Thursday, December 21, 2006

Reports on teenage drug use should include life-saving information

The latest federal report on adolescent drug use (Monitoring the Future) was released today. Generally fewer teenagers are using drugs of abuse, the University of Michigan researchers report. This is good news. But the anti-drug effort needs bad news or new dangers. This year’s “new” danger has been the methamphetamine “epidemic,” lamented by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales at the press conference at the National Press Club. However, the data shows that methamphetamine use among teenagers has actually declined dramatically since 1999.

For 2007, the danger du jour will be dextromethorphan (DXM), the common cough suppressant in cough syrup. The lead in today’s AP story on the Monitoring the Future study says teens “are turning to cough syrup.” The story should mention that when DXM is taken with acetaminophen, it is that common over-the-counter drug that can be lethal!

Earlier this month, the Los Angeles Times had a major story, “Teens try cough medicine for a high,” (Dec. 5, 2006). The official press release on the teenage drug use study did not mention dextromethorphan until page 5. However, the rates of annual prevalence among teenagers of using cough or cold medicine to get high are much greater than most common illegal drugs – 4 percent for 8th graders, 5 percent for 10th graders and 7 percent for 12th graders.

What are the dangers?

A typical adult dose of dextromethorphan in two tablespoons of cough syrup or a pill is 20-30 milligrams, or about .4mg/kg of body weight.

Dextromethorphan intoxication varies by dose. A moderate high is achieved at 2.5 to 7.5 mg/kg, or between 5 and 15 times the usual therapeutic dose, which can yield closed eye hallucinations or a “shamanic feel,” but cognitive function is severely disrupted and reaction time is delayed. Mood can range from mania to panic. The most intense highs are achieved at 15 mg/kg or about thirty times the usual dose and are intensely mentally disorienting with an out of body experience. See Erowid for life-saving information.

Aside from the danger of serious mentally disorienting effects of high dose dextromethorphan intoxication, another of its most significant dangers comes from the other drugs that are often present in cough and cold preparations.

Ddextromethorphan is often packaged with acetaminophen, for example, in Nyquil® Cold/Flu.
Used to relieve pain and fever, acetaminophen, is commonly used at dosages between 325 and 650 mg. But the hepatoxicity – liver damage – from acetaminophen can be triggered by an acute dose of 7 grams – ten to twenty times the usual dose.

Teenagers who use DXM products that contain acetaminophen to get high are in severe danger.

The Los Angeles Times story on teenagers use of cough syrup concluded with the story of the death of teenager Lucia Martino of Anaheim, CA from liver failure after swallowing 20 Coricidin pills. But it did not mention the danger from acetaminophen. (Some Coricidin preparations include DXM and acetaminophen, some include no DXM, and others with DXM that do not include acetaminophen).

News coverage and government spokespersons must mention that one of the dangers from this kind of drug use is related to the overdose of common over-the-counter drugs such as acetaminophen.

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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Teenager Expelled for TURNING IN a pellet gun

Across the nation, school bureaucrats continue their mission to bring disrespect to public education. The latest outrage is committed in Plainfield, Illinois.
CBS Channel 2 in Chicago reports

A 13-year-old Plainfield boy and his parents are stunned and outraged after the teen found a gun in school and turned it in to authorities, who then expelled him.
School board officials issued a statement Wednesday night saying due to confidentiality reasons they can't discuss the specifics of this case, but that "purposeful possession of weapons is a serious offense and deserves careful consideration by the administration and the school board."
If you learned that the young man is an African-American, would that fact suggest an explanation for such an otherwise inexplicable decision was made?

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Friday, December 08, 2006

Call Jeb Bush -- take one minute and do it now.

Today, Friday, Dec. 8, I called Florida Governor Jeb Bush asking him to immediately commute the sentence of Richard Paey.
Call 850-488-7146 in Tallahassee, FL in the Eastern time zone.
Please take one minute to call him too.
Please forward this post. Let's flood the Governor with polite and urgent telephone calls. Paey has been in prison three years already -- let's try to get him home to his wife and three children by Christmas.

I was inspired by Maia Szalavitz's outstanding column on the decision

Richard Paey was in a car wreck and suffered a devastating spinal injury in 1985 while a student at the University of Pennsylvania law school. He has struggled to control the sometimes excruciating pain ever since with high doses of powerful pain killers. After he moved to Florida in 1994, he continued to see his doctor in New Jersey. Paey last saw his doctor in December 1996. In February 1997, a Florida pharmacy tipped off the Sheriff that Paey was buying large quantities of pain killer. A deputy observed Paey fill a prescription issued by the NJ doctor. The deputy then called the doctor who first admitted and then denied writing the prescriptions. Over 34 days, Paey had seven prescriptions filled to acquire about 1400 pills. Paey never sold the pills, but kept them to relieve his suffering. As a convenience to Paey, the doctor had sent undated prescriptions to him -- a minor offense. The doctor, fearing prosecution, changed his story and denied writing the prescriptions. Paey had used the prescription blank of his New Jersey doctor. Paey was charged with drug trafficking, but even though he was under continual police surveillance, there was never any evidence that he sold any of his pills, as he has always insisted.

After turning down a plea bargain offer to attempted drug trafficking with a sentence of three years of house arrest and eight years of probation, because he knew that he was not a drug trafficker -- attempted or otherwise -- and because he feared that with a drug conviction no doctor would ever write a legal prescription for him again, Paey went to trial in 2002. Cary David first told the story in the St. Petersburg Times. He was convicted of seven counts of drug trafficking based simply on the possession, and sentenced to a mandatory 25-years in prison due to weight of the pills he possessed. In prison he is now on a morphine pump getting as much pain killer as he was using when he filled the prescriptions.

Paey's appeal was featured on CBS News 60 Minutes, January 29, 2006, Morley Safer reporting. Paey's case was featured on the New York Times op-ed page on July 19, 2005 in a column by John Tierney that was reprinted all over the country.

Paey appealed his conviction, including arguing that this sentence amounts to cruel or unusual punishment under the Florida Constitution or cruel and unusual punishment under the U.S. Constitution. The Florida Court of Appeals (Second District) rejected his appeal 2 to 1 on Dec. 6. The opinion is worth reading. The dissent, by Associate Judge James H. Seals, is outstanding. But even the majority conceded that the sentence was too long, and said that Paey's appeal properly lies with the Governor and his power of clemency, not with the court.

