Wednesday, December 31, 2003


Not wanting to end the year on completely a sad note, I'm tucking the last word on top tonight to thank you all for checking in during these last nine months. Thanks for taking the time to listen to what's on my mind and for the emails and the kind words about my work. Without you, I'd be talking to myself. And let me also take a moment here to send an especially big hug to my sister Anne and my dear friend Karen for their stalwart support of this little project from day one.

Wishing you all, new readers and old, a serene evening and a joyous and prosperous new year.

I've been trying to talk myself out of it for the last 36 hours but I can longer deny that I really am sick. It appears my flu shot may not have been 100% effective which put a decided crimp in my shopping plans for the weekend. My microwave died this week and I must shop for clothes. The good news is my birthday is days away and I just received an email saying my 'surprise gift' is a kitchen appliance that reheats food. Not a moment too soon as I've pretty much forgotten how to use my regular oven; not to mention the one time in five years I tried to turn it on, the burning dust set off the smoke alarm.

I hate feeling yucky, I mope around like some Camille bewailing my discomfort and I loathe whining, especially when I'm the one that's mewling. Makes me glad I live alone. I might also mention I think getting the flu shot was worth it. I'm as conflicted about taking mass medicines as I am about believing the mass media and have often opted out on the shot, but I believe it helped shorten the illness this time. I felt well enough already tonight to keep my resolution to return phone calls.


I'm not going to do a annual roundup of the drug war news. You can read through the archives for that but since it's been a year of such changes for me, I am going to do a little review of my personal world for my new readers who don't actually know me personally.

Although it was not published until March 29th, Last One Speaks was conceived in Merida, Mexico in February at the first session of the NarcoNews School of Authentic Journalism and DRC Net's Out of the Shadow Conference. has grown into


The last story I have for you this year is a tragic tale to illustrate the inherent danger to our young people in using prohibition as a strategy to deal with drug use. Scott McSephney, a 20-year-old lifeguard from a good family died of what appears to be a fatal dose of tainted ecstasy.

The bulk of the coverage was on a site from Scotland whose links expire within 24 hours so I can't link to you to the back story, but I post this clip from the inbox.

Ecstasy Death Boy Was Actor in Anti-Drugs Film

By Sherna Noah, PA News

A 15-year-old boy who died after apparently taking ecstasy acted in an anti-drugs film screened just a week before he collapsed, it emerged today. The details came to light as Ben Hennessy's mother spoke of the devastating loss of her youngest son, who had a "heart of gold".

Although they got his age wrong in the original story, his mother went on to detail how excited he had been about the project. He had worked mainly as a cameraman but in a bitter twist of irony, he appeared briefly in the video as a drug overdose victim. The film was due to be aired in local schools and there was some question whether it would be appropriate to go forward with the screenings.

Interestingly this is not mentioned again in the ensuing stories and the original seems to have disappeared from the site. One wonders if they decided to go forward with the project and want to downplay that aspect of the story. Makes me wish I had screen captured the piece.

In any event, Scott obviously did not get the intended message in the anti-drug film. His brother says he was not a regular drug user and this could well have been a "one-off" experience. While he could easily have been a responsible closet user, I tend to believe it could have been his first time. He is reported to be well known and well loved in his community. I think they would have known.

I can't help but think that the film influenced him to try the drug. The problem with this anti-drug media campaign is that they try to make the cool kids who do drugs look stupid but to a teenager, they just look cool. You can't fool teenagers and since the presentations are rife with Reefer Madness style misinformation, that they know from experience to be false, the drug users will merely mock the content in private. It certainly won't stop them from using drugs.

The kids in real danger are the kids like Scott. They're the 'good kids', the ones in the middle, who want to be cool but have no experience in obtaining drugs or even in how to use them. The anti-drug videos simply reinforce the difference between the social classes so strictly defined in a teen's world and now they know enough jargon to score. To try it once. To see what it feels like to be cool. I've seen good kids become heroin addicts that way.

A lot of these kids come from good families and are acheivers just like Scott. They're bright and enjoy many priviledges including hefty disposable incomes. They have everything going for them but street smarts. Scott knew what to ask for but he didn't know where to get it.

Which brings us to the greater danger under prohibition. The black market driven by the inflated profits of an unregulated industry. Scott and his five friends no doubt went to some nearby place that's specializes in sales to clueless tourists. There's always a street in some run-down neighborhood that caters to this crowd. Unfortunately it also draws the merciless vipers who would sell even poison to make a profit. Under legalization, this kind of scum could not have murdered this young man.

Although the toxicology has not come back, it seems clear the ecstasy was tainted. Scott and all five of his friends required medical attention. Scott was the only fatality, but one of his companions remained hospitalized as of yesterday after reportedly being revived following a heart failure.

Let the tragic loss of this promising life remind us as we look forward to the new year that there are better ways than are currently being employed to help our children make responsible decisions about drug use. And let's hope that we find a way to get that assistance to them soon, before any more lives are needlessly lost.

Who knows how much more of that poison is still on the street right now? With the bad press locally the guy could have sold the whole lot cheap to some traveller who is at this moment on his way home, to your hometown, where your kids might be tempted to try something just once.

Tuesday, December 30, 2003


I want to take a minute to look at the legal drug industry. The prohibitionists make much of the fact that cannabis has not been tested and is not FDA approved as a medicine. As if the FDA has not become just another cog in the current corporate welfare machine we still pretend is a government for the people.

Pharmacueticals are a racket bigger than any illegal drug cartel. The drug companies get prominent doctors to sign off on bogus research that they fund themselves. This then paves the way for expedited FDA approval of virtually experimental drugs. The studies are ghostwritten by agencies working for the corporation and at least one doctor interviewed claimed he was unaware that a study was published under his credentials.

This story came to light in the UK when one of the writers suffered an attack of conscience.

Susanna Rees, an editorial assistant with a medical writing agency until 2002, was so concerned about what she witnessed that she posted a letter on the British Medical Journal website.

'Medical writing agencies go to great lengths to disguise the fact that the papers they ghostwrite and submit to journals and conferences are ghostwritten on behalf of pharmaceutical companies and not by the named authors,' she wrote.

Apparently it's a pervasive practice within the industry.

A medical writer who has worked for a number of agencies did not want to be identified for fear he would not get any work again.

'It is true that sometimes a drug company will pay a medical writer to write a review article supporting a particular drug,' he said. 'This will mean using all published information to write an article explaining the benefits of a particular treatment.

'A recognised doctor will then be found to put his or her name to it and it will be submitted to a journal without anybody knowing that a ghostwriter or a drug company is behind it. I agree this is probably unethical, but all the firms are at it.'

If the doctor balks at signing off on the 'research paper' the companies simply find someone else.

The article was a 12-page review paper ready to be presented at an forthcoming conference. [Dr. David] Healy's name appeared as the sole author, even though he had never seen a single word of it before. But he was unhappy with the glowing review of the drug in question, so he suggested some changes.

The company replied, saying he had missed some 'commercially important' points. In the end, the ghostwritten paper appeared at the conference and in a psychiatric journal in its original form - under another doctor's name.

The end result of this deception is that the consumer becomes an unwitting guinea pig for undertested pharmaceuticals and is exposed to unreported side effects.

Owing to fast-track FDA approval, manufacturers have promoted a number of inadequately tested drugs. The infamous diet drug Fen-Phen was recalled in 1997 after users sustained heart-valve damage. Trovan broke all antibiotic sales records in 1998, but the FDA issued a public health advisory that Trovan inflicted severe liver damage on some patients and was implicated in six deaths. Rezulin, a heavily-promoted diabetes drug that got fast-track approval in 1997, has been linked to over 215 reported deaths, but it was not taken off the market until March 21, 2000.

Just this week the popular diet aid, ephedra was pulled off the market after 155 deaths and dozens of heart attacks and strokes. It's as they say these days, all about the Benjamins. The profits in this industry are obscene and it costs the pharmas less to pay off the victims of these drugs than it does to conduct proper research that would ensure public safety. How do they get away with it? Can you say PAC money?

In 1998, drug companies earned $22 billion, chalking up a 5% greater profit margin than that of any other American industry. They had a little help from their friends, of course. The Congressional Research Service reported in 1999 that the drug industry paid 16.2% in taxes from 1993 to 1996, while all other major industries had an average tax rate of 27.3%. The drug industry was able to reduce its tax bill by approximately $3.8 billion in 1996 alone, owing to tax breaks for research and development granted by a Congress awash in drug company donations.

