OCTOBER 10, 2004 Edition
GIRL IS CHARGED IN
POLICE TAKE OVER WEBSITE TO CATCH
ONLINE DRUG BUYERS
CHALLENGES SCOTLAND´S CURRENT DRUG TREATMENT STRATEGY
11. DEPUTY DRUG CZAR OPPOSES
GIRL IS CHARGED IN TEEN´S DEATH
Marsha Rosenbaum, a California
drug policy reformer, said the pressures on children to try drugs
require parents to give more than a "Just Say No" response, the
Salt Lake Tribune
reported Oct. 8.
Rosenbaum made her comments during a training session by the Harm
Reduction Project in Utah. Based in Salt Lake City, the
project is aimed at preventing harm when people choose to take part
in risky behaviors, such as drug use and prostitution.
"This is for parents that have tried abstinence," Rosenbaum said.
"Parents just want a fallback strategy, a Plan B, just in case their
children don't listen."
According to Rosenbaum, 54 percent of U.S. teenagers will experiment
with drugs. She likened the "Safety First" strategy to the "safe
sex" philosophy, in which children are given information about
condoms and family planning. "It's like comprehensive sex
education," she said. "For those kids that are not abstaining, what
do you do? That's really the question."
Opponents to the approach said it could encourage more drug use or
sexual activity. Law-enforcement officials support drug education
programs such as DARE because they promote abstinence.
"We're big DARE supporters," said Ken Wallentine, a public affairs
official for the Utah Peace Officers Association. "Our general
philosophy is completely incompatible with the notion: 'We should
surrender to drugs.' It's admitting we can't keep drugs out of our
communities. We can. We are doing a good job."
But Luciano Colonna, director of the Harm Reduction Project, said
parents want and need options. "This is a natural way to talk to
your children," Colonna said. "You don't have to be involved with
any harm reduction or progressive program."
The biggest challenge faced by the Harm Reduction Project is getting
the "Safety First" program into public schools. Federal funding
prohibits any drug-education program that promotes a message other
Voters in Alaska, Montana and
Oregon will decide this November whether to ease drug laws
pertaining to marijuana use, the
reported Oct. 10.
All three measures are offered as alternatives to federal drug
policies that activists call harsh and ineffective.
Voters in Alaska will decide on decriminalizing marijuana
completely. The measure would prohibit prosecution of anyone age 21
or older who consumes, grows, or distributes marijuana for private
personal use. The measure would also treat marijuana like alcohol
and tobacco, allowing authorities to tax it and ban it from use in
In Montana, voters will decide whether to legalize marijuana for
In Oregon, voters will determine whether the state's current
medical-marijuana program should be expanded. Under the ballot
initiative, state-regulated dispensaries would be created to supply
marijuana, authorized growers would be able to sell marijuana to
patients for a profit, and patients would be allowed to possess a
pound of marijuana at a time, up from the current three-ounce limit.
U.S. drug czar John Walters has been making personal appearances in
all three states to campaign against the measures. In Oregon in
particular, Walters has waged an aggressive campaign.
"They use medical marijuana as a Trojan horse," Walters said.
"People's suffering is being used for legalizing drug use beginning
with marijuana and moving forward."
Sanctions-based demand reduction"
POLICE TAKE OVER WEBSITE TO CATCH ONLINE DRUG BUYERS
By Reid J. Epstein
Posted: Oct. 13, 2004
When Rhinelander police busted a man on
suspicion of possessing cocaine he bought over the Internet, the
usual course of action would have been to end the investigation
after finding the source of the drugs.
But in a tactic authorities called one of the
first of its kind in Wisconsin, federal investigators joined the
case. They not only found what they believe was the drug source, but
they adopted the accused online drug dealer's persona in order to
catch his customers.
The new strategy, called sanctions-based
demand reduction, was spearheaded by former Deputy Attorney General
Larry D. Thompson, and it has gone into use here in the last six
months, said J.B. Van Hollen, the U.S. attorney for the Western
District of Wisconsin.
According to the charges against the man
authorities identified as the online dealer, Thomaz W. Franzl, 27,
of Chicago had a menu of 13 different substances that ranged from
common prescription drugs, such as Ritalin and Percocet, to cocaine
The Rhinelander man who became an informant
after he was arrested used his credit cards to purchase more than
$6,000 in cocaine, OxyContin and Ketamine from Franzl between
October 2003 and June 2004, according to an affidavit filed in
federal court in Madison last month.