Paey had also been found guilty of four counts of forging a prescription, each count drawing a sentence of one year and one day, all to be served concurrently. He has served more than three years already. He should be freed!
Paey is now 48 years old, married with three children.

These accounts report on the denial of the appeal: The Tampa Tribune and the International Herald Tribune.

Richard's lawyer, John P. Flannery, II, of Leesburg, VA, has filed a petition for commutation of sentence with Governor Jeb Bush.

Please call Governor Bush and encourage him to grant the petition.
Call 850-488-7146 in Tallahassee, FL.


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Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Are we protecting children?

Two stories today about the threats our kids face from drug prohibition exemplify the inevitable consequences of not regulating the market for drugs desired by about 20 million Americans:

The youngest kids: The Milwaukee Journal- Sentinel reports that seven day care centers have been closed down from June 2005 to June 2006 because drugs are being sold or used on the premises. In a recent case involving "A Helping Hand Creative Learning Place,"

When police executed a search warrant at the day care last fall, they found a duffel bag containing 2 pounds of marijuana, a digital scale and a Helping Hand business card.

Upstairs from the day care, where Mosley [a helper at the child care center] and his wife [the proprietor] resided, police found two loaded pistols, $7,000 in cash, three cellular phones and a pager. And Mosley's wife admitted that she knew her husband was selling drugs, records show.

Why don't you find day care centers that also sell jewelry or insurance or whiskey? Because those products can be sold legally and openly.

Prohibition businesses require fronts. A day care center, with a constant flow of young people coming in and going out to drop off or pick up their kids, has great value as a cover for a place that sells prohibited drugs like marijuana.

Undeniably, it is despicable to put kids at risk of firearms injury or death when robbers (or SWAT teams) come to take down your drug business. Federal law provides that whatever punishment one's drug crime carries will be doubled for doing so at a public or private elementary school (21 U.S.C. 860(a)). Whether this offense includes a day care facility is arguable. To use children to avoid detection for a drug offense carries a tripled penalty (21 U.S.C. 860(c)(2)).

In the second instance, teenagers are tempted by the money, excitement and rebellion of the illegal drug trade.

The Wilmington (DE) News-Journal reports on the violence in Wilmington. The headline is a grabber, "Youths fear for their lives in housing project." The murder count is now tied with last year, the most deadly in Wilmington history. Teenagers fear being shot on the street. Others are tempted by the drug trade.

Jea Street, executive director of the Hilltop Lutheran Neighborhood Center, said he loses children to the streets all the time.

"When the kids turn 12 or 13, I'm in immediate competition for their destiny with the drug dealers, who give them a lot of money and ask for very little, while we can only give them a safe haven and some hope for the future."

Are young teenagers being recruited to enter other businesses? Only minimum wage jobs like retail, fast food, or mowing lawns, or slightly better jobs such as life guard.

Prohibition profits offers a mediocre or unmotivated student an easy justification for dropping out of school.

Too bad Senator Joe Biden (D-Delaware) doesn't see the connections.

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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

DEA and the Meth Menace

The political cynic in me is aroused.

The raids reported below in the New York Daily News took place on National Meth Awareness Day. I wondered, did DEA just recently discover all of those labs and as a coincidence they happened to raid them on the same day, which happened to be Meth Awareness Day? Or did they learn of these labs in recent weeks or months and decide to wait to raid them all together for the media splashiness of it, on National Meth Day? If the latter, was DEA really worried that these meth labs might lead at any moment to dangerous explosions in apartment buildings in New York City? Either there was a grave danger and DEA ignored that grave danger to the public in order to make a media splash, or DEA believes that the danger of explosion is greatly exaggerated but useful for snookering the news media.

From the New York Daily News, December 3, 2006
The meth menace: Addictive drug is creeping up social ladder

By Austin Fenner and Tina Moore
New York Daily News

NEW YORK - Methamphetamine - once considered the drug of choice in the backwoods - is moving up in society. Experts say methods for "cooking" the drug have become less noxious over the past decade, making meth labs a friendlier fit for apartment buildings like the one on Manhattan's East Side, where federal agents announced a bust last week.

"Back in the day, cooking meth was a very smelly process," said Steve Robertson, special agent and spokesman for the DEA. "That's why meth labs would go into rural areas. You would have them out in little shacks out on farms or ranches."

Agents from his agency announced Thursday - National Meth Awareness Day - that they had busted a clandestine meth lab at an East Side high-rise. They also announced nine other meth lab busts in the city and on Long Island.

The local meth labs highlight a change in the face of methamphetamine use - long a rural drug consumed most often by lower-income men and women.

"There's no question that there has been an increase of meth use in the city," said Dr. Petros Levounis, who runs the Addiction Institute of New York. "The transformation from Sudafed to meth is extremely, extremely easy."

The busts announced last week added another twist to the meth dilemma: Two of the men arrested, both professionals, were making the drug for personal consumption.

Meth labs - even rural mom and pop labs - are usually run to turn a profit.

Michael Knib, an information technology vice president for Citigroup, told agents he started producing the drug because he lost his sources when he moved to the city from Seattle, investigators said.

Mehmetcan Dosemeci, a 28-year-old doctoral student in history and Fullbright Scholar at Columbia University, told agents that he was making the drug in his Manhattan Avenue flat to stay awake. He researched cooking meth on the Internet.

The production of meth puts the people making the drug and those around them in danger. Meth labs - where vaporous chemicals are hard to detect - are known to explode.

"It's unsettling," said a neighbor in the Manhattan Avenue building where Dosemeci lived. He did not want to be named in this story. "He was taking a risk with other people's lives."

A retired 69-year-old clerk, who also did not want to provide his name, was dumbfounded.

"If it blows up, what is he going to say to the people who wind up in the morgue?" he said. "Who needs to stay awake for up to three days?"

The ease with which the drug can be made has prompted action in Washington.

A federal law that took effect in September bans over-the-counter sales of certain cold medicines with ingredients used to make meth, including pseudoephedrine and ephedrine.

The law requires buyers to show photo identification and allows them to purchase only a 30-day supply.

Robertson, who started out as a clandestine-lab investigator in the Southwest in the mid-1990s, said changes in the meth culture shifted into high-gear when recipes were posted on the Internet.

"Then all of a sudden it was there," he said. "People were cooking in the backs of cars, in hotel rooms and apartments. It was everywhere."