The National Institutes of Health donate research to the industry, which patents the information, although it is acquired at taxpayer expense. The FDA works hand in glove with the industry and too often grants its seal of approval to drugs that have not been subjected to independent testing.

To add insult to injury, US citizens are charged upwards to twice as much for these dangerous drugs than any other industrialized nation. So the next time you hear that an unprocessed plant is too dangerous to legalize because it's effects are untested, think about the people who have suffered injury and even death due to this corrupt 'safety system'.

Thousands of people die every year from overdosing on aspirin, much less the new drugs they promote with million dollar advertising blitzes. There has not been one reported death from an overdose of cannabis in 5000 years. Mark my words, if the pharmas could figure out a way to control the market, they would be the first ones on the drug policy reform bandwagon.


A rumbling of justice thundered out of Maryland today.

The Court of Special Appeals has reversed the drug conviction of Chris Nieves, ruling that police obtained evidence during an unconstitutional strip-search of the Washington County man.

...A unanimous ruling last week by a three-judge panel said any search is an invasion of an individual's privacy, "but a strip search procedure flies in the face of individual privacy rights. Strip searches, moreover, particularly intrude upon the individual's sanctity of his own body."

Not unlike drug testing and DNA sampling without cause. Not unlike enacting laws against choosing what substances one might responsibly consume. The sanctity of our own bodies should be inviolable unless and until it infringes on the safety of another.

I find this a positive ruling and I especially like the sound of this.

"Where is the reasonable suspicion that drugs or other contraband are concealed in the particular place they decided to search? There is none," the opinion said.

Judge Thieme said the judges were "troubled by the fact that, any time an individual has a prior drug history, that history alone may be used to justify a strip search of the individual upon subsequent arrests for minor offenses."

"Officers on nothing more than a 'fishing expedition' for narcotics without an articulable suspicion whatsoever will essentially be given carte blanche to violate an individual's privacy when arrested for a minor offense," the opinion said.

Wasn't I just talking about fishing expeditions in California yesterday?

* * * * *

Someone told me once the 9th Circuit Court was tough but I'm beginning to love these guys. On the heels of the landmark decision debunking the interstate commerce ploy and upholding the state's right to legislate on medmar, they ruled yesterday that Kanab, Utah, artist Thomas Forsythe's parody of Barbie falls within the Bill of Rights.

Holding that social criticism was protected by the First Amendment, the court affirmed a 2001 federal court ruling for Forsythe, who had produced photos of nude Barbies in danger of being attacked by vintage household appliances.

I kind of remember the original buzz on this story but couldn't find a link to the photos. In any event, the series does convey a valid message.

The artist had argued that the photo series, which also included a photo of Barbie dolls wrapped in tortillas and covered in salsa in a casserole dish in a lit oven, was meant to critique the "objectification of women" and "beauty myth" associated with the popular doll.

"Barbie is the most enduring of those products that feed on the insecurities of our beauty and perfection-obsessed consumer culture," Forsythe has said in defending his work.

Barbie is such a persistent icon in this century, as the court noted she was "ripe for social comment" and although I loved my multitude of Barbies when I was a child, (especially the one with the hair that grew), she probably contributed to my adolescent angst about not being perfect.

Mattel tried to suppress his art by claiming fair use doctrine. Last word goes to the judge that put the common good above private interests.

In his opinion, Ninth Circuit Court Judge Harry Pregerson held there is abundant evidence to support that advertising for Barbie uses associations of beauty, wealth and glamour.

"Forsythe turns this image on its head, so to speak, by displaying carefully positioned, nude and sometimes frazzled looking Barbies in often ridiculous and apparently dangerous situations" presenting a different set of associations for the dolls, whose smiles show they are "disturbingly oblivious" to their predicaments."

The same could be said for social consciousness these days.

Monday, December 29, 2003


I ended up attending two parties on Sunday. We old Noho neighbors were unexpectedly invited to a dinner party at the Rt 63 Roadhouse with Jamie's sister who had just arrived with her family from California. I rolled in with Mike and Irma just at sunset and we were hungry, a problem soon solved by their efficient kitchen. The good food and great company was enjoyed by all and we drove home under a crystal clear canopy of constellations all the way home.

I later continued on to the next event solo. I arrived to find many familiar faces in the always eclectic crowd on this guest list. It was fabulous to see Maki and Jamie (her husband) again. These two really know how to throw a party and are the most gracious hosts I know. As usual, the elaborate buffet was the center of congregation and I was delighted to catch up with friends I had not seen in all too long.

Everyone still looks the same to me, but it struck me how we're all getting older. The parties are less raucous as the years go by. We had some fine musicians in the house but although the music gets better, the sets get shorter with every party. Time was, they would have been rocking the joint all night long.... Not that I'm complaining. It was a great party.

* * * * *

On a different note, I have a confession to make. I'm still in the grips of insta-addiction to warblogs and I'm sure it's somehow Glenn's fault that I ended up on Setting the World to Rights this morning. The last thing I need to do is spend time posting comments in these places, but this post on Cuba and human rights violations set me off. Scroll down to see what I had to say. It appears I pretty much got the last word in this foray as well.

The sad part is I really wish they could convince me I'm the one that's wrong.


There's a med-mar case developing in California that could test the bounds of a newly enacted state law. In an astounding display of Christmas spirit, authorities shut down yet another certified provider.

Cheryl Adams, who owns the Hayward Hempery and its Hayward Patient Group, was arrested at 12:20 a.m. Dec. 12 in front of the TownePlace Suites hotel at 39802 Cedar Blvd., where she had been living. She allegedly was driving with 5.32 pounds of marijuana in 29 separate small plastic bags, Newark police Sgt. Fred Zachau said.

I'm sure this ruined more than just Cheryl's holiday. All the people who depended on that medicine were forced to suffer through the season in pain. Cheryl however appears willing to fight this one out on principle in what could become an important case.

If she's of the same mind-set as medical marijuana activist Ed Rosenthal, "we may have the first real show trial of SB 420," said Oakland Cannabis Buyers' Cooperative Executive Director Jeff Jones.

Adams was pulled over on the premise of a burned-out tail-light. In light of the fact there had been a recent break-in at her clinic, I find the circumstances of the stop somewhat suspect. Bogus equipment violations are a favorite tactic of the narco-troops when they feel they have a pretty good chance of scoring on a fishing expedition. They had to have figured she would have to resupply and they were probably aware of the security problems in her building.

It's a tough choice to put your family through a trial but she appears to be up for the fight and we're wishing her well.


David Malmo-Levine, one of the defendants in the recent Canadian Supreme Court decision, has a thread going at Cannabis Culture offering an inside look at the proceedings.

My long term readers will remember that David has been appearing pro-se and made his arguments in the lesser court after smoking some bubble-hash outside the courthouse. He reportedly made a brilliant presentation there and you can see video of the latest proceedings, including David arguing his own case at Pot TV.

Last word to David's remarks on habitual use of any substance.

...these are all factors that differentiate chronic abuse from just chronic use, like, say, a chronic caffeine user might properly use coffee, but use it every day.

And - and all of these things that they blame cannabis for, point their fingers at cannabis harms, would be true for coffee if it was made suddenly illegal.

Point well taken. You can actually overdose on caffeine.

Saturday, December 27, 2003


(Welcome to all you Marcie Betts fans. Please stick around and check out some of my current work).

The armed invasion by domestic law enforcement at the Goose Creek high school is pretty old news but a new eight minute video narrated by the principal of the school has surfaced in the in-box.

The principal really creeps me out. He seems to enjoy watching those adolescents way too much. Then you see those students lying on the floor, they're so terrified, so stock-still they look dead and the armed cops milling around with dog rifling through their belongings while he narrates this violation, step by horrible step in this deadpan voice... It's absolutely chilling and that this outrage was perpetrated mainly on black and poor white students makes it all the more disturbing. I find it incredibly deceitful to cloak this act of racial discrimination under the guise of a drug interdiction effort.

* * * * *

As is clear to anyone paying attention, the war on drugs is a class war. It's also a war on lifestyle choice but the neo-cons do not want to stop with just drugs. They're after alcohol, sexual orientation and any other manifestation of free will that doesn't fit the Southern Christian model.