"Before, we probably would have just taken Mr.
Franzl and closed down the site and not done anything further," Van
Hollen said. "We wouldn't have gone down the ladder to figure out
who some of his buyers are."
But in this case, the first involving Internet
drug sales in the federal court's Western District - roughly the
western two-thirds of the state - authorities from the federal Drug
Enforcement Administration and the North Central Drug Enforcement
Group, a conglomerate of several northern Wisconsin law enforcement
agencies, pretended to fill Internet orders.
Prosecuting drug users has been primarily the
responsibility of local and state law enforcement agencies, while
federal authorities concentrated on kingpins and big-time dealers.
But foreign countries that the government has been pressuring to
curb their drug exports have responded that the United States is not
limiting drug demand, Van Hollen said.
Because Franzl's alleged illegal operation
used the Internet, federal prosecutors were able to increase the
charges against his suspected customers. On Oct. 6 a federal grand
jury in Madison indicted nine of Franzl's would-be customers not
only on an attempted drug possession charge, which carries a
sentence of up to one year, but also with one count of using the
Internet to facilitate the unlawful distribution of a controlled
substances. That charge has a maximum four-year sentence.
The accused customers were mostly white-collar
professionals, according to Tim O'Shea, the federal prosecutor
assigned to the case. Authorities said the seven men and two women
included a 20-year-old female college student at Ursinus College in
Pennsylvania who ordered Ritalin and Adderall; a 26-year-old public
relations man in Chicago who ordered Ketamine; and a Glendale man
who tried to have cocaine delivered to the house he shares with his
The nine people charged have been ordered to
appear in court in Madison but have not been arrested because they
are not considered flight risks, O'Shea said.
They are: Thomas Bronson, 46, of
Somerville, Mass.; Steven Cornute, 21, of North Hills, Calif.;
Ashley Hans, 20, of Collegeville, Pa.; Matthew Harper, 27, of
Nashville, Tenn.; Jonathan Houlihan, 31, of Glendale; Brandon
Jenkins, 21, of Scenery Hill, Pa.; Dane Kinchen, 20, of Richmond,
Va.; Vince LaConte, 28, of Chicago; and Nicole Sears, 26, of West
Prosecuting Internet drug dealers' customers,
Van Hollen said, sends a signal to others who order drugs on the Web
or through the mail thinking it is safer than going into rough
neighborhoods to purchase drugs.
No more hiding in offices
"We want to make sure that people out there
know that even though they're sitting in their offices, there is a
great risk of being found out," Van Hollen said. "We're trying to
make sure that the Internet doesn't get used for inappropriate
But some experts on the drug war say
prosecuting small-time drug users such as those ordering from Franzl
won't help in the government's effort to wipe out drug sales.
"There's just no evidence at all that the
government is having any significant impact on the drug market,"
said Tim Lynch, the director of the Cato Institute's Project on
Criminal Justice. ". . . For this particular operation, it's not
going to have much impact beyond those handful of customers. There's
plenty more where they came from."
Lynch said that publicizing drug busts such as
those of Franzl and the Internet customers might deter others from
making similar purchases now, but it won't make a difference in the
"If they can generate some media coverage of
this operation, the idea behind it is they'll get people to think
twice before purchasing things online," he said. "It might have some
very short-term impact, but overall, I don't see it having any sort
of an impact in the black market in narcotics."
CHALLENGES SCOTLAND´S CURRENT DRUG TREATMENT STRATEGY
The findings show that the majority of drug addicts contacting drug
treatment services in Scotland are looking to achieve abstinence
rather than to receive advice on harm reduction from treatment
13 October 2004
A new report launched tomorrow Thursday 14 October is set to
challenge the government's drug strategy.
The research, carried out by a
team led by Professor Neil McKeganey at the Centre for Drug Misuse
at the University of Glasgow, is to be published in the leading
journal 'Drugs Education Prevention and Policy'.