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A Debate on Drug Legalization in Vermont

Recently a prosecutor in Vermont, Windsor County State's Attorney Robert Sand told the Rutland Herald that he favored decriminalization of all drugs, "State's attorney critical of drug laws."

Today, the Rutland Herald followed up asking the state police Commissioner his view, and a retired federal probation officer, "State splits over decriminalizing drugs."

Today the newspaper editorialized, "Just say so to legalization".

I posted the following on the comment board:

"What justifies punishing a drug user?"

The Rutland Herald’s editorial this morning is a thoughtful beginning to think about one of the most important social policy questions our society faces. The use of drugs unquestionably leads to many tragedies – but that is true of much of life.

Just think of how many persons are killed and injured skiing and snow boarding each year nationwide – an average of more than 38 persons per year, according to National Ski Areas Association. One could ask, what does skiing accomplish? What good is skiing? Well, it is fun, it is exciting. Isn’t it exciting because the speed creates a sense of risk? If we focused our attention just on hospital emergency rooms, we might think that skiing ought to be outlawed.

It might be an interesting exercise to imagine what the world of skiing would look like if it were outlawed. Imagine who would make skis, how it would be taught, where it would be done. Does anyone doubt that while there would be much less skiing, it would be much more dangerous to those who do ski, than it is now?

Do any of your readers know people who do not ski because they fear that it is dangerous? How would Vermonters feel if a crusade were started to protect society from the dangers of skiing by outlawing skiing? We would consider such a crusade absurd.

Most of society would argue that there is simply no valid comparison between skiing and heroin use. And in many respects, of course, they are very different activities. Most of us cannot imagine that our vision of the typical heroin user is getting any pleasure that is legitimate – we see the heroin user as desperately ill and hunting for their next “fix.” What is the Constitutional or moral principal that entitles a political majority to define another person’s pleasures as wrong, or illegal?

Before we think about legalization and the complex regulations that it might involve, we must ask a preliminary question. What is the principle that authorizes the state punishment of a person for the simple act of using a drug like heroin, cocaine, or marijuana? What are our principles for deciding who the state gets to deny liberty by locking them up and punishment? Before society is justified in punishing a person, isn’t it necessary to ask exactly what harm to another that person is actually doing?

We punish rapists because they hurt a victim. Our society says you cannot force a person to have sex if they do not want to. We say you cannot fondle someone for your own emotional gratification. You cannot lock up a child in the basement and deny the child liberty – even if you feed the child and give the child books. We understand that taking away someone’s rights and property are wrong, and deserve punishment.

The person sitting in their house who injects, smokes or snorts a drug is not taking away anyone else’s property or invading anyone else’s rights. What is the principle that says the state may punish them? The question I am asking is, what is the moral basis for punishing drug use?

Some people like to answer that because drug use will lead (but only sometimes) to addiction or other physical injury, that consequence will result in public expenditures. But this consequence does not justify punishing people in advance. We may be able to predict that a lifestyle that involves a poor diet and no exercise will lead to health consequences likely to result in medical bills that must be paid by insurance or by the public. No one would ever claim that such potential public costs justify punishing a person today.

Some people say that punishing people who use drugs will deter other people, especially young people, from using drugs. This mixes up the proper subject of punishment. We may punish a shoplifter who has taken the property of another – which we all agree is wrong – to deter other people from doing that kind of wrongful thing. But we would not and do not punish people who simply browse the aisles of a store because we think that they might shoplift. Unless someone has actually done something wrong, it is wrong to punish them. This kind of deterrence is a type of collective punishment – that is punishment of members of a group to prevent others from taking action. Think about this kind of deterrence at its most extreme. During World War II many people resisted the German invasion of their country. They set roadside bombs for German convoys or blew up trains. The Germans tried to prevent this by inflicting punishment on all the village residents near such acts of resistance. That kind of collective punishment was declared a crime against humanity.

We have imprisoned tens of thousands of people simply for possessing marijuana. They have done nothing else. Is this imprisonment morally justified? This question cannot be answered by saying, “it is against the law,” because we are examining the moral basis for the law.

Before we get to the question of legalization – that is, what a post-prohibition regime might look like, and how it might affect society – we must first answer the moral question of what justifies the state’s punishment of people who have not done anything other than possessed and used a drug.

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Monday, October 23, 2006

Law Enforcement Corruption along the border with Mexico

The Los Angeles Times reports in-depth that corruption of Federal, state and local law enforcement officials along the U.S.-Mexico border is growing.

This corruption is most acute in regard to expediting and protecting the shipment of cocaine, marijuana, heroin, methamphetamine and other drugs from Mexico into the United States.

A parallel story tells specifically about Cameron County, Texas Sheriff Conrado Cantu who started selling favors and protection almost as soon as he was elected four years ago.

The most dramatic crime created by drug prohibition is the widespread violence which is part of the managment of conflict in the business -- there is no legal dispute resolution mechanism

Corruption is the most insidious crime created by drug prohibition because is hidden and limitless. Once a law enforcement officer is corrupted, the criminal capability of the criminals who purchased a cop's loyality is unlimited. The fear of exposure and being cut off from the addiction to bribe money is usually so great that the cop will do anything that he is asked to do. The criminals have a very wide range of threats available. Many corrupt cops might give up the illegal stream of money that have started taking if that were the only consequence of abandoning their criminal allies. But a corrupt cop is not a resource a criminal organization is willing to lose. Both the cops and criminals know that the cop can be exposed and destroyed. Once fired or prosecuted a cop that has turned on his former cartel masters faces death in prison, or innocent family members can be threatened with murder.

Like the worst drug addictions, the temptation of drug corruption looks attractive. Enormous sums of cash, jewelry, real estate, vacations, expensive cars are easy to get. But the down side begins with the constant risk of exposure, shame, imprisonment and family estrangement and ends with murder and torture of family members.

For honest citizens, the corrupt cops at the border can be pressured to let anything in, even if the contraband is more dangerous than drugs, e.g. weapons of mass destruction.

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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Significance of Colorado and Nevada marijuana initiatives -- even if they lose

A poll published in today's Rocky Mountain News in Denver finds for the statewide initiative:

Legalizing marijuana

The poll results for Amendment 44 to legalize the possession of one ounce or less of marijuana for persons 21 or older showed it failing 53 percent to 42 percent.

