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The Week Online with DRCNet
Issue #299, 8/8/03

"Raising Awareness of the Consequences of Drug Prohibition"

Phillip S. Smith, Editor
David Borden, Executive Director

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Note: Phil Smith and The Week Online will be on vacation next week. We will return with issue #300 on Friday, August 22.


  1. Note to Readers: Issue #300 and Name Change Coming Up, New Format
  2. Bolivia's Morales Seeks Honest Enforcement Against Traffickers, Not Repression
  3. Marinol Death Sentence: Oregon Man Denied Liver Transplant Because of Prescription -- He's Not the Only One
  4. The Drug War's Daily Grind: One Month in One Police District in Washington, DC
  5. August is Drug Reform Lobbying Month at Home!
  6. Perry Fund Accepting Applications for 2003-2004 and 2004-2005 School Years, Providing Scholarships for Students Losing Aid Because of Drug Convictions
  7. Newsbrief: Justice Department Orders Government Lawyers to Appeal "Soft" Sentences, Report on Judges Who Issue Them
  8. Newsbrief: Tulia Pardon Decision in Governor's Hands
  9. Newsbrief: COMBAT Anti-Drug Tax Passes in Kansas City
  10. Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cops Story
  11. Newsbrief: Tampa Police Enjoying Seized Cars
  12. Newsbrief: Doctrinaire Drug Warrior Confirmed as DEA Head
  13. Newsbrief: Kentucky Teacher Fired for Promoting Hemp Wins Settlement
  14. Newsbrief: Argentina Leads Latin America in Jailed Drug Offenders
  15. Newsbrief: Marijuana Reform Stalled in New Zealand
  16. The Reformer's Calendar
(read last week's issue)

(visit the Week Online archives)

1. Note to Readers: Issue #300 and Name Change Coming Up, New Format

Dear DRCNet reader:

Phil Smith and The Week Online will be on vacation next week. We will return on Friday, August 22 with a landmark issue, #300. The Week Online is also having a name change. Effective issue #300, we will be known as "Drug War Chronicle." The official web page of the newsletter will be -- visit it now to check out our new, expanded format, which in addition to the one-web-page-per-issue format will also include a one-page-per-article version with tell-a-friend and comment functions.

We are also working on topical news archive pages to supplement our current reverse chronological full archive. And, we plan to offer, hopefully by next issue, a new subscription option, receiving only the table of contents with web links and announcements in your e-mail, instead of the full text as everyone receives now (with the full-text option still available). Please feel free to send us suggestions; the new format has been designed in a way to enable us to make most format changes across the full archive at once, as opposed to page by page, and

Much has happened in drug policy and reform efforts since the Week Online started in 1997. If you are wanting for reading next week, take a browse through our archives and refresh your memory on the events of the past six years. The new archive page can be found at online.

DRCNet will have one or more bulletins during the next two weeks, including legislative updates and perhaps mini-news briefings, and all other work will continue. Thank you for being a part of our organization and of drug policy reform, and see you soon.

2. Bolivia's Morales Seeks Honest Enforcement Against Traffickers, Not Repression

Using a five-ton cocaine seizure as a pretext, the Bolivian government this week announced an escalation of its longstanding coca eradication campaign. Aided and abetted with funding from the US State Dept., embattled President Sanchez de Lozada and his ministers revealed that the much-reviled Special Task Force Against the Drug Traffic (FELCN, in its Spanish acronym) will open eight new anti-drug posts in the Andean country's coca producing zones. The government will also increase the number of troops in the task force and step up its intelligence-gathering operations in the coca regions, officials told Bolivia Press.

The move against coca cultivation comes as Bolivia is under increasing pressure from Washington to block a resurgence of coca in Bolivia now that the US is claiming increasing success in eradicating coca in Colombia. Drug czar John Walters last week pointedly told Bolivia and neighboring Peru they had to try harder to eradicate the leaf viewed as sacred by millions. But it also comes as the Sanchez de Lozada government confronts a militant and increasingly impatient cocalero (coca grower) movement led by Evo Morales and his political party, the Movement Toward Socialism. Morales came within 45,000 votes of winning the presidency last
year, and his party is the largest bloc in parliament.

The immediate spark for the announcement was Operation Moonlight, a drug trafficking enforcement effort that last week resulted in the seizure of five tons of cocaine destined for Spain via Argentina. Minister of Governance Yerko Kukoc used the occasion to attack Morales, who is demanding increased cultivation in the Chapare region. "The coca that is being produced in the Chapare is being used to produce this cocaine," said Kukoc. "This isn't a lie, nor an invention of the government or the FELCN or anyone else. To Evo Morales we have to say: Thus is the coca of the Chapare; yes, it serves to produce cocaine."

But Kukoc's attack was undercut by his own henchman, Luis Caballero, head of the FELCN, who told El Tiempo that since Bolivian eradication got underway a few years ago, Bolivia had changed from being a major producer to being a country through which Peruvian cocaine transited on its way to market. It was also undercut by the US State Department, which, while it acknowledged that Bolivia does produce some coca destined for the black market, it is also a transit country for Peruvian cocaine. "The traffic routes indicate that the Peruvian cocaine base enters Bolivia through the Lake Titicaca region, through the departments of La Paz, Beni, and/or Pando. There are indications that part of the Peruvian cocaine base that transits Bolivia has as its final destination Europe, Mexico, and/or the United States," said the State Department.

Still, the Bolivian government has warned that it will be "more drastic" in enforcing Law 1008, the hated coca law. In a Monday press conference, Minister of Peasant Affairs Arturo Liebers told reporters that to prevent the formation of drug trafficking organizations, the government would aggressively eradicate "excess and illegal" coca in Cochabamba and Santa Cruz. "We are seeing the record figure of more than five tons of cocaine that was seized in Santa Cruz in Operation Moonlight by the FELCN," said Liebers. "It was produced by excess or illegal coca that promotes the drug traffic," he asserted.