Just ask Marcie Betts who was fired for posing naked in pictures that were taken and sold on the Internet prior to her being hired by the prison system.

Betts was fired from her job as a Maryland correctional officer in January, after she had sailed through the six-week training academy and the one-week gun training course. After only a week on the job, she was called into the warden's office at a state prison in Washington County and asked about 81 explicit photos her husband had taken of her, which had been bought for $300 by a Web site called -- a site that "I just thought . . . was really cool," she said. "It was real girls, not blond bombshells."

She was clearly qualified for the job and had high aspirations for her future.

"I had plans" for a career in corrections, she said. "I wanted to work for rank. I wanted to be one of the officers who work with dogs and do drug tests." She and her husband share their home with three dogs: Sidney, a blind boxer they saved from a breeder; Mugsy, a mutt they got at the pound; and Spike, a 4-year-old frolicsome Boston terrier.

So being a K-9 prison guard, she says, "would've been something really cool for me to work toward." Instead she's been out of work since January, waiting for the case to be resolved.

I haven't seen the photos but Marcie is heavily tattooed, including a large one of birds, cherries, a dagger and a skull across her chest, and I assume they were reasonably tasteful pictures of the ink work which would necessarily require her to be nude.

The correctional system is touting this as a safety issue but I might note that it was only male officers who spoke against Ms. Betts and they were the only ones that had actually seen the photos which were not widely circulated. They were reported as saying, 'She can't be seen as anything other than a sex object once she's been seen as nude.' It begs the question, seen as a sex object by whom?

* * * * *

Doug Bandow,senior fellow at the Cato Institute and a former Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan had an excellent editorial in the National Review last week, asking, Where's the Compassion?

He sums up the current political status of drug policy, both internationally and domestically, so well that I post it tonight as a year end review of where we are in the battle over our plant. It was hard to pick one quote, (I urge to read it in full), so last word simply goes to the closing paragraph of this well researched piece.

But the drug laws are the real dangerous threats to public health and safety. The only way to protect the public is to guarantee the right of the sick to use marijuana and to stop jailing pot smokers who just want to get high. Nothing would be served by imprisoning Rush Limbaugh for his apparent legal transgressions, just as we all are poorer for the millions of people jailed in the government's misbegotten war on drugs over the years. We should treat drug use as a medical, moral, and spiritual issue -- not a criminal one.


The Bush regime has been trying to link cannabis based drugs with terrorism for a long time. I saw this latest attempt to make the connection via TalkLeft a few days ago. As TL so adroitly put it:

Yesterday there was the news that a boatload of hash was seized in the Persian Gulf. Of ten or twelve people on board, depending on which news report you read, three or four were reported to have unspecified "links" or unspecified "clear ties" to Al Qaeda. The Administration spin is that the load belongs to Al Qaeda, is worth ten million, and the money would have been used to finance Al Qaeda's activities.

In a later report I saw a Navy officer quoted as saying it was uncommon to see Al Qaeda involved in hash and in fact he had never heard of it before. (Unfortunately I lost the link to that one). More unfortunately, the subsequent seizure of 85 lbs. of heroin a few days later gave the spin some credibility.

I find it hard to believe Al Qaeda would piddle around with hash when there is so much more money to be made with heroin. My guess is that the hash guys were more likely mere informants than active conspirators in any terrorist scheme.

Friday, December 26, 2003

Three entrepreneurial young people were arrested in England this week for running, according to the BBC, what police believe to be the first website in the UK allegedly designed to sell illegal drugs over the internet. However, a subsequent report from The National Business Review in New Zealand suggests that this was not an isolated enterprise.

Exotic as it sounds, a search of the web reveals hundreds of websites engaged in what appears to be the online sale of marijuana. For a sample index, click here.

I don't know if any of these sites are actually selling real cannabis but the number of them say something about the demand for this herb. There are millions of users out there and only thousands of us actively working for sane policy. It's time for the silent consumers to speak up and demand the same change, if only on the grounds of fiscal responsibility. The money being drained from municipal budgets for programs designed to suppress cannabis cultivation could be so easily be translated into revenues by legalization and taxation.

Quote of the day goes to a 1994 NORML study by Dale Gieringer, on that subject.:

Table 2

Economic Benefits of Cannabis Legalization

Excise Taxes $2.2 - $6.4 Billion
Sales Taxes $0.2 - $1.3 Billion
Enforcement Savings $6 - $9 Billion
Hemp Industry $6 - $10 Billion
Others: Spinoff industries, Reduced hard-drug and alcohol abuse

That kind of money, restored to the municipal budgets of our nation's struggling communities would pay for a lot of teachers, firefighters and improvements to our aging infrastructures.


It was definitely an odd Christmas. I've read in the New Age books that your inner world shapes your daily outside experiences so maybe that's why I found my sojourn into the right wing's lair and the holiday to have the same quality -- all reaction and no contemplation. I encountered too few people reflecting on the spirit of the season and I didn't see one Christmas classic. Ron, who flew off to London today into a stunning sunset, tells me he saw two versions of Scrooge (including one with an all black cast that I've never seen before) but there were none available on the limited listings in my TV package.

Feeling deprived of my video tradition, I took the time to watch Pollyanna this morning. I have a long history with this story having played the lead role in my 4th grade school production and it's really just another version of Its a Wonderful Life, without the snow.

I haven't seen the movie in a long time. As a child I loved the rainbow maker concept but I have to say my new favorite scene is now of the musicians at the benefit. These old ladies dressed in Sunday Baptist best playing really rocking music just blew me away. The drummer, who looked to be about 65 years old was outrageously good and you could tell she was having a great time.

The other theme in the movie, around finding the good in bad situations always resonated with me as well and I was happy to be reminded of it today. Come to think of it, irrepressible optimist that I am, I believe I've been playing this game and the role all my life and there were bright moments in an otherwise bleak season.

I loathe driving on holidays and often opt out on the family gathering for that reason, but this year I hit the highway and had a lovely visit. I found a radio station that was playing all carols, all the time. I never inflict my singing on others but I do love to sing. Being alone in the car, I rendered heartfelt renditions of all my favorites. I belted out Chestnuts Roasting on An Open Fire at least four times, turning the dreaded hours on the road into a pleasant pastime. I sound pretty good to myself.

* * * * *

The saga of the Christmas tree story had a happy ending. Michael and Irma have custody but I have visiting rights and we all agree that we have the most perfect Christmas tree in the history of mankind. I strung the lights and they hung the ornaments. The tree really did turn out to be naturally crooked so the top piece is off center, nonetheless, none of us has ever had a better tree. It just makes you smile. I like to think it's because a tree that bent would have ended up culled anyway and it was happy to end its life as a symbol of fellowship instead of just an anonymous BTU.

* * * * *

Speaking of fellowship, I regretfully missed a lot of the holiday returnees this year, Tom McClung springing immediately to mind, but I did get to spend some quality time with the Fort Lauderdale contingent and look forward to seeing them again before the season ends. And much to my delight, as I was composing this post, my dear friend Maki called. She's back briefly from Japan and is about to spirit away her whole family for the next semester so there's a party tomorrow.

This crowd, which includes many local musical legends who I have neglected terribly since I started the blog, hark back to my deepest roots in this town and I'm looking forward to catching up with some treasured friends and hearing some great music. I'm hoping their computer is still set up and we can blog from the scene. Updates to follow on this one kids.

Thursday, December 25, 2003


One of my favorite movie classics is White Christmas. I love musicals and I really love happy endings. I always cry with joy when the the old platoon marches in but my favorite scene is where Bing and Rosemary sing in the empty lobby of the hotel.

In those days Christmas meant something more than just presents and if this day is to maintain any reverential meaning, we should be using this break in the routine to reflect on what is good in our fellow man. In that spirit, I have only a short post because there's a distinct paucity of positive news in these times of war, nonetheless we'll celebrate what good we find.

Before we get back to the drug war however, I want to take a moment to say something nice about the BPA club over at Tim Blair. In exploring their world I found I had some common ground with the Big Guys of the Blogdom on the subject of Tolkien. Needless to say I didn't entirely agree with their analysis of his work, but at least it's one tenuous bridge across the abyss between our perceptions on the world. And before we close this subject, let me issue a belated award for most reasonable voice on that GOBBLE thread to Jerry, who actually engaged in a civilized debate on my points. He was wrong, but at least he was polite.