Assume that this is the vote on election day. This would demonstrate that there is no moral consensus in Colorado to support the prosecution of marijuana users.

If the question were to spend $100 million of public funds to build a school or a prison, the principle of majority rule is perfectly appropriate.

But when the question is, "Should we take away the liberty of people who possess less than one ounce of marijuana?" the answer comes out differently.

Almost 100 percent of the public agrees that the following acts should be crimes meriting punishment: murder, assault, theft, rape, child abuse, etc. There is a moral consensus.

The tiny fraction of the public who violate those laws --who harm others, who violate the rights of others -- cannot claim the law is unjust. They may raise exceptions such as a right to self-defense that exculpates them from the accusation. But they are not challenging the society's moral consensus.

When forty percent or more of a society declares, this conduct is not morally reprehensible, it does not merit punishment, the majority is not morally free to continue to punish that conduct.

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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Congress on the Student and Teacher Safety Act of 2006

As one listens to the debate in the floor of the House of Representatives, you can imagine that soon Congress will consider legislation to station FBI and ATF agents in our schools to stop the threat of guns and drugs.

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Monday, September 18, 2006

Bill to require searches of students by teachers on House floor

The National PTA has joined the School Boards association, the School Administrators association, and Students for Sensible Drug Policy in opposing H.R. 5295, the "Student and Teacher Safety Act of 2006."

This bill is the brainchild of Rep. Geoff Davis (R-KY) who is facing a stiff re-election battle. He convinced the House leadership to schedule to a vote on the House floor September 19. The bill has all of 11 co-sponsors in the 435 member House.

The bill has never been subjected to any hearings nor considered by the Committee to which it was referred, the Committee on Education and the Workforce. Even though it purports to interpret the U.S. Constitution's Fourth Amendment regarding searches, it was not referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary.

The guts of the bill is the following:


    (a) In General- Each State, local educational agency, and school district shall have in effect throughout the jurisdiction of the State, agency, or district, as the case may be, policies that ensure that a search described in subsection (b) is deemed reasonable and permissible.

    (b) Searches Covered- A search referred to in subsection (a) is a search by a full-time teacher or school official, acting on any colorable suspicion based on professional experience and judgment, of any minor student on the grounds of any public school, if the search is conducted to ensure that classrooms, school buildings, and school property remain free of all weapons, dangerous materials, or illegal narcotics.


    (a) In General- A State, local educational agency, or school district that fails to comply with section 3 shall not, during the period of noncompliance, receive any Safe Schools and Citizenship Education funds after fiscal year 2008.
Notice the key term, "colorable suspicion." Colorable is defined (Merriam Webster Collegiate Dictionary, 11th ed.) "1. seemingly valid or genuine 2. intended to deceive: COUNTERFEIT"

In other words, teachers are directed to search students if they have a phoney suspicion. The bill authorizes mass searches even if only a single student might be suspected.

And finally, any state, or school district that does not enact this plainly unconstitutional policy shall lose all their federal Safe Schools funding assistance.

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Saturday, July 29, 2006

Should a cocaine using mayor be forced out of office?

What should a drug reformer say about a user of illegal drugs? Does it matter if the drug user is Rush Limbaugh, Noelle Bush, John M. Fabrizi, the mayor of Bridgeport, CT, Tommy Chong, or some ordinary citizen?

We don’t believe that people should be punished by the government for using drugs. Noelle Bush, Tommy Chong, and ordinary citizens do not hold public office. They have no responsibility for serving the public.

The issue regarding a public official, such as Mayor John Fabrizi, is not so much the question of whether he or she is one of the twenty million or so Americans who currently use illegal drugs, or the 100 million who have done so in the past. The issue more precisely is whether he or she has integrity.

Simply breaking the law is not a measure of integrity. A public official who, let’s say, fails to recycle when required to do so, or throws litter from their car, is a slob or is selfish and lazy, but does not demonstrate a failure of integrity that disqualifies him for office.

This is not an issue about whether the public official may have had impaired judgment in making an official decision. During World War II, Winston Churchill, the British Prime Minister, was consuming a quart of whiskey or more per day. U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan was widely rumored to have been a very heavy drinker. Even impaired, their judgment was superior to that of most of us.

Integrity has to do with truth telling and intellectual honesty. Is the official trustworthy? When Bill Clinton had sex with Monica Lewinsky, his cheating on his wife revealed his low character, but that did not disqualify him from holding office. But when he committed perjury – lying in an official proceeding under oath – regarding his sex acts with Lewinsky, he demonstrated a lack of integrity that would have compelled an honorable man to resign, and would have motivated a political party of integrity to demand his resignation. However, while perjury was a blot on Clinton’s integrity and the Democrats who did not call upon him to resign, perjury did not rise to the level that warranted an impeachment. It did not constitute high crimes and misdemeanors.

Bridgeport Mayor Fabrizi has, admitted a history of cocaine use, and we presume he is telling the truth. Like millions of other Americans he broke the drug law. But drug policy reformers hold that this law is itself wrong. People should not be punished simply for what they put in their bodies.

The test of Mayor Fabrizi’s integrity therefore rests now upon his intellectual honesty. Is he a man of principle and conviction, or merely an ambitious opportunist? A test of integrity is measured by how he speaks about the drug laws he violated.

Does he say, “I violated the drug laws. It is not good to violate the laws. But these laws are wrong and should be changed. I cannot support a law that punishes thousands of others in Connecticut for the conduct I engaged in, when I – and they – have not hurt anyone in a way that the law is entitled to punish. For example, I hurt my kids and wife when I lied to them and broke my promises to them. But the law does not punish a father or husband who breaks his promises to his family. I hurt my supporters and undermined the faith of citizens in the integrity of their government when I admitted that I broke the drug laws. Those hurt feelings and loss of faith in government or me does not warrant punishment by the state.”

But if the Mayor says, “My violation of the drug law doesn’t really count. More importantly, I continue to support those laws that send people who use drugs like me to prison – but I should not go to prison. In fact, I should not even lose my job for doing this thing that should send people to prison.” If that is the Mayor’s position, then he demonstrates the lack of intellectual honesty and integrity that warrants his removal from office.

I repeat: I am not calling for his resignation or removal from office because he used drugs. Breaking a stupid and counterproductive law that has been disregarded by almost 100 million Americans is not ground for forcing the Mayor from office.

