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Drug & Alcohol Headline Week in Review from MOMSTELL.COM

OCTOBER 31, 2004 Edition

 

1. GROWING DANGER: DRUGGED DRIVING
2.
COURT RESTORES DRUG COUNTS
3.
TAX THE DOPE TRADE, ALDERMAN SUGGESTS
4.
MILITARY RESISTS ANTI-DRUG ROLE
5.
BURGLAR GETS A THIRD CRACK AT LAWYER'S DRUG CHARGE
6.
RISE OF DRUG TRADE THREAT TO AFGHANISTAN'S SECURITY
7.
MCGREEVEY OKS NEEDLE EXCHANGES
8.
GOVERNMENTS URGED TO START PRISON NEEDLE EXCHANGES
9.
MDS BACK PRISON NEEDLE PROGRAMS
10.
DEALER CAN WRITE OFF STOLEN DRUG MONEY
11. HOPES RISE FROM ASSETS TIED TO DRUGS
12.
Skrepenak puts a price tag of $82 million on local impact
13. You Can Help Your Kids Stay Off Drugs

 
Hi,
 
There is a lot of news this week from around the country regarding illegal drugs! I have even included a cartoon that was sent to me regarding the push to legalizing marijuana in Alaska! 
 
With the funding need being so great, I wanted to alert you to the National Guard's Northeast Counterdrug Training Programs for grant writing. I know I tell you about these NCTC programs all the time because of the incredible free teaching they provide.  Here are two classes you can register for:  January 31- February  04, 2005  Volk Field, Wisconsin  --  May 2- 6, 2005 Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania
 
This is an excellent program and registration, room and board are all free.  These are 5 day ( 40 hour) classes designed for Law Enforcement Agents and individuals from Community Based Organizations, who are involved in the identification and preparation or execution of grant funding.  This practical grant writing course will provide the participants with the fundamental skills needed to research, develop, write and submit grant proposals. This course will cover the concepts of grant development, how to create the components of a grant, funding source research and identification, how to develop goals and objectives and an evaluation plan.  Trainer: Denise S. Schlegel DS Schlegel and Associates
 
I have taken these classes and they are great!  You can contact NCTC for more information or to register on line at www.counterdrug.org    Have a good week!
Sharon
Sharon L. Smith
President-MOMSTELL
Box 450
Mechanicsburg, Pa. 17055
www.momstell.com
 
USA TODAY  
GROWING DANGER: DRUGGED DRIVING
More than 1.5 million people were arrested in the USA last year for driving drunk. Police departments and public health specialists estimate that at least as many people drive under the influence of drugs each year and rarely are prosecuted for it.
 
Now, in an effort that is similar to the movement that began inspiring anti-drunken-driving laws a quarter-century ago, a growing number of government and law enforcement officials are pressing for laws that target drugged driving.
 
Congress, encouraged by White House anti-drug czar John Walters, is considering proposals that would use the lure of federal transportation money to push states to adopt what Sams wants in Ohio: "zero-tolerance" laws that would make it a crime for anyone to drive with any amount of illicit drugs in their system.
 
Only 11 states Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah and Wisconsin have such laws now. Nevada has a law that sets impairment guidelines for blood and urine testing for certain drugs, including marijuana, marijuana metabolites, heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine.
http://www.usatoday.com/printedition/news/20041022/1a_cover22.art.htm 
 
ALBANY TIMES UNION (NY)  
COURT RESTORES DRUG COUNTS
A mid-level appeals court rejected the notion Thursday that a formal laboratory analysis of drug evidence is required to establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, a move expected to reduce volume both at the state lab that does the tests and in criminal courts.
 
The Appellate Division of state Supreme Court opinion written by Justice Anthony Carpinello also said field testing and other evidence -- whether circumstantial, a confession or police testimony, for example, are sufficient to show readiness for trial.
 
