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MEDMJ PROTEST IN SAN FRANCISCO THIS TUESDAY 3/24 STOP THE FEDS FROM CLOSING THE BUYERS' CLUBS (see http://www.drcnet.org/rapid/1998/3-13.html#medmjrally or article below for details)
NEWSFLASH: BBC covering cannabis decriminalization issue on shortwave TONIGHT -- see UK Cannabis Campaign article below.
MEDICAL MARIJUANA VOTE COMING UP IN CONGRESS NEXT WEEK action alert at http://www.drcnet.org/rapid/1998/3-18-1.html
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(visit last week's Week Online)
1. GLOBAL DAYS AGAINST THE DRUG WAR -- DEMONSTRATIONS PLANNED TO PROTEST U.N. SPECIAL SESSION ON NARCOTICS -- PLEASE JOIN THE COALITION
The United Nations will hold the first-ever Special Session of the General Assembly on Drugs, from June 8th to June 10th 1998 in New York.
The session was originally conceived as a critical examination of worldwide anti-drug policy. The focus of this session has now been narrowed. According to the new guidelines, only the expansion of existing policies will be open for discussion. The United Nations aims to escalate current drug repression tactics in a catastrophic quest toward a 'drug free' society. In terms of crime, economic and financial damage, and social and personal harm, this policy is turning into a worldwide crisis.
The organizations participating in the Global Days Against the Drug War consider it of great importance that alternative proposals be heard at the onset of this session. That is why we are calling on individuals and organizations throughout the world to plan or participate in events -- anything from discussion forums or town meetings to street parties and outright demonstrations -- during the weekend of June 6-8, 1998. Many events are already being planned. The purpose of the events is to raise awareness of the various issues impacted by the drug war, both locally and globally. As this is a broad coalition comprised of individuals and organizations from a wide range of philosophical and political perspectives, please note that joining the coalition does not imply endorsement of the mission of any other organization or of the events themselves.
We intend to make a clear statement that what is needed is not escalated repression, but reform policies aimed at reducing the damage currently done. To this aim, these organizations have recently united to form the Global Coalition for Alternatives to the Drug War. You will find the list of participating organizations, contact information for events already being planned and the coalition's declaration at <http://www.stopthedrugwar.org> and <http://www.legalize.org>. (Note that the Coalition's position is not specifically legalization, though many of the member organizations, including DRCNet, do have that position. All individuals and organizations who feel that the War on Drugs as it is currently conducted is harmful or wrong, are welcome and encouraged to join. Organizations planning events may decide whatever focus or spin to put on their own efforts.)
If you are a member of an organization concerned about one or more aspects of the Drug War, your organization can help make the Global Coalition against the Drug War a success. Please join the coalition, co-sign the declaration with us, and, if possible, participate in the 1998 Global Days against the Drug War.
Participating organizations are encouraged to plan their own version of the 1998 Global Days Against the Drug War, under their own identity and name. In the next several weeks, the coalition will issue press releases with the names of all the organizations that have joined the coalition.
On behalf of the Global Coalition for Alternatives to the Drug War, with best regards,
Kevin Zeese ([email protected])
President, Common Sense for Drug Policy Foundation
Adam Smith ([email protected])
Associate Director, Drug Reform Coordination Network
Harry Bego ([email protected])
Coordinator, Global Days Against the Drug War
To join the coalition, or learn more about it, visit <http://www.stopthedrugwar.org/globalcoalition/>.
2. PRESIDENT'S ADVISORY COUNCIL ON HIV/AIDS VOTES "NO CONFIDENCE" IN ADMINISTRATION -- DEMANDS IMMEDIATE ACTION ON SYRINGE EXCHANGE
Never, as far as anyone can remember, has a presidentially- appointed advisory council passed a resolution of "no confidence" in the administration which appointed them, but that is exactly what the President's Advisory Council on AIDS did this week (3/17). And they did it unanimously.
"We are angry," council chair Dr. Scott Hitt told reporters at a press conference called to announce the Council's twin resolution. "In 1995, at the White House Conference on AIDS, the President gave his word to us that he would do whatever it took to reduce new infections down to zero. Thirteen months ago, Sandra Thurman was appointed Director of AIDS policy. At that time Ms. Thurman pledged to 'follow the science' in determining the federal response to the AIDS crisis. Well, the science is in... and it has been in for some time. The scientific community has reached the conclusion the needle exchange is a vital part of an overall strategy to stem the spread of AIDS. And yet this administration has failed to act on the issue of needle exchange. During that time thousands of people have become needlessly infected with HIV, and thousands will die as a result."
