(visit last week's week online)
Last Monday, DRCNet alerted its members that Court TV was scheduled to cover the trial of Thomas Scozzare and Diana McCague of the Chai Project needle exchange that night. (Needle exchange is illegal in New Jersey and is opposed by the Governor but has widespread public support.) Court TV decided not to air the trial that night after all, but did tape it, and we've been told they intend to air an edited version in the near future. The trial will continue, and probably be concluded, later this month. We will keep you updated as to its outcome and to Court TV's plans. This alert, including links to additional information on the Chai Project saga, can be found online at http://www.drcnet.org/rapid/1997/7-28-1.html.
The crack/powder cocaine sentencing disparity, as discussed in the last Week Online and in our action alert on http://www.drcnet.org/rapid/1997/7-22-1.html, is still very much a current issue. If you haven't yet called your legislators as well as the President (or even if you have), please take a few moments to do so.
White House comments line: (202) 456-1111, or e-mail your comments to [email protected]
Congress (your one Representative and two Senators): (202) 224-3121 (the Congressional Switchboard).
Results from research performed at the Colombia School of Public Health on the health care experiences of 700 HIV infected New Yorkers reveal the disproportionate distribution of antiretroviral drugs, specifically protease inhibitors, among whites, Hispanics, and African Americans. Of those infected, 54 percent of African Americans are not receiving any treatment, as compared to 38 percent of Hispanics and 35 percent of whites. Furthermore, this three year study also found that men who contracted HIV through homosexual experiences were twice as likely as those contracting HIV through intravenous drug use to receive protease inhibitors.
Long-time medical marijuana activist and bone cancer sufferer Todd McCormick was arrested at his Los Angeles home on Tuesday 7/29. McCormick, according to NORML Foundation Exec. Dir. Alan St. Pierre, is "a man of great courage and greater compassion." McCormick was released on Thursday morning on $100,000 bail. For the full story of the arrest and release, including a testimonial to McCormick by Medical Marijuana Magazine publisher Peter McWilliams, see the Magazine at http://www.marijuanamagazine.com. DRCNet doesn't have enough information on this case yet to recommend a course of action, but we felt it was important for people to have the information that is available.
Thanks to the NORML Foundation for the heads up on this story. You can find NORML online at http://www.natlnorml.org or e-mail the foundation at [email protected].
In related news, Peter McWilliams' own trial has been postponed for 60 days due to the abrupt decision, two days before the trial's scheduled date, by Wayne County Prosecutors to go ahead with the trial despite all indications that they would not be pushing forward with the prosecution. McWilliams' story can also be found at the Medical Marijuana Magazine site.
In Washington state, the Supreme Court rejected the claim of bone cancer sufferer Ralph Seeley that his constitutional rights were violated by state laws which allow his doctor to prescribe narcotics but not marijuana to relieve his suffering. The 8-1 decision stated that the government's authority to protect its citizens outweighs a cancer patient's desire to relieve his pain. The Supreme Court's decision overturns a lower courts earlier decision that had been in Seeley's favor. The latest court documents and additional information on the case are available online at http://www.hemp.net/seeley/.
DRCNet has been informed that beginning September 20, 1997 a "Wheelchair Crusade" will travel 450 miles, making appearances and conducting teach-ins in support of the medical availability of marijuana. Wheelchair-bound and other patients who use marijuana medicinally will leave from Boston and travel through Amherst, New Haven, New York, New Hope, Philadelphia and Washington before reaching their final destination, the offices of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), in Rockville, MD on October 30.
Both volunteers and contributions are needed. DRCNet would note that events such as this are an important way to connect the current controversy with the real live patients who are risking arrest and imprisonment by virtue of their personal medical decisions. We expect this event to draw substantial media coverage. DRCNet will keep you up to date as the "Crusade" draws near.
For more information, or to find out how you can help, call:
(617) 491-8971 Boston
(212) 677-7180 New York
(215) 545-2212 Philadelphia
(202) 387-5419 Washington, DC
Australia to go forward with stage 1 of heroin trials... ALSO: More Drug War corruption in Mexico.
Despite strong pressure from the US (as reported in last week's Week Online) the Australian government has voted (6-3) to go ahead with stage 1 of its heroin prescription trial. Under stage 1, 40-ACT heroin users will be supplied with six months of daily doses. If successful, the program will expand to 250 heroin users in stage 2, and eventually to 1000 addicts. Research has shown that heroin overdose deaths in Australia have increased by 700 percent in the past fifteen years, revealing the demand for urgent action.
Well, it appears that Mexico did not rid its power structure of corruption when it arrested its own Drug Czar, General Jose de Jesus Gutierrez Rebollo several months back for his alleged dealings with the Juarez Cartel. (The largest cartel in Mexico.) This week's news quotes Mexican officials as saying that at least 10 Generals in the Mexican military and 22 other officers are under investigation. In addition, the primary witness against the former drug czar was shot and wounded this week by alleged Juarez Cartel members.