Swinging back to the task at hand, the focus in the drug war has been on the disappointing news in Canada but there have been a couple of upbeat developments. For one, I'm happy to report that Mama Coca's petition drive has now hit 1475 signatures. If you haven't signed on yet please take a moment to do so and while you're there check out the INDEPENDENT GLOBAL COMMISSION that is forming around this issue.

Meanwhile, here in the US, at 4:20 last Saturday, Ed Forchion announced his candidacy for the U.S. House of Representatives as a member of the U.S. Marijuana Party, at the site of one of this country's greatest symbols of freedom, the Liberty Bell.

Ed fired up a spliff to mark the occasion, being fully justified to do so as a Rastafarian under established case law, and was immediately surrounded by a "a phalanx of 17 park rangers. "

The rangers confiscated the candidate's joint, and Forchion, 44, was issued a $150 ticket for possession of a controlled substance.

Ed vows to fight the charges and offers his reasoning in today's last word.

"This is all about a First Amendment issue," Forchion said. "Freedom of religion allows for the religious use of marijuana on federal property. I'm just exercising that right."

Right on Ed.

Wednesday, December 24, 2003


The Christmas Spirit is largely - like a prisoner of war- MIA this year. There's a hush over the Happy Valley tonight that speaks of sadness rather than joy to the world. There's not even Christmas programing on TV. If it wasn't for Andy Williams on PBS I wouldn't have found any historical reference to my Christmases past tonight on the mainstream airwaves.

In the Christmas present, I of course ended up shopping at 3:00pm today and the lines were still alarming light. Dubya's stealing from the poor to aid the rich theory of economic recovery does not seem to be working at the retail level. As always, I avoided the horror of Walmart and bought my drain opener and window caulking (inspired by the $145.00 heating bill for November), at the local hardware store, but I also got through the mandatory chain grocery to fill my long empty cupboards and the chain liquor store for the bargain of the week, a bottle of Moet White Star for only 25 bucks, all in just over an hour. Last year it took two.

Looking to the immediate Christmas future, I'm invited to Michael and Irma's for a little holiday cheer and they've got a lot of spirit going (not to mention custody of 'our' tree) so I'm off and I hope everyone gets to see if reindeer really know how to fly.


I wish I had some cheery Christmas story for you tonight but as I'm sure by now you have all heard it was coal in Canada's cannabis stocking from their Supreme Court. I thought it was rather a Grinch stole Christmas move to announce a negative decision just before the holiday. Hardly in the spirit of the season when they could have waited until January. I only hope that Martin follows through in reintroducing the decrim legislation then. I'm counting on his wife Sheila to keep him on track.

Medical marijuana remains legal there however and Dr. Mark Ware of McGill University in Montreal has started a clinical trial on the therapeutic effects of cannabis in chronic pain cases. Patients are hoping the study, with early results expected in 2005, will facilitate wider spread acceptance of cannabis as a medicine.

Five thousand years of therapeutic value can't be wrong but I also think we need to remember that along with its medicinal benefits that its use as a consciousness expanding substance has also been practiced for that long.

With that in mind, the last word goes to a fairly recent study from a well known corporate provider of medical care.

The Kaiser Permanente Study

"Marijuana Use and Mortality" April 1997 American Journal of Public Health".

"Relatively few adverse clinical effects from the chronic use of marijuana have been documented in humans. However, the criminalization of marijuana use may itself be a health hazard, since it may expose the users to violence and criminal activity."

Translated into common speech this means that it costs them more to provide care for the victims of the prohibition than it does to care for the effects of the use of the prohibited substances. Mark my words, cost control will win the fight for legalization in the end.

Tuesday, December 23, 2003


I'm blaming my recent tangent into Presidential Politics on my insta-addiction to Glenn Reynolds. Love him or hate him, (I swing between both myself), he breaks the news and I'm learning to mine for the gold in the dregs of infuriating Bush-spun links to keep my blood pressure down. He got me this week though. I innocently clicked and found myself in a hornet's nest of Bush Policy Apologists (hereinafter "BPA").

I don't know, it was just the moment, normally I would have just clicked out but the post and the ensuing commentary pissed me off enough to add my own comment. The object of their mockery was a good piece if you read the whole thing and they were wasting bandwidth giggling over who got caught posting that the plastic turkey that Bush served to the photo-op troops was actually flown over on AF1.

I'll admit my first post was somewhat strident but I was unprepared for the vitriolic response. For the first time I was being what I believe they generally call, flamed. In this little venomous forum they call it Fisking, which I assume is a reference to some long term gleeful belittling of Robert's work which I happen to admire. Anyway, I'll admit my first post was somewhat strident.

I can't fail to notice that the B.P.A. club on this comment list chooses to focus on the fake turkey comment and thus obfuscates the substantive questions within the piece.

Morford asks:

"The capture does not justify the savagery, nor the humiliation. Not by a long shot. The ends do not justify the means. Nor do they justify the staggering, steaming pile of BushCo lies about why we went to war in the first place.

Remember those? Remember how not one single motive BushCo gave for launching this insane war has actually been proven true? Does this even matter anymore, the string of falsehoods and treasonous fabrications? Apparently not. This is America's biggest wonder, and its ugliest flaw: a nasty short-term memory."

I wish the Importantpundits here would address these issues and enlighten me as to how this capture has made any difference in the security of the United States.

I don't feel any safer from terrorism. Do you? Really?

I regained my civility which is more than I can say for most of the BPAs. I was called a liar, a narcissist, an Alzheimer's victim, an idealist, a utopian, la-di-da, loopy, and selfish. I was called an idiot many times. They questioned my gender, they think I might be chickenhawk lunchboy dude. That post gets the award for most intriguing. I stayed around a little longer than I might have to see if their great warrior, ben butler would arrive to do battle but no such luck.

I was called "yet another well-meaning and timid middle-class western suburbanite with utterly no concept of the baseline savagry of human nature." (Those of you know me will appreciate the humor in that). This kid needs a spell checker but Amos, who seems to something of a pet of the board, gets the award for most creative insults. He also called me "effectivly a profoudly spoilt and arrogant little brat, and an arrogant and a leftist buffoon in the name of masturbationary moral grandstanding. He further informed me, "I know your, tedious, ernest, unimaginative, self-congratulatory worthless kind all too well."

I've heard it said that the faults people find most offensive in others are the ones that they cannot face in themselves. The award for the most eloquent illustration of that theory goes to TomB who gets the quote of the day.

The left has always been willfully ignorant of the true condition of human nature, and at certain historical times that ignorance becomes a deadly liability. Post 911 America is one of those times.

It was a fascinating exercise in sociological inquiry into the minds of the hard right that I rarely get to interact with and I learned a lot about the how the big bloggers' club works in the process. I admire the efficiency of their model - they link to each other to build a little power base on the search engines. I have to wonder though whether the insta-wife knows that Glenn seems to have an inordinate fascination with this potty-mouthed Coutler clone, Andrea Harris. She appears to be a big player in this BPA cabal.

The Tim Blair site that hosted this little exchange is the most impressive page in her larger spleenville project which is prolific but somewhat vacuous in it's content. What interests me is how Reynolds got interested in her. Somehow I can't imagine this woman sitting down at the dinner table with the insta-daughter when fully 25% of her vocabulary seems to consist of the phrase, stupid asshead.

I think I won the flame war by the way. Except for Andrea and her yes-man hurling one weak, moderately clever asshead epithet at me, Last One Speaks had the last word on the thread.


New York Governor George Pataki, perhaps to atone for failing to drop the Rockfeller laws this year, issued a pardon for Lenny Bruce some forty years after his obscenity conviction for stating his political views in the common vernacular. Thanks to TalkLeft for passing on this bit of good news. From the post:

Pataki, a third-term Republican, called his decision to issue the first posthumous pardon in New York state history "a declaration of New York's commitment to upholding the First Amendment."

Lenny was a man born before his time and he died too soon. He broke the ground that political satire artists tread today and it's good to see justice served in this case, even at this late date. Last word goes to this complicated comedian.

The liberals can understand everything but people who don't understand them.

I'd be almost insulted by that remark except that it's true. I can't fathom their thinking.