Standing behind Dr. Hitt, all 30 members of the Advisory Council nodded in agreement. Less than 24 hours prior to the press conference, they had voted unanimously to pass a two-pronged resolution. The first part was a resolution of "no confidence" in the administration's "commitment and willingness to achieve the President's stated goal of 'reducing the number of new infections annually until there are no new infections,'" and the second urged that Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala "issue an immediate determination declaring the efficacy of needle exchange programs in preventing the spread of HIV while not encouraging the use of illegal drugs." The Secretary is required to make such a determination before federal AIDS- prevention funds -- already in the hands of states and localities -- can be used to fund the programs.
Dr. Hitt, addressing the issue of the impact of syringe exchange availability on drug use, told reporters, "Every credible study has determined that syringe exchange does not lead to increased drug use. The National Institutes of Health has determined that the 'preponderance of evidence shows that syringe exchange participants show no change or a decrease in use.'"
Insiders believe that there is much support within the administration for lifting the ban, but that several key policy advisors and officials have warned the President against it. The wildcard within the administration seems to be Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey. While it is believed that McCaffrey opposes syringe exchange, he has yet to make a public statement one way or the other on the issue. The prospect of such a statement, and the political obstacles which would be presented in the face of McCaffrey's public opposition to lifting the ban, seemed to weigh on the minds of several people in attendance. "We do not believe that the Drug Czar ought to be imposing himself on issues of health policy. This is a decision reserved for the Secretary of Health and Human Services, and we are urging her to make it based upon science and health policy considerations" said Dr. Hitt.
Ronald Johnson, a member of the Council and the Managing Director of Public Policy at Gay Men's Health Crisis in New York, told reporters, "IV drug use is the driving force behind new HIV infections. Over 50% of new infections are injection-related. In addition, the overwhelming majority of new infections are occurring among African Americans and Latinos. We will not control this disease until we reduce its spread among drug users and those who come into contact with them."
According to Dr. Hitt, lifting the federal ban would have an impact beyond bringing federal dollars into new and existing programs. "There is a lot of moral authority behind an official determination by the Secretary. Such action would very likely increase the flow of private money into these programs." Asked for his thoughts about the process which led to the resolution, Dr. Hitt told The Week Online, "We felt very strongly that we needed to take decisive action. It's the first time, as far as I know, that a body such as this has passed a no-confidence resolution against an administration, so we see it as a very strong message. We're aware that this action has spurred activity within the administration and we're hopeful that a decision is made to do the right thing. The science is there... it's indisputable. Whatever the political reasoning has been behind this prolonged inaction, the time has come for the administration to act in the interests of American citizens and the public health."
But as much as advocates would like to separate syringe exchange from drug policy, the fact remains that the issue has long been a victim of Drug War rhetoric and posturing. This point has been illustrated again and again by those who oppose the programs on the premise that they will somehow legitimize or encourage drug use. Earlier this month in Colorado, for example, State Republican Chair Steve Curtis issued a direct threat that any state house Republican who voted in favor of a bill to legalize syringe exchange would face party-funded opposition in their next primary. The bill was killed in a House committee, 7-4 along party lines, despite strong support from the entire city government of Denver, including the Mayor and the District Attorney, who want to start a program in their city, and despite the fact that it was Republicans who successfully sponsored the bill in the Senate. (http://www.drcnet.org/rapid/1998/3-13.html#coloradonep and http://www.drcnet.org/rapid/1998/2-27.html#colorado)
An AP story on Monday (3/16) quoted Melissa Skolfield of the Department of Health and Human Services as saying that Secretary Shalala was awaiting the results of additional federal studies on needle exchange before making a determination. On Wednesday however a spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services told the Week Online, "We're not waiting for any further studies. We are continuing, as before, to review the existing information and we have not yet made a determination as to whether or not syringe exchange leads to increased drug use. There is no timetable for the completion of that process."
