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Giuliani's Cocaine Connection

This post is a little more sympathetic than the title might seem to suggest. One of the big news stories today was the indictment of Rudy Giuliani's now-former South Carolina campaign chairman Thomas Ravenel, the state's now-suspended Treasurer, on federal cocaine distribution charges. Drug policy academic Mark Kleiman points out that Ravenel does not appear to have been a drug dealer:
The other guy indicted in the case seems to be the dealer. Ravenel seems to have been one of his customers, who bought cocaine in quantity to share with friends. Under federal law, there's no crime of selling drugs; the crime is "distribution," which includes giving the stuff away.
(Talking Points Memo, linking to Kleiman, observes that Ravenel would have been buying for "what was probably going to be a pretty big bash".) Ravenel should be considered innocent until proven guilty, of course, and Kleiman points out what I think is a pretty good reason why:
The most likely scenario here: The state cops nailed the dealer (he was already in custody on state charges when the indictment was handed up yesterday), and the dealer gave them a prominent customer in order to buy himself some consideration at sentencing time.
As a legalizer, I have to have some sympathy for anyone caught up in the drug war's headlights. Still, Ravenel was a political official at the highest levels in a state that has some real "tough on drugs" policies in place. Unless he was actively involved in working for serious drug policy reform -- and I'm not aware that he was -- and assuming the accusations made against him are accurate, there's a hypocrisy angle here. Furthermore, the candidate he was involved in trying to elect as president, Rudy Giuliani, is a drug warrior who increased arrests in New York when he was mayor, who tried to shut down methadone maintenance in the city, and who opposes needle exchange and medical marijuana. It's especially hypocritical for a drug user to chair a state campaign for a drug warrior trying to be president, who would presumably continue to be a drug warrior if elected president. Then again, maybe Ravenel intended to quietly lobby Giuliani to shift his views/policies on drugs. I tend to doubt it, but I don't know the guy so I can't say for sure. As for Giuliani, did he have no idea about his friend's (alleged) drug proclivities, or no one who could inform him about them? I've heard from a knowledgeable source that when Giuliani was the US Attorney in New York, the safest place to sell drugs was in front of City Hall. Bottom line: If you're a top-level state official, it's probably not a good idea to organize all-out (all night?) cocaine fests. But if you are in the habit of organizing cocaine fests, speak out against the war on drugs too, so at least people won't think you're a hypocrite if you get caught. Actually, speak out against the drug war in any case. (This blog post was published by StoptheDrugWar.org's lobbying arm, the Drug Reform Coordination Network, which also shares the cost of maintaining this web site. DRCNet Foundation takes no positions on candidates for public office, in compliance with section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and does not pay for reporting that could be interpreted or misinterpreted as doing so.)
Location: 
SC
United States

DPA Press Release: Governor Rell Ignores Will of Voters and Legislators and Vetoes Medical Marijuana Bill