Monday, December 22, 2003


There's developing news on the US sponsored war on the coca plant in Colombia that merits the attention of anyone interested in the atmospheric health of the planet. The Washington Post reports the fumigation policy has indeed succeeded in reducing the cultivation of the coca plant in Putumayo province by "93 percent after three years of intensive U.S.-financed aerial herbicide spraying." However, the subtitle of the piece is Fighting Spikes in Province Despite Anti-Drug Program.

Thousands of gallons of an untested Monsanto herbicide were dumped on over 150,000 acres of land. This ecologically suicidal program was supposed to end the decades old civil war in Colombia. Yet, eradicating the plant didn't eliminate the demand in the US; it merely pushed the cultivation outside that incomprehensibly large perimeter of poisoned earth, bordered by the Putumayo river, c.1,000 mi (1,600 km) long, rising in the Andes, and flowing SE to the Amazon in NW Brazil. And the civil strife continues unabated.

...less coca has not translated into less violence, the long-term Colombian objective, in Putumayo. Neither a new economy nor a stronger local government has taken hold, as envisioned by the anti-drug plan, and the military is still struggling to keep down a potent guerrilla force.

Colombian and U.S. authorities have long said that coca production provides the motivation and financial fuel for the country's nearly four-decade civil war. But the continuing violence in a province that has been the chief venue of U.S. anti-drug assistance challenges that notion. It also shows the difference in the benchmarks for success, which the Bush administration measures as a swift reduction in drug crops and the Colombian government envisions as a lasting peace.

The US has wasted $2.4 billion in mostly military assistance to Colombia since 2000 under the premise of eliminating the drug trade. You can hardly call this money well spent.


Tonight's last word first is an quote from the nine volumes and 3,698 pages of an old study that the prohibitionists would rather you didn't read. This exhaustive investigation was done by the British over a century ago and the cannabis (and charas) in question was as strong, if not stronger than what is available in the US today.

Indian Hemp Drugs Commission, 1894:

"The commission has come to the conclusion that the moderate use of hemp drugs is practically attended by no evil results at all. ... ...moderate use of hemp... appears to cause no appreciable physical injury of any kind,... no injurious effects on the mind... [and] no moral injury whatever."

Every impartial scholarly assessment of this plant (not funded by prohibitionists) has come to the same conclusion.

Sunday, December 21, 2003


Considering it's holiday week, there's a considerable amount of noteworthy developments in the stories we've been following these days.

First up is an update on Ed 'NJ Weedman' Forchion's Liberty Bell smokeout, (or would that be smoke-in?). The original event was snowed out but this column reports that Ed and Patrick Duff were calling the troops in yesterday. I haven't seen any press on the rally yet but the article is worth reading for the bio on Patrick. He's new to me but he's apparently an old political activist.

* * * * *

SSDP is hosting a conference in New Hampshire that promises to Rock the Granite State during the upcoming presidential primary season in January. This election is critical to our future as a civilized society and this is a priceless opportunity to make a difference for drug policy reform in the 04 race.

* * * * *

For those of you interested in case law, Randy Barnett, who argued the case of Raich v. Aschroft before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals posted an excellent essay on this landmark opinion.

* * * * *
Richard A. Stimson of High Point, NC weighed in on the Newsroom-1 discussion list with these comments regarding the prisons-for-profit study.

I count it as good news that private prisons are facing financial trouble. It is not something to be proud of, that the U.S. is at or near the top in the percentage of population in prison. The authorities have largely given up on rehabilitation, and subsidized prison products are competing unfairly with products of free labor.

How long will it take the Supreme Court to acknowledge that privatization of prisons violates the Constitutional prohibition of involuntary servitude (slave labor)?

I thought that was well said and although I haven't really checked it out myself yet, his website looks interesting.

* * * * *

And thanks to all of you who took the time to sign Mama Coca's petition to halt the inhumane fumigation campaign in Colombia. The count is up to 1144 from the original 254 we reported here only a few days ago. Please keep those signatures coming.


The breaking buzz is the arrest of Al Gore III, yep that would be Al Gore's son. He and his two companions were pulled over for driving without headlights and pulled over with all their windows and sunroof open, allegedly exuding the smell of cannabis.

A search of the vehicle turned up a partial marijuana cigarette, a cigarette box containing suspected marijuana, and a soft drink can that also smelled of marijuana.

I suspect they consented to the search as well. With only a speeding conviction on his record, young Gore would have done well to follow the advice in Busted, The Citizen's Guide to Surviving Police Encounters. It just goes to show the importance of this video when even a Vice President's son doesn't know his rights.

* * * * *

In Orange County, California however, Gregory Scott Haidl, son of the local assistant sheriff, can apparently rely on his family connections.

The audio tapes reveal a disturbing cover-up of his recent brush with the law.

A bombshell audio recording reveals police suppressed evidence that Assistant Sheriff Don HaidlÂ’s teenage son was caught smoking marijuana while awaiting trial on charges he participated in a 2002 videotaped gang rape of an unconscious 16-year-old girl.

Official records show that Assistant Sheriff George Jaramillo secretly ordered Sgt. Richard Downing to bury evidence of Gregory Scott HaidlÂ’s involvement in an Oct. 26 San Clemente drug bust. Records also prove that SheriffÂ’s Lt. William J. Hunt--chief of police services in San Clemente, where the sheriff has jurisdiction--released Haidl without arrest and chauffeured him home. In a subsequent report, Hunt downplayed the ride as a "courtesy to another member of the department whose son was in a situation he should not have been in."

Yeah tell it to the 2 million people incarcerated in the US gulag. This as much as anything is why the war on drugs fails. When it only applies to the poor and the politically unprotected, it cannot succeed as a modifier of behavior. If offenders like Gregory were equally incarcerated you can bet you would see a huge influx of middle class parents into the reform movement.

For Greg this offense is treated as behavioral problem. If he was a black man in a poor neighborhood, it would be treated as a serious crime. Until the middle class understands that the only difference between their kid and the one using drugs in the ghetto is economic lifestyle - well, we still have a lot of work to do.

* * * * *

In a sad illustration of the point, in Columbus, GA a sheriff's deputy killed an unarmed black man on the side of highway with a single shot to his head.

Kenneth Brown Walker, 39 was a devoted husband and father, a respected member of his church, and a 15-year middle-management employee of Blue Cross and Blue Shield..

He had no criminal record nor were any drugs or weapons found in the vehicle.

John Dowdell, an attorney hired by the Walker family, told reporters Walker and his friends did nothing wrong. "They will testify that Walker didn't physically or verbally disobey any command by any law enforcement officer," Dowdell said. "The evidence will show these young men were physically removed from the vehicle, had guns touching portions of their body and were shoved to the ground in a prone position."

The FBI has begun a preliminary investigation into the killing and so has the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for the deputy to be indicted for murder though.

photo PBS Frontline

I've realized in order to make my new posting method work and still maintain the narrative style we're all used to I'm finally going to have to learn to think and post in reverse chronological order.

Rising to the challenge, today marks the start of last word first and the honor goes to Peter Bourne, President Carter's Drug Czar.

''We did not view marijuana as a significant health problem--as it was not....Nobody dies from marijuana. Marijuana smoking, in fact, if one wants to be honest, is a source of pleasure and amusement to countless millions of people in America, and it continues to be that way.''

Source: PBS's Frontline: ''Drug Wars,'' October 2000

And it shall continue to be true until the end of time.

Saturday, December 20, 2003


There's two big developments on the Canadian cannabis front. The Canadian Supreme Court is set to announce it's decision on the three related appeals of David Malmo-Levine, Victor Caine and Christopher Clay, who were all found guilty of marijuana possession. The trio are mounting a challenge based on the argument the Canadian Charter of Rights prohibits the government from creating criminal penalties for marijuana possession. There's been much speculation within the reform community that the timing of the announcement, weeks before it's legally mandated to released, bodes well for a favorable decision.

I tend to agree. How cruel would it be to move up the announcement to just before Christmas if the court was going to issue a negative decision? Three more days to see if we're right.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Paul Martin says he'll press ahead with legislation, first proposed under Jean Chretien, to eliminate criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana.

...he insisted that it achieves "absolutely nothing to give a criminal record to young people caught with minimal amounts."

In response to bitter opposition from US, Martin had this to say:

"We are an independent nation," he reported in another yearend interview Thursday.

"We will make decisions based on our values and our interests. We're not going to make these kinds of decisions based on what somebody else thinks. We'll base them on what Canadians think."

