Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas

Merry Xmas Friends,
On this Christmas take a minute to realize how great it is to be with your friends and families. Make sure you enjoy your break from work and school, and also that you celebrate responsibly.
But also take the time to remember all those that will not be spending time with their families this holiday season because they are pointlessly wasting away in prison cells... and your tax dollars are paying for it.

And never forget the drug war victims that will NEVER see their families again.

To help bring an end to this nonsense in time for next year's holiday season, donate to SSDP right here.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Drug Czar responsible for teen marijuana use?

The Drug Czar's propaganda ad budget and teen drug use have both declined over the past five years. Is there a connection? You decide.


John Gettman's 2006 Marijuana Production Report is out, showing that marijuana is America's Number 1 Cash Crop, bringing in about $35.8 billion untaxed buckaroos.

That money is coming from the 22 million pounds of marijuana cultivated right here in the U.S.A. in 2006.

Think about how little of that marijuana is actually seized by the government and you have proof staring you right in the face that marijuana prohibition fails.

To check out recent news coverage here's a google news search.

View the entire report right here in pdf.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Pissing Off John Walters.

Two School boards in Florida have rejected federal grants to start random student drug testing in the past month. Hernando and Citrus counties both rejected grants up to 317,000.
There was at least $183,289 in federal funding on the table Tuesday night, and perhaps much more. But a divided Hernando County School Board judged the price of taking that money - asking teenagers to submit to random urine tests for the presence of illegal drugs - was too high.

"I am going to join my two colleagues in opposition to this grant, to say thank you but no thank you," said board member Jim Malcolm, who voted with John Sweeney and Chairman Pat Fagan against the plan. "It's not a program; it's a study."

"It appears that a youngster walks the extra mile and involves themselves in sports or extracurricular activities, then they give up their right to privacy," he added.

Florida Detective Uses a Computer!

In Charlotte County, Florida, 17 year old student David Carol was arrested after setting up a marijuana deal with an undercover police officer on his Myspace page. Detective Thomas "Sherlock Holmes" Lewis came up with the idea that we can use computers to solve crimes. Brilliant.
"My kids were using, and when I went on the computer to see what they were doing on there ... I restricted their use of it, and I started using it myself," the detective said. "I think that if the criminals are going to use the computer to commit crimes, we're going to have to use the computer to solve crimes."

With the help of his 16- and 13-year-old daughters -- who "helped me learn the lingo," he said -- Lewis searched the site for local marijuana peddlers. He found "Dae-Dae," whose page "contained a text indicating that he would sell marijuana," a PGPD report said. Lewis contacted "Dae-Dae" via Myspace, and the two arranged to meet at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at a Shell gas station on Tamiami Trail to exchange 2 ounces of marijuana for $400.

[Carroll] was charged with possession of more than 20 grams of marijuana, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and possession of drug paraphernalia. Carroll was released to a parent's custody.

Pam Carroll, The Academy at Charlotte Technical Center student's mother, disapproved of the methods used by police in her son's case. "It's like entrapment," she said Wednesday. "What my son did was wrong, but what the officers did undercover was, too. It's like bribing these kids because it's right there -- it's easy money."
Sites like MySpace and Facebook really have exploded in popularity in the past three years, for all age groups. But it does seem that these sites are becoming of great importance to high school and middle school students, who sometime spend hours at a time looking up profiles and creating their own. And clearly its not to difficult to get them to meet up with complete strangers to sell pot.

Students should know that these Networking sites are not secure and the information we put onto them can now be accessible to anyone who wants it bad enough. This doesn't stop at police officers. You can expect employer's and even some colleges to be looking at your profiles when considering your admission. Look at some of the groups on these sites. Everything from drug use to fetishes are turned into somewhat fun, but more or less pointless advertisements of your personal life. This is information you probably don't want to be brought up during a job interview.

Now, I'm not saying I don't belong to any facebook groups, but I try to stray away from the "I Smoke Bluntz 24/7" and "I play Beer Pong till I Puke" type. My point, and I do have one, is that these Networking sites are useful and fun tools but now that Detective Lewis has finally figured out that computers can be used to arrest people for marijuana, students might want to be more careful about what we post for the world to see. I have little doubt that more extensive police searches of these pages will be occurring on a larger level in the next few years. Searching and grouping profiles with keywords like drugs, legalization, and SSDP......

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

White House endorses testing all students?

The Drug Czar's "blog" is touting the fact that a private Catholic school in Arizona is subjecting all its students to random drug testing (not just those who participate in extracurriculars).

Up until now, Congress has been very clear that federal money for student drug testing is only to be used for testing students that have elected to join afterschool activities.

Is this a signal that the White House is going to ask Congress to expand the scope of the federal drug testing grants to include all students (something the Supreme Court has not okayed)?

Monday, December 11, 2006

2 Million Drug Offenders...

If you have a Yahoo! account I suggest reading a recent article about America's skyrocketing prison population. Nothing most of us didn't already know but it is a well rounded article and gives the War on Drugs much credit for the world's largest prison population.

Make a comment on the discussion board. There are some very misguided individuals on there that need our input!
Drug offenders account for about 2 million of the 7 million in prison, on probation or parole, King said, adding that other countries often stress treatment instead of incarceration.

Julie Stewart, president of the group Families Against Mandatory Minimums, cited the Justice Department report and said drug offenders are clogging the U.S. justice system. "Why are so many people in prison? Blame mandatory sentencing laws and the record number of nonviolent drug offenders subject to them," she said.

The U.S. incarceration rate of 737 per 100,000 people in the highest, followed by 611 in Russia and 547 for St. Kitts and Nevis. In contrast, the incarceration rates in many Western industrial nations range around 100 per 100,000 people.
Great to see some input from FAMM.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

UMASS Fights Back

The Daily Collegian covered the recent changes in police presence on the UMASS Amherst Campus. It seems this college campus is trying to change their image as a "party school" the only way they know how: extreme enforcement of laws that already fail to achieve the desired results and slashing student's civil liberties.
The campus has a Cannabis Reform Coalition that is trying to put an end to this dangerous and misguided attempt at "decreasing the use of narcotics" and to change the "reputation UMass holds as a party school. SSDP needs to to help them out.
"Every time someone gets arrested, and this is happening much more frequently, they're immediately suspended for being an 'imminent threat to the community,' so you get the idea that these people are really violent, and that's not true," said Werner. "Pot smokers are less likely to be violent than alcohol users."

Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Michael Gargano explains, "Our students at UMass Amherst have encouraged the University to have more stringent and forceful policies. Our students have shared they do not want the raucous behavior associated with alcohol and substance abuse."
Can anyone see the hypocrisy here? Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Michael Gargano implies that he is doing this because it is what the students want. Then why has he cancelled, not one, but two meetings with the CRC to discuss issues like this and the Aid Elimination Penalty? That shows incompetence and ignorance in my opinion. The CRC is the oldest continuously-run student organization on campus and has over 200 members but Mr. Gargano has the audacity to cancel two meetings with them and then claim the police presence is supported by the students. One of those meetings was to include a petition signed by 1,600 students.

CRC Co-President, Jon Werner said "I honestly wasn't expecting him to change his policy when we met with him, but I was expecting him to at least defend his policy," says Werner. "I think he thinks we're an insignificant organization."

I feel it should be very clear that allowing, young, inexperienced, undercover police officers to roam the halls of a college dorm is not just unacceptable, it is dangerous. This doesn't stop at patrolling the halls, these officers are knocking on doors looking to create an issue. What is to stop a plain clothes male student from claiming he is an undercover cop to get access to a female student's room? Is it any more safe than the use of alcohol or marijuana for these officers to lie about who they are and what they are doing?