President Sanchez de Lozada, for his part, told reporters Monday that eradication efforts, along with measures for the control of legal coca, would take place even in the zones of traditional production, such as the Yungas of La Paz. "The peasant seeks to have a little coca because it is one more crop," he said. "Every peasant, French, American, has cows, chickens, corn because they don't want to place all their eggs in one basket," he added, seeking to demonstrate concern for the plight of peasants impoverished by eradication policies. "Obviously, there is a lot of excess coca and we have to continue the fight against illegal cultivation and establish mechanisms of control over legal coca, including in the Yungas. We have to eradicate the excess and illegal coca, but on the other had, we have to provide work, jobs. I will go to the Chapare in Septemer with a US delegation to see if we can convert it into an economic zone where there is manufacturing," he added.

That wasn't winning over cocalero leader and Movement Toward Socialism deputy Jorge Ledesma, who told El Tiempo, "for every hectare they eradicate, we will plant three."

Cocalero mainman Evo Morales took a more diplomatic tack. "As cocaleros, we have planned a real and effective alliance against the drug traffic and that will not succeed if it continues as now, when some anti-drug units cover up and others aid in this illicit activity," Morales said, adroitly pointing the finger of blame back at law enforcement.

Still, said Morales, while he saluted honest drug trafficking enforcement, it should not be part of a strategy designed by the government and the US Embassy to "justify a great repression in the Yungas and the Chapare." Putting more soldiers and more forts in the coca growing areas won't solve the problem, Morales added. "The announcement that they will create more anti-drug barracks is not going to solve this problem. The authorities are mistaken if they think so."

3. Marinol Death Sentence: Oregon Man Denied Liver Transplant Because of Prescription -- He's Not the Only One

Oregon resident Dave Myers brought a lot back from his stint in service in Vietnam. Myers served in the US Navy inspecting boat traffic off the Vietnamese coast and he brought back memories, good and bad, of course, and some lasting friendships, but also Hepatitis C, probably caught inspecting some dark and waterlogged junk in the South China Sea.

Now suffering from terminal liver failure due to the disease, Myers sought a transplant from Oregon Health Services University (OHSU) in Portland, one of 16 major liver transplant centers in the country. But he was rejected by program head Dr. John Ham ( because he is taking Marinol, a synthetic cannabis compound and legal prescription medicine. Worse for Myers, Ham accused Myers of being a marijuana smoker, something Myers vehemently denies having done for at least 15 years, when he was first diagnosed.

The removal of Myers from the list of those awaiting liver transplants is a virtual death sentence. "With liver failure, you die -- it's as simple as that," said Dr. Jay Cavanaugh, head of the American Alliance for Medical Cannabis ( and himself a Hepatitis C sufferer. "And a good number die while they're waiting for the transplant," he told DRCNet.

Myers is one of about 18,000 people waiting for livers, most of them Hep C sufferers, according to the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients (, which tracks all organ transplants in the US. According to the registry, some 5,000 liver transplants are done each year, but some 2,000 patients die while on the waiting list.

Because a large proportion of Hep C patients got the disease through intravenous drug use and because significant numbers of other liver transplant candidates developed problems due to alcohol abuse, transplant centers have developed strict protocols barring transplant eligibility for those people who continue to abuse drugs. While protocols vary from center to center, the OHSU protocol specifies "no smoking, no drinking, no illicit drugs."

Marinol, a synthetic cannabinoid, is not an illicit drug. It is a Schedule II drug available for prescription in the United States. It is commonly used to increase appetite and as an analgesic, the use for which it was prescribed to Myers by his attending physician.

OHSU deflected numerous DRCNet attempts to interview Dr. Ham or get anyone to talk about the Myers case or OHSU's liver transplant protocols, but Myers told DRCNet -- and he has the tape recording to back it up -- that Ham told him that Marinol would suppress the immune system, thus making post-transplant infections more likely.

"This has me pulling my hair out," said Cavanaugh, himself a Hepatitis C sufferer. "One thing transplant people worry about is infection," he explained. "That was the rationale used to deny Myers, that the use of cannabis would suppress the immune system and make him prone to infection, but there is no validity to that whatsoever. Cannabis is not a general immunosuppressant and those doctors must know that. And it's ludicrous anyway because once you get a transplant you get whacked with the heaviest anti-rejection drugs around, and what do they do? They suppress the immune system."

But according to Myers and the recording of his meeting with Dr. Ham, the Marinol issue was most likely a smokescreen for Dr. Ham's real concern: that Myers was smoking marijuana. "I haven't smoked marijuana for 15 years or so, and I told Dr. Ham that I would willingly submit to a polygraph and/or a lung biopsy to prove that I am not smoking marijuana," Myers told DRCNet. "He said that was unnecessary because he knew I was smoking marijuana. So now I have a doctor who is also a psychic, I guess."

If Dr. Ham's extrasensory abilities leave room for doubt, so does OHSU's position on marijuana use as a reason to keep people off the transplant waiting list. According to Transweb (, an online resource center for transplant patients, occasional marijuana use does not automatically preclude people from obtaining liver transplants. "It depends," wrote Dr. Jeff Punch, a University of Michigan transplant surgeon in response to a query. "First it depends on the policy of the individual transplant center. Second it depends on the individual patient: what organ they need, why they need it, and other factors. For example: Most lung transplant centers will not transplant patients that smoke anything, even occasionally. Another example is patients who need a liver transplant because of alcohol abuse. In patients with a history of alcoholism, studies have shown that one marker that indicates a particular patient is more likely to return to alcoholism is continued use of any psychoactive drugs. Most transplant centers will not transplant patients with active substance abuse of any kind if the reason for the transplant relates to substance abuse."

"There is no evidence that marijuana has any negative effect on the liver," Dr. Cavanaugh said. "A 1970 study found that if you inject a mouse with a massive dose of THC, there is some liver involvement, but the human equivalent would be mainlining an ounce of cannabis. More recent studies have found that cannabinoids and other compounds in marijuana are actually hepato-protective. They reduce inflammation in the liver associated with cirrhosis. Hell, cannabis benefits the liver!" Dr. Cavanaugh said.