The last bill introduced by former Prime Minister Chretien, was criticized within the reform community for increasing penalties and introducing mandatory minimum sentencing for offenses greater than simple possession. This may well turn out to be the same as Martin states,

"I think that one's got to take a look at the fines. I think that you have to take a look the quantities, and I think that there has to be a larger effort against the grow-ops and against those who distribute."

We'll we watching this story develop over the next few weeks however, quote of the day goes to this remark by Mr. Martin.

In a yearend interview Thursday with CPAC, the parliamentary public affairs channel, Martin confided he'd never smoked pot but said his wife Sheila once made some brownies "and I must say they had a strange taste."

I'm holding off judgment on Paul but I think I like Sheila already.


The buzz is still going strong on the 9th Circuit medical marijuana decision. I'm sure you've seen the press but I can't resist posting one last link to Ann Harrison's coverage in Counterpunch. With her usual attention to detail, Ann gets the quotes that define the story including the end of the Angel Raich quote that has been making the rounds.

"I have the truth on my side, and it was nice to see the justices of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals care about my life."

I continue to be enheartened by this new spirit of rebellion in the judiciary and the shift back towards common sense and humanity in sentencing. Hats off to these brave jurists and may their brethren be inspired to equal courage in the face of Ashcroft's bullying. With more decisions like this, we may be able to shut down the corrupt private prison industry.

Thanks to Jules Siegel for forwarding a timely press release on a new study analyzing how the prison-industrial complex as embodied by it's largest purveyor of private prison cells, Corrections Corporation of America, is failing to meet its obligations. From the release:

The 81-page study, commissioned by North Carolina-based Grassroots Leadership, takes an in-depth look at the scandals, deficiencies, and overstatement of performance in more than a dozen states (including Florida, Texas, Tennessee, and Arizona) and the District of Columbia where CCA operates.

..."The trend among states to shorten sentences to reduce prison crowding and narrow budget gaps is good public policy, but it makes CCA a risky investment," said Philip Mattera of The Corporate Research Project of Good Jobs First, who helped write the report for Grassroots Leadership.

"Not only will CCA be unable to fill its beds, but the company has not improved operationally and is still mired by debt and controversy since going virtually bankrupt in the late 1990s."

..."States should think twice before signing any new contracts with CCA," said co-author Mafruza Khan, also from Good Jobs First. "This report shows that CCA has not undergone any significant transformation since being racked by scandals at its prisons in the late 1990s. It is still involved in numerous controversies and lawsuits involving conditions in its facilities."

The release also makes reference to CCA's influence on drug war policy.

The study also notes hefty campaign contributions by CCA to legislators to drive policies to maintain and grow the prisoner population. The report reviews cases in which CCA appeared to use its contributions and ties with public officials and legislators to help it win new contracts and influence public policy. According to the Institute on Money in State Politics (, 830 candidates in the 2000 election received contributions from the private prison industry for a total of $1.12 million. CCA was the top giver with 600 contributions for a total of $443,300..

You can be certain they are not funding drug policy reform. The entire report is available here.


I had an abrupt email exchange with Mark A.R. Kleinman this week. He informs me I am behind the times. The googlebombing of miserable failure has apparently succeeded so well, the good citizens of the Blogdom have moved on to a new phrase. Fortunately it's just as easy to work in when you're talking about the Bush administration.

Speaking of which, sponsored a contest to produce 30 second spots for the upcoming political season. It appears that over a 1000 people were inspired by the astounding incompetence of our current misleaders and submitted entries. The numbers so surpassed the expected estimates, Move-On now needs some help with the judging phase.

You need to be registered to view the videos but I believe it's free. I didn't look at them myself yet but they sound promising in the promo and plan to check them later when I have some time.

Speaking of astounding incompetence, here's a story from last week that didn't get much play. At least four students at Madison High School in Idaho were injured in a mock-hostage drill being undertaken by local law enforcement when the officers shot them with paintball guns. The students were later treated at the hospital.

Student Randi Weatherston describes the assault. "It hurt really bad like five feet away they were shooting paint balls and i got a bunch of bruises."

Chief Archibald of the Rexburg PD ruefully explains what went wrong. "It was pretty chaotic and a lot of stuff happened that shouldn't have. We made some mistakes we made mistakes that we would do different next time."

They might want to consider using mock students at a mock school next time.

And while we're on the subject of students, there's this fiscally irresponsible decision by the Lee County Board of Education in North Carolina to approve funding of approximately $10,300 for the purchase and training of a drug dog to patrol area schools. This is just the start-up costs which include the purchase of a used Blazer-type vehicle for $3,500 to transport the animal. The article does not mention the projected annual cost of upkeep.

A criminal waste of taxpayer's money at a time when school districts are struggling just to provide basic supplies and must charge for extra-curricular activities. Do they really think that this will stop kids from using drugs? It may well stop them from bringing them to school but I doubt that being subjected to unwarranted Gestapo style searches will foster any respect for the law in these young people.

Friday, December 19, 2003


I was on my way out the door yesterday when Harry McColgan walked into City looking very dapper in his top coat and fedora hat. He was fresh off the plane from Florida so I turned around and we had a good little catch up on the doings in sunny Fort Lauderdale. I'm looking forward to the rest of the team arriving as Christmas week unfolds in lovely downtown Noho.

Today at 4:00 pm, with no fanfare, City Cafe changed hands. Tim Driscoll handed over the keys to John Riley and Tully McColgan. When I stopped by tonight, John Riley himself was unexpectedly behind the bar. I know Tully of course, but I've never spoken to John before despite his long tenure at Fitzwillys. He's a nice guy with a good barside manner and he clearly knows his business.

The bar was quiet because the regulars all had Christmas parties but Tim was still there and it was nice to see Martin Carrera of la VeraCruzana who dropped by to wish them well. The vibe was totally positive and I left feeling okay about the changeover.

* * * * *

Since I'm on the subject of men, I want to send a belated welcome back to Pete Guithier at DrugWarRant who leapt off his sick bed and jumped back into the drug war news while I'm been off on my tangents.

I've never met Pete but I've come to care about him like a friend I know well and I'm glad to see he's feeling better. He's been one of my biggest supporters and often speaks my thoughts more eloquently than I can myself. Not to mention that we both endorsed Kunich practically simultaneously.

He pretty much speaks for me on the important news of last week. Check out his take on John Walters dangerous lies to well heeled neo-con contributors and his commentary on the landmark 9th Circuit decision on medical marijuana.

My favorite development however, was the Jesse Ventura interview on his show called America. The transcript is great reading and Pot TV now has the video archived on their site.

If you have 24 minutes, the video is great. I've never seen Jesse live before, but he's got quite a personality and a very reasonable stance on the war against cannabis consumers.

Thursday, December 18, 2003


George Soros, economic genius and the founder of a network of philanthropic organizations under the umbrella of the Open Society Network active in more than fifty countries, has been much vilified by the Bush administration for contributing money to the citizen action groups working to depose his regime.

Soros has since published a response to the Bush Cheney slander. He had this to say in the Miami Herald on, "Why I Gave."

President Bush has a huge fundraising advantage because he has figured out a clever way to raise money. He relies on donors he calls "Pioneers," who collect $100,000 apiece in campaign contributions in increments that fall within the legal limit of $2,000 a person, and on those he calls "Rangers," who collect at least $200,000.

Many of these Pioneers and Rangers are corporate officials who are well situated to raise funds from their business associates, bundle them together and pass them along with tracking numbers to ensure proper "credit." They are buying the same level of access and influence for their corporate interests that they previously obtained with their own and corporate funds. With the help of Pioneers and Rangers, President Bush is on track to collect $200 million.

To counter the fundraising advantage obtained by this strategy, I have contributed to independent organizations....

My contributions are made in what I believe to be the common interest. ACT is working to register voters, and MoveOn is getting more people engaged in the national debate over Bush's policies.

There's a lot of suspicion about Soros' motives even among the left but I see no reason to believe he is not acting out of genuine concern for the public good. George also has an excellent essay up on The Atlantic site called, The Bubble of American Supremacy.

