Bolivia in turmoil
Chapare coca growers set up roadblocks on the main highway
between Cochabamba and Santa Cruz on November 6 in response to
a heavy military buildup and fumigation campaign in this region.
Although coca growers have not appeared in large groups along
the main road, large concentrations and smaller groups gather
on side roads. According to reports, security forces used tear
gas and rubber pellets to disperse groups of campesinos, and
human rights workers in the Chapare fear that widespread violence
At present there are between 4,000 and 4,500 members of the security
forces stationed in the Chapare. This is an increase of approximately
2,000 troops since the end of October. Although both US and Bolivian
governments had stated that forced eradication should have eliminated
the last illegal coca in the region by December 2000, widespread
replanting of coca and active campesino resistance have impeded
Both governments officially state that a long-term sustained
military presence in the region is indispensable to maintain
eradication goals and prohibit resurgence of the coca crop. Initially,
Bolivian military participation in anti-drug efforts was to last
until the end of forced eradication. US commitment to funding
a continued presence is both costly and damaging to Bolivia's
fragile democracy. The permanent establishment of military action
within antinarcotic efforts is therefore destructive of the nation's
efforts to establish a credible civilian system of government.
Source: The Week Online with DRCNet
Canadians wise up to marijuana
It is now legal in Canada for terminally ill patients and
those with chronic diseases from cancer to AIDS to MS to turn
their back yards into their medicine cabinets. With the approval
of a doctor, they can either grow marijuana or get it free from
the government, which is paying a company to nurture the plants
in an abandoned copper mine in Flin Flon, Manitoba.
Where does that leave us? U.S. citizens, who routinely cross
the border for cheap prescription drugs, won't be allowed access
to the Manitoba mother lode. If Canadians can't export their
medical marijuana, is it time for us to import their policy?
The northern light on the subject comes in the wake of a Canadian
Supreme Court ruling last summer that any patient suffering terminal
or painful illness should be allowed access to marijuana when
a doctor says it might help. Our own U.S. Supreme Court has moved
in exactly the opposite direction. Last May, our Supremes ruled
on narrow grounds that federal drug law allows no exception for
Sources: Boston Globe and other wire service reports
Soap in a dirty drug war
Beware of lawless people carrying bars of soap. Alert officers
of the drug war will not be fooled, and a person can go to jail
for possession, as did Larry Hardy of Cooksville, Tennessee,
according to a story in the town's newspaper, the Herald-Citizen.
Mr. Hardy was apparently standing around looking suspicious,
according to Police Officer Brent Anderson who recognized the
man from previous arrests. Thinking fast on his feet, the officer
radioed headquarters for a quick warrant check. Sure enough,
the officer's hunch was right. Hardy had failed to appear in
court for not completing eight hours of community service on
a public intoxication rap. The officer contacted the perpetrator,
handcuffed and searched him.
"I found what appeared to be a crack rock (cocaine) in his
left front pocket. Mr. Hardy stated that the object was only
soap," the officer reported. Trained for situations like
this, Anderson field tested the substance and discovered what
indeed was a bar of soap wrapped in plastic. It is unclear whether
the field test involved making bubbles. Determined to get his
man, the officer arrested Hardy anyway for "possession of
counterfeit Schedule II drugs." Mr. Hardy was jailed and
bond was set for $1,000.
Peeing for the court
Robert K. Sanford was president of Adapt, Inc., a company
that provides court-ordered urinalyses for people convicted on
drug charges, and his business practices demonstrate just how
adaptable he was. For as little as $500, clients could have their
test results "adapted" to suit their particular needs.
In most cases, clients chose to have evidence of all drug use
The drug war was paying off very well for Mr. Sanford who was
collecting both taxpayers' money for urinalyses and money from
his clients to alter the results. Probation and parole officers
became suspicious after noticing that the urine they collected
in their own offices would send people to prison longer than
the urine collected from Adapt, Inc.
Rodney K. Sanford, 49, pled guilty to federal charges of using
an interstate facility to solicit bribes to alter court-ordered
drug tests while operating Adapt Inc., reported The Courier Journal
in Kentucky. The indictment stated that on October 1, 1996 Sanford
collected a sample from a client who was about to be sentenced
in circuit court. The judge said that if the test showed the
person was on illegal drugs, a prison sentence would result.
The test indicated the defendant had recently used cocaine, but
Sanford accepted $500 to provide negative test results, according
to the indictment. A probation and parole officer began questioning
the integrity of the tests performed by Adapt in 1997. Mr. Sanford
is scheduled for sentencing on December 14 and faces up to 30
years in prison, apparently to replace all those urinators he
helped avoid detection.
