Drug & Alcohol Headline Week in Review from MOMSTELL.COM

December 5, 2003
 

LOS ANGELES TIMES: PHONE CAMPAIGN TARGETS LAWMAKERS WHO OPPOSE MEDICAL MARIJUANA
Voters in four congressional districts — three in California, one in Oregon — answered their phones last week to hear a recorded message from Angel McClary Raich, an Oakland mother with an inoperable brain tumor, boldly announcing: "I'm a medical marijuana patient, and your congressman is threatening my life."

More than 600,000 registered voters in San Bernardino, Simi Valley, Chico and Portland, Ore., will get similar messages from Raich or from another activist, Marney Craig, by next Monday, said Steph Sherer, the director of Americans for Safe Access, a San Francisco group sponsoring the telephone campaign.

The four targeted congressmen — Joe Baca (D-San Bernardino), Elton Gallegly (R-Simi Valley), Wally Herger (R-Marysville) and David Wu (D-Ore.) — voted in July against an unsuccessful budget amendment that would have cut funding to federal drug enforcement authorities for raiding facilities where marijuana is grown or distributed for purported medical use.
http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-pot23nov23,1,461209,print.story?coll=la-headlines-california 
 

NATIONAL JOURNAL:
SENATORS SEEK TO RETOOL DRUG AGENCY'S ADVERTISING EFFORTS
In the latest round of an ongoing spat, Sens. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and Joseph Biden, D-Del., have introduced legislation that would strip advertising agency Ogilvy & Mather of the responsibility for placing youth-oriented anti-drug advertisements, and would shift the task to the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, a nonprofit coalition of professionals from the communications industry.
 
The bill would also end the public-relations and Web-related activities of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, and would direct the office to spend 89 percent of its federal appropriation on placing ads.
http://www.govexec.com/news/index.cfm?mode=report2&articleid=27164&printerfriendlyVers=1& 
 

THE DETROIT NEWS:
EDITORIAL: DRUG TESTS, POLICE SWEEPS WON'T WIN DRUG WAR IN SCHOOLS
John P. Walters, the Michigan-bred national drug czar, is launching the country on another misguided battle of the never-ending and seemingly unwinnable drug war.
 
Walters is planning what he calls "new treatment plans" targeting teens and pre-teens.
 
A main component is random drug tests for students who participate in extracurricular activities.
 
The tests are intended to steer student drug users and dealers into counseling and treatment, but they are more likely to discourage the very students who would most benefit from after-school activities from participating in them.
 
Certainly, schools are on the front line of the effort to reduce drug use in the country. But heavy-handed tactics will do more harm than good.
http://www.detnews.com/2003/editorial/0311/25/a10-334401.htm
 
THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER: PA. COURT ALLOWS LAWSUIT AGAINST SCHOOL DRUG TESTS
A desire to discourage drug use among students is not a sufficient reason to justify "suspicionless" drug screening targeted at student-athletes, parking-permit holders, and participants in extracurricular activities, the state Supreme Court has ruled.
 
The justices on Thursday turned down the Delaware Valley School District's attempt to have a lawsuit in Pike County dismissed, meaning a legal challenge seeking to block the testing can proceed. The challenge was filed by two sisters, who had passed the drug screening and have since graduated, and their parents.
 
The family's lawyer said the ruling provides Pennsylvania students with privacy rights beyond the limits of a 2002 U.S. Supreme Court case that upheld random testing of participants in an Oklahoma school district's extracurricular activities.
http://www.philly.com/mld/inquirer/news/local/7342823.htm 
  
 
LAS VEGAS SUNLEGAL POT SUPPORTERS BACK WITH NEW NEVADA TACTIC
 The organization that tried unsuccessfully to change the law last year to allow adults to smoke marijuana is back in Nevada testing a new strategy.
 
Advertisements have been appearing on television stations in Reno sponsored by the Marijuana Policy Project Foundation suggesting that more than 67 percent of teens in Nevada try marijuana before graduating from high school.
 
The advertisements say that compares with 28 percent of the teens in the Netherlands, where marijuana use is allowed under some conditions.
 
Neal Levine, director of state policies for the foundation based in Washington, D.C., said the comparison shows that Nevada's law is not working. Reno is the first market in the United States where the advertisement is airing, Levine said. He refused to say how much the advertising cost or how long it would run.
http://www.lasvegassun.com/sunbin/stories/text/2003/nov/21/112110451.html 
 

USA TODAY:
PAINKILLER THIEVES GET MORE CREATIVE SOME SEEK THEIR NEXT FIX BY POSING AS HOMEBUYERS
. Police across the nation say that in recent months, drug thieves have posed as potential homebuyers, garage-sale browsers, building inspectors and cops to get into homes -- and then into medicine cabinets.
 