The story, as reported in the Houston Chronicle, can be found at http://www.chron.com -- go to Search and enter "Mexico", "army" and "corruption" as your key words. The articles we are referencing are from July 28 and 29, and these and many other relevant articles will come up on your search.
DRCNet urges members to write letters to the editors of their local paper (story should have appeared on Monday, 7/28) to remind them that this type of corruption is not only unavoidable under Prohibition, but, as we share a rather large border with Mexico, constitutes a direct threat to our national security. Also, you might ask whether the US is immune to this sort of corruption as our own military's involvement in the Drug War is expanded and entrenched.
As always, we love to get copies of your correspondence (but don't cc us directly, it will limit your chances of publication). If you do get published, don't be humble... by all means, let us know!
Just in time to inform the brewing crack/cocaine sentencing disparity debate. This week, University of California Press unveils "Crack In America, Demon Drugs and Social Justice" edited by sociologists Craig Reinarman and Harry G. Levine. A compilation of 17 essays by renowned experts (including 6 by the editors), the book provides a comprehensive look into the latest "demon drug."
TWO THUMBS UP!! (Dave and Adam). But don't take our word for it... According to US Congressman Ronald Dellums, "The editors and authors have produced an important work in the ongoing debate about the effect and efficacy of US drug policy. Authoritative in its analysis and comprehensive in its embrace, this work will contribute importantly to the policy debate. A must-read for anybody concerned about developing a strategy to improve the health and well-being of our communities."
Considering the critical stance "Crack in America" takes against current policies regarding cocaine, and the War on Drugs in general, such praise from a member of Congress portends the significant role that this book will play in the closing chapters of our longest and costliest experiment with criminally enforced Prohibition.
We strongly urge our members to go to their local bookstore, especially to the large chains, and ask them to order it! (ISBN # 0-52020242-2).
This week, we would like to point out another radical organization that is calling for a study of alternatives to the current prohibition of cannabis. Their site says nonconformist things like:
"The policing of the use of cannabis is a great cost to society."
"The opening of the flood gates of abuse through decriminalisation, which some anticipate, would not necessarily follow."
"Resources could be used more appropriately in education and tackling other drugs."
"The banning of the use of cannabis, when many patients have found it beneficial in pain relief and control, is an illogical position."
Who are these hooligans? The Board of Social Responsibility of the Church of Scotland. And while we do question some of the conclusions of their research, their fair-minded attempt to further rational debate, and their obvious concern for the humanity of everyone involved in the question, makes their report our Link of the Week. Check it out at http://churchnet.ucsm.ac.uk/cos/socrsdec.htm.
This week's quote comes from A.M. Rosenthal in his 7/29 NY Times op-ed in which he voices his opposition to the nomination of William Weld as ambassador to Mexico. Citing Weld's support of medicinal marijuana. Rosenthal writes:
"The arrival of an American ambassador who favors even partial legalization of the most widely abused narcotic would be an insult to those Mexican officials and voters who struggle for a decent government."
Rosenthal demonstrates that the problem isn't drugs, the problem is ignorance. First of all, marijuana isn't a narcotic; this is known to anyone who has done the most basic reading on the topic. Rosenthal's op-ed goes downhill from there. It's the US government's strong-arming of other nations into adopting harmful drug policies that is the insult, not the nomination of William Weld.
Coming on the heels of the glowing report on the results of the Swiss heroin trials, the Australian announcement that they will go ahead with their own long-debated heroin maintenance trial is terrific news for American reformers. What is especially exciting is that the Australian federal government was willing to go forward over the strong objections (and reported threats) of the US State Department. (For further info on this see http://www.drcnet.org/guide10-96/downunder.html and http://www.drcnet.org/rapid/1997/7-24-1.html#blackmail.)
While we here in the States listen to our leaders try to "out-tough" each other in their drug war rhetoric, it has become apparent that much of the rest of the world is ready to look for other answers. Many countries have done this quietly, such as Italy, Spain and Germany, while some countries, such as The Netherlands have been more brazen, and have suffered the slings and arrows of the entire international Drug War establishment. In either case, these countries have seen beyond the Drug War propaganda which asserts that anything short of punitive Prohibition will result in the collapse of society.
How many successful heroin trials (or other successful reforms) around the world will the US government be able to belittle or ignore before they must face the fact that there are more effective, more humane ways to deal with our drug problem? How many countries must decriminalize one or another substance before it becomes impossible for the US to maintain even the appearance of credibility in its efforts? How much "tougher" will the Drug Warriors try to get in an effort to prop up a clearly dying regime? And how many freedoms and how many more lives will be destroyed in the process?
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