This is what we are consistently up against. People who cannot even defend their own actions or positions. Certainly not to the extent that us SSDPer's are able to. So much more can be said about and done with this. Get in touch with Micah Diagle to do more about this issue.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Oh, those were the days...

73 years ago today (December 5, 1933) alcohol prohibition in the U.S. was officially ended. Let us take a moment to reflect on the successful movement to end such a destructive policy, and to consider how our predecessors efforts might be instructive for our struggle today.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Happy Meth Awareness Day!

President Bush has issued a proclamation declaring today National Methamphetamine Awareness Day. Bill Piper at the Drug Policy Alliance has a piece asking some important questions, such as:
1) Why is the government pursuing a strategy towards methamphetamine that has been failing for 40 years?

2) Why do elected officials, law enforcement officers and the media continue to ignore science and repeat the myths that methamphetamine is uniquely addictive and people who use it are hooked for life?

3) What role does lack of access to health care play in meth-related problems?

4) How much of the meth problem is rooted in America’s “workaholic” culture?

5) Why are policymakers short-changing women?

6) Why are policymakers ignoring the growing public health threat posed by methamphetamine abuse?

7) What if the billions of dollars wasted each year incarcerating nonviolent drug offenders was invested in drug treatment instead?
Check out Bill's discussion of these issues here.

Monday, November 27, 2006

SSDP beats Drug Czar in Florida

The St. Petersburg Times reports that a school board in Inverness, Florida has rejected federal money from the Drug Czar for student drug testing, with some local parents saying the practice is "intrusive and a waste of taxpayers' dollars."

While I can't be sure that SSDP played a major role in the school board's decision, it does come just a month after I was quoted in an article by the same reporter about the school district considering taking the money.
A federally funded 2003 study by the University of Michigan found that student drug use did not decrease in schools where students were being randomly tested.

In fact, drug testing may have the opposite effect, according to a national grass roots organization in Washington, D.C., called Students for Sensible Drug Policy.

"We think it makes existing drug problems worse," said Tom Angell, the group's campaign director. "Requiring students to submit a urine sample definitely deters them from participating in extracurricular activities, which are supposed to help keep them away from drugs."
It's definitely a huge victory any time educators reject the Drug Czar and his harmful anti-youth policies, but we cannot stop fighting for the thousands of students around the country who still have to submit urine samples as a condition of participating in afterschool activities.

Learn more about student drug testing on SSDP's website.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Speck of Marijuana= 3 Month Suspension and Lawsuit for Ex-High School Student

In Fresno California, a student who was arrested for a "pin-head amount of marijuana, is suing his former school district, contending it has double standards when disciplining students.
When he got caught with a tiny amount of marijuana at Fowler High School, he was suspended for three months during the 2004-05 school year. When the daughter of a school board member came to school possessing drugs or alcohol, or was high on them, she was not disciplined, the civil complaint states.

Simonian appealed to the Fresno County Board of Education, which threw out his suspension. The board found that the "pin-head-sized speck" of marijuana stuck to the rubber liner of the glove compartment of his car was not a usable amount and not enough to convict the teen.

Simonian contends the ruling came too late. He said he suffered embarrassment, humiliation, anxiety and was banned from participating in school functions. He is suing the district for $500,000 in general and special damages.

The county Board of Education rejected the Fowler school board's decision because there was no evidence to suggest Simonian's behavior could not be corrected, the complaint says. The county board noted Simonian's achievements: an A student, favorable attendance and a participant in the school band and leadership classes.
We should all find it amazing how quick some educators are to remove a good student from education because of an unusable amount of marijuana. In fact, we should find it scary.

I am glad he had the guts to bring about a lawsuit for this type of "teachers pet" behavior from the administration. During my senior year of high school, an enraged parent brought pictures she had found while snooping through her son's room while he was out to our principle. The pictures included several students smoking marijuana off campus. One of the students, a close friend of mine, was removed from our senior class trip for the picture.

The kicker was that just days before this picture surfaced, a photo of our class president drinking a beer was on the desk of our class advisor who organized the class trip and laughed about it with other students. When I brought up the hypocrisy of this, I was confronted by teachers claiming I was "sabotaging the trip", repeating over and over that "there is a huge difference between smoking marijuana and having a beer." Since both actions are illegal, the only difference I could see was that marijuana is safer.
Hope this student gets every penny.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Just Say Know!

Apparently, planning a conference doesn't leave you with much time to blog about planning a conference. Or much time to do much else, for that matter...

So if you haven't heard, in less than one week, SSDP will be hosting its biggest conference ever at Georgetown University Law Center. I could spend time filling you in on all the details, or you could just check it out here.

Today, we got some exciting news that MSNBC's Bill Press has agreed to join The Chicago Tribune's Clarence Page for a midday plenary at the conference! You'll recognize Bill Press from CNN's Crossfire or MSNBC's Buchanan & Press. For a blast from the past, check out this Crossfire debate between DPA's Ethan Nadelmann (also an SSDP conference speaker) and John Ashcroft.

And if you are unfamiliar with Clarence Page, watch him produce a genuine Bill O'Reilly meltdown on the O'Reilly Factor.

Once you check out the updated conference schedule, I'm sure you'll want to be here. Luckily for you, it's not too late to register.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

More on the medical marijuana t-shirt confiscations

In the case of the two South Dakota high school students whose shirts displaying support for SD Initiated Measure 4 were confiscated by their principal, in my judgment the school district hasn't got a legal leg to stand on. I believe that these two students' constitutional right to free speech was restricted by their school administration, and I hope that the courts rule this way and remedy the injustice that was done.

The Supreme Court ruled in 1969 in Tinker v. Des Moines that public schools may make no prohibitions on the expression of student opinion unless that expression "materially disrupts classwork or involves substantial disorder or invasion of the rights of others." Moreover, the school must be able to demonstrate that the prohibition itself "is necessary to avoid substantial interference with school discipline or the rights of others" (emphasis mine). The curtailment of speech that happened in South Dakota simply don't pass either of the tests.

In my (admittedly lay) opinion, the ban on clothing depicting drug-related images ought to be lifted. Even if the district administration does have a sincere concern for ensuring that their students don't get the message that teen drug use is OK, not all depictions of drugs do advocate their use by the students. The t-shirts in question are a perfect example that "depiction = advocacy" isn't necessarily always the case. But a better example would be the drug education materials and D.A.R.E. presentations that are often accompanied by pictures and even samples for students to view up-close. Does the principal or the district consider these materials and presentations to be advocating drug use as well? The district's concern that all depictions of drugs necessarily advocate their use is not justified, and not even internally consistent.

The students' t-shirts, if anything, ought to enjoy the greatest First Amendment protection possible. They are political speech and, of all the different types of speech that the Constitution protects, political speech is the one that lies closest to the very heart of our democracy. The only grounds on which I could envision a court ruling against the students would be if it found that the pictures of marijuana leaves simply didn't constitute speech. But given the context (t-shirts with messages favoring the passage of an initiative to regulate marijuana for medical use), it hardly seems plausible to me that the courts could deny that the shirts--pictures and all--constituted speech. After all, if the principal weren't concerned that the display of the images were communicating something, she never would have confiscated the shirts in the first place.