Long-time AIDS activist Keith Cylar, co-executive director of Housing Works Inc., a full-service harm-reduction service-provider in New York, told The Week Online, "In view of the short-term goal of getting the federal ban lifted, it's understandable that people want to take the syringe- exchange issue out of the context of drug policy. The reality is, however, that the Drug War is a war on AIDS patients, and on people at risk of infection, as well as a war on African Americans and Latinos and poor folks in general. It doesn't make a lot of sense to say 'well, we need the funding so that we can save these people's lives -- get them stabilized and to a point where they are ready to help themselves -- but we'll ignore the fact that a lot of our clients' problems stem from operating in and around a black market and the ongoing prospect of imprisonment.'"
Cylar continued, "I'm not questioning the strategy of the Council, given the short-term goal they are after. But the fact is that the underlying problem is a national policy which has demonized drug users and which treats them like animals unfit to live. Politicians are going to continue to allow people to die rather than have to exchange their Drug War rhetoric for reality-based approaches. Rhetoric is much easier to sell, there are no nuances, no gray areas. But that's true for both sides. The time is coming when the rhetoric of complicity -- saying 'the drug war's OK except for the little piece that affects me' - is not going to cut it anymore."
[DRCNet reported last week, three days before the AP story, that the Council was considering such action, scooping the major media for the second time in 15 days. (Colorado on 2/27 was the first.) Hmm... sounds like a good reason to... become a member! (http://www.drcnet.org/drcreg.html) See http://www.drcnet.org/rapid/1998/3-13.html#aidscommission for this report as well as an interview with AIDS Council member Robert Fogel.]
3. MAJOR NEW STUDY CALLS FOR TREATMENT INSTEAD OF PRISONS
A study released this week (3/16) conclusively shows that addiction treatment is as effective in treating substance abuse as established treatments for asthma, diabetes and hypertension are in controlling those disorders. The study also found that treatment was an effective anti-crime measure and was substantially less costly than putting addicted persons in prison.
The study was sponsored by Physician Leadership on National Drug Policy (PLNDP), a group comprised of 37 distinguished physicians including high ranking officials from the Reagan, Bush and Clinton administrations. Members include Louis Sullivan, M.D., Secretary of Health and Human Services under president Bush, Edward Brandt, M.D., Assistant Secretary of HHS under president Reagan, and David Kessler, M.D., former Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration under President Clinton. The group also includes a former Surgeon General, a Nobel laureate, and the editors of the New England Journal of Medicine and the Journal of the American Medical Association. The group's director is David Lewis, M.D., who is also the Director of the Center for Alcohol and Addictive Studies at Brown University.
Released concomitantly was a survey of American opinion on the subject of treatment and drug policy. That survey, which compiled and analyzed data from over 100 separate opinion polls taken between 1951 and 1997, found that Americans' perception of the effectiveness of treatment has actually fallen, and with it, the desire to see more spending in that area. In 1990, 65% of Americans felt that more money needed to be spent on treatment, while in 1996 only 53% felt that way.
David Lewis, M.D., director of Physician Leadership on National Drug Policy, told The Week Online, "First of all, the reception of the report by the panel was extremely positive, which was very important. The response thus far politically has also been excellent. Obviously, having the two reports come out together gave everyone the opportunity to see the discrepancy between our findings on the effectiveness of addiction treatment and the public's perception of that effectiveness. This juxtaposition highlights the fact that the public is addressing this issue on the basis of stereotypes, fear and myths, rather than on science and information. I am extremely pleased that the debate is becoming more public and more open and that we can finally begin to discuss and to address these issues rationally."
NOTE: On Wednesday, 3/18, ABC's Nightline with Ted Koppel featured the Physician's Leadership group and their conclusions. Koppel, interviewing a U.S Representative and a Drug Court judge, pushed the envelope, asking several times that if we are really taking the position that addiction is a disease to be dealt with medically like any other, than what basis is there for putting these people in prison (in the absence of other offenses like violence or property crime), and isn't decriminalization of drugs the logical extension of this argument?
Please take a moment to visit the ABC News web site at <http://www.abcnews.com/onair/> and drop them a note (click on "email") congratulating them for a wonderful job, and asking that they continue to cover the Drug War with such honesty and intelligence. A transcript of the 3/18 show is available from that page, or directly at <http://www.abcnews.com/onair/nightline/html_files/transcrip ts/ntl0318.html>.
Physician Leadership on National Drug Policy has a web site at <http://center.butler.brown.edu/plndp/>. Physicians can to register through the site as PLNDP Associates, to endorse PLNDP's consensus statement and receive updates on the organization's activities and the issue.