Soros analyses the foreign policy of our current neo-con power-mongers and predicts the bubble is about to burst. Being no stranger to power himself, George presents the inherent dangers of the neo-con agenda in logical progression from how 9/11 helped Bush overcome his lack of a public mandate and gave him a license to bomb,

September 11 removed both obstacles. President Bush declared war on terrorism, and the nation lined up behind its President. Then the Bush Administration proceeded to exploit the terrorist attack for its own purposes. It fostered the fear that has gripped the country in order to keep the nation united behind the President, and it used the war on terrorism to execute an agenda of American supremacy.

to why this ill-advised scheme is not only destroying our freedom and ruining our international reputation,

It is ironic that the government of the most successful open society in the world should have fallen into the hands of people who ignore the first principles of open society. At home Attorney General John Ashcroft has used the war on terrorism to curtail civil liberties. Abroad the United States is trying to impose its views and interests through the use of military force. The invasion of Iraq was the first practical application of the Bush doctrine, and it has turned out to be counterproductive. A chasm has opened between America and the rest of the world.

but is actually endangering the citizens of the US more now than pre 9/11.

Declaring war on terrorism better suited the purposes of the Bush Administration, because it invoked military might; but this is the wrong way to deal with the problem. Military action requires an identifiable target, preferably a state. As a result the war on terrorism has been directed primarily against states harboring terrorists. Yet terrorists are by definition non-state actors, even if they are often sponsored by states.

The war on terrorism as pursued by the Bush Administration cannot be won. On the contrary, it may bring about a permanent state of war. Terrorists will never disappear. They will continue to provide a pretext for the pursuit of American supremacy. That pursuit, in turn, will continue to generate resistance. Further, by turning the hunt for terrorists into a war, we are bound to create innocent victims. The more innocent victims there are, the greater the resentment and the better the chances that some victims will turn into perpetrators.

....Moreover, by allowing terrorism to become our principal preoccupation, we are playing into the terrorists' hands. They are setting our priorities.

And unlike so many of the pundits out there who complain but offer no solutions, Soros has an alternate plan to repair the current political damage.

I propose replacing the Bush doctrine of pre-emptive military action with preventive action of a constructive and affirmative nature. Increased foreign aid or better and fairer trade rules, for example, would not violate the sovereignty of the recipients. Military action should remain a last resort. The United States is currently preoccupied with issues of security, and rightly so. But the framework within which to think about security is collective security. Neither nuclear proliferation nor international terrorism can be successfully addressed without international cooperation. The world is looking to us for leadership. We have provided it in the past; the main reason why anti-American feelings are so strong in the world today is that we are not providing it in the present.

Nor will we in the future unless we all vote Bush out in 04. Miserable Failure is not an option.


I'm beginning to think the four season thing New Englanders brag about is over-rated. Seems to me three is more than enough. The winter thing is just not as fun as it used to be. They get colder and wetter every year and we don't get the good snow anymore. The kind that either makes great snowmen or good skiing. I have to go on-line to see any good snow sculptures these days.

On a cheerier note, my html education continues at a snail's pace but I did manage to install the permalink feature and will be changing my posting methodology to reflect that small success by posting the sections separately. I want to see how it looks anyway.

I also installed the RSS feed tags but have no idea how to check whether those work. I'm taking that one on faith.

And while I'm on the subject, my apologies to Blogger for complaining about the spell checker. I just discovered that I actually have one which should help eliminate the annoying typos.


For those of you who haven't reached the end of your Christmas list yet I have a few suggestions. DRC Net sent in a link to "Gertrude & Bronner's Magic Alpsnack," a certified organic nutrition bar made with organic hemp nuts, almonds and fruits.

DRC notes: A box of twelve Alpsnack bars would make a delicious holiday treat for family and friends! ALL PROFITS FROM ALPSNACK ARE DESIGNATED TO SUPPORT ADVOCACY FOR INDUSTRIAL HEMP.

You might also consider a membership in DRC which also comes with premiums such as a free copy of the video BUSTED - The Citizen's Guide to Surviving Police Encounters.

Of course, DRC is not the only organization worth giving someone a membership to. Take your pick of the many including Drug Policy Alliance, Marijuana Policy Project or Drug Sense.

If you're looking for merchandise check out the bookstore at, the offerings at Cannabis Culture and don't forget those voodoo dolls at Cultural Baggage.

The best part is you don't have to drive to the mall.


I don't know what key I hit in the dark last night as I was finishing up the day's post but as I was putting in the last link, I hit something that left me with only this on the screen: href=". None of my usual retrieval methods worked. It was just gone. A distressing end to a dismal rainy day.

I like a lot about Blogger as a host but this is the second time I lost a post this way and I don't find the help menu all that helpful, not to mention that I sure would appreciate a spell checker. Otherwise, thanks for the server space guys.

For my readers, I'll be back with a recreated post later today.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003


I've been subscribing to the Liafax eBulletin for almost a year now and had the distinct pleasure of hearing its Editor in Chief, Marco Perduca speak at the DPA conference last month. Marco is also the Executive Director of the International Anti-Prohibitionist League, an organization on the forefront of bringing some semblence of reason into the UN Conventions on drugs.

I had a charming email exchange with Marco today over an item in the newsletter and discovered they are still collecting signatures on their appeal to the UN. I just checked the numbers and I'm appalled that there are only 9434 confirmed signatures on this petition. For those of you who haven't signed, please take a moment to do so now.


Back in this hemisphere, I also met Maria Mercedes Moreno of Colombia in Newark last month. She is a relentless advocate for human rights not only in her own country but across the globe. She sends this appeal from Mama Coca:

We have never sent out mails for signatures but this is an extreme situation and we need as many signatures as possible to demand a halt aerial fumigation with chemical mixtures being applied against Colombian peasants and indigenous communities. This request will be sent to the OAS Inter American Human Rights Court and the Colombian State Council, among others.

There's only 254 signatures so far, so please support this petition now. You'll find yourself in good company on this list of signators that includes Gustavo De Greiff and Marco Perduca. Please take a moment and sign here and pass the link on. The site also offers a long list of linked information on fumigation issues.


Ben Masel checked in this week and sends this link from the Asia Times, on the continuing explosion of poppy cultivation in Afghanistan. The page takes a long time to load even with broadband but it's worth the wait for an excellent report from folks actually on the ground in that country.

BANGALORE - The spurt in violence in Afghanistan in recent months has generally been attributed to the resurgence of the Taliban and al-Qaeda. However, aid workers in Afghanistan are saying that it is warlords with connections to the production and trade of narcotics who are behind many of the attacks.

The sharp rise in killings, say aid workers, coincides with the autumn harvest of the poppy crop....

Antonio Maria Costa, executive director of the UN anti-narcotics program notes, "There is a palpable risk that Afghanistan will again turn into a failed state, this time in the hands of drug cartels and narco-terrorists." The article goes on to say,

So serious is the threat posed by poppy cultivation and trafficking that a recent UN Security Council mission to Afghanistan cited drug trafficking alongside terrorism and factional warfare as the triple threats slowing down the reconstruction process in that country.

It begs the question why is the US allowing this to happen when they so vigorously pursue fumigation policies in South America? Here's one answer.

A report in the German newspaper Der Spiegel draws attention to "an open secret", which throws light on why action is not taken against the narcotics network. "Even the topmost member of the central government," it says, "is deeply mixed up in the drug trade." Describing the situation in the Kunduz province, where German soldiers of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization-led (NATO) International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) have been deployed, the report says that Afghan Defense Minister Mohammed Fahim's power in this part of Afghanistan "is in large part supported by drug money. Up to now, his commanders have been regulating the opium trade within their spheres of influence. It's their primary source of revenue. Anyone who interferes with the trade in their districts lives dangerously.

There is growing pressure on the ISAF to act against the drug trafficking. But that, ISAF commanders are quick to point out, is not possible as it is not part of their mandate.

...Governments back home in the NATO countries are reluctant to get their soldiers drawn into tackling drug trafficking as this would make the troops targets of the all-powerful drug syndicates. Therefore, even if they come on a field of poppy or an opium warehouse, the troops are under instructions not to act against it. "The troops have orders to look the other way. Orders from on high," reports Der Spiegel, adding, "An open confrontation with the drug lords would be like a declaration of war."

I guess now that we have our pipeline secure there, the welfare of the people we 'set free' from the Taliban aren't much of a concern anymore.


I can't let this day pass without sending my sister a big hug and a wish for a very happy birthday. Hope you get to take the day off and have some fun Sis and if you're feeling a little depressed about the advancing age thing, just remember you'll always be younger than me.