There are no legal grounds on which the school district ought to prevail in this case, should any of the aggreived parties decide to take it to court. If that happens, though, it should be a fun case to watch. If it makes its way all the way to the Supreme Court, it'll be an interesting test of what the court with its current makeup thinks of Tinker. Here's hoping that justice prevails.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Medical Marijuana Shirts Confiscated at SD High-School

Thanks to Pete @ Drug War Rant for this one.
South Dakota: Two Steven High School seniors who wore t-shirts to school advocating the passage of Initiated Measure 4, the medical marijuana ballot issue, SAY their rights to political free speech were violated when the school principal confiscated the shirts, which were decorated with the image of a marijuana leaf. Get the story here.
David Valenzuela, 17, and Chris Fuentes, 18, were told by a Stevens security guard to remove the shirts as they entered their first period class Oct. 20. Principal Katie Bray confiscated the shirts a short time later.

Rapid City superintendent of schools Peter Wharton said Thursday the incident was a violation of school policy, not political rights. School policy forbids clothing that displays images of alcohol, drugs or tobacco products on school grounds.

This fall, numerous SHS students have worn t-shirts with an image of a human fetus and the message “Save a Life, Vote Yes on Referred Law 6.” “We had been seeing all these abortion shirts at school, and we thought, OK, I guess we can get political,” Valenzuela said of his decision to wear the shirt to school. Valenzuela’s green, tie-dyed shirt features a white, stylized image of a marijuana leaf, along with the hand-lettered message, “Vote Yes on Initiated Measure 4.”

Valenzuela and Fuentes say they will take Wharton up on his invitation to continue their medical marijuana t-shirt campaign, sans image, in the days leading up to Tuesday’s election.
In my high school the same thing would have happened. However, I think that if the shirts had siad "Vote No on Initiated Measuere 4" and had an image of a pot leaf with a big red "X" over it, there would not have been an issue (just my opinion). The same could be said for anti-tobacco, alcohol, or other drugs put on a T-shirt.

Still there needs to be the argument of why not allow students to wear a shirt that is clearly not supporting the use of marijuana in general, but instead a specific ballot issue? This is a way to get students involved in the political process and if anything they should be applauded for their efforts. Besides, a hemp leaf is always nicer to look at than a fetus. ( Not just my opinion).

But hey, look at the bright side, maybe this school just helped us get two more SSDP members!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

UMD Resolution Fails in RHA

The UMD SSDP chapter is hard at work again. This time helping to bring a resolution to reduce marijuana penalties on campus. Unfortunately the resolution was not passed but I can't see how that would slow down this SSDP chapter.
Under the current policy, first-time offenders are hit with an automatic suspension, loss of on-campus housing and a mandatory two-year enrollment in a substance-abuse prevention program.

Under the RHA's proposed changes, authored by RHA Vice President Sumner Handy, these students would have only received a citation and a warning. Additionally, Resident Assistants would no longer be trained to call police in the event that they suspected use or possession of the drug.

Lockwood said despite the results of last spring's referendum - a public opinion poll in which 65 percent of 4,376 participants voted in favor of reducing discipline imposed on marijuana users - the RHA lacked credible evidence to show student support of the resolution.

The SSDP proposal, which will appear before the University Senate before the end of the semester, aims to change the wording in the Code of Student Conduct where the first-time possession of the drug is currently listed as an "aggravated offense," lumping it with other penalties that include hate crimes, arson and sexual assault.
Possession of marijuana is an "aggravated offense?" Thats news to me. Whats aggravating is that students are unfairly punished and have their academics negatively impacted in a way that marijuana use alone could never achieve. Stacia Cosner and friends rock.

Monday, October 30, 2006

The ball is in Congress's court - Act now!

I'm outraged to announce that on Friday, a federal judge granted the Bush administration's motion to dismiss Students for Sensible Drug Policy's lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the law that strips financial aid from college students with drug convictions.

Now, more than ever, it's time to pressure Congress to do its job and overturn the unfair and harmful penalty that has prevented nearly 200,000 would-be students from getting their lives back on track. We've made it easy for you to send a message to your legislators with just a few clicks.

Even though the judge didn't rule that the penalty is unconstitutional, he did agree with us that it "results in some inequality." For now, the ball is in Congress's court.

While it's unfortunate that students harmed by this penalty won't yet have our day in court, we will soon be heard in the halls of Congress. On November 17, hundreds of SSDP members will take our concerns directly to lawmakers' doorsteps when we gather in Washington, DC for our national lobby day and conference. To follow up on the letters you send, we'll be asking members of Congress to support H.R. 1184, the Removing Impediments to Students' Education (RISE) Act, which already has 71 co-sponsors and would overturn the harmful penalty.

We're currently consulting with our dedicated attorneys at the ACLU Drug Law Reform Project and will decide shortly if we'll be appealing the ruling. You can find out more about the lawsuit here.

In the meantime, please contact your legislators today and tell them to do the right thing by repealing this penalty.


Heres what Laura A. Green, Executive Director of the Drug Policy Forum of Kansas had to say about SSDP in an October 27th OpEd in the Fort Hayes State University Paper:
To date, nearly 200,000 students have been denied or had their federal loans, grants and work-study delayed because of the HEA Aid Elimination Penalty.

Until early in 2006, this penalty was applied to any drug conviction a person had received whether or not they were in school when the offense occurred. Due to the efforts of the organization Students for Sensible Drug Policy (, who worked with Congress to scale back the law, now only people who are convicted while in college and receiving financial aid can have their eligibility taken away.

Fortunately, there are students who are continuing to educate fellow students and challenge the government’s drug control policies. Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) argue “statistics and common sense tell us it doesn’t make sense to pull students out of school if we want to reduce drug abuse and encourage young people to become successful citizens. The Aid Elimination Policy of the Higher Education Act obstructs the path to education. It perverts the Act’s important, noble intentions.”

I urge students to get involved in SSDP — an international grassroots network of students who are concerned about the impact drug abuse has on our communities, but who also know that the War on Drugs is failing their generation and our society.

Thanks for letting students know what SSDP is all about. Hopefully this letter, titled Students for Sensible Drug Policy Wanted, will spark the formation of a new SSDP Chapter at Fort Hayes State University.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Souder's hometown paper endorses the other guy

The Ft. Wayne Journal Gazette has endorsed for election to the U.S. House of Representatives the challenger to Rep. Mark Souder, the harshest drug warrior in Congress. In announcing its support for Tom Hayhurst, the Democrat in the race, the editorial board cited Souder's idiotic HEA Aid Elimination Penalty and the particularly devastating impact it has on his own state of Indiana (as reveled in a report released earlier this year by SSDP).
Despite 12 years in Congress, Souder, 56, has yet to earn a committee chairmanship. The issues he has chosen to emphasize, such as reversing a local decision to ban assault weapons in Washington, D.C., and preserving lighthouses, have done little to help the nation or his district. And some of Souder’s other efforts, such as his bill prohibiting college students with drug convictions from getting financial aid, have hurt Hoosiers. Indiana leads the nation in the rate of college students denied federal aid because of the law. Hayhurst is the better choice for voters of the 3rd District.
Without Souder around, it will be much easier for us to get rid of the unfair and harmful penalty next Congress. We'll see what happens...

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Up next... cigarette prohibition?

The Drug Policy Alliance recently commissioned a Zogby poll, asking if Americans would support prohibiting tobacco over the next five to ten years.

The results are absolutely terrifying. 45% of Americans agree that we should make tobacco illegal.

The news gets worse. Among Americans aged 18 - 29, support for tobacco prohibition is at 57%!

That's our generation, folks.