4. THE MAKINGS OF A CONSTITUTIONAL CRISIS? CALIFORNIA CITY OFFICIALS BACK MEDICAL MARIJUANA OUTLETS VS. FEDS
Um... can you say civil war? In California this week (3/18), the first shots were fired in a battle over one of the most fundamental issues of American-style democracy. That is, to what lengths, and over what issues, can or should the power of the federal government be used to thwart the will of the people and their local representatives? That the issue at the heart of a growing dispute putting local elected officials and the federal government at odds.
As the federal government this week prepares for the opening of its civil case against six medical marijuana outlets in California on March 24, the mayors of four California cities, San Francisco, Oakland, West Hollywood and Santa Cruz sent similar letters to President Clinton urging him to drop the federal suit and to "work with state and local officials to find an amenable solution that will put patients first." Such cooperation seems unlikely, however, in light of the federal government's hard line approach to the issue since the passage of 215.
In San Francisco, where over 80% of residents voted in favor of Proposition 215 (the November '96 ballot initiative which legalized medicinal marijuana in the state), popular Mayor Willie Brown published an op-ed titled "Defending the Right to Medical Marijuana," in which he called for a moratorium on federal enforcement of "marijuana laws that interfere with locally regulated operation of cannabis patient clubs and allow patients access to their medicine." He concluded by saying, "Californians with life-threatening diseased shouldn't have to suffer a world of pain while their elected representatives work to find a middle ground between local discretion and federal supremacy."
Adding fuel to the fire this week were San Francisco District Attorney Terence Hallinan and California's Attorney General Dan Lungren. Hallinan has submitted a "friend of the court" brief in support of the clubs in the federal case. That brief notes that as a last resort, he would consider having San Francisco's health department distribute marijuana to patients. The brief was joined this week by the Oakland DA's office at the direction of the Oakland City Council. Lungren, who is running in the state's Republican gubernatorial primary to become the Republican nominee for governor, and who is opposed in that race by San Francisco cultivators' club operator Dennis Peron, intimated to the LA Times that he would uphold the law, even arresting San Francisco health workers if it came to that. The federal action has also been officially opposed by the Fairfax City Council and the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors.
Mike Nisperos of Oakland's Crime and Public Safety Committee told The Week Online that the city's government was working with the police to develop standards for medical marijuana. "I think that it's clear that the cities involved are committed to providing well-regulated access to marijuana for those who are using it medicinally. We are now in the process of setting up a set of guidelines -- how much marijuana can legitimately be possessed or grown, how the police will make determinations upon finding marijuana, etc. -- that everyone, the advocates, the police, our DA Tom Orloff, can live with. We're hopeful that in the end, we'll be able to work with the federal government so that access can be provided."
On Thursday (3/19) however, Attorney General Janet Reno responded ominously to the mayors' pleas, saying that "we will enforce the law." But Michael Katz, Director of San Francisco's health department, said that the city has "an absolute commitment" to patients' access to medicinal marijuana.
A rally in defense of safe access to medical marijuana, sponsored by the Medical Marijuana Patients' and Caregivers' Fund, will be held at the San Francisco Federal Building, 450 Golden Gate Ave., Tuesday March 24th, the opening day of the federal case against the buyers' clubs, from 12 to 1pm. For further information, please contact Dale Gieringer, California NORML, at (415) 563-5858, or [email protected].
5. MEDICAL MARIJUANA BALLOT PROPOSAL FILED IN NEVADA
A ballot proposal which would amend the state constitution to allow for the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes was filed in Nevada on March 13 by a representative of the group Americans for Medical Rights. The proposal would allow Nevada residents who suffer from cancer, AIDS, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis and other "chronic or debilitating conditions" to possess and use marijuana with a doctor's permission.
Two votes are necessary to amend the Nevada Constitution, but first, supporters must collect over 46,000 signatures in order to get the proposal on the ballot. If they succeed, and if the voters pass the measure in '98, it will go to the voters again, for final approval, in November of '99. Dave Fratello, spokesman for Americans for Medical Rights, told The Week Online, "signature gathering should begin within a week or so. We have until August to gather the signatures, and Nevada law stipulates that we need a certain number from each county. But we're confident that we will meet the requirements and pass medical marijuana in Nevada."