In Oregon, a state with an active medical marijuana program, OHSU protocols against illicit drugs don't appear to have kept up with state law. The result is that Dave Myers is not alone in being rejected. "I am aware of about a dozen other people removed from the liver transplant list at OHSU because of medical marijuana use," said D. Paul Stanford, director of the Cannabis Hemp Foundation ( "We run a medical marijuana clinic here in Oregon, and we've got some 200 patients who have Hep C," he told DRCNet. "Medical marijuana helps those patients by stimulating their appetites, and it has some antibacterial properties," he said. "Denying these people transplants because they use medicinal marijuana is a death sentence. The Hemp Cannabis Foundation is preparing a lawsuit against OHSU, including Dave Myers because the facts of his case are the strongest, but also including registered Oregon medical marijuana patients who have been bumped."

"Does the transplant team really believe I'm a non-deserving drug addict for using medical cannabis?" asked Dr. Cavanaugh. "Isn't it ironic that my Hep C doctors had no problem considering me when I was being prescribed methadone, Clonopin, Ambien, Flexaril, Neurontin, and more? Does anyone really believe I was better off and a better transplant candidate when I was whacked on all those drugs?" he asked.

"To say that someone who uses physician approved cannabis is at risk of substance abuse is just ridiculous," Cavanaugh continued. "The vast majority of patients seeking liver transplants are Hep C patients, and the majority -- but not all -- are former intravenous drug users. There is some sense to the notion that if you are continuing a self-destructive pattern of behavior, such as shooting speed or smoking crack or drinking booze, you are not a worthy candidate because you'll just ruin the new liver, but in the case of Dave Myers, he is conforming to the center's desire that he not be using drugs that could damage his liver and he is still being discriminated against because of doctors' prejudice against medical marijuana, and in this case, Marinol, a federally-approved Schedule II drug."

As for Myers, he alternates between depression and anger, he told DRCNet. "I'd like to punch Jack Ham right in the face," said Myers. "He sat right across from me, my wife, and our daughter, smirking at us. I told him I wasn't his enemy, that I was willing to work with him, but it didn't matter. My daughter was crying, and he just kept going on about no THC," Myers said.

Without a liver transplant, he will be dead within two years, he said.

"Hep C is seen as the junkies' disease," said Myers. "It has the same sort of stigma that AIDS had, but it doesn't have those celebrity spokespeople to raise awareness." Myers should know. He operates a web site for veterans with Hep C ( and writes on the issue for publications covering the disease. "There is a prejudice like there was in the 1960s. Then, if you had long hair and a beard you must be a pothead. Now, if you have Hep C, you must be a junkie. I've been clean and sober for 15 years," said Myers, who recently completed a stint with Promisekeepers, the conservative Christian men's fellowship.

Myers must find another transplant center that will take him, if he is to survive, he said. OHSU is the only one in the state.

Dr. Cavanaugh viewed the whole episode as outrageous. "That medical professionals would inject prejudice into a life and death decision is more than unethical. It's cruel, ignorant, and arrogant."

4. The Drug War's Daily Grind: One Month in One Police District in Washington, DC

Washington, DC's 4th Police District lies in the shadows of federal Washington, beginning about one mile north of the White House on the edge of downtown and cutting a four-mile long swath through northwest Washington between Rock Creek Park on the west and North Capitol Street on the east. Home to more than 100,000 of the District's residents, the 4th Police District encompasses block after endless block of tightly packed row houses and a pair of commercial corridors -- 14th Street NW and Georgia Avenue NW -- that are only now beginning to rise up from the ravages of the urban riots that swept the area in 1968. One of the more racially integrated sections of the city, the 4th Police District is home to an ever-increasing Hispanic population, as well as a black working class majority, a significant Vietnamese-American population, and a number of mostly young whites adventurous enough to live on the "wrong side" of 16th Street NW, the city's de facto dividing line between Upper Caucasia and Calcutta on the Potomac.

It is also a favorite police stomping ground in the war on drugs. Along with sections of predominantly black southeast and northeast Washington, the 14th St. corridor has for the past thirty years been the scene of endless street arrests, special police operations, and drives against open air drug markets. While crime in the 4th district and the city as a whole dropped from abysmal levels through most of the 1990s, it is on the increase again. But a sort of inertia seems to have set in with police and prosecutors. Day after day, month after month, year after year, the police respond with a steady drumbeat of drug arrests and prosecutors run them through the system as if on auto-pilot.

The month between June 15 and July 15 this year was nothing special, and that is what makes arrest and prosecution figures for the 4th District that month interesting. The "United States Attorney's Office Papered Community Prosecution" report is a snapshot of police and prosecution practices in a major US city in the midst of the never-ending war on drugs. (In Washington, DC, all prosecutions are handled through the US Attorney's office, which decides if cases will be charged under city law or under federal law.)

Prosecutors in the 4th police district filed 196 criminal charges between June 15 and July 15, 40 for crimes of violence and 32 for property crimes. The majority of the violent crimes were simple assault (23), followed by assault with a deadly weapon (9), and threatening bodily harm (4). Prosecutors also charged two persons with armed robbery, one with carjacking while armed, and one with felony murder. Leading property crimes were unlawful entry (14), destruction of property (7), and burglary (2), along with a smattering of fraud, forgery, and arson charges. Other offenses charged during the period included prostitution (14), weapons offenses (9), and drunk driving (9).

But a full 36% of all charges filed -- 72, equal to the number of violent and property crimes combined -- were for drug law violations. Leading the way was cocaine possession (20 charges), followed by marijuana possession (15), heroin possession (9), possession of drug paraphernalia (8), drug distribution (7), violation of a drug free zone (4), PCP possession (2), and marijuana distribution (2). By themselves, marijuana prosecutions constituted 9% of all prosecutions that month in a police district that averages a rape every two weeks, a murder every two weeks, two burglaries a day and two assaults a day, and a hundred stolen cars each month, according to Metropolitan Police records.

"It's nothing unusual, is it?" said Keith Stroup, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws ( "You can take a snapshot at any time in any state and you'll see we're wasting an enormous amount of resources and ruining a large number of lives, and almost all of these people are nonviolent offenders," he told DRCNet. "It seems that the public debate on marijuana has advanced far enough to acknowledge the downside of enforcement, but no one has the courage to do anything about it."