Watch DPA's Ethan Nadelmann explain why tobacco prohibition is a very bad idea:

You might say, "Why worry? The tobacco companies are too powerful to ever allow this to happen!" You might be right. But that's not the point.

The point is that we, the generation raised on D.A.R.E. style misinformation and scare tactics, have an obligation to show our peers that prohibiting potentially dangerous substances does nothing to protect us from those substances. History has shown us that it never has, and common sense tells us that it never will. In fact, it only makes the problem much worse.

But if young people are the constituency that supports tobacco prohibition more than anyone else (7% more than evangelical Christians!), then we need to work harder, folks. I'm proud that my generation has been so successful at giving up cigarettes, but holy smokes... there's no need to throw the Marlboro Man in jail!

If you'd like to get involved in the fight to turn back the destructive tide of prohibitionism, while meeting drug policy gurus like Ethan Nadelmann, register for SSDP's conference today!

Everything Seems Fine With My Head in The Sand

The New York Times put out a piece today discussing the horrific amount of murders, torture, and kidnapping that is associated with drug Mexican drug cartels. With atrocious levels of violence, Mexican cartels are attacking the Judges, policeman, and citizens in a campaign terror unseen outside of Baghdad. For once, the drugs were not blamed as the cause of the violence. No story about killers doped on whatever drug it is that government windbags espouse as being linked to violence this generation, but rather a story of how the drug trade is to blame.

As much as I am disparaged that the piece by Mr. McKinley fails to question why no one has thought of looking for a solution to this violence, I applaud it for putting the facts out there plainly for all to see, even if it may have been unintentional. The black market of drugs causes violence and death that would not be associated with a regulated market! How often do you hear about Miller vs. Budweiser battles being fought with automatic weapons? When was the last time that Bayer® tortured Glaxo Smith Klien® employees over rights to sell arthritis medicine to a certain hospital? Why do we support this kind of horrible pain and suffering by keeping all drugs illegal?

The most interesting point in the article was this quote:

Mexico’s law enforcement officials maintain that the violence is a sign that they have made progress dismantling the major organized crime families in the country. The arrests of several drug cartel leaders and their top lieutenants have set off a violent struggle among second-rank mobsters for trade routes, federal prosecutors say. The old order has been fractured, and the remaining drug dealers are killing one another or making new alliances.

“These alliances are happening because none of the organizations can control, on its own, the territory it used to control, and that speaks to the crisis that they are in,” said José Luis Santiago Vasconcelos, the top federal prosecutor for organized crime.

So what you are telling me is that every time you destabilize a cartel all you are going to do is increase the violence associated with the drug trade, and yet you are going to continue to plod along this poorly planned path? By turning 10 large organizations into 100 smaller organizations, you just made your job more difficult if not impossible. At what point do you raise your head out of the sand and ask yourself, “Is there a better way to solve this problem?”.

Drugs can be bad. The pain and suffering of drug addiction is reaped onto everyone who loves the addict. However, we must never forget that concentrated pain of prohibition does nothing to ease the pain of addiction, and may in fact make it worse by forcing the addict into the criminal justice system instead of treatment.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Playing politics with students' rights

The Nation online covered Congress's hasty passage of the so-called "Student and Teacher Safety Act."

The article does a great job questioning the Republican leadership's true motivations behind fast-tracking the bill (it completely skipped the committee process and was passed on the House floor by a voice vote of 20 or so members).
Other critics go further, claiming that Davis was desperate for a legislative victory to court voters in his district, where opinion polls have him locked in a statistical dead-heat with Lucas. "[Davis] clearly wants a piece of legislation that lets him say that he stands for school safety," says Mary Kusler, assistant director of government relations for the American Association of School Administrators. "This is typical in an election year--we see legislation passed with fancy titles that isn't substantial policy."

Perhaps just as typically, Democrats and other opponents have charged Republicans with hypocrisy on school safety. Not only does Davis's bill put at stake the very money schools use to keep students and teachers safe, Congressional Republicans also cut those same funds by 20 percent--more than $90 million--in the 2006 fiscal year and are proposing cutting another $36 million this year. In a bizarre budgetary twist President Bush is proposing eliminating the funding for Safe and Drug-Free School Grants altogether in 2007, while Davis's bill calls for any noncompliant schools to lose this funding after 2008. So if Bush and his allies get their way, Davis's legislation would end up threatening school districts with the loss of nonexistent funds. To date, Davis appears to have made no public statement opposing Bush's proposal.

The Congressman's mind may be elsewhere, however. Made up largely of affluent Cincinnati suburbs, his district in Kentucky is considered the most staunchly Republican in the state. But Davis's controversial attacks on Democrats, his ties to disgraced Republican Congressmen and the nationwide impact of the Mark Foley scandal have made the single-term incumbent one of the most vulnerable Republicans in the House.

In November of last year Davis sparked outrage when he accused liberals and Democrats of siding with Al Qaeda. Responding to Congressman John Murtha's call for withdrawal from Iraq, Davis declared: "[Al Qaeda's leaders] have brought the battlefield to the halls of Congress. And, frankly, the liberal leadership have put politics ahead of sound fiscal and national security policy. And what they have done is cooperated with our enemies and are emboldening our enemies." Inspired by the ensuing backlash, the national Democratic Party recruited Lucas--a former three-term incumbent who beat Davis in 2002 but declined to run in 2004--to take on his successor.

Democrats have also seized on Davis's campaign funds as an election issue. Aided by appearances from both President Bush and First Lady Laura Bush, Davis has a significant lead in fundraising, but contributions to his campaign include a $10,000 donation from the Americans for a Republican Majority Political Action Committee (ARMPAC), once led by recently ousted House majority leader Tom DeLay, who is under indictment in Texas for violation of campaign finance laws. Davis also received donations from former Republican Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham, convicted of mail and wire fraud and conspiracy to commit bribery for taking money and gifts from defense contractors, and Congressman Bob Ney, convicted of conspiracy and making false statements in relation to the Jack Abramoff corruption scandal. Unlike many other Representatives, Davis has chosen not to give back the money.

The worst part about all of this, though, is that House Democrats allowed the Republican leadership to get away with giving Rep. Davis an easy legislative victory on a voice vote. Not one Democrat requested a roll call vote to get members of Congress on record about this bill, even though in doing so they could have likely defeated it since shady legislative fast-tracking required the bill to have a 2/3 majority to pass.

I'm sure the Democrats will be sorry if Rep. Davis wins reelection on November 7 by touting this victory as evidence that he can get things done in Congress. And they'll be extra sorry if they fail to take control of the House by just one seat. They could have stopped they bill and Rep. Davis's victory lap, but they didn't.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Taliban + Marijuana + Canadian Army = Hilarity

I am not in the military, nor have I ever been, but I imagine that the field manuals do not advise trying to burn down a pot field if you enemy is hiding in it. Well apparently the Canadian Army skipped that day of field exercises because when encountered with what described as a ‘forest’ of marijuana in Afghanistan, that is exactly what they tried.

The Taliban fighters were using the dense thicket of plants for cover, so the troops were forced to eliminate the weedy threat.

"The challenge is that marijuana plants absorb energy and heat very readily. It's very difficult to penetrate with thermal devices ... and as a result you really have to be careful that the Taliban don't dodge in and out of those marijuana forests," General Rick Hillier said in a speech in Ottawa.

"A couple of brown plants on the edges of some of those (forests) did catch on fire. But a section of soldiers that was downwind from that had some ill effects and decided that was probably not the right course of action," Hiller said.