6. HEICKLEN UPDATE: Penn State Professor Still Challenging System - Alex Morgan for DRCNet
Julian Heicklen, the retired Penn State Professor Emeritus, who is in the third month of a civil disobedience campaign, was arrested at his State College home Wednesday afternoon after angrily walking out of the Centre County Courthouse in Bellfonte, Pennsylvania a few hours earlier.
Heicklen's Preliminary Hearing on marijuana possession charges stemming from the Feb 12 protest was scheduled for 1 PM, when the court failed to call his case by 1:25pm the professor left. Heicklen's case was finally called at 3:00pm and Judge Alan Sinclair issued a Bench Warrant for his arrest.
At 4:20pm, he was arrested at his home by three police officers and brought before District Magistrate Carmen Prestia in State College for "Failure to Appear." Dr. Heicklen told Prestia, "You arrested the wrong man. I appeared but the judge didn't."
Magistrate Prestia explained that all hearings are scheduled for 1:00pm and a defendant is expected to wait until the case is called. He said that this was the procedure for everyone.
Heicklen said he told Judge Prestia that, "You treat everyone like pigs. That's not right, stop doing that. I go to any other professional's office and they take me in a few minutes...I was delivering Meals On Wheels from 10:30 to 12:30. I raced to Bellfonte to be there at 1:00pm and I didn't have any lunch."
"The Judge walks in at 1:20. He doesn't introduce himself. He doesn't apologize for being late and then he takes another case. I left. I absolutely will not be treated like that under no circumstances whatsoever...I was madder than hell and the court has to change its ways."
Heicklen said that he had written to the Court Administrator explaining that he was bringing his own court stenographer and that he was paying her by the hour. He asked the court to schedule his hearing within 15 minutes of when he would be called but the court refused.
Heicklen told Prestia that, "I just don't deal that way and I won't deal that way in the future either."
Magistrate Prestia dismissed the Failure to Appear charge and rescheduled Heicklen's Hearing for next Wednesday (3/25.)
Heicklen said he told Prestia that he didn't know if he would appear and that he refused to sign bail papers. The Magistrate was apparently dismayed at the professor's attitude and he simply let Heicklen free on his own recognizance without signing anything or promising to comply with court orders to appear.
The following day, Thursday March 19, Heicklen held the 8th Marijuana Smokeout at the Main Gate of Penn State, located in downtown State College. Heicklen and co-defendant Alan Gordon each smoked a joint. The Penn State Police were present but they didn't arrest or cite anyone although they did grab a "roach" that the professor laid down on a table beside his megaphone. Penn State Police later told the World On Line that they would test the roach and arrest Heicklen if it was positive for marijuana. When told of the impending test Heicklen said, "If it doesn't test positive, I'll have words with my dealer."
The weekly rallies have evolved into a series of anti-Drug War "teach-ins" similar to the instructional rallies on the Vietnam War that were held during the Sixties. Referring to the protests as "seminars," Heicklen has been assigning "homework" to his supporters. He started off a few weeks ago asking them to read the Bill Of Rights. In subsequent weeks he assigned the Declaration of Independence and then the US Constitution, and this week the Constitution of Pennsylvania.
After introductory statements by the professor, Alan Gordon and Ken Krawchuck- the Libertarian nominee for the Pennsylvania Governor's race, they took questions and allowed others to address the crowd of about 125 supporters.
One student said, "I've been coming here week after week. At first I wasn't sure why you guys were doing this but I've learned a lot. You question authority -- authority doesn't like to be questioned. If you're educated and know what you're talking about, authority doesn't like that either...I've learned a lot and I want to thank you for that. I'll keep coming out and supporting you guys."
Heicklen responded saying, "Thank you very much and don't forget to do the homework assignment...if you do the assignment every week you'll learn about the law and it's not just academic. It will protect you. People come up to me all the time and say I got arrested for this and that. They put themselves in situations that make their cases hopeless when they didn't have to... If you know what to do, you can be protected. I hope you continue to come. We have to show the powers-that-be that this is a movement that isn't going to go away. They're going to have to deal with us...and eventually (they'll) give in."
Heicklen and three co-defendants have hearings on Wednesday March 25. The professor hasn't decided if he will attend but he did say that if they make him wait again then he will leave again, even if they arrest him again. "I won't put up with it, its the rudeness and arrogance of tyranny."
Alan Gordon, the fifth co-defendant with the most serious charges had his Preliminary Hearing last week (March 11). He was bound over for trial on charges of possession of marijuana, possession of marijuana with intent to deliver and possession of drug paraphernalia. Gordon is representing himself at all court proceedings and will be using a medicinal marijuana/medical necessity defense.