Fourth Police District resident and journalist-photographer Jeremy Bigwood, who has worked for years on drug reform issues in Latin America, was more blunt. "This sucks," he told DRCNet. "It's a waste of my money, it's a waste of police time, it's a complete waste when we have serious issues to deal with in this city. Marijuana smokers should not be getting arrested. Maybe if someone is smoking in the street, you should give them a citation, but not an arrest. That's just silly."

But it's business as usual in the retail drug war in the nation's capital, or more precisely, it's business as usual in the war on drug users. Only seven arrests out of 72 were for distribution of hard drugs.

5. August is Drug Reform Lobbying Month at Home!

August has begun, and with it the US Congress has gone into recess, its Senators and Representatives returned to their districts and states. This is the ideal time to pay a visit to their local offices and make the case for and against current legislation of importance in drug policy. Get some friends or family members to go with you in a group! Below we list some issues and bills to bring up, with instructions for figuring out where to go and suggestions for when you do. Please write us at [email protected] to let us know what actions you've taken and what responses you've gotten from your legislators or their staffs.

First, though, DRCNet has just made up pins, with our usual stop sign logo, that you can wear for the occasion. Visit and contribute $10 or more and we'll send one to you by first-class mail for free. (If you can't afford the $10, we'll send you one anyway, for less or even for free if necessary.) If you want to send your donation by check, please e-mail us at [email protected] and let us know, and include your mailing address so we can send your pin now. Also let us know if you would like more than one, and add an additional $1.00 for each (or whatever you can afford). Our mailing address for checks is: DRCNet, P.O. Box 18402, Washington, DC 20036. Remember that donations to the Drug Reform Coordination Network are not tax-deductible, though you can make a tax-deductible donation if you prefer to the DRCNet Foundation, same address.

Visit and for links to your legislators' web sites (which generally include local and DC contact information), and for online tools for determining who they are if you don't already know, or call the Congressional Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask them. It's best to look presentable when you have your visit, so your legislators know that not only do you take this issue and the political process seriously, but other people who will vote in their races in the future take you and your opinions seriously.


This is not a complete list of every relevant issue affecting drug policy, but only the ones that are most "in play" at the moment.

1) HEA: DRCNet, with Students for Sensible Drug Policy, has a major national campaign to repeal a provision of the Higher Education Act that delays or denies federal financial aid to students because of drug convictions. There is a likelihood that legislation will pass this year that will exempt would-be students who were not in school at the time of their offenses. While this is a positive development, it is important for Representatives and Senators to hear that constituents feel it is not enough and that only full repeal of the law will adequately resolve the issue. Bring a copy of our 2002 sign-on letter at that strongly makes this case, and include the impressive list of organizational endorsers.

H.R. 685, sponsored by Rep. Barney Frank, has 62 cosponsors and would repeal the drug provision in full. Please urge your US Rep. to sponsor this bill if he or she is not already. (See for the latest cosponsor listing.) Visit for extensive information on this issue, to send an e-mail or fax to your Representative and Senators and the President, to make sure you are receiving district-specific HEA alerts as well as the general ones, and to get more involved in this campaign. Visit for info on student drug reform activism.

2) MEDICAL MARIJUANA: There are currently two pro-medical marijuana bills in Congress, H.R. 2233, the States' Rights to Medical Marijuana Act, and H.R. 1717, the Truth in Trials Act. States' Rights would eliminate federal prohibition of medical marijuana in states that have passed medical marijuana laws. Truth in Trials would create a medical necessity defense for medical marijuana use in those states. We ask you to urge your US Rep. to cosponsor and support both of these bills. Visit and to read the latest cosponsor listings.

Also, there was a medical marijuana vote in the full House last month, and you should determine how your Rep. voted before you have your meeting. Visit (PDF) or (Excel) or (tab-delimited plain text) to find out. Visit to send e-mails and faxes to Congress and the President in support of these bills.

Visit or for further resources for working on this issue.

3) PLAN COLOMBIA AND THE ANDEAN DRUG WAR: Also last month, the House voted down an amendment to reduce drug war funding to the Colombia military. Now, the full Andean Counterdrug Initiative legislation has moved to the Senate. According to the Latin American Working Group, the Senate has no plans to even debate Colombia funding. DRCNet opposes the Andean drug war entirely, and we also support a call by the Latin American Working Group for Colombia aid to be debated on the Senate floor. Please ask your Senators to vote against continued funding of the Andean Counterdrug Initiative, particularly Colombia funding, to support any amendments to eliminate or scale it back, and to demand a real debate on the Colombian drug war on the Senate floor.

The Andean drug war is not only harmful, it is futile and ridiculous. We have a graph that is useful for making that point ( The graph demonstrates how source country anti-cocaine efforts have only caused coca cultivation to shift from place to place, not to reduce it -- the amount of the shifts is far greater than the change in total coca growing, indicating the supply filling demand is the dominant force, not eradication programs.

Also consider bringing a copy of "Bad Neighbor Policy: Washington's Futile War on Drugs in Latin America," a new, concise but thorough overview of the issue by the Cato Institute's Ted Galen Carpenter -- visit and donate $35 or more and we'll send you a free copy -- let us know if you're bringing it to a legislator visit and we'll send it first-class -- or donate $60 or more for two copies -- or $85 or more for three.

Visit to send e-mails and faxes to your Senators in opposition to the Andean Counterdrug Initiative and for links to further resources for working on this issue.

4) RAVE ACT: Last year, Sen. Joseph Biden (D-DE) obtained passage of the controversial Reducing Americans' Vulnerability to Ecstasy (RAVE) Act by sneaking it into the popular Amber Alert bill. The RAVE Act threatens to suppress freedom of speech and assembly by making club owners subject to draconian criminal penalties if patrons engage in illicit drug activity. Though Biden promised the law would not be used to stifle legitimate events, it has already happened. Please tell your Senators and your Representative that the RAVE Act is dangerous and undemocratic and should be repealed -- and that in the meantime they should exercise great scrutiny of law enforcers to prevent its further abuse. Bring a copy of our Week Online article on the shutdown by DEA threat of a NORML-SSDP fundraiser in Billings, Montana to make the point (

Visit for further resources for working on this issue.