Sometimes you just have to scratch your head and wonder? Best part... They failed to burn down the 'forest' of plants. Seriously? You couldnt light marijuana on fire?

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Cops Shoot Family Cat. Wait, Two Cops Shoot Family Cat.

Okay. I am aware that this has nothing to do with drug policy but with the recent shooting of a family dog in Schenectady for a $60 pot bust, maybe there is a trend going on with police killing family pets.

CHANNAHON, Illinois: After a neighbor called 911 about a stray cat in her yard ( a bit of an over reaction if you ask me) two police officers decided the cat had rabies, took it to a field where they shot it to death, and left the remains there.
Dean and Cheryl Campbell's cat is missing, and they think they know what happened to it.

"It was completely mishandled," Dean said. "Why would you leave a cat you thought had rabies dead in a field for other animals to eat the carcass and spread rabies throughout Channahon?"

Dean and Cheryl said the story they were told stinks. Their cat did not have rabies, they said. He was an indoor cat and was never exposed to the virus.

The ASPCA will begin training Channahon police officers on humane and appropriate methods of handling animals. The department will also require new officers to receive the training, Cook said.

Currently, when Channahon police officers capture a loose pet, local veterinarians will take the pet and call a humane society, which will take the pet away.
Sometimes I wish there were higher educational requirements for becoming a police officer. If police can't even follow the rules and use common sense when dealing with a cat that "might have rabies", how can we expect them to handle complex situations involving drugs?

Rest in Peace Jefferey the cat from Channahon.
SSDP loves you.

An update on the story is here: Commission gets cat-shooting case

Evo Morales on No Fly List

Evo Morales, president of Bolivia, has recently been added to the No Fly List. Read the article here. It also includes a dead Nazi sympathizer, international dignitaries like Nabih Berri, the head of the Lebanese parliament who recently met with Condoleezza Rice, and is making travel tough for some unlucky Americans named Robert Johnson.

"I mean, do you think that the president of Bolivia's gonna highjack an airplane?" Kroft asks Bucella.

"I don't know if what you're talking about is true 'cause I haven't had an opportunity to take a look at it. And quite frankly, I'm not sure if that is accurate," she replies.

It would certainly seem to be. The Evo Morales on the No Fly List has three variations of his name listed along with a date of birth, all matching the president of Bolivia.

The names on the list are Evo Morales, Juan Evo Morales Aima and Evo Morales Ayma, all born on Oct. 26, 1959.

It also has created enormous frustration and aggravation for thousands of innocent travelers who have the misfortune of sharing a name with someone on the list and some of the names are among the most common in America. Like Gary Smith, John Williams or Robert Johnson. 60 Minutes found 12 of them and brought them to New York for an interview.
Well, its clear that when Evo isn't busy trying to stop the exploitation of his country's natural resources, legalizing coca cultivation, or putting an end to the aerial spraying of herbicide over Bolivia, he is making time to become a threat to US aviation security. Or maybe that is why we want him to be viewed as a threat...

Monday, October 16, 2006

Survey says: Stop testing us

High School junior Dylan Currie was recently given a "Golden Pen Award" by The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette for writing a letter to the editor slamming the use of anonymous surveys to justify random student drug testing.

Dylan writes:
In middle and high school, the anonymous drug surveys given to students are seen as a joke. Not only do kids say they have done drugs that they have not heard of, they fill in the corresponding bubble saying they used cocaine more than 50 times a week as a sixth-grader. Until now, these drug surveys have shown ridiculous numbers of drug users in the district resulting from the anonymity of the test.

After the random drug testing was implemented, however, everything changed. Middle and high school students began to see that these surveys, while still anonymous, were finally being used for something: numbers to verify the need for drug testing.

Drug testing is not the Holy Grail to preventing drug use. It has actually done very little to stop drug use in the district (only 1.9 percent of tested students tested positive). The huge decline in drug and alcohol use in these surveys can be attributed to the clever students seeing that if they are honest, federal grants will not continue to be poured into the district for drug testing and the program will not be renewed by the school board at the end of the 2008-09 school year.

If Dylan is right, and he very well may be, students are now answering truthfully about their drug use, in hopes that the administrators reading the surveys will stop collecting their urine for testing.

I've contacted Dylan about getting involved with SSDP at his school, which ironically sits in the district represented by Rep. Mark Souder, the most ardent drug warrior in Congress. I've got my fingers crossed for a new SSDP chapter that can follow Souder around the district and ask him about his ridiculous drug policy positions every time he makes a public appearance.

Thanks for the tip, Pete.

Saturday, October 14, 2006


Drug Sense Weekly's letter of the week goes right along with Kris' debate about home drug testing on Fox News. The letter is by Charley Jensen and heres some of what he has to say about Calvina Fay and school drug testing in Florida:

Calvina Fay is the executive director of Drug Free America Foundation and operated a company that sold test kits to businesses and agencies. Anything she says has to be weighed against the potential economic conflict of interest she represents.

Are the citizens of Hernando County aware of Fay's economic interest in selling drug detection kits to the county?

Finally, it is true that more than half of all graduating seniors have experimented to some degree with some form of illegal substances, usually marijuana, and we cannot as a society afford to make them all into criminals with records and forced vacations in gray-bar hotels, where they become marked for life and unable to become fully functioning members of society.

What Fay and Tellone propose is foolish, counterproductive and, most important, contrary to what I like to think of as "The American Way".

Hmmm. That last line sounds like something Ben Franklin would have said.

Saturday, September 30, 2006


SSDP's Kris Krane on Fox News:

If you appreciate SSDP's work to spread our anti-Drug War message through major media outlets, please make a donation today! We don't sell drug testing kits to keep our organization afloat, but instead rely on contributions from supporters like you. Please make the most generous donation you can afford today. No gift is too small (or too large)!

If the YouTube version above isn't working, you can also view the video here.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Record number of members of Congress support repeal of Aid Elimination Penalty

Just two weeks ago, Rep. William Lacy Clay (D-MO), signed on as a co-sponsor of the Removing Impediments to Students' Education (RISE) Act, which would fully repeal the law that strips financial aid from college students with drug convictions.

This brings the co-sponsor list of H.R. 1184 to 71 members of Congress, the most that have ever signed on to the bill.

Although we're getting close to the end of this congressional session, it's not too late to contact your legislators and tell them to overturn this counterproductive and unfair penalty.

And it's worth noting that Rep. Clay signed on to the bill only after Bailey Hirschburg, one of our activists from the University of Missouri-Columbia, approached him at a public event and spoke about how this penalty negatively impacts students.

We're making a difference, one legislator at a time. Contact yours now!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Holy cow

For your amusement, I offer up the following New York Times news brief, in its entirety and without comment:
World Briefing | Europe

Poland: How to Calm a Cow

Published: September 23, 2006

A woman in western Lobez who grew marijuana to calm the nerves of her cow has been charged with cultivating a narcotic. The cow had been “skittish and unruly” — once breaking someone’s arm — until someone suggested mixing marijuana in with the feed, the woman told the police. The plants, grown from seeds bought at a market, reached nearly three yards tall, and the cow, the woman said, “became as calm as a lamb.”

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The police state: Defending you from peeing pooches and tired tykes

If Radley Balko updates Overkill (his white paper on botched paramilitary police raids), this one is sure to make the cut:
SCHENECTADY -- A police strike team raided a woman's Prospect Street apartment and handcuffed her children and killed her dog early Tuesday in a $60 pot bust.