7. CALIFORNIA COPS TEACH PARENTING CLASSES -- "LIE TO YOUR KIDS" THEY SAY
Parents in Murieta, California might be a bit surprised to find that the parenting classes being offered by their school district feature police officers as instructors. They may be even more surprised, however, to hear that according to the police, the best way for a parent to address the issue of his or her youthful drug use is to lie to their kids.
"If your child asks if you used drugs when you were in high school, say no." So says Sgt. Scott Attebery of the Murrieta Valley police force. Attebery is also a father of three and a member of the Murrieta Valley Unified School District board of trustees. "Do not admit that you smoked marijuana as a kid" he adds. "If you do, you will get that thrown back at you at 90 miles per hour."
8. ILLINOIS STUDY FINDS D.A.R.E. GRADUATES USING MORE DRUGS THAN THEIR PEERS
A University of Illinois study released this week, like virtually every previous study on the topic, found that the popular D.A.R.E. program, in which police officers teach 3rd graders about drugs, does not work. Disturbingly, the study actually found higher rates of drug use among D.A.R.E graduates than among their peers.
"It hurts me to sit here and tell you that D.A.R.E. does not work," said Dr. Dennis Rosenbaum, head of the criminal justice department at the University of Illinois. "But it's time for us to go back to the drawing board and figure out how it can be improved or what better ways we can spend our money on drug education in this country."
For more information on the Illinois study, see <http://www.msnbc.com/NEWS/151731.asp>. For more general background, visit DRCNet's D.A.R.E. Topics in Depth section at <http://www.drcnet.org/DARE>.
9. FEDERAL AGENCY FINDS INTERNATIONAL DRUG WAR A TOTAL FAILURE
Yet another General Accounting Office report has found a stunning lack of results -- on the streets, where it counts -- from U.S.-led international drug eradication and interdiction efforts. The GAO testimony, given before the U.S. House of Representatives' Subcommittee on National Security, International Affairs and Criminal Justice, released on March 12, sums up the record:
"Despite long-standing efforts and expenditures of billions of dollars, illegal drugs still flood the United States. Although U.S. counternarcotics efforts have resulted in the arrest of major drug traffickers, the seizure of large amounts of drugs, and the eradication of illicit drug crops, they have not materially reduced the availability of drugs in the United States."
The full document is available in Acrobat format at <http://www.gao.gov/new.items/ns98116t.pdf>, or can be ordered through the GAO's web site at <http://www.gao.gov>. The report is titled "Drug Control: Status of U.S. International Counternarcotics Activities" and has identifying number T-NSIAD-98-116.
10. MEDICAL MARIJUANA PATIENT/ACTIVIST MEETS WITH CANADIAN HEALTH MINISTER - Marc Brandl for DRCNet
At a news conference in Tillsonburg last Friday (3/13), Canadian Federal Health Minister Allan Rock answered reporters' questions about medical marijuana, saying he is taking the issue "very seriously," according to the London Free Press. The Minister was in town to announce the renewal of the legal planting of hemp in Canada. Tillsonburg is also the home of medical marijuana activist/patient Lynn Harichy, who suffers from multiple sclerosis.
Harichy, who is in the process of setting up a temporary cannabis buyers club in her home town, until it is "available through doctors and pharmaceutical companies," spoke with The Week Online about the meeting. "When I got there they said this meeting was by invitation only. I said I need to get in to talk with him. A reporter recognized me and took my picture. Other reporters started asking questions. Soon a girl came up and grabbed my arm and said come this way. When we were away from the reporters she said, 'he's expecting you.' I said 'who.' 'Allan Rock' was the reply.
Harichy said the meeting went well and that she was impressed by Rock's character. "He was very compassionate, I told him I am opening up a cannabis buyers club for people to get affordable marijuana through us and not off the street. I don't want any of them to be harmed. Rock said 'Yes' and that he is, 'very, very close to a resolution.'"
If the laws are not changed, Harichy will face a trial in June or July for a possession charge. Alan Young, the Osgoode Hall law professor who took Chris Clay's constitutional challenge of marijuana prohibition to court has agreed to represent her.
Harichy urged people to "write to their representatives and don't give up. Stop the propaganda. Pressure our lawmakers to change this ridiculous law."