Authorities in several cities also have reported burglaries by addicts who scanned newspaper obituaries for people who died of cancer or other painful illnesses. While the deceased person's family members attended the funeral, the addicts broke into the family's home to look for leftover painkillers.

NEW YORK TIMES:
RESEARCH ON ECSTASY IS CLOUDED BY ERRORS
In September, the journal Science issued a startling retraction.
 
A primate study it published in 2002, with heavy publicity, warned that the amount of the drug Ecstasy that a typical user consumes in a single night might cause permanent brain damage.
 
It turned out that the $1.3 million study, led by Dr. George A. Ricaurte of Johns Hopkins University, had not used Ecstasy at all. His 10 squirrel monkeys and baboons had instead been injected with overdoses of methamphetamine, and two of them had died. The labels on two vials he bought in 2000, he said, were somehow switched.
 
The problem corrupted four other studies in his lab, forcing him to withdraw four other papers.
 
It was not the first time Dr. Ricaurte's lab was accused of using flawed studies to suggest that recreational drugs are highly dangerous. In previous years he was accused of publicizing doubtful results without checking them, and was criticized for research that contributed to a government campaign suggesting that Ecstasy made "holes in the brain."
 
Dr. Ricaurte, a 50-year-old neurologist at Hopkins since 1988, is probably the best-known Ecstasy expert in the war on drugs. He has received $10 million from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, more than any other investigator of the amphetamine analogs known as designer drugs, club drugs or diet drugs, including MDMA, better known as Ecstasy, and its close relative MDA.
http://www.nytimes.com/2003/12/02/science/02ECST.html?pagewanted=print&position= 
 

MEMPHIS COMMERCIAL APPEAL:
ATTORNEYS CONTEND METH CLIENTS SICKEN THEM
Defense attorneys for people accused of methamphetamine offenses contend their reeking clients are making them feel sick.
 
"It's a problem and I don't know exactly how to deal with it," said 13th Judicial District public defender David Brady. "We're looking into it and trying to figure it out."
 
He said two attorneys in recent months reported feeling sick or high, apparently from exposure to meth fumes on clients they were defending in the Cumberland County Courthouse and the Cumberland County Justice Center.
http://www.gomemphis.com/mca/midsouth_news/article/0,1426,MCA_1497_2470700,00.html
 
TIME- EUROPE: LET'S NOT DRINK TO THAT
It's hard to argue with a road safety campaign — you'd think. Since France began a crackdown on speeding earlier this year, road deaths have fallen by more than 20%. But now the campaign is targeting drunk driving and some in the French wine industry are crying foul. With restaurant wine sales reportedly dropping, A.F.I.VIN, an umbrella group of winemakers and sellers, worries the campaign is scaring the French away from their habitual bottle of red with dinner.
http://www.time.com/time/europe/magazine/printout/0,13155,901031208-552081,00.html

SUNDAY HERALD (UK):
CALIFORNIA'S POT LIMBO
In America's medical marijuana movement one single, rough, 10-block area of downtown Oakland is ground zero. "Oaksterdam," as it's been dubbed because of pot-friendly Amsterdam, has more "pot clubs" than any other city in America.
 
It is also a place in limbo, caught between sympathetic local officials and a federal government that would immediately close down its dozen or so clubs.
 
That rift could become even starker this week, when the city council considers regulating the clubs for ventilation – by requiring business licenses – and with zoning (regulating the uses for property). Even so, the area is unlikely to become mainstream any time soon.
Most of the pot clubs in Oakland, a diverse, tolerant working-class city once famed as the home of the Black Panthers militant group, are more than low-key. Their phone numbers are usually unlisted and if they have a sign outside, it is tiny except for one which jokingly calls itself Parking In The Rear.
 
Few of their members or employees are willing to talk openly. Ever since voters in California and six other states started legalising medical marijuana, federal officials have raided the quasi-legal clinics, confiscated goods and arresting owners. People who say they use pot for medicinal uses have also been arrested.
http://ww1.sundayherald.com/print38345 

LAS VEGAS REVIEW JOURNAL
:
HIGH COURT SIDES WITH NLV OFFICERS ON DRUG WARRANT
Handing a victory to police in a closely watched Nevada case, the Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that officers do not have to wait more than 20 seconds before breaking down a drug suspect's door when executing a search warrant.
 