 
This means prosecutors are no longer required to run evidence from every drug case through the State Police Forensic Laboratory within a strict six-month "speedy trial" window. They can instead opt for a full report on specific cases heading to trial.
http://www.timesunion.com/AspStories/storyprint.asp?StoryID=297445 
 
CHICAGO SUN TIMES  
TAX THE DOPE TRADE, ALDERMAN SUGGESTS
Just when you thought Mayor Daley's menu of tax increases included just about every item under the sun, a Northwest Side Alderman has another novel idea that's certain to raise eyebrows: slap cigarette-style tax stamps on narcotics
.
Ald. Ted Matlak (32nd) wants to make it perfectly clear that he is not in favor of legalizing marijuana or any other drugs. He simply wants the city to make money off the drug activity that does exist.
 
The precise cost of the narcotics tax stamps is still being researched. Matlak would only say that it would be levied against the buyer and the seller -- whoever is caught -- and that it would be based on the amount of drugs in that person's possession.
http://www.suntimes.com/output/news/cst-nws-drugs22.html 
 
WASHINGTON TIMES  
MILITARY RESISTS ANTI-DRUG ROLE
Advocates of a direct combat role for the U.S. military in counternarcotics in Afghanistan have lost their fight inside the Bush administration, according to military sources.
\For months, the Pentagon's counterdrug office and government allies have pressed top officers to OK a new role in Afghanistan: hitting opium labs and supply routes that are funding anti-coalition forces, including Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network.

But top officers have succeeded in repelling such arguments, saying drug-busting should largely remain a mission for law enforcement and that Afghan authorities should be trained to do the job. The U.S. military is, however, likely to take on a bigger role in assisting Afghan counternarcotics forces, the sources said.

The 18,000 American troops are already hard-pressed in Afghanistan, fighting insurgents along the Pakistani border, said one official.

"The attitude is, this is not a military mission; it's a law-enforcement mission," said the military source knowledgeable about the internal debate. This official said the White House could overrule the generals at some point, perhaps after the Nov. 2 election.
http://www.washingtontimes.com/functions/print.php?StoryID=20041025-104441-1273r 

THE RECORDER (CA)  
BURGLAR GETS A THIRD CRACK AT LAWYER'S DRUG CHARGE

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday announced that it would rehear for the third time a case involving a man who claims his burglary conviction is flawed because his trial court attorney faced drug charges by the same district attorney's office prosecuting his case.

The en banc order came two years after the California attorney general's office's 2002 request for it, and the case has a new twist.

A judge who sat on the original three-judge panel, Michael Daly Hawkins, has recused himself from being considered for the 11-judge rehearing.
http://www.law.com/jsp/printerfriendly.jsp?c=LawArticle&t=PrinterFriendlyArticle&cid=1098804614941 
 

USA TODAY
RISE OF DRUG TRADE THREAT TO AFGHANISTAN'S SECURITY
After decades of occupation and conflict, this nation is finally embracing democracy as returns from Afghanistan's first presidential election point to interim leader Hamid Karzai as the victor. But a competing power structure no Afghan voted for is lurking just off the political stage: a deeply rooted and ever-expanding opium industry.
 
Afghanistan is at once the world's newest democracy and its largest producer of heroin: This year, the country had a record opium crop. The narcotic feeds 95% of Europe's addiction and generates an estimated $30 billion in revenue. Most comes from street sales outside Afghanistan.
 
But even the $2.5 billion that stays in Afghanistan amounts to a third of its economy. The money corrupts government officials, who tolerate trafficking, and finances warlords and terror groups like the Taliban who encourage cultivation and elicit protection money from smugglers.
 
National and international leaders say an infant democracy and a narco-economy cannot co-exist here. One must gain leverage over the other.
http://www.usatoday.com/printedition/news/20041027/1a_cover27.art.htm
 
NEWARK STAR-LEDGER (NJ) 
MCGREEVEY OKS NEEDLE EXCHANGES
Declaring the spread of AIDS by injection drug use a "public health emergency," Gov. James E. McGreevey yesterday signed an executive order permitting three communities to operate needle-exchange programs.
 
With less than three weeks left before he resigns, McGreevey acted on a campaign promise to provide drug users access to clean syringes -- a controversial measure that has failed to win legislative support for more than a decade. A last-ditch effort to pass a bill allowing needle exchanges before McGreevey leaves office Nov. 15 stalled two weeks ago.
http://www.nj.com/printer/printer.ssf?/base/news-18/109885530866130.xml 
 

GLOBE AND MAIL (Canada)
GOVERNMENTS URGED TO START PRISON NEEDLE EXCHANGES
Federal and provincial governments were called on Wednesday to establish needle-exchange programs in Canadian prisons to combat escalating rates of HIV and hepatitis C among prisoners.
 
The Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network and the Ontario Medical Association (OMA) both spoke out on the issue, warning that the general population is being put at risk when prisoners infected with blood borne illnesses are released from jail.
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20041027.wprison1027/BNStory/National/
 
THE GLOBE AND MAIL
MDS BACK PRISON NEEDLE PROGRAMS

Rampant HIV and hepatitis C infection in Canadian prisons "constitute a clear and present health risk" -- not just to prisoners and the correctional officers who guard them, but also to ordinary law-abiding citizens on the outside.
 
So says the Ontario Medical Association, which represents the province's 23,000 physicians and which yesterday joined the chorus of voices demanding the establishment of needle-exchange programs in both federal and provincial jails.
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/ArticleNews/TPStory/LAC/20041028/NEEDLES28/TPHealth/
 
SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE
MEASURE WOULD SET STAGE FOR LEGAL POT
Oakland voters will have a chance Tuesday to set the groundwork for decriminalizing marijuana and making private, adult cannabis use the lowest enforcement priority for police.
 
Supporters say Measure Z will allow Oakland police to focus on fighting violent crime and reducing the homicide rate instead of on nonviolent marijuana offenses.
 
Opponents say the measure would weaken Oakland's ability to maintain peace in neighborhoods where young men often lose their lives over drug sales. Most of the 72 homicides recorded this year were drug-related, police said.
 
Beyond making pot enforcement the lowest police priority, Measure Z would require the city to lobby the state to legalize adult marijuana use and allow local government to tax the drug. If marijuana use ever becomes legal, Measure Z would require Oakland to develop a plan for licensing and taxing its sale, use and cultivation.
 
In a September poll commissioned by the measure's backers, 65 percent of 400 likely voters said they probably would vote for Measure Z, and 70 percent of respondents supported legalization.
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2004/10/27/BAGL39H2M41.DTL&type=printable
 
MISSOULIAN (MT)
MEDICAL MARIJUANA DEBATE A SMOKING ISSUE
How you feel about medical marijuana and the initiative to legalize it on the Montana ballot depends on where you sit.
 
Scott Brodie looks at it from his job as sergeant of the Missoula Police Department's drug unit and his eight years of drug-related law enforcement. Legalizing the medical use of marijuana will contribute to crime, set a bad example for youths, open the door to use of other drugs, create more drug addiction, cost the taxpayers money for more law enforcement - and it's just plain not necessary, he said.
 
Paul Befumo looks at it as the spokesman of the Medical Marijuana Policy Project of Montana, based in Missoula. It's just ridiculous to put sick people in prison - or have them live in fear of that - for using a medicine that works, with the help of their doctors, he recently told the Missoulian Editorial Board.
http://www.missoulian.com/articles/2004/10/27/news/mtregional/news08.prt 
 
YAHOO NEWS
DEALER CAN WRITE OFF STOLEN DRUG MONEY

An Australian court ruled Wednesday that a convicted heroin dealer can claim a 220,000 Australian dollar (US$165 million; euro 129 million) tax deduction for money that was stolen during a drug deal.
 
The Australian Taxation Office lost a bid in the High Court to overturn a lower court decision that Francesco Dominico La Rosa of Perth, the capital of Western Australia state, could write off the money as lost income.
 
The ATO had been trying to make La Rosa who served a 12-year jail term for dealing heroin and amphetamines pay tax on his 1994-95 income, which it estimated at A$450,000 (US$337,000; euro 263,000).
 
But La Rosa insisted his taxable income should be reduced because half that sum had been stolen.
http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=590&ncid=757&e=10&u=/ap/20041027/ap_on_re_
au_an/drug_tax_deduction
 

CHICAGO TRIBUNE 
HOPES RISE FROM ASSETS TIED TO DRUGS
Luis Francisco Sanchez looked on with glee as a family of hippopotami frolicked in a picturesque lake on this sprawling ranch once owned by notorious drug boss Pablo Escobar.

