Drug & Alcohol Headline
Week in Review from MOMSTELL.COM
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.
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.
THE DETROIT NEWS:
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.
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.
LAS VEGAS SUN: LEGAL POT SUPPORTERS BACK WITH NEW
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
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.
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
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.
MEMPHIS COMMERCIAL APPEAL:
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.
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.
SUNDAY HERALD (UK):
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.
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.
(Decision in United States v. Banks can be found at
WASHINGTON POST: JUSTICES BACK FORCED ENTRY BY POLICE IN
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.
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
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."
(Decision in Raytheon Co. v. Hernandez can be found at
TBI UNVEILS VOLUNTARY 24/7 'METH WATCH'
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).
Newsbrief: Kentucky Bill Would Let Families Commit Drug Users to
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.
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.
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.
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
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
Statement of John P. Walters, Director, ONDCP
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
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)