Reading, writing and shooting
The drug war was being fought at Osborn School in Turlock,
California when officers opened fire in the parking lot. Alert
teachers and administration officials locked children in classrooms
and had them take cover under desks. Meanwhile, not so alert
police officers opened fire at a school full of children. A strong
message was sent to the children of our country: police in the
drug war could kill young people.
An undercover officer said he had been trying to buy drugs from
a suspected dealer for some time. When the opportunity arose,
the officer approached the man in the school parking lot. Instead
of 'making a buy,' the undercover officer was robbed, and backup
police began firing to protect their comrade. Two suspects fled,
and both were apprehended within an hour, according to a report
in the Sacramento Bee in September.
Why pardon this dedicated flimflam man?
After serving seven months of a three-year prison sentence
for mail fraud, perjury and tax evasion in a hair growth scam
that duped millions of dollars from bald people, President Clinton
pardoned flimflam man Almon Glenn Braswell just before leaving
office in January. Braswell wasted no time returning to his swindling
habit, and his all-new Journal of Longevity, a slick 50-page
advertisement magazine, illustrates his new 'con' perfectly.
This time the medical evidence isn't retouched miracle photos
and videos of improved male pattern baldness. Braswell now offers
a range of remedies for ailments from cancer to heart attacks
in his publication that reads like professional medical research
and sells like snake oil. For a couple of hundred bucks a month
depending on how soon a person wants to die seniors
are promised more energy, fewer wrinkles, a steel-trap memory,
and as one would expect, an improved sex drive.
Almon Braswell's clemency petition wasn't on Bill Clinton's desk
in those waning hours of his presidency because 36,000 citizens
petitioned for his release, but it was on the desk next to the
millions Braswell gave to Clinton and near the $400,000 in legal
fees. Hillary knew nothing about this, it seems, and since she
was running for New York State Senator, she made brother Hugh
return every penny.
The president could have released thousands of nonviolent drug
war prisoners who had served five years of their sentences to
"time served," as requested by more than 36,000 citizens
during last year's Jubilee Justice 2000 campaign organized by
the November Coalition. Unlike Braswell, the great majority of
convicted drug users leave no victims, but, instead, they become
the victims of failed prohibition policies.
Sadly, the president was only concerned about relief for a man
like Almon Braswell who, according to his former chief financial
officer, Michael O'Neil, bilks about $200 million a year from
victims who purchase "natural" drugs from13 different
companies. In September the Senate Special Committee on Aging
subpoenaed Braswell. In preceding testimony, O'Neil told Senators,
"the products are flawed and laden with lies and deception"
and "could not possibly deliver what is promised in the
advertising,'' as reported in an Associated Press story.
Teens gain in fight against new jail
Alameda County minority youth, using creative, nonviolent
tactics, have forced reductions in the size and funding of a
proposed 540-bed juvenile hall. In one tense scene last Spring,
the hip hop, inner-city youth stormed the Board of Supervisor's
meeting-adopting protest tactics their grandparents used during
the civil rights movement. One by one, sometimes shouting over
board members, the teens argued that California already had too
many Superjails for young people and that the money would be
better spent on prevention programs.
As a result of these actions, state officials voted in May to
withhold $20 million of $50 million earmarked for the project.
Alameda County Supervisors have also scaled down their jail expansion
plan from 540 to 420 beds. The inspired youths will return to
Sacramento to further question state corrections' officials on
the funding they call a "big failed government program."
Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson said the youths convinced
him that building such a large jail "was wrong. Until these
kids got involved, this jail was a foregone conclusion, but no
more." Organizers say the campaign shows how a generation
of inner-city youths has found that it, too, can play politics.
Support for legalizing marijuana hits new
The most recent USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll of American attitudes
toward marijuana found a record 34% favored legalizing it, the
highest number since pollsters began asking the question in 1969,
according to several reports dated August 24.
Support for legalization had hovered around 25% for the past
two decades, reported USA Today, before rising to 31% in August
2000 and 34% most recently. Legalization supporters were most
likely to be in the 18-49 age group, residents of the west, and
independent voters. Opposition was strongest among the elderly,
weekly churchgoers and Republicans, the poll found.
"This is the highest level of support we've ever registered,"
said Keith Stroup of the National Organization for the Reform
of Marijuana Laws. "The idea of a consensus in favor of
the drug war has been demolished. That is an incredibly important
point. We're spending $40 billion a year on something that flat-out
is not working. Everyone understands that now."