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 19, 2007 CONTACT: Lorenzo Jones, T: (860) 270-9586 or Gabriel Sayegh, T: (646) 335-2264 Governor Rell Vetoes Medical Marijuana Bill, Changing Her Reasons for Opposition to Issue Yet Again Compassionate Use Bill Would Have Protected Patients With Debilitating Illnesses From Arrest, Prosecution Patients, Community Members Ask: Governor Rell, As a Cancer Survivor, How Do You Sleep At Night While Patients In Our State Continue to Be Criminalized for Seeking Relief? HARTFORD, CT—Today, Governor M. Jodi Rell vetoed HB 6715, the Compassionate Use Act. The bill would have allowed certain patients with debilitating illnesses to use marijuana for medical purposes as recommended by their physician. The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 23-13 after clearing the House of Representatives by an 89-58 vote weeks earlier, both of which were wide margins. By passing HB 6715, the Legislature ended a five-year legislative battle to win medical marijuana in a state that has overwhelming public support for the issue. A 2004 University of Connecticut poll found that 83 percent of Connecticut residents support the medical use of marijuana. Dozens of community organizations, including the CT Nurses Association, support allowing patients to access medical marijuana when recommended by their physician. “I am just 32 years old and yet due to my medical condition I feel as if, at times, I am 92,” said Joshua Warren, a patient in Wilton, CT, who suffers from chronic neurological Lyme disease. “I did not ask for this condition nor would I wish any of my pain and other symptoms on anyone else. If Gov. Rell had any compassion for people like me who are suffering with horrible pain and other debilitating illnesses, she would have signed this bill.” After the bill’s passage, patients, doctors, family members and advocates mounted a massive letter and phone call campaign urging the Governor to sign the bill. The Governor was receiving hundreds of phone calls and letters every day in support of medical marijuana, including from medical, legal, and health experts from across the country. “The Governor’s veto message shows that she’s grasping for straws,” said Lorenzo Jones, executive director of A Better Way Foundation. “She said previously that she’d support the bill if it was only for terminally ill patients, because clearly other treatments are not sufficient. Now she says she’s vetoing the bill because it’s still illegal under federal law, even though over 99% of all marijuana arrests are under state law. She has been so evasive on this that it makes one wonder if she hasn’t gotten a call from Washington. Is she taking the advice from the worst administration in history over the demands of 83% of Connecticut residents?” Thousands of Connecticut residents live with crippling pain, are suffering with cancer and HIV/AIDS, or other debilitating ailments. HB 6715 would have allowed Connecticut residents with certain debilitating medical conditions to cultivate and use marijuana for medical purposes when recommended by a practicing physician. “It’s unconscionable that Rell would ignore all the science to veto this bill,” said Gabriel Sayegh, project director at the Drug Policy Alliance. “The medical efficacy of marijuana is unassailable pain and suffering and are, as a result of this veto, still considered criminals?” Currently, there are 12 states with medical marijuana laws. New Mexico passed its medical marijuana bill in March. Last month, the Rhode Island legislature voted to make their state law permanent, and last week Vermont’s legislature voted to expand their medical marijuana law. Other medical marijuana bills are currently under consideration in New Jersey, New York and Alabama. Dawn Fuller Ball, President of A Better Way Foundation said, “In Governor Rell’s veto letter, she admits that the current legal pharmacology alternatives to medical marijuana are insufficient and that the State law enacted in 1981 is unworkable, yet the Governor continues to choose politics over patients.” Background Info: Governor Rell is Saying NO to Medical Marijuana When Connecticut Says YES: - CT's voters voted YES (83% approval rating in polls from UCONN polls to media polls) - Five Separate Legislative Committees voted YES - The House of Representatives voted YES (89-58) - The Senate voted YES (23-13) - This is a Republican sponsored bill (By some of most respected Republicans in the House and Senate) - The Black and Latino Caucus supports this bill (The President and Treasurer met with Rell's staff) - Faith Based Institutions voted YES (National and local pastors and Bishops have contacted Governor Rell) - Doctors, nurses, patients, and caregivers testified, wrote letters and called the Governor’s office on behalf of medical marijuana. ###
Location: 
Hartford, CT
United States

Daly blasts mayor for drug rehab cuts

Location: 
San Francisco, CA
United States
Publication/Source: 
San Francisco Chronicle
URL: 
http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/06/20/BAGBPQIBV21.DTL

A drug-war setback

Location: 
MD
United States
Publication/Source: 
The Baltimore Sun (MD)
URL: 
http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/local/bal-md.bupe20jun20,0,6881220.story?coll=bal-local-headlines

Medical Marijuana Measure Falls With Connecticut Governor’s Veto

Location: 
Stamford, CT
United States
Publication/Source: 
The New York Times
URL: 
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/20/nyregion/20rell.html

Medical marijuana: New York is waiting to inhale

Location: 
Albany, NY
United States
Publication/Source: 
The Buffalo News (NY)
URL: 
http://www.buffalonews.com/home/story/101789.html

Veteran using medical pot fights arrest

Location: 
Centennial, CO
United States
Publication/Source: 
The Denver Post (CO)
URL: 
http://www.denverpost.com/headlines/ci_6143690

Press Release: Governor Signs Texas' First Needle Exchange Bill into Law

press release from the ACLU of Texas:

AUSTIN -- Governor Perry signed a Medicaid reform bill (SB 10) into law this afternoon, which includes a provision authorizing the first legal needle exchange program in Texas. The new law brings Texas up to date with most other states in the nation by starting a safe, legal needle exchange pilot program in Bexar County this fall.