Woodyear said she is appalled about the way her children were treated -- and said her 12-year-old daughter was hit with pepper spray.

The dog, a pit bull terrier named Precious, urinated on the floor in fear and tried to run from the police before it was killed, Woodyear said.

Police said the animal was aggressive and left them no choice but to shoot.

Elijah Bradley said he awoke to find armed men in his home. "They had the shotgun in my face," the 11-year-old said. "I punched at him. I didn't know who he was."
All for a $60 bag of pot. I think this spokesperson from the NAACP said it best:
"That seems like an awful lot of firepower for marijuana," said Fred Clark of the Schenectady chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. "That's like spending $125,000 for $5."
I would say it's like swatting a fly with a cruise missile.

A half-asleep, urinating fly.

(Thanks to SSDP alum Adam Scavone for the heads up on this one.)

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

House approves school searches, but the fight continues

Thanks for taking action! SSDP needs your help now more than ever.


I would to thank all of you who took the time this week to write and call your your members of Congress in opposition to the so-called “Student and Teacher Safety Act of 2006.” Unfortunately, despite an overwhelming response from SSDP supporters and our allies, the bill passed the House of Representatives last night by a voice vote.

While we are disappointed that the House passed such a reckless bill, we are grateful to the thousands of you who took action to defeat it. In the past four days, SSDP supporters generated thousands of letters and phone calls to Congress. We were confident that the bill would have been defeated if a recorded vote were taken. Unfortunately, no member of Congress called for a roll call vote after the voice vote by just 25 or so representatives in attendance.

Fortunately, this bill has not yet become law. To do so, the Senate would still have to pass a companion bill before the end of the legislative session, and we will be working hard to ensure that this does not happen. Will you please consider making a financial contribution to help SSDP’s legislative efforts today? Please visit if you are able to give anything at all.

Despite being unable to stop the House from passing this bill, SSDP supporters responded to our call to action in unprecedented fashion. SSDP supporters sent more than 3,600 letters to Congress in opposition to this bill. That's more than have taken action on any single piece of legislation in our organization's history. SSDP chapters across the country responded to our call to action by setting up phone banks on their campuses, sending action alerts to their listserves, and spreading our alerts through cyberspace using Facebook and MySpace.

With only four days of lead-time before the vote, we were able to mobilize supporters like never before. I hope you will consider visiting to make a contribution to SSDP today to ensure that we are able to respond even more effectively in the future.

While House members were not forced to go on record on the important issue of students rights’ and privacy last night, many members did take noble stances against the bill. Representatives George Miller (D-CA), Danny Davis (D-IL), and Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) all gave speeches on the House floor opposing HR 5295. Rep. Woolsey made a passionate speech, vowing, "We will stop any new program that would label all youth as guilty!" In a letter to an SSDP supporter, Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA) wrote:

“As a former teacher and principal, as well as a member of the Democratic Task Force on Education, I believe it is crucial to make schools as safe as possible for our children. However, I believe this can be done without invading the rights of our students.”

In addition to support from these courageous members of Congress, the National PTA, the American Federation of Teachers, the American Association of School Administrators, and the National School Boards Association all issued statements opposing this legislation.

SSDP will continue to keep you informed if a companion bill comes before the Senate. I hope you will consider making a contribution to SSDP today so that we can continue to fight back against harmful attacks on students’ rights in the future.

Please visit today if you can afford any contribution – large or small.

Thank you for your support.


Kris Krane
Executive Director
Students for Sensible Drug Policy

P.S. Please befriend SSDP on MySpace and put us in your top 8 friends. Our profile is at

To receive timely action alerts like this one directly in your inbox, please enter your e-mail address below...

This is your brain on YouTube

Amidst Congress's attempt to invade young people's lockers, bookbags, and pockets (the school search bill is today, so it's your last chance to send an email to your congresscritter, kids!), the Office of National Drug Policy is using more weasel-like methods in their attempt to invade young people's hearts and minds.

Yes, they've jumped on the viral video bandwagon and uploaded their ridiculous anti-drug ads to YouTube. They really are suckers for punishment...

From the Associated Press:
The decision to distribute public service announcements and other videos over YouTube represents the first concerted effort by the U.S. government to influence customers of the popular service, which shows more than 100 million videos per day.


"If just one teen sees this and decides illegal drug use is not the path for them, it will be a success," said Rafael Lemaitre, a spokesman for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.
I guess Rafael doesn't read the news. Those of us who have our eyes open know that these ads are an abject failure, and actually increase teen drug use.
"Welcome to the great experiment," said Lee Rainie, director of the Pew Internet & American Life Project. He predicted computer-savvy critics of U.S. drug policies will quickly edit the government's videos to produce parodies and distribute those on YouTube. "This seems pretty new and pretty adventurous."
Thanks for the challenge, Lee. I've already made some parody print ads and videos, but these YouTube videos will make lampooning this bloated government agency a whole lot easier. While you wait for my next parody, click here to help us take away the ONDCP's budget for these ineffective ads.

Place a call to oppose the school search bill!

Please call the Congressional Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and give them your address to be connected to your House member’s office.


"My name is [your name] and I live in [your city]. I'm calling to urge [the congressman/the congresswoman] to vote against the deceptively named 'Student and Teacher Safety Act' when it comes to the floor this week. The bill would allow schools and police to invasively search large groups of innocent students based on the mere suspicion that just one of them has drugs. This bill is opposed by the PTA, the American Association of School Administrators, and the National School Boards Association. I hope [the congressman/the congresswoman] will respect young people’s dignity by voting against H.R. 5295. Thank you."


School search bill in the news

There's still time (but not much) to take action - Congress votes today!

Bloomberg Newswire covered SSDP's opposition to the school search bill.
"We should not have another federal mandate passed on to local school districts for them to comply with,'' said Mary Kusler, assistant director for government relations at the American Association of School Administrators, one of the groups opposing the measure. She said the bill seems to be the result of lawmakers seeking "a good election-year issue."


The measure could face a vote in the full House as early as tomorrow, following a decision by Republican leaders to bypass the usual process of a committee vote. That move was designed to help Davis in a close re-election fight against Ken Lucas, said Kusler and Tom Angell, campaigns director at Students for Sensible Drug Policy, a Washington-based advocacy group.
Please contact Congress RIGHT NOW to help us stop this atrocious bill from becoming law. We can't do it without your help!

Monday, September 18, 2006

School Search Bill Update

If you haven't heard, Congress is trying to pull a Drug War fast one on students by passing sweeping legislation that would coerce schools into allowing for large-scale searches of students. But it's not just students who are speaking up against this attack on the Constitution. A congressional office just forwarded us letters from the National PTA, the American Federation of Teachers, the American Association of School Administrators (AASA) and the National School Boards Association (NSBA), both expressing strong opposition to the school search bill. Here are some tasty excerpts:
National PTA:
"If we are serious about protecting students and teachers, we must provide ways for schools to address the foundation of these problems, not simply allow teachers the relatively unbridled authority to search a student under the veil of school safety."

American Federation of Teachers:
"...teachers are not trained or prepared to make determinations about when searches are 'reasonable and permissible.' This is a role more appropriately conducted by administrators, to whom teachers can report their concerns and suspicions. Finally, it is counterproductive to jeopardize the very federal funds intended to help districts keep schools safe and drug-free."

American Association of School Administrators:
“This is not the time for Congress to act like a local school board by creating policies and mandates beyond their jurisdiction. Schools need to focus on the requirements that have already been handed down from Washington. Now is not the time to be adding more.”