Donations to Lynn Harichy's defense fund can be made to:
Prof. Alan Young York University Osgoode Hall Law 4700 Keele St. Toronto, Ontario M3J 1P3
11. UK CANNABIS CAMPAIGN -- 2 OUT OF 3 NEW MP's FAVOR ROYAL COMMISSION REVIEW OF DRUG LAWS
For the past six months, British Home Secretary Jack Straw has claimed to be open to debate on national drug policy, even as he has repeatedly stated that he was strongly opposed to the legalization of cannabis. Further, Mr. Straw has adamantly maintained that no Royal Commission study need be commenced on the subject. While this intransigence has left him in poor stead among the growing number of Brits who favor reform, it appears that Mr. Straw will soon face even more formidable urging. A study released last week (3/14) revealed that fully two thirds of new British MPs favor the appointment of a Royal Commission, and that more than one in five of the new MP's have, at one time or another, ingested an illicit drug.
The survey, which afforded responding MP's with total anonymity, was conducted by London Weekend Television. 243 Members of Parliament who are serving their first year were queried. 64% of respondents admitted having friends or associates who used drugs, and 51% of the MP's said that the current laws on cannabis were too harsh, while only 1% said that they were not harsh enough.
Labour MP Paul Flynn, who has openly campaigned for the decriminalization of cannabis, told the Independent on Sunday, "This is splendid news and very surprising. In effect it means that the current prohibitionist policies against cannabis in this country are doomed."
NEWSFLASH: The BBC World Service (shortwave) will present a special program about marijuana late TONIGHT (Friday, Mar. 20, 1998) at 04:30 UTC (11:30pm Friday night New York time). This program can be heard via shortwave and perhaps also via the Internet. (See http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/ for more details on reception. The BBC probably also has satellite transmission, and other Internet sources might be available.) Text from the announcement follows:
"Later this month, supporters of the Legalize Cannabis campaign will be marching through London. Although, as you may know, individual use of cannabis has been legal for some years in the Netherlands and in a number of states in America, most European governments are wary of decriminalization, so in tomorrow's edition of Insight, Sophie Wigram (sp?) will be reporting on whether efforts to legalize the drug are likely to succeed.
"Cannabis: Should it be left to the individual or does society need to be protected by the law?" -- the subject for Insight tomorrow at 04:30 Greenwich Mean Time here on the BBC World Service." The program should last about 15 minutes.
12. AMERICAN CHOICE FOR PRESIDENT OF COLOMBIA QUITS CAMPAIGN
Alfonso Valdivieso resigned last year as Colombia's chief federal prosecutor in order to run for the presidency of that troubled nation. Late last week (3/13) however, Valdivieso withdrew his candidacy after what has been described by the Associated Press as a "lackluster campaign". Valdivieso's candidacy had been welcomed by US officials concerned that Horacio Serpa will win the next Presidential election. Serpa, a close aide and the hand- picked successor to current Colombian President Ernesto Samper, is believed to be corrupt, with ties to major drug trafficking organizations. Samper himself has been accused by the US and others of taking over $6 million in campaign contributions from traffickers. Valdivieso has thrown his support behind Conservative Party candidate Andres Pastrana.
13. MALAYSIA TO DRUG TEST STUDENTS
Schools Across Malaysia will soon be receiving urine-testing equipment along with the government's permission to randomly test any and all students for drug use. Any student who tests positive will immediately be re-tested, and if the second test confirms the positive, will be sent away to a "rehabilitation center". The move comes in reaction to a perceived rise in drug use among teens.
Malaysia's increased teen drug use comes despite an extremely punitive national policy, including a mandatory death sentence for anyone caught trafficking in drugs. Police report that last year over 1,750 people were arrested for trafficking.
14. EDITORIAL: WHEN SCIENCE IS POLITICAL
"We will follow the science." These words have become a standard answer to almost any question put to the Clinton administration about drug policy. Whether the issue is medical marijuana, needle exchange or addiction itself, the administration likes nothing better than to nod toward the scientific community and to intimate that, hey, we're just the messengers up here, we're just implementing what the experts tell us is right, there's a process and we're following it. But more often than not, both the actions and the spending of the administration tell a far different story. When it comes to drug policy, there is nothing that is more damning of the policies of the Clinton Administration than the facts, scientific or otherwise. And at no time has that been made more apparent than this past week.