The research involved interviewing 1007 drug addicts from 33 drug
treatment agencies across Scotland starting drug abuse treatment in
2001. Sixty per cent of those interviewed identified abstinence
as their sole reason for contacting drug treatment services. Seven
per cent were looking for stabilised drug use and one per cent was
looking for advice on safer drug use
'These figures show that most drug users are contacting treatment
services to come off the drugs completely,' explains Professor Neil
'We have to hear these voices and ensure we have services in place
that can help addicts overcome their addiction. Over the last ten
years we have tended to prioritise harm reduction over abstinence
and we need now to ensure that we have a balance between these two
Bill Puddicombe, chief executive of Phoenix House, said: 'As the
largest provider of abstinence based services, we have known for
many years the positive outcome of this approach to treatment. This
report supports our philosophy of recovery. We believe people can
rebuild their lives, which is why we also help them with education
and employment. Our results prove that this approach works. For
example, 75 per cent of service users have been successfully detoxed
at our Glasgow Adult Residential Service and 67 per cent of Phoenix
House Access to Skills and Employment (PHASE) residents have gone on
to access further education and paid employment'.
'What are drug users looking for when they contact drug services:
abstinence or harm reduction?' will be launched by Professor Neil
McKeganey at the Phoenix House Annual General Meeting on 14 October.
The report will be published in October 2004 in 'Drugs: Education,
Prevention & Policy Journal'.
The research was funded by the Robertson Trust and supported by the
DEPUTY DRUG CZAR OPPOSES LEGALIZING MARIJUANA
Scott Burns, a top federal official in the war
on drugs, visited Montana this week intending to discuss
methamphetamine. Instead Burns found himself talking mostly about
marijuana, as Montanans prepare to vote Nov. 2 on a ballot measure
that would allow use of the illegal plant for medical purposes.
"I cannot tell anyone how to vote,'' Burns
said - but his anti-marijuana message was clear. "This is a con by
people who want people to legalize marijuana in this state,'' Burns
said. "They always start with the medical marijuana issue.''
Burns, who is deputy director for state and
local affairs in the Office of National Drug Control Policy, held a
news conference Thursday in Billings at Rimrock Foundation, a
private, nonprofit treatment center. He also met with local law
enforcement and treatment center officials. Burns, formerly the
county attorney of Iron County, Utah, made similar visits earlier
this week to Helena and Missoula.
Initiative 148 would legalize the cultivation
and possession of marijuana for medical use in Montana. Patients
could use marijuana under medical supervision to relieve symptoms of
cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS and other conditions defined by the
state. Proponents, Burns said, typically use the example of someone
suffering from a disease and say that smoking marijuana offers
relief. "It's not about that,'' Burns said. "It's about our
There are alternatives besides marijuana for
sick people, he said. For example, Marinol, which is a pill
containing THC, an active component of marijuana, is approved by the
U.S. Food and Drug Administration and may be prescribed by doctors.
The FDA, the American Medical Association and other medical groups
have said that "smoking this weed is not a medicine,'' Burns said.
Missoula resident Paul Befumo, a spokesperson for I-148, said in a
telephone interview Thursday that he didn't think Burns had read the
"It's really really narrowly confined,''
Befumo said. The measure covers only people with the diseases
specified and closes anything that could be viewed as a loophole, he
said. Befumo also said Marinol has only one component of the many
active ingredients in marijuana. "That's why when Marinol doesn't
work, medical marijuana does,'' he said. Befumo said studies and
research papers support the therapeutic potential of marijuana.
Backers of the measure point to the results of
a California study that showed marijuana use by high school students
declined after voters there approved the medial use of marijuana in
1996. Befumo stated earlier that the study did not indicate that the
medical marijuana law was the cause of the reduced marijuana use but
that "the law did not cause an increase in use as predicted by
opponents.'' Burns said marijuana is considered by treatment experts
to be a progressive drug, which leads to use of other illegal drugs.
More youths under age 18 are in treatment for marijuana dependency
than for any other drug, he said.
"The marijuana problem is a national
problem,'' Burns said. Of the approximately 19.5 million people
using illegal drugs, 77 percent use marijuana or marijuana and
another drug, he said. Marijuana used to be a rite-of-passage drug
for youths in their late teens. "It's now a middle school
rite-of-passage drug'' with children aged 12 or 13 and even younger,
"That's unacceptable. We don't need more
marijuana available to our children,'' he said. Burns also said
marijuana use still is illegal under federal law. There is "no safe
harbor'' for marijuana users even if voters approve it for medical
use, he said.
