The following is the June 1st issue of IAL-Fax, the journal of the International Prohibition League. DRCNet will not be posting these to its email list on a regular basis, however, you can subscribe directly by sending email to "[email protected]". (This issue is being posted because a technical problem prevented many new DRCNet subscribers from receiving this information.)
IAL-Fax Year III N. 13, June 1, 1994 - Contents:
INITIATIVE DEONTOLOGIQUE MEDICALE
Following an annulment procedure presented to the Council of State by Initiative Dontologique Mdicale, the Association of Physicians has modified the text of article 37b of the professional code, which defines the conduct to be adopted by doctors when treating patients with substitute drugs. The modification of the article is perhaps the final act in the battle that has lasted almost four years between the 170 doctors in Initiative Dontologique Mdicale and the Association of Physicians.
Initiative Dontologique Mdicale was born in October 1990, following the publication by the Brabant provincial council of the Medical Association of a "directive" which seriously limited the freedom of doctors to treat drug users with substitute drugs. The directive obliged doctors to betray professional secrecy by forcing their drug addict patients to undergo an examination by a pluri-disciplinary team, and by establishing lists of these patients which they had to hand over to the Association. The doctors in IDM demand that the professional rules protecting patients and the doctor-patient relationship be respected with regard to drug users. Through a request to the Council of State, IDM obtained the annulment of the Brabant directive in January 1993. The national council of the Medical Association tried to overturn this decision by publishing a new "recommendation" in February 1993, reiterating the regulations that had been annulled. This recommendation was suspended by the Council of State in September 1993. The national council tried to overturn this new decision by introducing the same directives in article 37b of the professional code. This article, now modified, obliged doctors carrying out substitution treatment: - to refer the patient to a pluri-discliplinary team for the evaluation of the treatment and its adaptation, as well as of the psychological and social situation of the drug user patient; - to treat the patient with the assistance of specialists in psychological and social problems; - to ensure that the patient uses only the medicine prescribed (and not the "drug" prescribed, as was erroneously written).
For the text of Initiative Dontologique Mdicale, write to Mr Eric Picard, place Morichar, 54, 1060 Brussels, Belgium. Tel. 0032.2.538.76.69.
COLOMBIA DEPENALIZES DRUG USE
Le Soir, 9.5.94. A.F.P.
The decision by the Colombian Constitutional Court to depenalize the personal use of drugs - in the name of individual freedom - has led to heated debate in Colombia and has also raised the fear of renewed tension with the United States on the subject of the traffic of drugs. Firmly condemning the decision, President Csar Gaviria was the first to open the debate. He underlined the fact that it could only increase consumption in Colombia. The decision, founded on the principle of the respect for individual freedom recognized by the Constitution, abrogated the thirty-day prison sentence for persons found in possession of doses not exceeding twenty grams of cannabis, five grams of cannabis resin, one gram of cocaine and two grams of a hallucinogen similar to LSD. The President questioned the concept of individual freedom referred to by the judges, which in his opinion threatens to have "extremely undesirable" consequences. He added that individual freedom must include reasonable limitations, in particular of age, asking the court to restrict the freedom to use drugs for minors and pregnant women, and to prohibit the use of drugs in public places and teaching institutions. Humberto de la Calle, candidate for the vice-presidency, spoke in the same terms, adding that the use of drugs is not a personal issue but a problem of society. The result of the measure, he said, will be a contradiction within the fight against drugs: on one hand the sale of drugs remains illegal, and on the other the use of drugs is permitted. Colombia will face an impossible situation. The depenalization measure also comes at a difficult time in relations between Colombia and the United States. Colombian officials fear that depenalization will be interpreted by the United States as a sign that the country is less committed to the fight against the traffic of drugs.
DEPENALIZATION IN GERMANY
Le Soir, Le Figaro, Repubblica, AFP, 16.5.94
The regional government of North-Westphalie Rheinland has ordered that persons found in possession of very small quantities of hard drugs should no longer be prosecuted. The announcement was made on Friday by the regional Minister of Justice, Rolf Krumsiek, and followed the ruling made on 28 April by the German Constitutional Court, a de facto depenalization of the possession of cannabis derivates (hashish or marijuana) "only in small quantities and for private use". Since the court ruling, which also asked the 16 federal states to standardize their policies in this sphere, considerable differences have emerged in the definition of the "maximum quantity" of cannabis authorized for private use. Mr Krumsiek said on Friday that in his Land the authorized "small quantity" will be 10 grams. But there will also be maximum quantities of hard drugs below which there prosecution will not take place: 0.5 grams for heroin, cocaine and amphetamines, and up to "three doses" for LSD. These quantities, established by a Land governed by the Social Democrats, are approximately the equalivalent of a daily dose.