If he is a hypocrite, intellectually dishonest, and lacking in integrity, then I call for his resignation from office. A man who insists that other people should be punished for what he did and insists simultaneously that he does not warrant punishment has no moral compass – he lacks the intellectual honesty that warrants entrusting him with the public’s business. Such a man would have no scruple insisting that wrongful acts – theft or bribery, for example – that ought to apply to others should not apply to him.

I am not calling for his prosecution. One’s attitude about the rightness or wrongness of a law does not, by itself, determine whether a prosecution is just. If Mayor Fabrizi is prosecuted, I urge him to seek jury nullification – to argue directly to the jury that law is wrong when it punishes a person simply for using drugs, and to ask the jury to find him not guilty. I urge him to demand that the prosecution justify the law to the jury – that it demonstrate the drug law reduces crime and protects public health. I have no doubt that any jury given the facts and the opportunity to judge the wisdom of this law will acquit those simply charged with drug possession.

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Friday, July 28, 2006

The drug war in Mexico

Laurie Freeman of the non-partisan, non-profit Washington Office on Latin America has written an outstanding report on the violence and corruption in Mexico flowing from the war on drugs.

Even someone who is used to the endemic corruption of Mexican law enforcement will be shocked by the pervasiveness of the drug cartel corruption.

Even more profound than the corruption is the effectiveness of the bloody violence that the cartels have inflicted to silence the news media and the public at large. Ms. Freeman writes,

"As the war between cartels rages, no one -- not police, not journalists, not ordinary citizens -- knows whom they can trust, so they trust no one."
Freeman details how the cartels manipulate the news media with bribery, violence and their own news managers. Cartels tell media outlets what stories cannot be covered or what facts must be omitted. Cartels provide incriminating videotape of their rivals crimes.

Ground zero of the violence and corruption is at America's doorstep. Nueveo Laredo is the Mexican city at the Southern end of Interstate 35 -- a vital artery of the American heartland that flows north to San Antonio, Dallas - Fort Worth, Oklahoma City, Wichita, Kansas City, Des Moines, Minneapolis and Duluth. Every day over 6000 trucks leave Nuevo Laredo for the U.S. carrying 40 per cent of all Mexican exports.

The cartels' rivalry is at an all-time high because of the efforts of law enforcement. In early 2002, the principal Arellano-Felix brothers of the Tijuana cartel were killed or captured. This strengthened the Sinaloa cartel to focus on Nuevo Laredo.

The Gulf cartel was also focusing on Nuevo Laredo. It enticed specially trained Mexican soldiers from the Grupos Aeromoviles de Fuerzas Especiales, reportedly given U.S. military training, to work for them, now known as the Zetas. The Zetas were hired by Osiel Cardenas to eliminate the local Nuevo Laredo traffickers, who were murdered in May 2002. But in March 2003, Cardenas was imprisoned, and Nuevo Laredo was "up for grabs."

Drug traffickers are now "the law of the land" in Nuevo Laredo.

Nuevo Laredo is now Mexico's "murder capital." Earlier this year the murder rate was more than double last years -- 114 murders through May 2006, compared to 45 in the same period in 2005. Shoot outs are frequent, some lasting as long as 30 minutes.

The report notes that, "as bodies piled up, on June 8, 2005, Nuevo Laredo's mayor appointed Alejandro Dominguez the new chief of police. Leaving office the first day on the job he was ambushed and killed by gunmen.

One feature of the public concern with the corruption and violence is the government's response, a special anti-crime operation, "Operation Safe Mexico," announced June 11, 2005 But this response has become merely a public relations effort.

Now every mundane law enforcement activity and achievement is lauded as a feature of "Operation Safe Mexico."

One of the principal objectives of the Operation is the investigation of major drug traffickers in Nuevo Laredo, but there have been no arrests of major traffickers in over a year of the intense federal effort.

Particulary noteworthy in the WOLA report is the recognition that it is illegality of the drug trade that is driving this violence. The report clearly explains the connection between absence of the usual market protections against fraud and violence of the established legal system, and the role of violence as the primary instrument of commercial regulation.

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Saturday, July 22, 2006

The Danger and Proliferation of SWAT teams

SWAT -- Special Weapons and Tactics -- Teams, created to respond to hostage taking or other extraordinary events, have proliferated throughout the U.S. A very powerful new report by Radley Balko, entitled Overkill, is a very thorough history of their expansion. Congress encouraged the U.S. military to provide military hardware to police departments, and SWAT teams are trained by military units. Balko is a policy analyst at the Cato Institute in Washington, and the author of the acclaimed blog, The Agitator.

SWAT teams, once found in only the largest cities, are now commonplace in medium cities and small towns.

A major result is that they are routinely used for commonplace police work. Routinely they are used for serving search warrants in drug cases. Balko has provided a stunning compendium of a decade of SWAT team catastrophes and misconduct.

If a critical component of a successful military action is proper intelligence and very careful planning and management, Balko reveals that paramilitary policing executes raids based on unreliable informants reports, and inadequate planning and supervision.

Read this report. Think about the vision of the framers of the Constitution, and the First Congress debating the Bill of Rights, and try to imagine their reaction.

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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

"Stunning" new chemotherapy for substance abuse hailed in Washington state

A drug treatment approach called Prometa is credited by the Pierce County, WA, drug court with near-100% success in preventing relapse after 90 days, the Seattle Times says.

The approach is based on the administration of three medications -- the antihistamine hydroxyzine; flumezanil, which supposedly counteracts the effects of sedatives (but the drug is not found on Medline Plus; and the anticonvulsant Neurontin, also called Gabapentin. Of the three pharmaceutical drugs that are administered during the treatment, one is given orally and two are administered intravenously once a day for three days. A second cycle of infusions is administered about three weeks later.

The Seattle Times says, "Pierce County Alliance, the county's treatment center, found that 92.5 percent of the participants remained drug-free in the first three months of the trial — while 98 percent of the weekly random urine analyses tested negative for substance abuse. The relapse rate in drug court is about 50 percent." The Seattle Times story had nothing bad to say about this treatment approach and the article by Christine Clarridge could be used as a sales pitch:

"I've worked in this field 23 years and I've never seen anything as successful," Lisa Daheim said. "I watch people come in and it's literally as if someone took a washcloth and washed the wrinkles and anxieties and dirt and fears off of their faces. They look like different people."