5) SENTENCING AND INCARCERATION: Thanks in part to draconian mandatory minimum sentencing and insufficiently flexible federal sentencing guidelines, our nation's prisons and jails hold more than half a million nonviolent drug offenders -- more than the number of people imprisoned for any criminal offense in the entire European Union, even though the EU has more people than the United States. Overall, the US has more than two million people incarcerated, the highest incarceration rate in the world.

Earlier this year, Congress passed legislation known as the Feeney Amendment (now Sec. 401 of the PROTECT Act) that will strip even more discretion from judges by requiring the US Sentencing Commission to enact changes to the federal sentencing guidelines reducing the frequency of "downward departures," affecting sentencing across the board including for drug offenses. A measure introduced by Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) and Sen. Edward Kenney (D-MA), the JUDGES Act (S. 1086 and H.R. 2213), would repeal Sec. 401 and other unjust provisions of the PROTECT Act.

Please ask your Senators and your Representative to support the JUDGES Act and to go further and repeal mandatory minimum drug sentences in full. Visit for further information on this legislation and visit for additional resources on this issue.

That is our recommended federal lineup. We have not discussed DRCNet's overall philosophy on drug policy, which is that prohibition should be ended and drugs and the drug trade be brought within the control of law -- meaning some form of legalization, to use the more popular word for the concept. This doesn't mean you shouldn't talk about this when you have a meeting. That is a judgment call you have to make based on what you know about the legislator and on the flow of things when you are there. If you only have a short time, which is probable, you might only want to bring up the current legislative issues.

If it seems like your Senator or Rep. (or more likely one of their staffers) is interested in having a dialogue on the larger issue, it may be worthwhile to bring it up. You can point to conservatives who have either called for legalization, such as National Review magazine (,
or who haven't taken that position but have raised the issue, like Indiana Rep. Dan Burton ( You can talk about how prohibition causes violence by creating the underground drug trade instead of a licit trade governed as other legal businesses are; how that underground trade reaches literally into the schools themselves, whereas this doesn't happen with the legal drug alcohol; how fighting drugs through force is futile because supply fills demand and illegal drugs are so lucrative to sell; many reasons you can find in the pages of our web site.

If you do have such a conversation, it's a good idea at the end to point out that whether or not they agree with you, it's important to at least make positive progress on the smaller issues (such as the ones outlined above) on which you both agree.

You have a few weeks to make these appointments, so start thinking about it and hopefully acting on it now! If you can't do it in time but still want to do this kind of activism, you can still have meetings with your legislators' staffers later.

Please forward this bulletin to other likely reform supporters, and please keep following DRCNet action alerts, sending the e-mails and faxes, making the phone calls and paying the visits. Though last month's two big votes were lost, they were closer than has ever happened before -- see our reports at if you haven't already -- proof that you can make a difference and that the drug war can end, but only with your help.

Again, please write to [email protected] to let us know what actions you've taken this month and what you've learned about your legislators' intentions and views. Thank you for standing with us against the drug war.

6. Perry Fund Accepting Applications for 2003-2004 and 2004-2005 School Years, Providing Scholarships for Students Losing Aid Because of Drug Convictions

The John W. Perry Fund, a project of the DRCNet Foundation in association with Students for Sensible Drug Policy, provides college scholarships to students losing federal financial aid because of drug convictions. The Fund has monies remaining for fall 2003 as well as future semesters, and eligible students are urged to apply as soon as possible.

Please visit to fill out a pre-application, print out an application form or brochure, or for further information. Students, financial aid officers, friends and family members and supporters of students, as well as media, activists, potential donors and other interested parties, are all welcome to contact us!

Supportive parties are urged to take copies around to financial aid offices, social services agencies whose clientele are likely to include drug ex-offenders, high school guidance offices, and to forward information about the Perry Fund to appropriate e-mail lists. Community and state colleges are of particular interest to the Perry Fund, because the low tuition rates enable us to fully finance a student's education in many cases, and because their student bodies include a high proportion of low income with especially great financial need.

Any applicant losing federal financial aid due to a drug conviction, however, attempting to attend any school, is welcome and encouraged to apply. We continue to raise money for the Perry Fund, and the more applications we have received, the more money we will likely be able to raise for them. Please urge potential applicants to visit for information and to apply, or to contact DRCNet at (202) 362-0030. Thank you for spreading the word.

7. Newsbrief: Justice Department Orders Government Lawyers to Appeal "Soft" Sentences, Report on Judges Who Issue Them

In a memo issued July 28 under the signature of Attorney General John Ashcroft, the Justice Department has ordered US Attorneys to appeal any and all sentences that are below federal sentencing guidelines -- except those approved of by federal prosecutors. According to the Wall Street Journal, which broke the story Wednesday, Justice is merely implementing a congressional directive dreamed up and drafted deep in the bowels of the department itself with the collaboration of staunch crime fighting Republicans in the House Judiciary Committee.

In an amendment to the US Attorneys' Manual, Ashcroft wrote that federal prosecutors "have an affirmative obligation to oppose any sentencing adjustments, including downward departures, that are not supported by the facts and the law. This obligation extends to all such improper adjustments, whether requested by the defendant or... by the court."

The change was required under the Feeney amendment (, which was adopted by Congress in April after being piggy-backed onto the unrelated but politically un-opposable federal "Amber Alert" bill. The Feeney amendment makes it easier for federal prosecutors to appeal "downward departures," as sentences below the guidelines are known, and requires the Justice Department to report judges who grant such departures to Congress. But Rep. Feeney (R-FL) was just carrying Ashcroft's water, or, as he told the Wall Street Journal, he was merely the "messenger" for a measure drafted by two Justice Department officials, Associate Deputy Attorney General Daniel Collins and Jay Apperson, counsel to the House Judiciary Committee.