"The public health and safety of Texas requires that we offer public health programs that prevent the spread of infectious diseases. Fiscal responsibility also requires that preventive programs be made available, and this is just one way that we can begin to curb the spread of hepatitis and HIV in geometric proportions. I am pleased that we can begin this process with a pilot program in Bexar County," said Rep. Ruth Jones McClendon, who sponsored the provision and represents part of San Antonio and Bexar County.

This year, Sen. Robert Deuell and Rep. McClendon teamed up to sponsor SB308/HB 856, which was originally proposed to authorize needle exchange programs statewide. The bill passed through the Senate, but appeared to die in the House Public Health Committee when the Chair did not call for the committee's vote. Rep. McClendon resurrected the concept by attaching an amendment to the Medicaid bill. Her amendment allows the health authorities in Bexar County to design and operate the program, which is expected to reduce disease and improve outreach to injection drug users.

Disease prevention is the goal of most needle exchange programs, but they also provide an opportunity to connect addicts to treatment. After filing the bill, Sen. Deuell said, "The local health authorities who administer these programs may also provide drug counseling and treatment. This might be the only time we can get to these people and give them the opportunity to rehabilitate themselves. One study showed more than 1,000 drug users found their way into treatment through a needle exchange program."

San Antonio has a history of strong and outspoken support for needle exchange. Rep. McClendon said, "In particular, we especially appreciate the encouragement received from Judge Nelson Wolff, Sheriff Ralph Lopez, Dr. Fernando Guerra of San Antonio Metro Health, and other local foundations and healthcare organizations. This pilot program is bound to be successful."

Rep. Garnet F. Coleman, who sponsored needle exchange legislation in years past added, "After working on this issue for two sessions, now we have a state-sanctioned opportunity to save lives through needle exchange. Hopefully this pilot program will lead to legislation next session that sets up needle exchange programs statewide."

"Needle exchange has become a standard disease prevention practice around the country, and we commend Rep. McClendon, Sen. Deuell and the rest of the legislators who worked hard to bring this important public policy measure to Texas," said Tracey Hayes, Director of the Access Project at the ACLU of Texas.

Law Enforcement: Almost No Drug Warrants in Atlanta Since Police Gunned Down Old Woman in Botched Drug Raid

Atlanta Police Department narcotics officers have not sought a single "no-knock" search warrant in the six months since 92-year-old Kathryn Johnston was killed in a botched drug raid. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which examined court records, the number of all drug search warrants also dropped dramatically, down from at least 125 in the six months preceding her death to 19 in the six months since then.

In the Johnston case, two of the officers involved have admitted lying to a judge in order to obtain a search warrant for her home. Since then, Police Chief Richard Pennington has reassigned the entire narcotics squad, and a federal grand jury is conducting a wide-ranging investigation into whether and how often police lied to obtain search warrants.

"No-knock" warrants, where police break down the doors of suspects without warning, are issued by judges when police claim they fear the destruction of evidence or that officer safety could be compromised by knocking on the door. Critics charge the use of "no-knock" warrants leads to the use of excessive force and increases the possibility of armed confrontations between homeowners and invading police.

Chief Pennington said the drop-off in warrants is a temporary lull. "Once the new narcotics team is put on the street, we are going to go right back into these areas that have a large concentration of drug activity," he said. "We are going to work with the community. But we are going to make sure they do everything by the book."

Pennington announced strict new procedures for obtaining search warrants two months ago. He said he told police officers to seek warrants in only the biggest cases until the new narc squad was trained and on the street.

Atlanta defense attorneys hailed the decline in warrant applications, saying it demonstrated that police were cutting corners before the Johnston killing. "Now that they are being watched more closely and have to follow the law, they don't get many warrants," said Peter Ross, who represents drug defendants. "In the past, they basically had the ability to fabricate the information and get a warrant for it."

Medical marijuana bill passes in Assembly

Location: 
Albany, NY
United States
Publication/Source: 
Mid-Hudson News (NY)
URL: 
http://www.midhudsonnews.com/News/med_mar-14Jun07.html

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