To Sanchez, the lumbering animals are more than a wonder of nature. The hippos could be the centerpiece of a new tourist site featuring bullfights, outdoor concerts, an equestrian center, a crime museum and other attractions.

It could bring prosperity to a lush region racked by poverty and violence.

Like Sanchez, officials across Colombia are hoping to score big with the ranches, apartments, hotels, businesses and other assets confiscated by the Colombian government from many of the world's richest and most violent drug traffickers.
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-0410290329oct29,1,4763594,print.story?coll=chi-
newsnationworld-hed
 
 
 

Skrepenak puts a price tag of $82 million on local impact

Posted on Sat, Oct. 23, 2004


jandes@leader.net

SUBSTANCE ABUSE

Luzerne County PA Commissioner Greg Skrepenak released some sobering numbers during a well-attended public drug forum Friday, estimating that $82.4 million is spent annually on county services associated with drug problems.

About $30.1 million are judicial costs, including district attorneys, district justices and the sheriff's office.

Another $39 million is invested in human service programs, including drug and alcohol ($5 million), mental health ($14 million) and Children and Youth ($20 million).

The final $13.3 million went to the prison system.

More than 200 area educators, drug and alcohol treatment professionals and parents of children with substance abuse problems attended the forum at Genetti Hotel & Convention Center. The forum was sponsored by Leadership Wilkes-Barre.

Skrepenak also announced statistics on the human cost of substance abuse:

  • Drug/alcohol-related deaths have increased from 18 in 1998 to 92 in 2002 - a 411 percent increase over four years.
     
  • Overdose deaths in Luzerne County and Lackawanna County average 50 per 100,000 population. In comparison, the average in Bronx, N.Y., is 18 per 100,000.
     
  • Roughly 1,200 men, women and children were abused in Luzerne County last year as the result of family drug and alcohol abuse. Drug and alcohol abuse by one or both parents led to the separation of 240 families in Luzerne County last year.

    Much of the forum emphasized the county's efforts to get its arms around the drug problem through the work of the new Luzerne County Drug and Alcohol Study Commission.

    The commission is focusing on ways to streamline and improve prevention, treatment and criminal justice programs dealing with drugs.

    One figure given by Skrepenak in particular highlighted the need for better prevention efforts: the average age for kids coming in contact with drugs here is 11.

    Jennifer Learn-Andes, a Times Leader staff writer, may be reached at 831-7333.

    http://www.timesleader.com/mld/timesleader/news/local/9991969.htm

    You Can Help Your Kids Stay Off Drugs
     
  •   Drug Test Your Teen has found a way for parents to take loving control. Drug test your teen in the privacy of your home. They offer inexpensive, accurate, FDA-approved drug, alcohol, and tobacco tests that are quick and easy to use.
  • (PRWEB) October 19, 2004 -- Spend five minutes and $15.00 or less to find out if your teenager is using drugs, alcohol, or tobacco. It really is that simple. You Can Help Your Kids Stay Off Drugs.
        
    If you are the parent of a teenager, you probably worry a lot, and for good reason. According to a government-sponsored study, in 2003, 38.4% of teens surveyed admitted to using illegal drugs, 62.7% to drinking alcohol, and 41.7% to smoking cigarettes.* Parents must deal with this difficult possibility.
        
    Drug Test Your Teen has found a way for parents to take loving control. Drug test your teen in the privacy of your home. They offer inexpensive, accurate, FDA-cleared drug, alcohol, and tobacco tests that are quick and easy to use.
        
    Drugtestyourteen.com is owned and run by the Hildreth family, mom Kim and her two teenaged daughters, Linzy and Delaney.
        
    Kim Hildreth was Director of Marketing & Client Relations for a lab in Dallas for nearly 20 years. In the 90's, before Linzy and Delaney were teenagers, she sold the same types of tests sold on their site, then only available to businesses, not for home use. "I was always having a nurse or office person ask for 'samples' because of a problem teenager," she says. "It drove me crazy back then that I couldn't offer them to parents. It seemed so logical. We had a huge problem back then with high school heroin deaths, and the parents around here were crazy with worry. After I left the lab, I still had a box of the tests that I started using when Linzy was about 14. Since then testing has been a regular, accepted deal at our house."
        