Democrats assailed the move. Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-MI), senior Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, told the Journal, "John Ashcroft seems to think Washington, DC, can better determine a fair sentence than a judge who heard the case or the prosecutor who tried it. The effort by DOJ to compile an 'enemies list' of judges it feels are too lenient is scary to say the least." And Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA) told the Washington Post Ashcroft was engaged in an "ongoing attack on judicial independence" and encouraging "a blacklist of judges who impose lesser sentences than those recommended by the sentencing guidelines."

Criticism of Congress and the Justice Department over the Feeney amendment was already at a "fever pitch," the Journal reported. Critics include US Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who has said the Feeney amendment will "seriously impair the ability of courts to impose just and responsible sentences."

Federal judges have long criticized mandatory minimum sentences and sentencing guidelines that force them to send low-level, nonviolent drug offenders to prison for years or often decades. Such offenders now make up more than half of all federal prisoners. And downward departures have been increasing, up to 18.3% of all sentences in 2001, according to the US Sentencing Commission, although half of them are requested by prosecutors for defendants who testified against their partners or otherwise cooperated.

Up to now, the Justice Department had rarely appealed downward departures, doing so in only 19 of 10,026 cases in 2002. Now the Bush administration and congressional hard-liners have ensured that prosecutors will appeal them all.

8. Newsbrief: Tulia Pardon Decision in Governor's Hands

Most of the people convicted in the now discredited Tulia, Texas, drug bust of 1999 should be pardoned, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles decided on July 30. The Tulia arrests, based solely on the uncorroborated word of one undercover lawman, literally decimated the African-American population of the Texas Pandhandle town, with some 38 people convicted and sent to prison -- all but three of them black. The last 12 still in prison were released in June ( pending a final review of their case by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. A specially appointed judge had earlier ruled that Tulia lawman Tom Coleman was "not a credible witness." Coleman faces perjury charges in September for his performance in the Tulia bust.

The parole board's decision clears the way for Gov. Rick Perry (R) to grant pardons to 35 of the 38. Parole board chairman Gerald Garrett told Reuters the board had been looking into the question of pardons at Perry's request. The board found good reason to recommend pardons, Garrett said. "There were questions about the arrest tactics and the resulting plea bargains and convictions," Garrett said. A master of understatement.

9. Newsbrief: COMBAT Anti-Drug Tax Passes in Kansas City

Last week, DRCNet reported on the first organized efforts to defeat the Jackson County, MO, anti-drug sales tax -- the only such tax in the nation ( The cutely named COMBAT (Community-Backed Anti-Drug Tax), which pumps about $20 million a year into drug courts, drug treatment, and drug law enforcement in the greater Kansas City area, was criticized by opponents as an ineffective waste of tax dollars.

But supported by the Kansas City and Jackson County political establishments and local media, particularly the Kansas City Star, the tax was renewed for another seven years on Tuesday by a margin of 64% to 36%. One pro-COMBAT anti-crime group kicked in $120,000 to campaign for the tax, while Jackson County Taxpayers, one of two groups urging its repeal, spent $300. The other group, the Organized Opposition to the Jackson County Drug Tax, spent no funds.

Voters initially approved the tax in 1989 and renewed it in 1995. The quarter-cent tax funds some 80 programs, with 28.5% of revenues this year going to police, 28.5% going to drug treatment and prevention (i.e., the DARE program), 33% going to drug courts, and 10% going to raise more money for anti-drug programs.

Despite being unable to block the tax's renewal, the campaign against it was notable for bringing together conservative white suburbanites and left-leaning inner city black activists in a converging critique of the drug war. Over the top in 2010?

10. Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cops Story

There must be something in the air in Mississippi's Tunica County. For the second time in four years, the Tunica County sheriff has gone down on corruption charges. Last time, it was plain old extortion. Former Sheriff John Pickett III is currently serving 20 months in federal prison for extorting kickbacks from bail bondsmen wanting to do business in the county. This time, it is extortion and robbing drug dealers. Current Tunica County Sheriff Jerry Ellington was arrested July 30 by federal officials in the same bail bondsman kickback scheme, but was also charged with taking kickbacks from deputies he urged to go out and steal from dealers.

He faces up to 60 years in prison on two counts of extortion and two counts of bribery after an investigation by the FBI, the Mississippi attorney general's office, the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics, and the Mississippi Highway Safety Patrol. According to the indictment against him, Ellington asked for and received more than $5,000 in kickbacks from one deputy in return for giving him a promotion, pay raise, and access to a vehicle for after hours use. The sheriff's office car was to be used "to create further cash for the deputy to kick back illegally to the defendant sheriff and to place the deputy in a position to steal money from drug dealers and others to split with the defendant sheriff," the indictment alleged.

It's not Sheriff Ellington's first encounter with ethical problems. In 1987, while a deputy under currently imprisoned Sheriff Pickett, Ellington was charged with stealing a thousand dollars from the evidence locker. But he paid that back, and a local jury refused to convict him. Pickett then rehired Ellington. Once Pickett went down, Ellington won a 1999 election to replace him. Then, in June, 17 deputies sued Ellington, saying that he threatened their jobs if they didn't buy $25 tickets for his May campaign banquet. "If you don't buy a ticket, you ain't with me, plain and simple," Ellington is heard saying on an audiotape recorded by one of the deputies. "It's just a dollar a day. Most of you throw that away in a day's time on Jujubes."

Whether or not he escapes conviction, Ellington will not be sheriff for long. In a Democratic primary election Tuesday, he was soundly defeated, with his opponent taking 83% of the vote.

11. Newsbrief: Tampa Police Enjoying Seized Cars

According to a Tuesday story in the St. Petersburg (Florida) Times, police officials in nearby Tampa are using vehicles seized from alleged criminals for their own personal use. Tampa Police Chief Bennie Holder, setting the standard for his force, was spotted tooling around in a black 2001 Lincoln Navigator, complete with DVD player and video screen, worth $35,000. He later upgraded to a 2001 Chevy Tahoe worth $38,000.