"I've never seen anything that has as much promise ... as Prometa," said [Terree] Schmidt-Whelan [director of Pierce County Alliance treatment center], who has worked in drug treatment for 30 years. "One hundred percent of the people reported feeling better."
The Seattle Times says for private clients, the treatment costs $15,000. Prometa is a trademark of Hythiam, Inc., which describes itself as
a healthcare services management company formed for the purpose of researching, developing, licensing and commercializing innovative technology to improve the treatment of alcoholism and drug addiction.
The Hythiam business plan tells about the methamphetamine epidemic and how you can get in on the ground floor of this lucrative business. Andrea Barthwell, MD, formerly of ONDCP is part of the management team. The plan tells about the 2006 commercial launch, and the celebrity marketing plan featuring Chris Farley, the comedian who died 8 years ago.

Farley's image is prominent in billboards placed in Southern California with the legend, "It wasn't all his fault." The billboards generated 250 phone calls a day to Prometa.

Here are the business's goals for 2006

Goals for 2006
  • Leverage Gary, Indiana Drug Court pilot to promote PROMETA as standard for stimulant dependence in Criminal Justice
  • Capitalize on Urschel study results to promote the first effective medical treatment for methamphetamine dependence
  • Initiate reimbursement pathways through direct Medicaid pilots
  • Pursue adoption and reimbursement of payors through partnerships with Managed Behavioral Healthcare Organizations
  • Launch consumer marketing campaigns in key MSA’s
  • Continue to expand footprint of licensees nationwide
Hythiam's revenues have grown from $75,000 in 2003 to $1,164,000 in 2005. The business plan says,
Hythiam generally receives $6,400 per treatment for alcohol and $7,450
for stimulants for the private pay market
Hythiam is on NASDAQ as HYTM the business plan says.

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Monday, July 10, 2006

Taliban getting funds from. . . illegal opium

From many perspectives, the news is that illegal opium cultivation and heroin refining is financing the Taliban resurgence in Afghanistan. U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld adds his weighty voice to this conclusion.

So. . . do we do something different, or do the same old thing but expect a different outcome?

Increase opiate treatment and get a marginal reduction in demand. What else?

Does there ever come a time when analysts look at a major problem -- the likelihood that the Taliban, who were the allies of Osama Bin Laden in the 9/11 horrors, will regain power -- and conclude that a dramatically different approach might be called for?

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Thursday, July 06, 2006

13th Amendment Slavery abolition exception: prisoners

The New York Times reports on the Louisiana practice of using prisoners as laborers in private industry. The Thirteenth Amendment, ratified December 18, 1865, provides that --

Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

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Monday, July 03, 2006

Police-run lemonade tent boosts officers' visibility in troubled neighborhoods

Creative Community Oriented Policing -- Eric

Corner stand cools off crime
Police-run lemonade tent boosts officers' visibility in troubled neighborhoods.

St. Paul, MN Pioneer Press

In a city beleaguered by a wave of murders, Minneapolis police believe they've hit on a new crime-fighting tool: lemonade.

After a test-run in North Minneapolis last week, police officers today will set up a lemonade stand at the intersection of 22nd Avenue North and Sixth Street North. The area has been battered by crime this year, particularly violent crime.

"We're putting the lemonade stand right in the middle of these high-crime neighborhoods," said Mark Klukow, a street officer and 11-year veteran of the Minneapolis Police Department and the one who came up with the idea.

Of the 30 slayings reported in Minneapolis this year, 16 have been in the 4th Precinct, the area of North Minneapolis that includes the intersection.

In their test of the concept at the intersection last Friday, Klukow and other officers attracted nearly 400 youth and drained 25 gallons of lemonade.

But they also reduced the crime, Klukow said.

"Putting the cops in these high-risk neighborhoods literally shuts down crime," he said. "We were in sight — literally in sight — of three dope houses. They were perturbed that we were there. Their clients moved. On a Friday, I would guess they (dealers) would dump half of their marijuana that they dump in a given week, because it's payday for a lot of people, and they want to have some for the weekend."

The lemonade stand is a 10-foot-by-10-foot tent, staffed by two to five armed, uniformed officers. The police close off half a street and set up a basketball hoop. The lemonade is free.

After today, the lemonade stand will be in a different neighborhood from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each Friday.

Klukow said the main goals of the lemonade stand are to increase police visibility in the neighborhood, make a positive impression on kids ages 11 to 17 and listen to the residents' concerns.

Thursday evening, kids passed a football or rode bikes through the intersection, while adults stood nearby. Resident Cary Howell said she believed the lemonade stand is a great idea for the police.

"I liked the increased visibility," she said. "We need all the help we can get in North Minneapolis. And it helps the kids see the cops as human, as something other than what their parents tell them."

Sondra Hollinger Samuels, president of the Peace Foundation, a group trying to find solutions to the crime and the neighborhood's other issues, said the lemonade stand was an important step in improving police-community relations.

"Trust isn't given; it's earned. Setting up camp on a street that's needed police officers is a way to earn trust," she said. "We need that to effectively take back our community."

Hollinger Samuels is hopeful the initiative will help.

"Any attempt by police officers to … reach out to the community is way more than welcome, is way overdue, and as a community, we're so appreciative," she said. "At the end of the day, this is about healing relationships."

The stand isn't the only effort to tackle crime in North Minneapolis. Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Minneapolis police officials will announce today a new agreement with the State Patrol to boost police presence in the Minneapolis neighborhood.

David Hanners can be reached at or 651-228-5551.

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Thursday, June 29, 2006

Washington Post Op-Ed -- "Undo This Legacy of Len Bias's Death" By Eric E. Sterling and Julie Stewart

The Washington Post
Op-Ed page (Also published by the Hartford Courant, the Spokane, WA Spokesman Review, and the Juneau, AK Empire)

Undo This Legacy of Len Bias's Death

By Eric E. Sterling and Julie Stewart
Saturday, June 24, 2006; A21

When Len Bias, the basketball star, overdosed on cocaine 20 years ago, Len Bias, the symbol, was born. To many he symbolized the corruption of college athletics -- stars whose academic performance is poor, if not irrelevant, but who are essential to bringing in donations and other revenue. To others, he became the object lesson: Cocaine is dangerous, don't do it, you can die. For yet others, Bias symbolizes the danger that arises when a powerful symbol overwhelms careful judgment about what ought to be the law.