National School Boards Association:
“…this legislation does not do anything to create a more positive learning environment. Worse, H.R. 5295 could mislead school personnel into violating the constitutional rights of students in the errant belief that, as long as their actions conform with the Congress’s general description of “reasonableness,” they must be permissible.”
If school boards and administrators are taking action against this offensive peice of legislation, why don't you? Click here to send a letter to your rep today!

[Here's a link to NSBA's letter. The full text of the AFT, AASA and PTA letters are not yet available.]

Vote on school searches bill tomorrow!!!

Take action now!!!! Send a letter to Congress today!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 18, 2006
CONTACT: Tom Angell – (202) 293-4414 or tom//at//

Congress to Vote on Expanding School Drug Searches

Controversial Bill Skips Committee, Goes Directly to Floor

WASHINGTON, DC – The leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives on
Tuesday will bring to the floor a bill allowing school officials and
police greater authority to search public school students for drugs.
Despite the bill’s controversial nature, House leaders are skipping the
committee deliberation process and are bringing the bill directly to the
floor in an attempt to give its sponsor, Rep. Geoff Davis (R-KY), a
victory to tout during his difficult reelection bid this November.

“It’s offensive that Congress is playing politics with students’
dignity,” said Kris Krane, executive director of Students for Sensible
Drug Policy. “We’re tired of having our constitutional rights trampled
on by the War on Drugs. We demand drug policies that respect and
protect us.”

The bill, “The Student and Teacher Safety Act of 2006,” H.R. 5295, would
allow schools to search groups of dozens of hundreds of students on the
mere suspicion that just one of them has drugs. Similar justification
allowed police officers to storm a high school in Goose Creek, SC, in
2003, forcing dozens of students to the ground and pointing loaded guns
directly at their faces during a widely-criticized raid in which no
drugs were found. The school’s principal resigned, and the school
district and the police department paid over one million dollars in a
lawsuit settlement this July.

Because of the House leadership’s legislative maneuvering, only 1/3 of
House members present need to vote against the bill to defeat it.

In addition to granting schools the ability to carry out expanded drug
searches on administrators’ impulses, the bill mandates that school
districts specifically adopt written policies allowing such searches,
under threat of losing federal anti-drug funding.

The original version of the bill invented a new looser class of evidence
required to justify searches, called “colorable suspicion,” but due to
SSDP’s lobbying efforts to date, the language has been scaled back to
stricter “reasonable suspicion” in the version that will be voted on
this week.

More information about the bill, as well as video of the 2003 Goose
Creek raid, is available on SSDP's blog.

Students for Sensible Drug Policy is an international grassroots network
of students who are concerned about the impact drug abuse has on our
communities, but who also know that the War on Drugs is failing our
generation and our society. SSDP mobilizes and empowers young people to
participate in the political process, pushing for sensible policies to
achieve a safer and more just future, while fighting back against
counterproductive Drug War policies, particularly those that directly
harm students and youth.

# # #

That's my boss...

From what I hear, the Boston Freedom Rally was a great success (with the exception of 53 drug busts!). SSDP's executive director, Kris Krane, riled up the crowd, while Franklin Pierce College SSDP members, Jimi Devine and Jon Perri, worked the table (and probably the ladies).

Left to right: Jimi Devine, Kris Krane, Jon Perri

Amazingly, we still don't have any chapters in Beantown. So who's gonna start one?...

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Take Action NOW: Stop School Drug Searches

Click here to send a letter to Congress, urging them to reject the school search bill.

I've got good news and bad news.

The good news is that when Students for Sensible Drug Policy asked you to take action against the deceptively named "Student and Teacher Safety Act of 2006," our supporters came through in a big way. 1,646 of you sent letters to Congress demanding that students' constitutional right to privacy be protected from the expansion of locker and backpack searches in middle and high schools.

Legislators took note of your overwhelming response and scaled back some of the bill’s scariest language. Now, instead of inventing a whole new looser justification for student searches ("colorable suspicion"), the bill requires stricter "reasonable suspicion."

But the bad news is that the new broadly worded bill would still allow school officials to search dozens or even hundreds of students based on the mere suspicion that one student brought drugs to school. This kind of justification allowed police officers to storm a high school in Goose Creek, SC, in 2003, forcing dozens of students to the ground and pointing guns directly at their faces during a misguided raid in which no drugs were found.

And the news gets worse: The bill could come to a vote on the House floor as soon as this week! To help us stop this bill in its tracks, please send a letter to your member of Congress right now by visiting

The sponsor of the new offensive school searches bill, Rep. Geoff Davis (R-KY), is facing a tough reelection battle this November and has convinced the House leadership to take up the bill so he can tell his constituents he’s done something in Washington, DC. Congressional leaders are circumventing the democratic process and are bringing this bill directly to the House floor, completely skipping committee debate and approval. The silver lining is that because of this procedural move, the bill needs a 2/3 vote in order to pass, so we have a real chance to stop it – but we can only do so if you take action immediately.

We expect a vote as soon as Tuesday or Wednesday of this week, so we need you to take action now to stop this bill in its tracks and make sure there’s never another horrific incident like the one in Goose Creek.

Please send a letter to your member of Congress right away by visiting

If you have an extra two minutes, please call your member of Congress and ask him or her to vote against the school searches bill when it comes to the House floor this week. If you don't know who your House representative is, simply call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and give them your address. They'll connect you directly with your representative's office. When you get a staffer on the phone, politely say something like:

"My name is [your name] and I live in [your city]. I'm calling to urge [the congressman/the congresswoman] to vote against the deceptively named 'Student and Teacher Safety Act' when it comes to the floor this week. The bill would allow schools and police to invasively search large groups of innocent students based on the mere suspicion that just one of them has drugs. I hope [the congressman/the congresswoman] will respect young people’s dignity by voting against H.R. 5295. Thank you."

When you're done, please forward this alert to your friends and family. Without your help, we won’t be able to ensure that there are no more Goose Creeks.

And if you can afford it, please consider making a financial contribution – large or small – to SSDP's efforts to beat back the government's Drug War attacks on young people at

Thanks for continuing to support SSDP. We'll continue to keep you informed about our efforts to foster drug policies that respect and protect young people.

Kris Krane
Executive Director
Students for Sensible Drug Policy

To receive timely action alerts like this one directly in your inbox, please enter your e-mail address below...

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

"Why, Post 9-11, Are Dems Still Fighting the Drug War?"

That's what Maia Szalavitz at the Huffington Post would like to know. And so would I.

(Although I wouldn't be so quick to bash Public Citizen, since they did defend SSDP pro-bono in our successful lawsuit against the Dept. of Education).

Thursday, September 07, 2006

War on Drugs, or War on Youth?

(Cross-posted at Bring it On! Thanks for the invitation, Joe.)

"We do what we do to protect the children," is a common refrain by those fighting the War on Drugs. But in reality, the government's punitive prohibitionist policies actually put young people at greater risk of succumbing to drug abuse or falling into cycles of recidivism and failure (not to mention the harms associated with being arrested and sent to jail).

Those of us who grew up during the escalation of the War on Drugs and Nancy Reagan's "Just Say No" campaign know first-hand the absurdity and harmfulness of these policies.

The $40 billion spent every year on the Drug War and the resulting budget crunch means that while politicians are happy to keep building new supermax prisons, our generation is filtered through old dilapidated schools. And while we're there, we get fed misinformation and scare tactics through the D.A.R.E. program, which has not only been shown to be ineffective, but can actually cause some teens to use more drugs.