Other Tampa police are following the chief's lead. Tampa police are using at least 43 vehicles seized under Florida's Contraband Forfeiture Act, which allows police to confiscate property used during the commission of a felony or bought with the proceeds from crime. A Tampa police major is driving a 1998 Lincoln Navigator valued at $35,000, while a sergeant drives a 1999 Ford Expedition valued at $34,000. The forfeiture fleet includes five Navigators, two Expeditions, a BMW, and a Lexus, the Times reported.

Naturally, Tampa police defended the practice. "We believe it makes good fiscal sense," Chief Holder said in a press release. "We're saving taxpayer dollars. We're taking cars from criminals and using them for legitimate law enforcement purposes." Holder did not explain precisely what "legitimate law enforcement purpose" was served by his being able to cruise in a high-dollar dope wagon.

Depite Holder's protestations, the practice is viewed uneasily by criminal justice ethicists and even other police departments. St. Petersburg police said they used only department-purchased vehicles. "The brass doesn't get to pick and choose from seized cars," said a department spokesman.

"It may not be the best idea. There's a perception problem there," said Leonard Territo, a retired University of South Florida criminology professor. "It's not good PR for the police chief to be driving around in a top-of-the-line expensive car. As any type of public official, you have to be careful. Public perception is very important."

Yes. We wouldn't want the public to get the impression that law enforcement somehow profits from seizing people's property.

12. Newsbrief: Doctrinaire Drug Warrior Confirmed as DEA Head

Karen Tandy was unanimously confirmed in the Senate as administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) late on July 31. She replaces Asa Hutchinson, who left the post to become undersecretary for border security in the Homeland Security Department. The Senate vote was without dissent, although in an earlier committee hearing Tandy had been berated by senators upset by her commitment to continue current aggressive DEA actions against medical marijuana patients and providers in California (

In written responses to committee members' questions on medical marijuana, Tandy denied that any such thing exists. Marijuana "has not been shown to have medical benefits," Tandy wrote, ignoring the 1999 Insitute of Medicine study commissioned by then ONDCP head Gen. Barry McCaffrey. She was "not personally familiar" with the study, she told an astonished Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL).

With Tandy at the helm, DEA appears poised to continue its hard-line path. The former federal prosecutor and Justice Department official whose latest claim to fame was engineering the takedown of the nation's bong industry in this spring's Operation Pipe Dream has vowed to "lead a multi-national attack on drug traffickers and their money supply." But it will be tough smashing cartels and thwarting terrorism at the same time the agency had to contend with dangerous characters like Tommy Chong and that legion of pot-smoking patients.

13. Newsbrief: Kentucky Teacher Fired for Promoting Hemp Wins Settlement

Donna Cockrel, the Shelby County, KY, teacher fired after inviting Woody Harrelson to her class to discuss hemp in 1996, will receive $70,000 from the Shelby County School District to settle the lawsuit she filed after her firing. Harrelson's visit to the fifth-grade class at Simpsonville Elementary School, where he talked about legalizing hemp production in the US, ignited a local firestorm. Cockrel was fired months later.

The school board gave 17 reasons, including "insubordination," but as a trial date in US District Court drew near in Frankfort last week, the school board settled. Cockrel will enjoy her nice little bundle in Detroit, where she currently teaches.

14. Newsbrief: Argentina Leads Latin America in Jailed Drug Offenders

Argentina has more people serving prison sentences for drug crimes than any country in South America, both in real numbers and per capita, according to a report released this week by the Centro del Estudios Nueva Mayoria (New Majority Research Center), an Argentine think tank and polling organization. Based on figures from 2001, the last year for which numbers were available, the study found that Argentines constitute 43% of all imprisoned drug offenders in South America.

Some 81,000 persons were arrested for drug offenses in South America in 2001, nearly 35,000 from Argentina. Argentina also led the per capita figures, with one drug prisoner for every 1,044 citizens. Next was Uruguay, with one for every 1,841 citizens, followed by Peru, with one for every 2,028; Colombia, with one for every 2,087; Chile, with one for every 3,043; Bolivia, with one for every 4,884; Ecuador, with one for every 5,263; Venezuela, with one for every 7,793; Paraguay, with one for every 38,852; and in last place, Brazil, which jailed only one drug offender for each 63,005 citizens.

Thus, Argentina jailed drug offenders at a rate more than 60 times that of its northern neighbor. According to New Majority, the higher rate is not due to higher consumption or greater involvement in drug trafficking, but "probably because there is more effective action against this phenomenon" in Argentina.

15. Newsbrief: Marijuana Reform Stalled in New Zealand

The New Zealand Labor government is blocking any consideration of marijuana law reform, according to New Zealand Wire. Although the long awaited parliamentary health committee report on marijuana's effects came out Wednesday, Justice Minister Phil Goff didn't bother to wait for the report before assuring the United Future Party, Labor's partner in the coalition government, that marijuana reform was not on the agenda.

While the New Zealand Green Party, with Member of Parliament Nandor Tanczos leading the charge, had hoped to move toward marijuana decriminalization, Labor's post-election alliance with the conservative United Future has most likely dealt those hopes a death blow. "We need to treat personal use of cannabis as a health issue, not a crime," Tanczos told the Wire. "We need to control cannabis in an effective way. When you look at the evidence it is clear that the current prohibition does not reduce cannabis abuse, does not limit underage use, and by criminalising moderate adult users it creates significant problems of its own."

But Justice Minister Goff was having none of that. "I can categorically rule out any change to the status of cannabis," Goff replied in response to a parliamentary inquiry. The government would carefully consider the commission's report he said, but would not entertain the possibility of decriminalization.

A Labor member of parliament could break ranks and introduce a decrim bill, said Goff, but the government would not support it.

Visit to read DRCNet's interview with Nandor Tanczos, October 2002.

16. The Reformer's Calendar

(Please submit listings of events concerning drug policy and related topics to [email protected].)

August 11-16, Seattle, WA, "Northwestern Exposure," speaking tour by Jack Cole of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. Contact Mike Smithson at (315) 243-5844 or [email protected] for details of individual engagements.

August 16, St. Louis, MO, Families Against Mandatory Minimums Community Action Network training session. Call (202) 822-6700 before 8/14 to register.

