"House Republicans Thursday unveiled a package of bills to combat drug
abuse and vowed to make America virtually drug-free by 2002." - Reuters,
May 1998

Welcome to 2002, Land of the Virtually Drug-Free. We are a people unanimous
in our conviction to eradicate marijuana from the face of the earth. Or are we?

Despite 13 million marijuana arrests since 1970, several hundred billion
dollars spent, and the development of the largest prison system in the
history of the world, a record 34 percent of Americans believe that
marijuana should be legalized.

The 64th year of modern Marijuana Prohibition, 2001, was characterized by a
widening of the gap between the hard-line drug policies of the United
States and the increasingly tolerant approach of many governments abroad.
In May, the United States was voted off the United Nations Drug Control
Board and Human Rights Board on the same day. Meanwhile Portugal,
Switzerland and Belgium decriminalized personal possession of marijuana,
and polls showed a majority favoring outright legalization in Britain and
Jamaica. Forty-seven percent of Canadians polled favor marijuana legalization.

Despite a campaign promise that he would allow states to decide on the
issue of medical marijuana individually, the newly-elected President George
Bush reaffirmed his commitment to hardline prohibitionism through the
appointments of John Ashcroft as Attorney General, and John P. Walters as
Drug Czar. In their own words:

"I want to escalate the war on drugs. I want to renew it. I want to refresh
it, relaunch it, if you will." - Attorney General John D. Ashcroft,
February 7, 2001

"What really drives the battle against law enforcement and punishment,
however, is not a commitment to treatment, but the widely held view that
(1) we are imprisoning too many people for merely possessing illegal drugs,
(2) drug and other criminal sentences are too long and harsh, and (3) the
criminal justice system is unjustly punishing young black men. These are
among the great urban myths of our time." - John P. Walters, America's Drug
Czar designate, Weekly Standard, March 6, 2001

The following tidbits, culled from the press over the past 12 months,
illustrate the patterns of abuse, fraudulence and violence pandemic to
American drug policy.

January 12 - Salon.com reports: The nephew of Attorney General-designate
John Ashcroft received probation after a felony conviction in state court
for growing 60 marijuana plants with intent to distribute the drug in 1992-
a lenient sentence, given that the charges against him often trigger much
tougher federal penalties and jail time. Ashcroft was the tough-on-drugs
Missouri governor at the time.

January 19 - (AP) The Belgian government agreed Friday to decriminalize the
use of marijuana, following its neighbor the Netherlands in granting legal
tolerance to use of the drug.

The Belgian legislation, which is expected to be approved by parliament
early this year, will legalize possession of small amounts of cannabis for
personal consumption. It will not allow sale of the drug, unlike in the
Netherlands, where "coffee shops" selling marijuana cigarettes are a common
sight in many cities.

February 11 - President Jorge Batlle of Uruguay, becomes the first head of
state in Latin America to call for the decriminalization of drugs and an
end to the drug war. "During the past 30 years this has grown, grown, grown
and grown, every day more problems, every day more violence, every day more
militarization," the 73-year-old president told a radio audience recently.
"This has not gotten people off drugs. And what's more, if you remove the
economic incentive of the [drug trade] it loses strength, it loses size, it
loses people who participate."

February 16 - (AP) More than half of the Swiss support loosening the laws
banning marijuana, according to a survey by a drug and alcohol agency. The
figures, released Thursday by the private Swiss Institute for Alcohol and
Drug Problems following a study in November, say that 54 percent favor a
softening of penalties for smoking, possessing and selling the drug.
"Cannabis consumption is becoming normal," institute director Richard
Mueller said.

March 9 - William J. Allegro, 32, of Bradley Beach, New Jersey is sentenced
to 50 years in prison for growing marijuana in his home. "The court imposed
this sentence because the court felt obligated to do so under the law,"
said Judge Paul F. Chaiet, a former prosecutor. "Mandatory sentencing
provisions can create difficult results. In the court's view, this is one
of those times where the ultimate results are difficult to accept."

Allegro's previous criminal record was made up of several non-violent
offenses including a sale of marijuana.

April 18 - (AP) Kenneth Hayes and Michael Foley are acquitted by a Sonoma
County jury on charges of cultivating and possessing marijuana. The two
were men arrested for growing 899 marijuana plants for the1,200 members of
a San Francisco medical marijuana club called CHAMP- Cannabis Helping
Alleviate Medical Problems. Hayes ran the club.

Sonoma County District Attorney Mike Mullins said "Our contention was that
you can't be a caregiver under the definition of the statute to that many
people. The jury felt otherwise."

April 20 - Christian missionary Veronica Bowers and her infant daughter
Charity are killed when their small plane is shot out of the sky by a
Peruvian military jet, as part of a CIA-backed program that patrols the
Amazon basin for drug couriers.

April 24 - In Oklahoma, Will Foster, 42, a medical marijuana patient who in
1995 was sentenced to 93 years in prison for growing 39 marijuana plants in
his basement, is released on parole. Foster used the marijuana to relieve
chronic pain caused by acute rheumatoid arthritis.

"My medical use of marijuana never interfered with my work, I ran a
successful business," said Foster. "I was minding my own business taking
care of my health and my family. What was I doing to anybody that got me 93
years?"

April 24 - The Boston Globe reports: A narrowly divided Supreme Court gave
police sweeping authority Tuesday to arrest and jail those who break even
minor criminal laws, such as failing to fasten a car's seat belt.