Immediately after Bias's death, the speaker of the House of Representatives, Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill Jr., from the Boston area (where Bias had just signed with the Celtics), issued a demand to his fellow Democrats for anti-drug legislation. Senior congressional staffers began meeting regularly in the speaker's conference room as practically every committee in the House wrote Len Bias-inspired legislation attacking the drug problem. News conferences around the Capitol featured members of Congress extolling their efforts to clamp down on cocaine and crack.

One result was the innocuous-sounding Narcotics Penalties and Enforcement Act, which became the first element of the enormous Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986, hurried to the floor a little over two months after Bias's death. But the effect of the penalties and enforcement legislation was to put back into federal law the kind of clumsy mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses that had been done away with 16 years before. And there they remain, 20 years and several hundred thousand defendants later.

Congress wanted to send several messages by again enacting mandatory minimums: to the Justice Department to be more focused on high-level traffickers; to major traffickers that the new penalties would destroy them; to the voters that members of Congress could fight crime as vigorously as the police and prosecutors. But Congress garbled the message. Instead of targeting large-scale traffickers, it established low-level drug quantities to trigger lengthy mandatory minimum prison terms: five grams (the weight of five packets of artificial sweetener), 50 grams (the weight of a candy bar), 500 grams (the weight of two cups of sugar) or 5,000 grams (the weight of a lunchbox of cocaine). Large-scale traffickers organize shipments of drugs totaling tons -- many millions of grams -- filling tractor-trailers, airplanes and fishing boats.

The Justice Department has compounded the problem by focusing on countless low-level offenders. The U.S. Sentencing Commission reports that only 15 percent of federal cocaine traffickers can be classified as high-level. Seventy percent are low-level. One-third of all federal cocaine cases involve an average of 52 grams, a candy bar-sized quantity of cocaine, resulting in an average sentence of almost nine years in prison without parole.

Not surprisingly, the federal prison population has exploded. From 1954 to 1976, it fluctuated between 20,000 and 24,000. By 1986 it had grown to 36,000. Today it exceeds 190,000 prisoners, up 527 percent in 20 years. More than half this population is made up of drug offenders, most of whom are serving sentences created in the weeks after Len Bias died.

Sadly, the nation's drug abuse situation is not much better after 20 years. Teenagers are using very dangerous drugs at twice the rate they did in the 1980s. The price of cocaine is much lower and the purity much higher, which tells us that the traffickers have become more efficient.

There is a trickle of hope that mandatory sentences as a legacy of Bias's death might come to an end. A handful of conservative members of the House Judiciary Committee have begun to question the wisdom of current mandatory minimum sentencing laws, and some vote against them. The first round of mandatory minimums for drug offenses, enacted in 1951, was repealed almost 20 years later, with bipartisan support. Among those who backed repeal was George H.W. Bush, then a congressman from Texas. With his son in the White House, this would be a good time for history to repeat itself, and for this sad legacy of Len Bias's death to finally end.

Eric E. Sterling, counsel to the House Judiciary Committee from 1979 to 1989, is president of the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation. Julie Stewart is president of Families Against Mandatory Minimums.

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Taboo research

Olivia Judson, the biologist and journalist, wrote recently in her blog about the taboo of researching the genetics of the brain.

She noted that recent papers about genes that are involved in the growth of the brain led to such intense political speculation, one of the scientists retired from further research.

I offer this story as a kind of parable — an illustration of some of the grave difficulties in this field of research. And indeed, the difficulties are myriad. On the scientific side, there’s the problem of trying to figure out what different genes do, how they interact with the environment (this is crucial), and what we can say about our evolutionary past. Then there’s the usual job of interpreting results and of revising the picture as we learn more.

But that’s the least of it. As you can imagine, it is virtually impossible to work in an area as poisonously political as this one. On one side, you have neo-fascist groups twisting the most innocuous data out of shape; on the other, well-intentioned anti-racists who don’t even want the questions asked. Worse still, as the popular success of the “intelligent design” movement shows, it is not always easy to make sure that science is discussed rationally. Result: most geneticists are totally unnerved — and who can blame them?

As you read this, you realize that this can be applied to research in the area of drug use and abuse. Any research into the beneficial effects of the use of large classes of drugs is taboo.

Anyone who watched on C-SPAN the 20 minute debate in the U.S. House of Representatives on June 28, 2006 on the Hinchey-Rohrabacher amendment to limit DEA's prosecutions of medical patients who use cannabis in the states that permit such use must have been flabbergasted at the misuse and misunderstanding of science and data.

When intellectual dishonesty is the norm, serious people will seek to work in other fields where there work can be taken seriously.

Those of us who work in drug policy reform MUST remember that a critical part of our mission is to spread the domain of intellectual honesty into this field, not simply to win political battles. We have an obligation to respect and acknowledge facts -- even when they don't seem to support our conclusions or objectives. We have an obligation to reason correctly, not sloppily or lazily. It may be that some of our opponents are cruel, or hateful, or even sometimes racists, but it is not an argument to simply label them.

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Thursday, June 22, 2006

UK: Protestors as Criminals

George Monbiot, the noted British author, academic and journalist, wrote in the Guardian last fall about the process of applying the criminal law to political protest in the U.K.

This is a very thoughtful examination of a serious problem.

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Thursday, June 08, 2006

Incompetent expert witness for government in Pennsylvania prosecution of doctor

Maia Szalavitz writes for The Huffington Post that in the Erie, PA trial of Dr. Paul Heberle (that I noted last week was reported by Maia for Reason Online), the commonwealth's expert witness, in reviewing the chart (the medical record) of a patient with AIDS, insisted that the common abbreviation of a very common, often fatal AIDS complication, pneumocystis carinii pneumonia -- PCP, was really the illegal drug, PCP. And the commonwealth's witness insisted that good medical practice would have been to deny the AIDS patient any more medical care!!

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In Colombia, what should re-elected Uribe do with his mandate?

Cynthia Arnson, the director of the highly respected Latin America program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center of Scholars, writes in the Miami Herald that the re-elected President of Colombia, Alvaro Uribe, must focus on the economic and social problems of the society. Over the past four years, Uribe has redefined Colombia's problem as the greed of the narco-traffickers and their terrorism -- consistent with the U.S. political agenda. But in re-electing Uribe, more than half the country tells pollsters the country is moving in the wrong direction. Colombia has some of the greatest social inequality in the Western Hemisphere. It also has more internally displaced persons -- internal refugees -- than any country in the world but the Sudan (Darfur crisis) and the Congo!