In a unanimous decision that weighed Fourth Amendment protections against unlawful searches, the justices determined that officers in North Las Vegas waited long enough before forcing their way into Lashawn Lowell Banks' apartment.
http://www.reviewjournal.com/lvrj_home/2003/Dec-03-Wed-2003/news/22716203.html
(Decision in United States v. Banks can be found at
http://www.law.com/jsp/printerfriendly.jsp?c=LawDecision&t=PrinterFriendlyDecisionMain&cid=1069801673526 )
 
WASHINGTON POST: JUSTICES BACK FORCED ENTRY BY POLICE IN DRUG CASE
The Supreme Court ruled yesterday that the Constitution does not necessarily require police officers to wait more than 15 to 20 seconds after they knock and announce their authority before breaking down a suspected drug dealer's door.
The unanimous ruling, which overturned a federal appeals court's attempt to set up a list of conditions governing how long officers must wait, reinforced the court's previously expressed view that police need flexibility to respond to potential physical dangers or the risk that a suspect may destroy evidence.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A28091-2003Dec2?language=printer 
 
 
LOS ANGELES TIMES:
HIGH COURT UPHOLDS FIRM'S REHIRING BAN
Employers can refuse to rehire recovered drug addicts or alcoholics who were dismissed for violating the company's workplace rules, the Supreme Court ruled Tuesday.

A "no-rehire policy" is a "legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason" for rejecting a former drug user, even if federal law forbids job discrimination against people for their past abuse of drugs or alcohol, the justices said.

The unanimous, but narrow, ruling gives employers leeway to reject former employees with a troubled past, but it does not resolve the broader question of whether former drug addicts and alcoholics are entitled to equal treatment when they apply for a job with a new employer.

The high court said it was avoiding the larger issue because it found a way to resolve the case at issue by focusing only on workplace rules. The justices overturned a ruling of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that said employers violate the law whenever they "bar the reemployment of a drug addict [who had undergone] a successful rehabilitation."
http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/asection/la-na-scotus3dec03,1,4512109,print.story?coll=la-news-a_section
(Decision in Raytheon Co. v. Hernandez can be found at
http://www.law.com/jsp/printerfriendly.jsp?c=LawDecision&t=PrinterFriendlyDecisionMain&cid=1069801673520
 
 
NASHVILLE TENNESSEAN: TBI UNVEILS VOLUNTARY 24/7 'METH WATCH'
Tennessee's store clerks, drugstore cashiers and market workers will be the eyes and ears of drug enforcement agents as part of a new effort to stem methamphetamine production in the state.
 
Under the program, store employees will soon notice a poster that lists and shows the products used to make meth, a highly addictive drug that can be produced in a kitchen using a variety of common products, such as drain opener, muriatic acid and cold pills. Stores affected include convenience stores, drugstores, discount retailers such as Wal-Marts, grocery stores, and the like.
 
If a store clerk notices someone buying suspicious amounts of such items, they are asked to report the purchase to a toll-free number, 1-877-TNN-METH (866-6384).
http://cgi.tennessean.com/cgi-bin/print/pr.pl 

Newsbrief: Kentucky Bill Would Let Families Commit Drug Users to Rehab 10/17/03
A bill that would allow drug users to be involuntarily committed to drug treatment centers has been introduced in the Kentucky General Assembly. The bill, the "Matthew Casey Wethington Act for Substance Abuse Prevention," would allow family members, friends, or anyone else, for that matter, to petition a Kentucky court seeking the involuntary commitment of a "drug abuser." Wethington was a 22-year-old Morning View man who died of a heroin overdose last year. Under current Kentucky law, no adult can be forced to seek drug treatment. But under the bill pre-filed for the 2004 session by state Rep. Thomas Kerr (R-Taylor Mill), a longtime friend of the Wethington family, that would change, with drug users facing the same sort of involuntary commitment procedures used against mentally ill people who are found to be a danger to themselves or others. Friends or relatives of drug users could petition for a treatment commitment hearing from a district court judge. If, after hearing a doctor's evaluation, the judge deems the person a danger to himself or others, that person could be committed to a treatment center for 60 to 360 days. Failure to comply with a commitment order would be construed as contempt of court, with criminal penalties. "The analogy is a person who suffers from drug abuse really is in the same position as someone with mental health problems. They've lost the ability to make decisions for themselves," Kerr told the Kentucky Post last week. "When you have an individual that's a family member that has drug problems and that person is an adult, under current law there is nothing a family member can do to intervene," Kerr said. Kerr filed a similar bill this year, but it died in part because of budget concerns. Under his original bill, Medicaid would have picked up the tab for treatment costs. In next year's version of the bill, however, the person petitioning for the involuntary commitment would have to pick up the tab. The bill will be considered by the Kentucky General Assembly in its session beginning in January. Visit http://www.lrc.state.ky.us/record/04rs/HB77/bill.doc to read the bill online.
 

Marijuana-Decriminalization Supporters Try New Approach in Nevada 12/1/2003
Decriminalization supporters failed in their attempt to ease Nevada's marijuana law last year, but they are continuing their efforts using a new strategy, the Las Vegas Sun reported Nov. 21.