Information from the Office of National Drug
Control Policy shows that marijuana use among eighth-, 10th- and
12th-graders has been declining in recent years. "We are pushing
back,'' Burns said. He credited the declining use in part to parents
getting involved. The least deserving of credit for declining use
are those who support medical use of marijuana, Burns said.
And while marijuana is the most widely used
illicit drug, methamphetamine, used by an estimated 1.5 million of
the county's 19.5 million drug users, is a serious problem across
the country, he said. Meth is highly addictive and can be
manufactured in clandestine labs using commonly available
ingredients, like pseudoephedrine, which is found in
over-the-counter cold medication. "This is a bad drug,'' Burns
On a national level, Burns said, the United
States has clamped down on large shipments of pseudoephedrine from
Canada and is helping local communities through federal funding of
law enforcement programs like the High Intensity Drug Trafficking
Area. Yellowstone County and four other Montana counties are in the
Rocky Mountain HIDTA.
Law enforcement, prevention, education and
treatment are needed to fight meth use, he said. Communities have to
become involved and people have to intervene, he said. People are so
polite in this society they are reluctant to intervene. "If you want
to save someone's life, step in and intervene,'' he said.
By Bob Curley
Budget cuts and federal funding rules have put a number of states in
jeopardy of being penalized millions of dollars from their
all-important federal block grant allocations -- a double-whammy
that state officials say could seriously impair their ability to
provide addiction services.
Under the rules governing the $2-billion federal
Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block
Grant (SAPT), states are penalized if
they fail the keep addiction spending levels within three percent of
what they have spent, on average, during the previous two fiscal
years. For each dollar the state falls short of the block grant's
Maintenance of Effort (MOE) target, they risk losing a dollar of
The Massachusetts state budget for FY2003, for example, fell $9.1
million short of what the state spent over the previous two years,
meaning the state also could lose an additional $9.1 million in SAPT
block-grant funds. Texas faces a possible $10-million penalty for
FY2003 because of a budget recission ordered by the state
legislature. California officials, meanwhile, worry that they will
face MOE problems of their own if the state legislature does not
support renewal of the $120 million in treatment spending authorized
by voters under Proposition 36.
Designed to Protect
The MOE requirement was put into place to prevent states from
substituting federal money for state funds spent on addiction
services. Since all states receive a share of block grant funds, any
money withheld from those who fail to meet their MOE requirements
would be redistributed to the other states.
During the past two years, at least four states -- Massachusetts,
Iowa, Texas, and South Carolina -- have formally requested waivers
of the block-grant penalties from the Substance Abuse and Mental
Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Waivers can only be granted
if the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services
determines that the state has suffered "extraordinary economic
conditions," defined as a financial crisis in which state tax
revenues decline significantly and either unemployment rises or
In response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request submitted
by Join Together seeking all waiver requests submitted by states
within the past five years, SAMHSA provided documentation of waiver
requests submitted by South Carolina in September 2002 seeking
relief for the FY2002 block grant; by Massachusetts in December
2002, also seeking a waiver for FY02; and by Iowa in November 2003,
seeking a waiver for FY2003.
Subsequently, Join Together learned that the state of Texas also had
submitted a waiver request to SAMHSA for FY03, and that
Massachusetts is seeking a second waiver, for FY03, as well. Other
federal documents obtained by Join Together indicate that as many as
eight states have had their budgets cut to the point where their
federal block-grant dollars are in jeopardy.
Mark Weber, a spokesperson for SAMHSA, said the number of waiver
applications received by the agency "waxes and wanes" from year to
year, but said there "hasn't been a huge spike" in waiver requests
since 2001. Weber described "a handful" of states that have had MOE
difficulties, but SAMHSA would not provide Join Together with the
exact number of states that the agency has been communicating with
regarding budgetary and MOE issues.
"It certainly has been an issue in a number of states," said Paul
Samuels, director of the Legal Action Center, which provides legal
services and other support to groups like the State Associations of
Addiction Services, whose members rely on the block grant as a
primary funding source. "There have been a number of states that
have contemplated or implemented cuts to addiction services, and in
those cases MOE becomes a big issue."