Two-thirds of the rural population live in poverty -- two-thirds in extreme poverty (less than one dollar per day!). Growing a uniquely valuable cash crop like coca (and increasingly opium) is very attractive.

Arson concludes,

Uribe has a unique opportunity in his second term to make the hard choices that would make Colombia not only safer but also more equitable. He should use his overwhelming mandate to show that questions of poverty reduction and social policy are not the sole purview of left or populist regimes in the hemisphere, but rather, are central to overcoming the need and marginalization that continue to fuel conflict in Colombia.

Of course this means that Uribe has to de-emphasize Colombia's relyiance on America's coca eradication priorities, and militarization approaches.

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Sunday, June 04, 2006

Erie PA Doctor escapes prosecutor's clutches, REASON reports

Reason reports about Dr. Paul Heberle who survived a state prosecution in Erie, Pennsylvania.

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Monday, May 29, 2006

Pittsburgh doctor's "drugs for sex" prescription fraud case analyzed in Pittsburgh City Paper

The case of Bernard Rottschaefer, M.D. is discussed in the latest Pittsburgh City Paper. His case was profiled by John Tierney in the New York Times last January. The doctor has lost his appeal in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit on April 27, in 3-0 opinion. The appeal was brought by the heroic Eli Stutsman of Oregon. But on its face, the Court's opinion is convincing. The valiant Pain Relief Network has the briefs for Rottschaefer, whom they call a "healer & hero," and the government on its website.

The case is salacious. The government said that Dr. Rottschaefer traded sex for drugs for five women. While the case was pending, one of the women, Jennifer Riggle, sent hundreds of pages of letters to her also imprisoned boy friend saying that she was lying about the sex, and urging her boyfriend to burn the letters. After she broke up with the boyfriend, the letters were obtained by Rottschaefer's attorney. Four other women also testified that they had sex with the doctor in exchange for drugs.

The third circuit says that even if there were no sex involved, the prescribing was for "no legitimate medical reason."

Rottschaefer has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse his conviction.

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Sunday, May 28, 2006

Deadly Heroin Mixture with Fentanyl -- New York Times gets the story

Fentanyl overdose deaths were noticed in Detroit beginning last September -- totaling about 100 deaths, but it didn't become a "crisis" until recently when two dozen deaths were counted in a recent week, the New York Times publishes an Associated Press story. 20 deaths in Philadelphia, and 30 deaths in Chicago from September to March, and another 23 "suspected" since then.

I wrote about this on May 10, picking up on Donna Leinwand's USA Today story on May 4.

The Times says, officials say if you overdose you should go to an emergency room.

Why does this response sound utterly inadequate and indifferent?
Because it is. Would editorialists at the nation's leading newspapers observe these deaths and make any suggestions to the nation's public health authorities, or lawmakers?

We remain confused -- is this a criminal justice problem or a public health problem?

Let's imagine for a moment that corporate CEOs, ordinary "housewives," school children, football players, truck drivers -- any group that is not defined primarily by their illegality -- were being poisoned in the same numbers by some adulterant in their environment. What kind of response would there be? Politicians would propose moving heaven and hell to "fix" the problem.

And what could fix this problem? Licensing the lawful distributors of heroin, making sure that those who range from heroin "addicts" to casual experimenters with heroin can get the best heroin that can be made.

Douglas Husak in Legalize This! argues that it is unjust to punish a person in order to dissuade them from using a drug for recreational purposes (i.e. non-medical). If he is correct, and I think he is, then for a society and a government to insist upon a policy that it knows exposes a person to an increased risk of death, when a vast structure of regulation and inspection is in place that could save them, borders on the immoral (recognizing the drug user must bear some responsibility for the decisions he or she makes).

What should the drug legalization community or the harm reduction community do in the way of moral witness and protest of the societal indifference that is leading to these deaths?

Is there a racial disparity among those who are dying?

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West Virginia experiencing drug epidemic, says Pittsburgh Post Gazette

On May 21, 2006, The Pittsburgh Post Gazette had a long story on the wave of illegal drug trafficking now plaguing West Virginia.

West Virginia is fighting a desperate drug war on every front.

Crack dealers are flooding the state from all sides, especially from Columbus and Detroit, where many people trace their roots to Appalachia, but also from Atlanta, Charlotte, Washington and other cities.

Homegrown cocaine rings have killed federal informants. Methamphetamine labs dot the backwoods. An epidemic of prescription pill abuse rages in the impoverished southern coalfields, where a podiatrist was recently accused of doling out prescriptions for cash.

My LTE responding to the story was published today:

Sentencing law has led to the wasting of DEA resources

Why might the drug problem -- especially crack cocaine -- be exploding in West Virginia ("Desperate Drug War Fought All Over W.Va.," May 21)?

One reason is that the federal government has been wasting its resources. Congress sent the wrong signal in 1986 when it created mandatory minimum sentence triggers of 5, 50, 500 and 5,000 grams of crack and cocaine. I helped write that law as counsel to the House Judiciary Committee, and we goofed, big time.

In global or national terms, these are very small quantities. 5,000 grams -- 12 pounds -- fits in a briefcase or lunch box. Even worth $100,000, in drug dealing terms, this is not much. Due to those laws, too often the Drug Enforcement Administration focuses on local drug rings that local police can investigate.

The DEA does not focus on the international drug traffickers who send cargo containers of cocaine to the United States. The DEA will give you anecdotes of its high-level cases, but more than two-thirds of federal crack cases have involved an average of 52 grams of cocaine, a candy bar's weight. Only 7 percent of federal cocaine cases involve high-level traffickers. As a result the price of cocaine has gone down and the purity at retail has increased.

Congress needs to direct the DEA and the Justice Department to do their jobs -- fighting the highest-level traffickers.

Of course, it feels good to help every "Barney Fife" sheriff's office, and West Virginia is a poor state. But if the DEA had been doing its job, then why, 20 years after President Reagan declared war on drugs, after spending almost a half trillion dollars and quadrupling the number of federal drug prisoners, is West Virginia now being flooded with drugs?

Criminal Justice Policy Foundation
Silver Spring, Md

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