Monday, December 15, 2003


When I started this blog, I decided to leave the greater political punditry to those more well versed on the machinations of the Beltway and focus only on the drug war. However, presidential politics had already seeped into the war for drug policy reform this week, and this being such a huge event, it seems impossible for me not to weigh in on Saddam's capture.

I saw it first on the instapundit. It's incomprehensible to me how this Reynolds guy could have such reasonable views on some issues and still be such a Bush cheerleader, but interestingly it was the same Andrew Sullivan post that really pissed off both myself and BigLeftOutside today. Giordano of course, shreds Sullivan's illogic into disposable pieces with his usual surgical skill. I read it before I went to the day job and shot off this more emotional response.

Allow me to nominate myself for a Galloway award

So we caught Saddam. Big whoop. I notice none of you warmongers remember that George Bush declared him inconsequential to the war months ago. Now it's a big deal?

In light of the news released by the Air Force the same day that they had just passed the million mark on troops moved during operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, I think we should be embarassed that it took a huge military presence and billions of dollars worth of smart bombs to take down one limping dictator armed with the equivalent of pop guns.

We've decimated the infrastructure of two countries and killed thousands of innocent civilians in order to "free them" from this man and the ones that managed to live are still scraping through the rubble to survive.

Sure Saddam was evil and cruel and I'm glad he won't be able to torture the citizens of Iraq anymore. Tell me this means the war is over and our brave soldiers can come home now and then I'll cheer. As it stands now, all I see is one more news item of mass distraction to draw attention away from the Bush administration's gleeful distribution of the spoils of war as they divvy up the reconstruction contracts to their corporate cronies.

I've refined my thoughts since I wrote that at 7:30 am (not my best hour) but I think I'll let those raw thoughts stand except to say this. Yes I'm glad for whatever peace of mind and joy it brings to people that this monster is in custody however, I think what my country did to this population under the polices of both Bush administrations was just as monstrous, if not almost certainly worse.


One last thing I'll say about the Saddam thing is that my initial reaction was surprise, immediately followed by suspicion. Very convenient timing, particularly in light of these Bush fundraising letters going around. Last week they sent one that I unfortunately lost in a deleting spree. Fortunately, DRCnet summed it up well. The Bush team attacked George Soros and Peter Lewis directly for supporting both drug policy reform and a regime change.

Resorting to their usual lies, the Bush-Cheney letter alleged Lewis is "an ardent advocate of hard drugs."

However, the folks at DRC actually know Peter.

Lewis, who has contributed millions of dollars to drug reform, last year put most of his money into marijuana-related projects. He is known as a marijuana consumer, having been famously arrested in New Zealand for pot possession. But while he has advocated changes in drug laws, and not only for marijuana, he has never, as far as DRCNet knows, been "an ardent advocate of hard drugs."

Of course he's not, he advocates for a plant, not drugs. The good news is that the citizen based computer activism model these two are funding is working so well, it's got the Bush-Cheney team running scared and they now seek to co-opt it. You can't get these letters from their site but this week's appeal arrived at HQ today so we're going to print it in full.

Ken Mehlman
Campaign Manager
Bush-Cheney '04

December 14, 2003


I hope you received our previous emails about Democrat plans to spend $400 million on vicious attacks to defeat President Bush. Help us overcome the Democrats' liberal billionaire by making your contribution and emailing five friends today!

In the last several days:

* Antiwar comedians gathered in New York to raise millions in campaign cash and make angry x-rated personal attacks on the President.
* Liberal actors held a "Bush hating" event in Hollywood where they plotted to defeat the President.
* The Washington Post reported that 40 liberal groups "plan to fund get-out-the-vote efforts and television issue ads."
* Liberal billionaire George Soros, who has compared President Bush to the Nazis and said that defeating him is "the central focus of his life," will now spend $25 million in special interest money in attacking him!

You are all that stands in their way. And the President needs your
help! Will you help by sending the Bush re-election campaign $25, $50, $75, $100 or whatever you can afford today?

You can give by using our secure online contribution page at:

Or by calling the President's campaign at 1-800-531-6789.

Please also help by forwarding this email to your friends, family and neighbors. The President needs 450,000 grassroots contributors to join his campaign by December 31st. Will you support him in reaching this goal by forwarding this email to five friends today?

We can overcome the Democrats and their angry, rage-filled attacks if we continue to build the largest grassroots campaign in history, and if we spread the president's message of hope and prosperity, strength and security, and compassion and freedom ...

Thank you for your hard work and support on behalf of the President and his re-election campaign.


Ken Mehlman
Campaign Manager
Bush-Cheney '04

P.S. We must leave nothing to chance and the hundreds of millions the other side will spend could hurt. We need your help today! Make your contribution using our secure online contribution page at:

By the way if you access the link it takes you to a very secure site. There's so many questions, I think you might need a security clearance to donate.


I'm going to end this tonight with our official endorsement for the presidential race. I've been on this bandwagon practically from the first day he declared. I have his sticker on my window and I'm sticking with Dennis Kucinich all the way to the White House.

I like his policies from his idea for a Department of Peace, all the way to his stance on prison reform,

"Non-violent marijuana users comprise the bulk of the half-million Americans imprisoned for drug violations, and many frequently serve longer sentences than do those convicted of violent crimes," Kucinich states on his website. "The rationale for continuing these draconian policies is unclear. Statistical evidence shows that marijuana use follows a pattern very similar to that of alcohol. Most marijuana users do so responsibly, in a safe, recreational context.

and last word goes to his "Marijuana Decriminalization" position

"Current drug policy ... regards all users as abusers, and the result has been the creation of an unnecessary class of lawbreakers. A Kucinich administration would reject the current paradigm of 'all use is abuse' in favor of a drug policy that sets reasonable boundaries for marijuana use by establishing guidelines similar to those already in place for alcohol."

Don't discount Dennis. It's like being a Mets fan, if you believe, anything can happen.

Saturday, December 13, 2003


I was moping around this evening, wishing for some holiday inspiration when it knocked on my door. Michael and Irma burst into the room and asked, "Do you have a saw? Our tree doesn't fit in the stand."

It's been many years since I've indulged in a cut tree but I happen to own the Excaliber of Christmas tree saws. For all the things I've lost along the way, I've carried this Stanley tool for over 20 years and it has been used almost solely on Christmas trees. Michael was suitably impressed, particularly in light of the fact he had just spent 20 minutes hacking away at the tree with a hammer and chisel.

The pesky branch was short work for my trusty saw and the smell of fresh pine jump-started my holiday spirit. We were ready to rock except that the stand, (they took it apart for reasons unknown), needed to be reassembled. It had a lot of parts.

After an earnest debate on the proper leg orientation we finally managed to figure out how to put it back together. The fatal flaw in the plan however, was that one leg was missing. We made an exhaustive search for almost 20 minutes. We looked everywhere possible and impossible. By the end I was looking in the bathtub abd the refrigerator. Finally, as we were about to reluctantly admit defeat, in a flash of inspiration I found it -- it was almost entirely embedded in the tree itself.

I triumphantly retreived it through plastic mesh clutching the branches shut and humbly accepted their acclaim. We toasted to my superior sleuthing skills. We probably should have waited until after we got the tree into it.

The parts problem now being solved, we moved on to the assembly. This looked deceptively simple but also turned out to be no small task. But after much consultation we put it all together -- the wrong way. Not to be deterred we started over and managed finally, to come up with a workable unit. Flush with this success we decided to go all the way and try to stand up the tree. It was heavier than it looked.

We managed to wrestle it into the stand without mishap but then came the critical moment. Who decides if the tree is straight? This became an issue of some contention as patience waned and tempers ran short.

I'm struggling to hold it up in a straight line, Michael was splayed underneath, eating pine needles and cursing, trying to turn the screws and announcing at frequent intercals that they were stripped and Irma is standing across the room shouting that we were doing it wrong and the tree was crooked anyway. Thus ensued a long discussion on whether the tree was naturally crooked and if it would even be noticeable once the branches fell open.

At this point we had spent about two hours on the project. We finally compromised, readjusted the tree a little and sat back to admire the fruits of our labors. Sharing a little holiday cheer and a few laughs over our collective ineptitude, we agreed that the smell of a fresh cut tree made it feel more like Christmas. I went home humming an old carol....

Wishing all of you a happy holiday season and a healthy and prosperous new year.