August 16-17, 10:00am-8:00pm, Seattle, WA, "12th Annual Seattle Hempfest." At Myrtle Edwards Park, call (206) 781-5734 or visit for further information.

August 20-23, Pine Ridge Reservation, SD, 2003 Hemp Industry Association Convention. Registration $200, $150 for additional family members, includes meals, tipi camping and activities. Visit for further information or contact (707) 874-3648 or [email protected].

August 22, 10:30am-5:30pm, Hot Springs, SD, Public Industrial Hemp Seminar, featuring speakers, exhibits, vending, benefit auction and complimentary hemp food lunch. At Mueller Civic Center, admission free, visit, e-mail [email protected] or call (707) 874-3648 for further information.

August 22, 5:00pm, Rosario, Argentina, Simposium, "Usos Terapeuticos de la Marihuana," Debate Cientifico y Politico Legislativo. Sponsored by Centro de Estudios Avanzados en Drogadependencias y Sida (at the University of Rosario) and Asociacion de Reduccion de Daños de la Argentina. Contact [email protected] or +54 341 420-1291 for information.

August 23-24, Vancouver, BC, Canada,, exposition on medical cannabis applications. E-mail [email protected] or visit for further information.

September 7-14, nationwide, "Semana Por La Paz," nationwide vigil for peace in Colombia. Contact Elanor Starmer of the Latin America Working Group at (202) 546-7010 or [email protected] for further info or if you want to organize an event, and visit!-Colombia.htm for event listings and other information.

September 9, Oakland, CA, Amnesty International hearing on racial profiling, chaired by Hon. Timothy K. Lewis, former Judge of the US Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit. Visit or call (202) 544-0200 for further information.

September 18, Tallahassee, FL, "Innovations in European Drug Policy," the Richard L. Rachin Conference. Sponsored by the Florida State University School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, in conjunction with the Journal of Drug Issues, at the Center for Professional Development, contact (850) 644-7569 or [email protected] to register or (850) 644-7368 or [email protected] for further information.

September 20, 3:00pm, Surprise, AZ, "The Failed War on Drugs," public forum with Nora Callahan of The November Coalition and Jack Cole of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. At the Unitarian Universalist Church, 17540 N. Ave. of the Arts, sponsored by the UU Church Social Justice Committee. Contact Mike Smithson at (315) 243-5844 or [email protected] for other Jack Cole appearances in Arizona during 9/20-27.

September 21-28, Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia, "2nd Darwin International Syringe Festival and 1st International Conference on Using Direct Action to End the War on Drugs." Sponsored by the Network Against Prohibition, visit or for further information or contact [email protected] or +61 (0) 8 8942 0570.

September 22-23, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, "First National Seminar on Drug Users' Rights." Sponsored by ABORDA, visit for further information.

September 23, Chicago, IL, Amnesty International hearing on racial profiling, chaired by Hon. Timothy K. Lewis, former Judge of the US Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit. Visit or call (202) 544-0200 for further information.

September 25, 9:30am, Sun City West, AZ, "The Failed War on Drugs," public forum with Nora Callahan of The November Coalition and Jack Cole of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. At the Desert Palm Presbyterian Church, 13459 W. Stardust Blvd., sponsored by Desert Palm Christian Education Committee. Contact Roma Thomas at [email protected] for further information. Contact Mike Smithson at (315) 243-5844 or [email protected] for other Jack Cole appearances in Arizona during 9/20-27.

September 26, 6:30pm, Phoenix, AZ, "The Failed War on Drugs," public forum with Nora Callahan of The November Coalition and Jack Cole of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. At Christ the Redeemer Lutheran Church, 8801 N. 43rd Ave., sponsored by Arizona Coalition for Effective Government. Contact Roma Thomas at [email protected] for further information. Contact Mike Smithson at (315) 243-5844 or [email protected] for other Jack Cole appearances in Arizona during 9/20-27.

September 30, Tulsa, OK, Amnesty International hearing on racial profiling, chaired by Hon. Timothy K. Lewis, former Judge of the US Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit. Visit or call (202) 544-0200 for further information.

October 2, New York, NY, Amnesty International hearing on racial profiling, chaired by Hon. Timothy K. Lewis, former Judge of the US Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit. Visit or call (202) 544-0200 for further information.

October 3-4, Detroit, MI, "And Justice for All? Communities of Color and the War on Drugs," conference of Drug Policy Forum of Michigan with Wayne State University SSDP and other organizations. Visit or contact Debra Wright at (734) 368-8328 or [email protected] or Michael Segesta at (586) 873-5086 or [email protected] for further information.

October 5-17, Deming, Silver City, Truth or Consequences and Las Cruces, NM, "Continuing Drug Policy Reform in New Mexico," speaking tour by Jack Cole and Peter Christ of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. Contact Mike Smithson at (315) 243-5844 or [email protected] for details of individual engagements.

October 22, 7:00pm, Syracuse, NY, "Against All Odds: Cops Fighting the War on Drugs," forum with Jack Cole of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. Sponsored by Reconsider: Forum on Drug Policy and Syracuse University Students for Sensible Drug Policy. At Syracuse University, for further information contact Gerrit Cain at [email protected] or Mike Smithson at (315) 243-5844 or [email protected].

November 5-8, East Rutherford, NJ, biennial conference of Drug Policy Alliance. At the Sheraton Meadowlands Hotel and Conference Center, 2 Meadowlands Plaza, visit for further information.

November 7-9, Paris, "Fourth Hemp and Eco-Technologies Exhibition." At the Cité de Sciences et de L'Industrie, call +33(0) 1 48 58 31 37, e-mail [email protected] or visit for further information.

January 28-February 7, 2004, Hannibal, Columbia, Jefferson City, St. Louis and Kansas City, MO, "Special Delivery for John Ashcroft," speaking tour by Jack Cole of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and Roger Hudlin. Contact Mike Smithson at (315) 243-5844 or [email protected] for details of individual engagements.

April 20-24, Melbourne, Australia, "15th International Conference on the Reduction of Drug Related Harm." Visit or e-mail [email protected] for information.

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