August 2, 2001
Drug War Ultra-Hawk Confirmed as DEA Chief
Washington, DC: By a vote of 98 to 1, Senators overwhelmingly confirmed Arkansas Rep. Asa Hutchinson (R) to head the nation's $1.5 billion dollar Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Minnesota Sen. Mark Dayton (D) cast the lone dissenting vote, stating that he disagreed with Hutchinson's "do drugs, do time" philosophy as well as his refusal to support the legalization of medical marijuana.
Senator Hutchinson has "evidenced no understanding of the effect on our criminal justice and our penal system of draconian fixed sentencing for possession of small amounts of drugs," Dayton said.
As a Congressman, Hutchinson called for tougher penalties for drug users, coerced abstinence for addicts, and increased use of the military in overseas drug interdiction efforts, including "Plan Colombia." He opposed any use of marijuana as a medicine, even for research purposes, and endorsed legislation in 1999 that forbade Washington, DC from implementing an approved ballot initiative legalizing the drug. He further recommended Congress rewrite federal law to prohibit citizens from approving similar ballot initiatives elsewhere.
The three-time Congressman was a vocal critic of ex-President Bill Clinton's anti-drug strategies, lambasting the former administration's efforts to expand drug treatment and "reduce" drug abuse as a "decision to adopt the language of pessimism."
"Elimination (of drugs and drug use) - not containment - should be our goal," says Hutchinson. "We cannot win this war ... simply by putting money in demand reduction."
In recent weeks, Hutchinson has described the federal war on drugs as "a great crusade," and emphasized the need to continue vigorously enforcing criminal laws against drug users. "I am an advocate ... of a strong law enforcement presence ... in this great battle," he recently told cops at an anti-drug gathering. "It's the law enforcement side that ... creates this stigma of society on drug use. It sends the signal to our young people that this is not acceptable in our society."
"Hutchinson is a man addicted to the war on drugs," charged NORML Executive Director R. Keith Stroup. "He advocates the continued incarceration of non-violent drug offenders, regardless of the cost in wasted lives and resources."
For more information, please contact Keith Stroup, Executive Director of NORML, at (202) 483-5500.
Canada's Legal Pot Program Up and Running
Ottawa, Ontario: Nationwide regulations allowing patients to grow and use medicinal marijuana took effect Monday. Canada is the first nation in the world to ratify legislation licensing qualified patients to cultivate and possess medicinal pot.
NORML Executive Director R. Keith Stroup praised the law change, stating that it's bound to "have a favorable impact on U.S. medical marijuana policy."
Under the new law, terminally ill patients or those suffering from symptoms associated with a serious medical condition may apply for a federal license allowing them or their designated caregiver to possess up to a 30-day supply of marijuana. Non-terminal patients must possess the recommendation of a general practitioner and a medical specialist certifying that they have found all alternative therapies to be ineffective.
Guidelines for the program are available online from Health Canada.
For more information, please contact either Keith Stroup or Paul Armentano of NORML at (202) 483-5500.
Cops Destroy Native Americans' Hemp Plants
Crop Not Subject to Fed's Drug Laws, Sioux's Assert
Manderson, SD: Federal drug enforcement agents recently destroyed several acres of hemp growing on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, located in the southwest corner South Dakota. The seizure, which occurred Monday, was the second time in two years law enforcement officials have forcefully prohibited members of the Oglala Lakota Nation from cultivating hemp.
"This is a case of armed invaders entering a sovereign nation, chopping down an innocent farmer's crop, then fleeing back across the border," said South Dakota NORML President Bob Newland, who reported that criminal charges were not filed during the raid.
Lakota Nation tribal leaders had tried to persuade authorities to call off the raid, arguing that federal and state police had no legal authority to seize their plants. Oglala Sioux Tribe President John Yellow Bird Steele maintains that hemp cultivation is protected under provisions of the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868, which ratified the Lakota Indian Nations' right to grow food and fiber crops on tribal lands.
"The Controlled Substances Act of 1970 did not divest the Lakota People of our reserved right to plant and harvest whatever crops we deem beneficial to our reservation," Steele wrote in a July 18 letter to Michelle Tapken, U.S. Attorney for South Dakota. "Therefore we regard the enforcement of our hemp ordinance and prosecution of our marijuana laws as tribal matters to be handled by our Oglala Sioux Tribal Public Safety Law Enforcement Services."
The Lakota Nation passed an ordinance in 1998 permitting tribal members who are part of land use associations to cultivate hemp. The ordinance defines industrial hemp as Cannabis sativa plants containing less than one percent THC. The tribe intended to use this year's crop for fiberboard and other building materials.
For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, Executive Director of The NORML Foundation, at (202) 483-8751 or Bob Newland, South Dakota NORML President, at (605) 255-4032.
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