And during the school day, more and more high- and middle-school students are being subjected to random suspicionless drug testing. President Bush wants to spend $15 million on testing students' pee next year, despite the results of the largest study ever done on the topic, which looked at 76,000 students at 722 schools around the country and found no difference in drug use rates at schools that test and those that don't.

When they come home from school, teens are bombarded with millions of dollars worth of government propaganda ads on TV. Some of the ads claim that using marijuana supports terrorism, and causes people to shoot their friends in the face, run over little girls on bikes, and become pregnant. Not surprisingly, young people find these ads to be laughable at best and offensive at worst. Even Congress's own auditors recently found that, like the D.A.R.E. program, these ads not only don't work but can cause teens to have increased pro-drug attitudes.

Those of us who are lucky enough to survive high school and get to college are at risk of losing our student aid and being forced to drop out over something as simple as getting caught with one marijuana cigarette. Under a 1998 amendment to the Higher Education Act, any student with any drug conviction is automatically stripped of their financial aid. It's not hard to see that kicking students out of school leads to more, not less, drug abuse. And the penalty doesn't just hurt the students it directly impacts - it has harmful implications for society as a whole. College graduates are much more likely to become successful taxpaying citizens, while those who are kicked out of college are more likely to abuse drugs, become costly drains on the criminal justice system, and to rely on government assistance programs.

But the generation raised on "Just Say No" and D.A.R.E. isn't sitting back idly and accepting the government's Drug War attacks on youth; we're actively fighting back. Students for Sensible Drug Policy and other groups are coming together to "Just Say Know" and push for policies that actually respect and protect young people. We won't allow this harmful and ineffective war to be waged in our names any longer.

Tom Angell is campaigns director of Students for Sensible Drug Policy and is a blogger on DARE Generation Diary.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Ganja brownies and a gat, Mr. Mayor?

You may be familiar with Dan Savage, especially if the word "Santorum" conjours up images of a frothy love mixture, rather than a distinguished U.S. Senator. (If it conjours images of both, you should probably go wash your brain out with soap.)

Well, Savage recently outdid himself. In response to an idiotic prohibitionist proposal by Seattle's mayor, Savage went into the lions den and came out laughing.
If the mayor's proposed regulations are adopted, club owners would be required to prevent patrons from carrying drugs into their place of business—prevent. Not attempt to prevent, not do their best to prevent, but prevent—period, full stop. If drugs are found on someone inside a club, the club would be shut down.


Reading the proposed new regulations I wondered if the same rules applied at City Hall. The mayor was asking club owners to "prevent" people from entering nightclubs with drugs—okay, fine. But if the city expects a club owner to keep his place of business drug-free, surely we can expect the same of the mayor himself. So I decided to conduct a little experiment: I would attempt to enter City Hall with drugs. If I got inside, I would use drugs in City Hall. If I used drugs in City Hall, I would offer drugs to other people in City Hall.
And, yes, the crazy sonuvabitch pulled it off!
I offered pot cookies to everyone in the office.

"I have a bunch in my bag," I slurred. "Really good ones. Want one?"

They all laughed, but it was clear that they didn't doubt that I had drugs on me and in me. I was obviously stoned—lingering in Bichsel's doorway for what seemed like hours for no real reason, keeping up with the banter but a beat or two behind. I offered everyone pot cookies a second time. More laughs.
Now, of course, SSDP does not encourage folks to walk around a government building stoned out of their gourd carrying a box of contraband and a threatening-looking gun replica (yes, he brought in a fake gun too). Clearly, Mr. Savage's exploits probably would not have been nearly as successful had he not had a press pass and celebrity status.

Still... he makes a hilarious point.

Read more about his hijinx here.

Drug warriors agree their ads are laughable

Jacob Sullum at Reason's Hit & Run spots a press release from the Partnership for a Drug-Free America actually touting the fact that their famous "this is your brain on drugs" ad has been widely spoofed since it first aired in 1987.
The “Fried Egg” TV message was so popular that it was satirized and spoofed on T-shirts, records labels, posters, and even on Saturday Night Live.
Note to PDFA: when everyone finds your ad about a serious issue like teen drug abuse to be nothing more than laughable, you've failed.

Drug warriors: Making reformers' jobs easy since (at least) 1987.

Ken Starr Seeks Supreme Court Review of "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" Case

Ken Starr, the former special prosecutor who helped bring us the Clinton impeachment, has filed a petition before the Supreme Court seeking reversal of an appeals court decision that upheld a high school student's constitutional right to display a "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" banner during a school authorized activity. Starr, an admitted "Starbucks addict" who does not have any "serious hobbies that really engage me," has taken the case pro bono on behalf of top-20 law firm Kirkland & Ellis, where Starr is of counsel.

The dispute began in January 2002. The Olympic Torch relay was making its way through Juneau, Alaska and the powers that be at Juneau-Douglas High School decided to release students from school to watch the historic event. A handful of lunatic troublemakers skipped school and waited across the street until the television cameras came by, at which point they unfurled a 20-foot long banner emblazoned with, oh yes, "Bong Hits 4 Jesus."

As Starr explains in his Supreme Court petition: "'Bong' is a slang term for drug paraphernalia commonly used for smoking marijuana. A 'bong hit' is slang for inhaling marijuana from such a device. The term 'bong hits' is widely understood by high school students and others as referring to smoking marijuana."

If the Supreme Court does accept review of the case, it would have broad implications for students' free speech rights generally, but especially with respect to drug policy issues. "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" was just a prank, but Starr's petition urges the Court to give school administrators a great deal of discretion in silencing drug policy discussion in schools: "In view of the devastating impact illegal drug use has both on students and the learning environment, schools should be afforded significant latitude in discouraging substance abuse. Part of maintaining a drug-free environment is ensuring that students are not confronted with inconsistent messages, particularly while school is in session."

The Ninth Circuit decision in favor of the student is here and the Petition before the Supreme Court is here.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Advertising failure

Quick. Walk to your nearest news stand before USA Today sells out. You've GOT to see this.
Page A4 and A5, USA Today (8/29/06)
Click for a larger image

Today, USA Today ran a story entitled, "Anti-drug advertising campaign a failure, GAO report says," which exposes the fact that the ad campaign actually INCREASES the chances of teen drug use. On the opposing page, they ran one of the very same ads. How apropos!

The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) is having a bad month. First, a senate subcommittee recommended cutting their paychecks, citing "lethargy" and "unresponsiveness" resulting in an "unnecessary waste of time and energy." Then, on Friday, the Government Accountabilty Office released a report on the ONDCP's anti-drug propaganda campaign, which finds “no evidence of a positive outcome” and “significant unfavorable effects,” including that “greater exposure to the campaign was associated with weaker anti-drug norms and increases in the perceptions that others use marijuana.” (And this is not to mention the "biting" anti-drug ad parody featuring footage from "Snakes on a Plane," which hit YouTube last week.)

And today, USA Today poured salt on the wound.

The ONDCP spent over $100,000 in taxpayer money - that's YOUR money - to place this full page ad in USA Today... only to have the nearby article rip its credibility to shreds. Of course, this begs the question: How could USA Today justify taking hundreds of thousands taxpayer dollars to run an ad that they know will increase teen drug use?

Perhaps the folks in USA Today's advertising department saw a similar jab at the ONDCP that appeared in a popular music magazine called "Notes on the Scene" this summer. Now, I wonder who made that mock ad...

Action: Click here to help ensure that the government stops wasting YOUR MONEY on these counterproductive ads.