MEXICO: ANTI-DRUG ADVISOR RESIGNS, DENOUNCES
"NARCODEMOCRACY" IPS, 11.5.94
A government anti-drug advisor resigned Wednesday, denouncing Mexico as a "narcodemocracy" where the drug trade has gained control over the nation's political and socio-ecomomic affairs. Eduardo Valle began working in the Ministry of Justice in Jan. 1993, combatting corruption in police and judicial bodies, but became frustrated with police powerlessness in the fight against the drug mafia. He denounced the murder of Guadalajara bishop Juan Jesus Posades in May 1993 and the killing of ruling party presidential candidate Luis Donaldo Colosio last March 23, as well as hundreds of kidnappings of businessmen in recent years. Valle also mentioned frequent shoot-outs between federal police, state police and gangs of drug traffickers where no one is quite sure how to separate the good guys from the bad guys. In his resignation letter, the former advisor asked, "when will we have the courage and political maturity to tell the Mexican people that we suffer from a type of narcodemocracy?" He questioned the anti-drug plans and programmes developed by the Mexican government, calling them inefficient and deceptive. Valle raised the possibility of drug links in the Colosio murder, saying "no one can outline a political project that does not include drug leaders and their backers, because if anyone does, he dies." He asked, "do we have the intellectual capacity and ethical strength to recognise that Amado Carrillo, the Arellano Felix brothers and Juan Garcia Abrego (all known drug traffickers) are driving forces, even pillars of our economic growth and social development?"
INTERNATIONAL REPRESENTATIVES SEEK UNIFIED DRUG STRATEGY
Representatives from 35 countries in Europe, Asia and the Americas began four days of meetings in Ecuador Tuesday seeking to develop a common strategy in the war on international drug trafficking. U.S. ambassador to Quito Peter Romero and the Ecuadorean police force are co- hosting the XII Anti-Drug Conference, to end Friday. Romero warned that countries with slight drug problems today may find themselves with serious ones tomorrow. Participants include over 160 international experts and anti-drug police, as well as representatives from the United Nations Fund for Drug Abuse Control, the Interamerican Commission for Drug Abuse Control, and the International Police (Interpol). Issues to be addressed include drug production and distribution systems and the fabrication and diversification of various chemical products in the Latin American region. U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) director Thomas Constantine said at the opening session that the war on drugs must not be an individual effort, but rather a collective one. When Constantine assumed his post two weeks ago, he said the United States should not blame other countries for their problems with drug trafficking. He asked the United States to acknowledge that the demand for drugs within its own borders incites much of the violence that exists in the world, violence which affects not one but all countries in the world. He added that the United States often blames other countries for its own problems. Studies carried out by international organisations indicate that over 40 million people worldwide consume illegal drugs, supporting a business with annual profits of more than 500 billion dollars. Ecuador is considered a transshipment country more than a drug producer. Local studies indicate that the South American country is frequently used as a stop-off point for Colombian and Peruvian drug shipments to the United States and Europe. Between 1989 and 1993, the United States sent 29.3 million dollars to Ecuador for the struggle to fight drug cultivation, consumption and traffic.
MARIJUANA HAS SMALLER ADVERSE EFFECTS THAN
ALCOHOL, DRIVING STUDY CONFIRMS
California NORML, 2.5.94
In a major new study, "Marijuana and Actual Driving Performance," the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that adverse effects of THC, the major psychoactive ingredient of marijuana, on driving appear "relatively small" and are less than those of drunken driving. The study, conducted in the Netherlands, analyzed the performance of drivers in actual freeway and urban driving at various dosage of marijuana. It found that THC produces a moderate, dose- related decrement in driving performance as measured by road trucking, but it is "not profoundly impairing." It also found that unlike alcohol, which encourages risky driving, marijuana appears to produce greater caution, apparently because users are more aware of their state and able to compensate for it. This is the second major study NHTSA driving study released this year to find that marijuana is a lesser safety hazard than alcohol. In February, NHSTA released the most comprehensive fatal driving accident survey to date, which found thah alcohol was by far the "dominant problem" in drug-related accidents, while marijuana and other drugs were a relatively minor hazard except when combined with alcohol or other drugs. It reported, "there was no indication that marijuana by itself was a cause of fatal accidents."