SAMHSA's response to the waiver requests has been mixed: in April
2003, waivers were granted to South Carolina for an MOE shortfall of
$1.76 million and to Massachusetts for a $4.63 million shortfall,
and Iowa was granted a waiver for a $380,000 shortfall in January,
In its FY02 request, Massachusetts successfully argued that the
shortfall was due to "reduced revenue during this mild recession as
well as aftereffects following the events of Sept. 11, 2001," and
said that addiction services had not been singled out during
wide-ranging budget cuts. Similar arguments were made by South
Carolina and Iowa, and each state was able to demonstrate the
employment and tax-revenue declines required to qualify for a
However, SAMHSA denied the $10-million waiver request submitted by
Texas for FY03, and also has balked at a second waiver request from
Massachusetts, which is seeking a $9.1-million block-grant waiver
"We have every intention of enforcing the law as it is written,
while working with states that have raised issues [with MOE] on an
individual basis," SAMHSA spokesperson Mark Weber told Join
Together. "Our number-one goal is getting services to people in
need, but there's a law is in place that we need to adhere to."
Concept vs. Reality
In less-lean budgetary times, the MOE has often been a useful policy
tool for advocates and state agency directors, who could argue
against funding cuts by telling lawmakers that deep cuts would
trigger the federal penalties. Indeed, in the midst of its current
budget crisis, Massachusetts advocates were able to use the MOE as
leverage to win a $11.9-million special supplemental budget
appropriation for addiction services. However, while this funding
should prevent Massachusetts from having MOE issues in FY04, it
doesn't directly impact the state's FY03 waiver request.
"My experience over the past 20 years is that states can manage to
put the money into addiction programs, especially with MOE hanging
over their heads," said the Legal Action Center's Samuels. "Without
MOE, you really would risk losing money in a lot of states."
John Carnevale, president of Carnevale & Associates and a former
staffer with the federal Office of National Drug Control Policy,
said the MOE concept works as long as state budgets remain level or
increase. "It says to states, 'We're going to give you this money
and make sure that you keep up your end,' which makes perfect
sense," he said. "But when you have a downturn, all bets are off."
Critics say the MOE rules have proven inflexible in the face of
sharp and broad cuts in state spending because they only cause more
pain if states legitimately cannot come up with the money to meet
the MOE requirement in a given year. Also, when spending cuts occur
across the board, other constituencies and programs with their own
MOE requirements are affected, making it a less-powerful tool for
persuading lawmakers to back addiction services over others.
The block-grant MOE's two-year averaging rule also may have had the
unintended effect of punishing states that, prior to the recent
budget crises, had been increasing their spending for addiction
"It creates a disincentive for states to spend over their MOE target
levels, because they get penalized for a short-term economic
downturn," said Michael Botticelli, assistant commissioner for
substance-abuse services in the Massachusetts Department of Public
Ann Horn, deputy director of the department of administration in the
California Department of Health Services, agreed. "Legislators and
administrators have been unwilling to put extra money into substance
abuse because of the MOE requirement, not only in California but in
other states, as well," she said.
The 'MOE Bank'
Botticelli said members of the National Association of State Alcohol
and Drug Abuse Directors (NASADAD) have proposed to address the
problem by allowing states to establish an "MOE bank" that would
give states credit for spending above their MOE targets. "Every
dollar over the target amount would go into the savings account, so
that when states can't maintain their spending they can 'draw upon'
their account before they incur penalties," said Botticelli.
In appealing Massachusetts' FY03 waiver denial, Botticelli is asking
SAMHSA to take into account the state's' strong record of funding
addiction services during the past decade. Dave Wanser, deputy
commissioner for behavioral and community health in the Texas
Department of State Health Services, also is asking SAMHSA to
reconsider its denial of his waiver request, arguing that the budget
cuts have not significantly impacted the number of people getting
addiction services, and requesting that a five-percent funding match
required of Texas providers be included in the MOE calculation.
"I've always hated the MOE issue," said Janet Zwick, director of the
Iowa Division of Health Promotion, Prevention, and Addictive
Behaviors in the state Department of Public Health. "I think we have
numerous states with budget cuts, and I can't believe we won't have
many with MOE issues. I would like to see SAMHSA work with the
states to make sure they don't lose money."
Botticelli and other state directors describe SAMHSA officials as
generally willing to work with states to resolve the MOE crisis.
"They don't want to see states lose money," said Botticelli.
Weber said SAMHSA is "open to all reasonable options," adding,
"We're optimistic that we'll be able to work things out with the
states. That's why we have this appeals process in place."
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