Four Useful Phrases

1. The Shelley Mandel Principle

In the early 1970s a young clerical worker named Shelley Mandel sued to
make Yom Kippur, the Jewish day of atonement, a paid holiday for California
state and municipal employees.

Her lawyers argued that Catholics got paid when they took off Good Friday,
and Jewish employees deserved equal treatment. Superior Court Judge Robert
Bostic said he agreed with their premise and ruled that henceforth Good
Friday would not be a paid holidayS The Shelley Mandel principle seemed
relevant last week as lawyers for Ed Rosenthal argued that he was a victim
of selective prosecution. They complained that plenty of other people were
growing at least as much marijuana as Ed allegedly did (more than 100
plants), but only Ed, an outspoken advocate of legalization, had been
charged by the feds. Assistant U.S. Attorney George Bevan eagerly set pen
to pad and you could almost see a thought-balloon above his prosecutorial
brow: 'We could lay this argument to rest by rounding up a few more growers.'

The Shelley Mandel principle should be borne in mind whenever reformers
point out disparities within the law. In recent years drug policy reformers
have harped on the fact that sentences for possession of cocaine in its
rock form (favored by black folks) are five times harsher than sentences
for possession of cocaine in powder form (favored by whites). Elizabeth
Dole, the new Senator from North Carolina, has pledged to end the disparity
by proposing harsher penalties for cocaine powderS On the TV news just now
a lady from The Nation , ignoring the Shelley Mandel principle, bemoans the
looming attack on Iraq because the North Koreans are 10 times worse... And
medical mj movement 'activists' ignore the Shelley Mandel principle every
time they whine, "The federal government should be devoting its resources
to the war on terrorism, not prosecuting poor, sick marijuana users." They
of all people should realize that the war on terrorism is as inherently
phony --terrorism being a tactic-- as the war on drugs.

2. Bob Dole Disease

Speaking of lovely LibbyS How can we convince the medical establishment to
rename male impotence 'Bob Dole Disease?' Sufferers would be more likely
to discuss the condition with their doctors if it had a user-friendly
name. 'Impotence' is not only sexist, it's inherently misleading, as if all
power came from the barrel of a cock. The word 'impotence' rarely comes up
in conversation (pun unintended), and people who first encounter it in
print are likely to mispronounce it --im-poe-tence--with the accent on the
second syllable. Maybe Pfizer's p.r. firm could work on this serious problem.

3. Jurors' Discretion

The Berkeley Patients Group is one of several cannabis clubs in the Bay
Area that have not forgotten their political roots and
responsibilities. On Friday evenings the club sponsors a talk or
performance for members looking to do more than just make a purchase.

The speaker Jan. 17 was Richard Lee of the Fully Informed Jurors
Association, whose flyer had been distributed near the federal courthouse
in San Francisco as the trial of Ed Rosenthal got underway. Lee
acknowledged that the term 'jury nullification' confused a lot of people
who don't understand why juries should be nullified or what, exactly,
jurors are supposed to nullify. Lee favors redefining the goal as 'Jurors'
Discretion.' He points out, 'The policeman has discretion over whether to
give a warning, write a citation, make an arrest or just drop the matter.
The prosecutor has discretion over whether to charge the case, and if so,
what the charges will be. The judge has all kinds of discretion over what
evidence is admissible, and what arguments, and in the end, over the
sentence. Only when it comes to the jury -- the 12 people who are supposed
to render judgment on behalf of your peers and your community-- do they
suddenly say 'You must follow orders exactly and do whatever the judge
tells you to do. You are merely the finder of facts, you have no
discretion regarding the fairness of the law or its application in the case
at hand."

"I hate this damn kind of talk butS If it were more than jail, if it were
my life, I would give it for what I think democracy is. And I don't let
cops or judges tell me what I think democracy is." --Dashiell Hammett

4. Pardon Bryan Epis!

Ashley Epis, 8, is the poster girl for a campaign to free her dad, Bryan,
who is in federal prison for cultivating marijuana for medical use.
Although Epis was acting legally under California law, this summer a
federal-court jury in Sacramento --kept unawares that a guilty verdict
would mandate a10-year sentence-- found him guilty. This week Epis's
family and supporters launched a billboard campaign to call attention to
his plight, and --hope of hopes-- interest a Democratic presidential
candidate in pardoning him. The right half of the billboard is a photo of
Ashley outside the federal courthouse in Sacramento on the day her dad was
sentenced. She's holding a sign that says 'My Dad is not a criminal,'
bordered by family photos. The left half is a text message: 'Medical
Marijuana: Compassion, not Federal Prison.'

Twenty-four Ashley Epis billboards --12 by 25 feet-- will go up in San
Francisco and the East Bay over the course of the next week (several are up
as this goes to press 1/21). Clear Channel Outdoor donated the space on
'primary arterial' streets.

The ad company's policy is to give unsold billboard space to non-profits on
a pro bono basis (but the prime space overlooking a freeway is never pro
bono). Clear Channel had previously provided space for 'Peace is Patriotic'
posters produced by The Farm. Printing costs for the Epis poster were
picked up by Robert Fields, backer of the Washington-based reform group
Common Sense for Drug Policy and employer of organizer Kevin Zeese, who
consulted on text and lay-out with Mike Gray, the China Syndrome scenarist
and author of a good history of the war on drugs called 'Drug Crazy.' The
decision-making process was more collective than that, of course.