    Linzy Hildreth, 18, is President of drugtestyourteen.com. This web site was her idea. At 17, she was devastated when her best friend started using drugs heavily and spending time with a wild crowd. Their friendship ended. Meanwhile, she had seen drug abuse hurt other friends and acquaintances, and even knew kids who died as a direct result of drug and alcohol abuse. She wanted to offer parents the same drug tests that had helped her stay off drugs. Her mother loved the idea, and this web site was created.
        
    Delaney Hildreth, 16, brings an important perspective to this trio. She started using cigarettes, alcohol, and drugs at 12. Her mom had already started testing Linzy, but didn't think she needed to test young Delaney. "It took me months to catch on," says Kim. "I just never dreamed. I thought she was too young and innocent." But Kim did catch on and started testing Delaney as well. "Testing early for 'gateway drugs' is a great deterrent for young teens," says Delaney. "As a kid, I can tell you absolutely that the kids who smoke cigarettes lead you to the kids that drink, and the kids that drink lead you to the kids who do drugs." Delaney stopped using drugs at 14. "I will never use drugs again," she says.
        
    The three Hildreths are passionate about their message. They hope their site will give parents the tools they need to keep their kids away from cigarettes, alcohol, and drugs, because they know first-hand how dangerous those substances can be.
        
    Most would agree that no topic is more frightening to parents than teen drug abuse. Each year thousands of lives are lost or ruined by this nationwide epidemic. Linzy contends that when teens and pre-teens use drugs, they will usually deny it to their parents. On the other hand, the same parents who say they want to know everything going on in their kid's lives often avoid such subjects as teen sexual behavior, underage drinking and drug abuse- hoping these issues will simply ' go away'. The fact is- they don't- and putting on blinders to the problem never resolves it. Now that the technology is available for parents to get honest answers, she believes they should not be afraid to take advantage of it. Teens may object to being tested, saying that their parents don't "trust" them. This is understandable, but a teen that has overcome the peer pressure to use drugs should be proud and anxious to prove it to their parents. Executives, professional athletes, truck drivers, and policemen have to prove that they are drug-free. Why not teenagers? Fearing drugs and their effects on her friends inspired her to approach her laboratory professional mom with the idea of offering easily used and inexpensive drug, alcohol, and tobacco tests to parents of teens.
     
  • Linzy and Delaney are convinced that these tests give kids another reason to 'say no', one that their peers will understand. These tests are extremely accurate, FDA approved, and parents can see the results in just minutes. They are easily performed at home using a small amount of saliva or urine. With their home tests, there is no more wondering if your teens are drinking and driving. If a parent suspects alcohol use, they can know in just minutes by swabbing the inside of the mouth. The street drug test screens for THC (marijuana, pot, hash), Cocaine (coke, crack), Opiates (heroin, oxycontin, morphine, opium), Amphetamines (speed, uppers), Methamphetamines/mdma (ice, ecstasy, crank, crystal), and Benzodiazepines ( t-bars, valium, librium, xanax)- all of the common drugs of abuse today. Tests for nicotine are also available, so that you can know for sure that your kids aren't smoking cigarettes. Cigarettes and alcohol really are gateway drugs.
        
    When parents have drug tests in their home, it also opens the lines of communication, and helps parents and kids to start talking freely about the problem. Linzy and Delaney hope that everyone will make their household policy "NO DRUGS" and let their kids prove it. She believes testing is a better way than smelling their kids breath, checking their eyes, looking through their clothes, or listening in on their phone conversations. Parents won't have to sneakily invade their teen's privacy, because everything about drug testing puts the subject out in the open.
        
    Their company is called Drug Test Your Teen. Visit them on the web at www.drugtestyourteen.com, or call 214-797-TEST.
  • * Source: U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services, National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), Monitoring the Future Study

  • Exposing and Opposing George Soros
    By Cliff Kincaid | October 25, 2004

    Convicted in France of insider trading, Soros specializes in weakening or collapsing the currencies of entire nations for his own selfish interests.
    <<...OLE_Obj...>>

    How many times have we heard or read stories about Vice President Cheney's old firm, Halliburton? A public company with more than 100,000 employees, Halliburton had revenues of $13 billion in 2001. George Soros is a human Halliburton who will be in a position if John Kerry is elected president to pull the strings. He is reportedly worth $7.2 billion. But his role in buying the White House for John Kerry has received gentle coverage. Soros, we're told, is a "philanthropist" committed to "democracy." The Republican Party, by contrast, is run by fat cats and Big Business, such as those at Halliburton.