May 2 - The Louisiana Senate, voting 29-5, passes sweeping legislation to
bring relief to an overflowing state prison system, ending mandatory prison
time for possession of small quantities of drugs.

"We have lost control of the prison population," said Sen. Charles Jones,
D-Monroe, lead author of SB239. "We are spending nearly $600 million a year
on prisons." Jones said there are 35,000 inmates in Louisiana state prisons
and 15,000 of them are there on drug-related charges.

May 5 - The United States is voted off the United Nations Narcotics Control
Board. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the United States
would continue its "strong support" for U.N. anti-drug programs despite its
ouster from the 13-member board that monitors compliance with U.N. drug
conventions on substance abuse and illegal trafficking.

Indeed, after the son of U.S. Rep. "Duke" Cunningham, R-Calif., was found
flying an airplane loaded with 400 pounds of marijuana, he was freed on
bail but then tested positive for cocaine three times. He wound up getting
a mere 21/2 years in prison.

Former Education Secretary Richard Riley's son got just six months' house
arrest for conspiring to sell cocaine and marijuana, though he had been
indicted earlier on charges that can lead to life in prison.

August 26 - (AP) The number of adults behind bars, on parole or on
probation reached a record 6.47 million in 2000 -- or one in 32 American
adults, the government reported Sunday.

August 29 - ABC News 20/20 Downtown features a comparison of U.S. and Dutch
drug policy, with an accompanying online interactive poll, asking "SHOULD
MARIJUANA BE LEGALIZED?" 78 percent respond YES.

September 8 - Thirteen current and former Miami police officers were
accused by U.S. authorities Friday of shooting unarmed people and then
conspiring to cover it up by planting evidence. The indictment is just the
latest scandal for this city's trouble-plagued police force. All of those
charged were veterans assigned to SWAT teams, narcotics units or special
crime-suppression teams in the late 1990s.

October 27 - The (UK) Guardian reports: A majority of Britons believe
cannabis should be legalised and sold under licence in a similar way to
alcohol, according to a new poll. Some 65 percent of those questioned,
agreed it should be legalised and 91 percent said it should be available on
prescription for sufferers of diseases like multiple sclerosis.

The poll, carried out by Mori for the News of the World, follows the
Government's announcement that the law on the drug has been eased. While
possession of cannabis will still be illegal, police will no longer be able
to arrest those carrying it.

November 3 - The DEA raid the Los Angeles Cannabis Resource Center, a
medical marijuana distribution facility, arresting President Scott Imler.
"They were as gracious as they can be when they are raping you," Imler says
of the DEA agents.

The bust was a result of months of surveillance and years of investigation
of the LACRC by the DEA.

City officials condemned the raid at a press conference last Friday that
was attended by more than 100 center members.

November 9 - The San Jose Mercury News reports: Despite objections from
former first lady Betty Ford and drug-treatment authorities, the U.S.
Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday approved the nomination of John
Walters as director of the

Office of National Drug Control Policy.

November 19 - Former West Vancouver school superintendent Ed Carlin is
furious with North Vancouver RCMP after a blunder during which the
emergency response team raided a basement rental suite occupied by his son
and three others in search of drugs and guns.

Red-faced cops took down the four young men at gunpoint and found Nintendo
controllers in the home, but no guns or drugs.

December 7 - The Long Beach Press-Telegram reports: A Poly High School
senior who played bass in the school orchestra took his life after being
booked on marijuana possession charges, police said Thursday.

A police officer at Poly was notified at about 2 p.m. Wednesday that a bag
of what appeared to be marijuana was visible in Andreas Wickstrom's car,
parked in a campus parking lot.

"His mother was contacted and came down to pick him up. They were able to
pick up the vehicle and return home about 5 p.m.," Blair said.

Minutes later, the boy's mother heard a noise, then "found her son in the
bathroom, the apparent victim of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the
head. A shotgun kept in the home was found beside him," Blair said.

Paramedics called to the home, in the 3900 block of Elm Avenue, pronounced
him dead at 5:11 p.m., Blair said.

Andreas' aunt, Diana Haye, said he was humiliated by his arrest. "All he
repeated to his mother on the way home was 'they treated me like a common
criminal,' " she said.

December 24 - In North Carolina, the Lexington Dispatch reports about the
dismissal of 65 criminal cases investigated by three county narcotics
officers now charged in a federal indictment with conspiracy to distribute
drugs.

According to a federal affidavit issued in the case, law enforcement
officers abused their authority in one or more ways, including writing fake
search warrants, planting evidence and fabricating charges, keeping drugs
and money seized during arrests, attempting to extort more money from the
people arrested, and intimidating suspects and potential witnesses.

2001 in Drug Statistics - Estimated U.S. deaths in year 2001 attributed to
tobacco: 400,000; alcohol: 110,000; prescription drugs: 100,000; suicide:
30,000; murder: 15,000; aspirin and related painkillers: 7600; marijuana:
0? (unknown)

"The difference between a policy and a crusade is that a policy is judged
by its results, while a crusade is judged by how good it makes its
crusaders feel." - Thomas Sowell


Pubdate: Mon, 07 Jan 2002
Source: AlterNet (US Web)
Copyright: 2002 Independent Media Institute
Contact: http://www.alternet.org/discuss/
Website: http://www.alternet.org/
Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/1451
Note: This web only source does not have a LTE section.
Author: Kevin Nelson, Alternet
Bookmark: http://www.mapinc.org/pot.htm (Cannabis)