Dale Gieringer of California NORML was involved, among othersS Epis, who
grew for patients in Chico, had and has many supporters. He was one of the
people who circulated petitions in rural counties and enabled Prop 215 to
pass. He thought he'd won the right under state law to do what he was doing
- --cultivate marijuana for medical use. Then, in '97, the feds busted him --
he was 30, with a kid and a law degree and a successful business-- and
charged him with cultivation and conspiracy. At trial the federal
prosecutor portrayed Epis as a profiteer on the basis of a one-time
daydream-droodle of a spreadsheet that Tony Serra failed to explain as a
daydream droodle calculation of how much legal production it would take to
reduce the price to patients to $1,400/lb. Bryan Epis deserves not to be
forgotten as he spends his days turning into seasons at Lompoc.

Rekoon v. Mikuriya

This is how Barry Rekoon, the San Mateo lawyer who subpoenaed Tod Mikuriya
- --costing the Berkeley psychiatrist a morning's worth of consultations--
rationalized his decision not to pay expert-witness fees: 'I'm only going
to ask him a question or two to confirm that he wrote the letter of
recommendation.' Your correspondent asked Rekoon, 'What if the prosecutor
asks the doctor questions that call for expertise --like how he made his
diagnosis?' Rekoon replied that he would object on grounds of relevance.
And if the judge wouldn't sustain his objection?' 'That won't happen,'
said the lawyer with certaintyS And so THM drove down to San Mateo Jan. 3
to testify that he had indeed approved the cannabis use of Robert Whitacre,
a 52-year-old man with a bad back.

Barry Rekoon asked 14 questions, after which Assistant DA Morris Maya asked
51 questions on cross-examination, delving into every aspect of Mikuriya's
diagnosis and practice (over Rekoon's one futile objection). Rekoon then
asked two more questions on re-direct, and Judge Mark Forcum asked three of
his own, ending with 'Would marijuana help my acid reflux condition?'
Mikuriya restrained an impulse to advise the judge to limit his alcohol
intakeS Judge Forcum kept reiterating his strong disapproval of the law
created by Prop 215 --'I don't like it. It invites people who have
marijuana addiction to claim they're using it as medicine.

It really troubles me that, in a case like this there's no way to know if
the cultivation was for personal use or selling itS' Robert Whitacre was
busted by the San Mateo sheriff for cultivating two (2) plants! Judge
Forcum said he was reluctant to assume that Whiteacre was growing for
personal medical use, but that under the law, and given Mikuriya's
testimony, he had to acquit. Poor Whitacre was not free to go, however;
the Department of Corrections had decided to send him back to state prison
for six months for violating the terms of his parole, And so he was led off
by a bailiff while the judge commented, 'Your attorney did a nice jobS'
It's no coincidence that San Mateo DA George Fox was a leading opponent of
Prop 215. A young assistant DA dragging Dr. Mikuriya into court and
conducting a somewhat insulting cross examination knows he's looking good
in his boss's eyes... The three cases on Judge Forcum's calendar preceding
Whitacre all involved violations of the drug laws. Walk into any Superior
Court in any California county --even progressive San Francisco-- and at
least two-thirds of the prosecutions will involve drug charges.

Elsewhere in the News

The European Consumers' Organization --a multinational equivalent of our
Consumers Union-- has scolded government regulators for their 'very slow'
response to a warning that regular use of permanent hair dye by women
doubles the risk of bladder cancer. The study that triggered the warning
was conducted by University of Southern California researchers and
published in the International Journal of Cancer early in 2001. The USC
team tracked 1,514 women and found a more-than-double incidence of bladder
cancer in those who used permament dye at least once a month for a year or
more. A heightened incidence of bladder cancer also was observed in barbers
and hairdressers exposed to hair dyes at the workplace.

No increased risk was found among women who used temporary or
semi-permanent dyes.

Predictably, the companies that make the toxic substances have been
downplaying the bad news and citing studies of their own to sow confusion.
The Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association responds to inquiries
with data from Harvard and American Cancer Society studies showing 'no
elevated health risks for women using hair dyes.' Only her pathologist
knows for sureS And while we're in the neighborhood, how come nobody ever
mentions that Martha Stewart first made it as a Breck girl?S

About 20,000 acres of farmland around Washington, D.C. is now infested by a
weed known as mare's tail (or horseweed) that has evolved to resist Roundup
(glyphosate). The New York Times relegated the story to its business
section Jan. 14, with a focus on how Monstanto's stock might be affected.
'Weeds resistant to the herbicide have emerged in Delaware, Maryland,
California, western Tennessee, and at the edge of the Corn Belt in Ohio and
Indiana,' writes Andrew Pollack, as if this development wasn't foreseen and
brought to the attention of the FDA by farmers, scientists, and many other
concerned citizens before Monsanto got approval to market its Roundup Ready
crops. 'The problem, crop scientists say, is the very success of the
genetically engineered crops, particularly the soybeans, which now account
for more than three-quarters of all soybeans grown in the U.S.'

Critics of genetically modified food are calling for reduced use of
Monsanto's blockbuster herbicide, but the company, which last year sold
about $2 billion worth of Roundup and Roundup Ready crops (accounting for
40% of total revenues), is undeterred and planning to increase production.
'Resistance to glyphosate is rare and where it has occurred around the
world it is very manageable,' said vice president Kerry Preete. Managable
how? 'Monsanto is advising farmers to use another herbicide along with
Roundup,' according to Pollack. At next month's meeting of the Weed Science
Society of America there will be presentations such as 'Glyphosate
Formulation With and Without Additional Herbicides for Weed Control in
Transgenic Systems.' Note the Shelley Mandel principle at work.

Pubdate: Wed, 22 Jan 2003
Source: Anderson Valley Advertiser (CA)
Copyright: 2003 Anderson Valley Advertiser
Author: Fred Gardner