    The shocking truth is something else. Convicted in France of insider trading, Soros specializes in weakening or collapsing the currencies of entire nations for his own selfish interests. Other people suffer so he can get rich. But journalists don't want to examine the questionable means by which he achieved his wealth because they share his goal of electing Kerry and the Democrats.

    The charge we read in the press is that Halliburton gets government contracts and makes money from the Iraq war. Far less attention is paid to the fact that the company has lost 54 employees as a result of that war. Nobody in the press mentions that Soros profits from the Kosovo war, which he supported as a preemptive strike against Yugoslavia, because he now runs an investment fund that does business there.

    Despite his vision of an "open society," he operates an unregulated "hedge fund," open only to the super-rich, and is currently fighting a proposal from the Bush-appointed chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission to regulate and monitor these off-shore entities. House Speaker Dennis Hastert was right-no one really knows where his money comes from. But we do know that Soros invested in a drug-money-infested Colombian bank.

    All of this will be presented in our new report, The Hidden Soros Agenda: Drugs, Money, the Media, and Politics, which will be released at a Capitol Hill news conference on Thursday, October 28. Current and former officials, anti-drug activists, and other concerned Americans will come together for the purpose of exposing and opposing George Soros. His complex web of financial interests, companies and foundations makes Halliburton look like a Mom & Pop operation. On the same day, coincidentally, Soros will be giving a speech at the National Press Club.

    Soros has benefited from an enormous amount of favorable publicity. Even though he pays big bucks to advertise his opposition to the Bush policy of democracy-building in Iraq, reporters still describe him as someone with a reputation for building democracy abroad. In a recent article about his growing financial and political clout, the Washington Post sanitized him by claiming that Soros "funded efforts to reform campaign laws, decriminalize marijuana and change [the] criminal justice system." All of that is misleading, if not false. His "reform" of campaign laws left a loophole that will enable him to set a record "for the most money donated by an individual in an election cycle," to quote the Post itself. So where are the investigative stories into Soros, his money and his agenda?

    A key part of the Soros agenda-his "retreat and defeat" strategy in the war on drugs-has been carefully concealed from the American people during this campaign. The war on terrorism is front and center, to be sure, but the war on drugs is still of major concern to millions of Americans, especially parents fearful of the influence of Hollywood and the drug culture. Away from the scrutiny or even the notice of the establishment press, Soros has emerged as a counter-culture hero, having been labeled by the drug culture magazine "Heads" as the "Daddy Weedbucks" who will manipulate the policy of a Kerry administration to open the door to legalization of dangerous drugs. Bush has to be defeated, according to another drug-culture magazine, "High Times," because legalization of marijuana won't occur under his administration.

    We are never given the details about how the Soros desire to "change" the criminal-justice system entails letting criminals out of prison and letting people use and distribute drugs without fear of law enforcement.

    Soros has escaped scrutiny by making financial contributions to press groups, media watchdog organizations, and even groups supposedly dedicated to exposing election abuses. A large part of the liberal-left movement in this country is on the Soros payroll. The story is there to be told, much of it through an analysis of public records about the spending by Soros and his organizations and foundations.

    The press won't tell the people. But the public has a right to know. <http://www.aim.org/aim_column/2071_0_3_0_C/>

    McGreevey OKs needle exchanges
    Executive order targets spread of AIDS by intravenous drug use
    Wednesday, October 27, 2004
    BY SUSAN K. LIVIO AND MARYANN SPOTO
    Star-Ledger Staff

    Declaring the spread of AIDS by injection drug use a "public health emergency," Gov. James E. McGreevey yesterday signed an executive order permitting three communities to operate needle-exchange programs.

    With less than three weeks left before he resigns, McGreevey acted on a campaign promise to provide drug users access to clean syringes -- a controversial measure that has failed to win legislative support for more than a decade. A last-ditch effort to pass a bill allowing needle exchanges before McGreevey leaves office Nov. 15 stalled two weeks ago.