On Tuesday (3/17) the Presidential Advisory Council on AIDS, appointed by President Clinton, unanimously passed a resolution of "no confidence" in the administration's commitment to follow the science in its efforts to stem the spread of the disease. At issue is the long, politically- driven delay to make a determination, long-ago arrived at by every serious scientific body to study the issue, that needle exchange saves lives by reducing the spread of AIDS without a concomitant increase in drug use. Such a determination is a prerequisite to allowing sates and localities to use their federal anti-AIDS dollars to fund syringe exchanges. The World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control, the National Institutes of Health, the American Public Health Association, and even the World Bank, to name just a few, have concluded that these programs are vital to stopping new infections, over 50% of which are injection-related. But the Department of Health and Human Services, and Secretary of HHS Donna Shalala, are still "reviewing the evidence." And every day, this preventable disease spreads.
Never before has a council appointed by a president issued a resolution of "no confidence" in its appointer. "We are angry" said chairman Dr. Scott Hitt. And they're angry still. Because the science has long been in, because the only facts mitigating against lifting the ban are political, and because people are becoming infected every day as the administration continues to weigh the value of lives lost against the political risk involved in saving them. And the lives, mostly African American and Latino lives, keep coming up on the wrong side of the equation.
And then California this week, the mayors of four cities, including Oakland and San Francisco, sent letters to the administration asking that a federal lawsuit being pursued against six medical marijuana buyers' clubs be dropped, and that the cities and localities of California be given the time and support necessary to develop and implement rational regulations for the distribution of marijuana to patients who use it medically. California's voters passed Proposition 215 in November of '96, despite the warnings and urgings of the federal government. In the time since, the administration has done everything it could think of, including threatening the careers of doctors who dared even discuss marijuana with their patients, to see that it is not implemented.
"The science" they say. "We need to follow the scientific process." But given the fact that there is ample support for medical marijuana in the scientific community, that many substances, including morphine and penicillin, never went through any scientific approval process, and that no credible science has ever found the use of marijuana more harmful than putting sick people in jail, the words, once again, ring hollow. The local communities are so aware of the suffering of their citizens, of AIDS patients, of cancer and glaucoma patients, of MS and chronic pain patients, that they have expressed their willingness to stand up to the feds, even to distribute the marijuana themselves. And what is the administration's answer to them? "We will enforce the law" said Attorney General Janet Reno. And you can be sure that she meant federal law.
On Wednesday (3/18) a group of 37 of the nation's top M.D.'s, including a former Surgeon General, numerous high- ranking health officials from the Reagan, Bush and Clinton administrations, and the editors of the New England Journal of Medicine and the Journal of the American Medical Association, under the banner of Physician Leadership on National Drug Policy, released a report calling for treatment, rather than prison, for people with substance abuse problems. Treatment, they said, is every bit as effective in dealing with substance abuse as is treatment for other chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, asthma and hypertension. Further, they said, drug treatment is a more effective and more economical crime-prevention strategy than prison.
Faced with this stunning rebuke to the central component of the Drug War by such an exalted group, Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey immediately issued a statement praising their findings and stating that the administration was committed to treatment... and science. But such statements fly in the face of the fact that of over $17 billion in federal anti- drug spending (not including incarceration costs), less than 15% goes to treatment. The statement also ignores the fact that the U.S. has become the world's greatest per capita incarcerator, primarily by arresting and jailing non-violent drug offenders.
There is no denying that doing the right thing, following the science on drug policy, is fraught with political risk. Most Americans are woefully uninformed of the realities of drugs and drug policy, and they are wary, even afraid of alternatives to all-out war. That this is the result of years of propaganda and hysteria promulgated by politicians to drum up votes is largely irrelevant. That such rhetorical and political tactics are still in vogue however, that they promise to intensify even as the call to science and rationality gets louder and more convincing, is far more important to the thinking of those in power.
"We will follow the science." It is the cry of an administration that refuses to take responsibility for the damage it is causing. An administration that knows little else but following on this issue, rather than leading. So they praise the science, they ignore the science, they lie about the science, and they keep on keepin' on, arresting millions of Americans, hastening the spread of disease, and denying relief to the afflicted in some sort of twisted morality play which demands that people die in order to be saved from themselves. It is easier than addressing the nuances of a complex issue. It is easier than educating voters. The administration, on the issue of drug policy, is determined to follow the science. Apparently they meant political science.
Adam J. Smith
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