of our internet participants in making this project a success.

David Borden
[email protected]

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