    "Today, there are New Jersey communities facing a public health crisis that cannot wait," McGreevey said during a news conference in Trenton. Citing government- backed studies showing a decrease of HIV in cities that permit syringe exchanges and sale, McGeevey added, "The evidence is incontrovertible, and we've resisted that evidence at a high cost."

    New Jersey has the fifth-highest HIV rate in the country, and more than half of its 64,219 HIV and AIDS cases can be linked to injection drug use. But New Jersey is one of two states that ban all forms of needle distribution and decriminalization, McGreevey said.

    McGreevey's decision surprised supporters and opponents of needle exchange, as well as Attorney General Peter Harvey, who had waged a legal fight against programs in Atlantic City and Camden and was not informed of the order until yesterday, according to a spokesman.

    A spokeswoman for Senate President Richard Codey (D- Essex), who will become acting governor after McGreevey resigns, could not say yesterday whether he would allow the order to stand.

    "He hasn't had a chance to look at it, but he intends to review it closely and wants to work with other legislative leaders," Codey's spokeswoman Kelley Heck said. "He understands it's a sensitive issue. He wants to give it the attention that it merits."

    Opponents who contend needle exchanges promote drug use and harm neighborhoods said they might wage a legal battle to block McGreevey's order.

    "Tragically, power politics has now been brought into this arena in an attempt to overcome bipartisan opposition to this legislation. (McGreevey is) making a farce out of the process," said John Tomicki, executive director with the League of American Families.

    Sen. Ronald Rice (D-Essex), the most vocal opponent of syringe exchange programs in the Legislature, blasted McGreevey for "his marked arrogance by dictating on high to urban residents who cry for relief from drug abuse."

    "The governor should use his last days of office to help push for increased funding for more treatment programs, education and prevention," said Rice, who is also Newark's deputy mayor.

    The order declares a "state of emergency" until Dec. 31, 2005, and empowers Health Commissioner Clifton R. Lacy to create rules for syringe exchange programs in three municipalities. If successful, the pilot program could be expanded. Lacy said the rules would be drawn up in the next several weeks to fast-track the program.

    The three communities will be chosen based on a high rate of HIV and a high rate attributed to injection drug use, Lacy said. Local officials also must pass an ordinance saying they want the program and demonstrate they can link participants to medical and mental health services, drug treatment, housing assistance and job counseling, according to the order.

    Atlantic City and Camden passed needle exchange ordinances in June, although a Superior Court judge in September deemed Atlantic City's ordinance invalid because it violates state law.

    "If it saves one life, then it's worth it," said Ron Cash, Atlantic City's Health and Human Services director. "This is the right thing to do right now."

    Rosanne Scotti, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance of New Jersey, said it is unclear which other cities will volunteer. Cities that have passed resolutions supporting changing state laws governing syringes include Jersey City, Newark and New Brunswick.

    Recent statistics show that among major metropolitan areas, Jersey City ranked first in the nation and Newark seventh in rate of increase in AIDS cases. Newark's HIV mortality rate in 2001 was the second highest of any city in the country.

    "Many of us in the state of New Jersey and across the country thought that we would never see the day where there would be legal access to sterile syringes to prevent the spread of deadly diseases," Scotti said.

    Members of the law enforcement community sharply criticized McGreevey's order.
    "We're against any needle exchange," said Ocean County Prosecutor Thomas Kelaher, chairman of the County Prosecutors' Association of New Jersey. "You don't try to solve one problem by creating another."

    Kelaher said McGreevey's order raises many questions -- chief among them what happens to the state law making possession of hypodermic needles without a prescription a crime. A person charged with possession of a hypodermic needle would be hard-pressed to argue in court that the governor gave them permission, Kelaher said.

    First Assistant Ocean County Prosecutor Terrence Farley said New Jersey has averaged 800 to 900 fatal drug overdoses annually for the past five years -- nearly half heroin-related, Farley said.

    Yesterday, reporters pressed McGreevey to explain how HIV rates among injection drug users is more of a public health crisis today than when he took office in 2002.

    "In the remaining days of office, I think it appropriate to focus on those issues which demand attention," McGreevey said. "At this juncture, I believe it's important to act, particularly where there are lives at stake."

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