JURY ACQUITS NEEDLE-EXCHANGE ACTIVIST
San Jose Mercury News, 29.4.94
In a case that has been closely watched around the nation, the Alameda County jury acquitted Scott Halem, an AIDS activist who admitted he broke the law by giving addicts clean needles, agreeing with him that it was necessary to help stop the deadly disease. "I feel absolutely fantastic," Scott Halem said outside the Berkeley-Albany Municipal Court. "This sends a clear message to the district attorney, to the Oakland and Berkeley Police Departments, to leave us alone and let us get on with the challenge of AIDS- prevention work." The verdict is a good news for needle- exchange proponents across the country, said Joey Tranchina, executive director of AIDS Prevention Action Network, whose 1991 San Mateo County trial on similar charges ended in a hung jury. Many activists and health professionals have held back from creating new programs beacuse of the fear of prosecution. Now, Tranchina said, they may forge ahead. Halem, 50, was arrested in July 1990 for possessing more than 400 needles and he won the right to present a "necessity defense" - meaning he knowingly broke the law because he felt he had no alternative to slow down the spread of AIDS among addicts. Halem's attorney plan to ask Alameda County District Attorney John Meehan to drop the pending charges. If Meehan doesn't, the attorney will appeal the matter in court, contending Meehan - an outspoken opponent of needle exchange - is impartial. "I think the District Attorney would be a fool to prosecute me after this acquittal," Halem said. "It's a complete waste of taxpayers' money at a time when there's a budget crunch. He's wasted a fortune trying to convict me."
MASSIVE CORRUPTION IN BRAZIL
Le Dpeche Internationale des Drogues. May 1994
The "jogo do bicho" scandal, which brought to light the massive corruption of the Brazilian institutions by the mafia organization behind the illegal lottery business in Rio de Janeiro, has also revealed the links between these organizations and the Colombian cocaine cartels. Searches carried out in the homes of the lottery bosses (bicheiros) have led to the discovery of lists of beneficiaries (politicians including the ex-President Fernando Collor, the mayor of Sao Paulo, the governor of Rio and a trade union leader nominated for the Nobel Prize, Herbert de Souza, at least ten deputies, around 100 police officers, magistrates, and even the Chairman of FIFA, Joao Havelange). The documents also show that large sums of money were sent to Cali, and that bribes were given to the anti-drugs units of the Rio police. The investigators, headed by the Attorney General of Rio, Antonio Carlos Biscaia, suspect that the bicheiros helped to establish Brazil as a base for the exportation of cocaine from Colombia to Europe. The "jogo do bicho" provides work for almost 100,000 people in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, with an annual turnover of around 1.4 billion dollars.
The International Antiprohibitionist League (IAL) is an association of scientists, drug experts, journalists, politicians from all over the world whose aim is to work for the reform of prohibitionist laws on drugs.
Founded in Rome (Italy) in 1989, the IAL started its activities in 1992 after a federative agreement with the Transnational Radical Party.
As a multicultural and independent association, the IAL encourages studies and research projects on the consequences of prohibition and proposes alternative at both political and social levels.
The IAL activities include:
- organization and distribution of information between members of scientific community and media, through bulletins, press releases, printed reports as well as the sponsorship of conferences, seminars, debates;
- organization of initiatives to inform international parties and public administrations, with special concern for members of National parliaments;
- support for the creation of local associations with the same goals.
The executive committee includes: Marie-Andree Bertrand, Professor of Criminology at the University of Montreal (President); Marco Taradash, Member of the European Parliament and journalist (Secretary); Antonio Contardo, businessman (Treasurer)
Among the directive council are: Lester Grinspoon, Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard University; Roger Lewis, Director of the Research Centre on HIV, AIDS and Drugs in Edinburgh (UK); Ferdinando Savater, philosopher and author (Spain); Govert Van de Wijngaart, Director of the project for the Prevention of alcohol and drugs in Utrecht (Netherlands); Kevin Zeese, vice-president of the Drug Policy Foundation.
Among its activities, the IAL sponsored a conference on the damage of prohibitionism in Bruxelles, worked in close contact with the Italian anti-prohibitionist movement, and helped the organization of similar associations in Spain, Portugal, France.
Recently, a report "For a Revision of the United Nations Conventions on Drugs" was distributed among members of the European Parliament and other National Parliaments.
The most immediate goal of the IAL is the organization of an International Conference on the alternatives to drug prohibition to be held under the approval of the United Nations in 1995.
Financially supported by its members and private contributions, the
IAL has three different levels for its annual membership:
- US $ 300 supporting member;
- US $ 100 full member;
- US $ 50 associate member.
>From the US, payment can be made by:
- Credit Card (Visa, Mastercard, American Express);
- Bank transfer to IAL, account # 424-6075921-55, Kredietbank, Brussels, Belgium.
The IAL publishes a biweekly newsletter - IALFax - which reports events and news on drug policy from all around the world. Subscription is free (email only): <[email protected]>
International Antiprohibitionist League P. E., REM 508, 89 Rue Belliard
1047 Brussels, Belgium
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