The
Marijuana Policy Project Foundation is running television advertisements in Reno saying that the state's drug laws are not working. The ads compare Nevada's 67 percent of teenagers who report using marijuana before graduating high school to the 28 percent of teen users in the Netherlands, where marijuana use is allowed under certain conditions.

Last year, Nevada voters rejected an initiative sponsored by the Marijuana Policy Foundation that would have allowed adults to possess up to three ounces of marijuana without being charged with a crime.

Detroit Voters to Decide Medical-Marijuana Issue 11/25/2003
Voters in Detroit, Mich., will consider whether to legalize medical marijuana in a ballot initiative set for the August 2004 primary election, the Associated Press reported Nov. 21.

According to Detroit City Clerk Jackie Currie, the Detroit Coalition for Compassionate Care submitted the required number of signatures to place the measure on the ballot.

But even if the initiative passes, Wayne County officers, state police, and federal agents would still be able to arrest marijuana users in Detroit.

"I think it's more symbolic for the proponents of medical marijuana use," said city lawyer Michael Karwoski. "The impact on the city is probably negligible because they are not changing state law."

Kevin Zeese, president of the Common Sense for Drug Policy, said the medical-marijuana measure would keep police from "wasting time and valuable resources."

EXECUTIVE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT OFFICE OF NATIONAL DRUG CONTROL POLICY Washington, DC 

Statement of John P. Walters, Director, ONDCP Needle Exchange-Programs
However well-intentioned the impetus behind Needle Exchange Programs (NEPs) might be, they are ultimately a poor, and possibly counterproductive approach to the problems of drug addiction.  NEPs inherently set aside drug addiction as a secondary problem, addressing the “addict’s need for drugs.” Instead, treatment to get the addict off of drugs should be our primary focus.   Responsible public health policy and compassion for the addicted requires us to treat the primary illness, not just the outward symptoms of the disease. We know that treatment works and we should continue to do everything we can to heal America’s drug users. NEPs not only hurt treatment efforts but also undermine drug prevention and weaken anti-drug messages because they foster a community of drug addicts, thereby normalizing drug use. 
 
Some jurisdictions justify the use of NEPs as a way to curb HIV and other infectious diseases. NEPs work by offering a venue for a drug user to exchange their used needle for a clean one. Thus, NEP proponents say, it is an effective intervention for stopping the spread of blood-borne diseases. Needle-exchange programs are, however, a band-aid solution to a complex disease. ONDCP opposes needle-exchange programs since they drain resources away from drug treatment, which is more efficacious at curbing HIV and drug addiction than any proposal that prolongs addiction.
 
NEP proponents would have the American public believe that the policy is without social and human costs. While early results from NEPs appeared to show promise that NEPs lower HIV rates while not increasing drug use, lately there have been serious concerns raised over the methodology of those studies and the appearance of studies showing adverse affects. Most NEP studies have not measured how and if NEPs contribute to normalizing drug use and how and if drug use rates changed among the larger community (not just addicts). The burden of proof is on NEP enthusiasts, since implementing such programs would require a large change in anti-drug policy priorities. Better studies are needed before making such a change.
 
Numerous studies point out that NEPs do not decrease HIV rates, and that they could in fact, actually increase HIV rates. A 1997 Montreal study showed that injection drug users who used the NEP were more than twice as likely to become infected with HIV as injection drug users who did not use the NEP.  In “Needle Exchange is not enough: Lessons from the Vancouver injecting drug use study,” (Julie Bruneau, et al., "High Rates of HIV Infection Among Injection Drug Users Participating in Needle Exchange Programs in Montreal: Results of a Cohort Study," American Journal of Epidemiology, December 15, 1997). Researchers noted that despite the fact that 92% of intravenous addicts participated in the NEP, AIDS prevalence in intravenous users rose from approximately 2% to 27%. After only eight months, 18.6% of those initially HIV-negative became HIV-positive.
 
Additionally, NEPs present a public health risk because of the amount of discarded needles that surround such establishments. Numerous reports in the past few years have illustrated how children and others have been stabbed or accidentally poked by discarded syringes. The CDC reported in 1998 that only 62% of needles handed out were exchanged, leaving 7-8 million unaccounted for. NEPs, as noted below by an NEP activist, also provide a setting to find drugs faster:
“Most needle exchange programs actually provide a valuable service to users beyond sterile injection equipment. They serve as sites of informal organizing and coming together. A user might be able to do the networking to find good drugs in the half an hour he spends at the street-based needle exchange site – networking that would otherwise have taken half a day.”      (Grove, D. The Harm Reduction Coalition, N.Y.C., Harm Reduction Communication, Spring 1996)