Send comments, tips,
and suggestions to:
Join us on Pete's couch.
couch, the longest running single-issue blog devoted to drug policy, is published by the Prohibition Isn't Free Foundation
December 2003



Drug Czar Lies and Runs

From the Tahoe Daily Tribune: Czar: Drug test students

Youths are more dependent on marijuana than cigarettes or alcohol, provoking the White House drug czar to call for drug testing at middle and high schools.

John Walters, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, made the statement during a keynote speech at […]

Medical Marijuana Victory!

Today, the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit made a major ruling, directing a preliminary injunction to prevent the Federal government from interfering with non-commercial medical marijuana activities in states where medical marijuana is legal! Thanks for the heads up from the wonderful folks at Brutal Hugs and also The Volokh […]

Kenneth Walker, Drug War Victim

From the Georgia Ledger Enquirer

Walker, 39, was among three other men riding inside a gray GMC Yukon when it was stopped Wednesday night as part of a drug investigation.æ The unarmed man was fatally shot by a Muscogee County Sheriff’s Deputy after authorities said Walker failed to comply with the deputy’s commands to reveal his hands.æ The three friends were not arrested and were later released.æ Authorities later learned there was no information that Walker was involved in any kind of criminal activity.

In some communities, black teens are told to never run down the street because their parents fear the teens may be shot by some police officer who may mistake them for criminals….

When reports of an unarmed Walker being fatally shot circulated, blacks may have been shocked, but they were not surprised.æ Law enforcement has never been viewed as user-friendly in the black community.

And from WTVM (beware: linked page behaving erratically, particularly in Safari).

In a tearful interview, long-time best friend of Kenneth Walker says the thirty-nine year old was a role model to the community.

“He was a family man. He was man of morals and principles. He lived for his daughter,” says Tim Crumbley….

Walker was working at Blue Cross-Blue Shield at the time of his death. Both he and his wife were active in the St. Mary’s Road United Methodist Church.

The funeral for Walker is set for Tuesday, December 16 at St. Mary’s church. His wife Cheryl is requesting only family and friends attend the service.

Ventura nails the ONDCP on MSNBC

Check out this amazing transcript from Jesse Ventura’s America, which ran Saturday on MSNBC. Jesse had Rob Kampia of the Marijuana Policy Project as a guest, along with Tommy Chong’s attorney, and then Jesse went one-on-one with Tom Riley of the Drug Czar’s Office and tore him a new one. Really, take a moment […]

Presidential Nomination Endorsement

Drug WarRant is officially endorsing Dennis Kucinich as the Democratic nominee for President in 2004. Mr. Kucinich has already received the highest grades possible from Granite Staters for Medical Marijuana (an A+), based on his strong positions in favor of medical marijuana and his stated willingness to sign an executive order permitting its use. […]

Police up Goose Creek without a paddle…

(Background here in case you somehow missed it). The only good thing to come out of the police raid at Stratford High School is the fact that it has actually received a good deal of national attention and outrage. It’s important that we keep a fire under the issue (so it doesn’t plame out), […]

Pain Public Policy

You may remember my September post on Severe Pain Care as a victim of the Drug War.
Some positive steps are happening now.
1. Act quickly. This is very short notice, but I just got the information this evening.
The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons is hosting an important Hill briefing on Tuesday, and they need your help in encouraging your Congressmen to attend. So give your rep a call on Monday morning if you can.
Call the D.C. offices.æThe main switchboard is 202.224.3121. They will patch you through to your members.
It sounds like a great briefing, including 5 groups taking part in the Coalition Against Prosecutorial Abuse (CAPA):
The Politics of Pain Management: Public Policy and Patient Access to Effective Pain Treatments, featuring

Ronald T. Libby, PhD., Professor,University of North Florida: “DEA investigation initiatives and funding sources”
Rev. Ronald Myers, Sr., M.D., Founder, President, American Pain Institute: “Effects on African-American community”
James Martin, President, 60 Plus Association, “Seniors’ and end-of-life concerns”
Julie Stewart, Families against Mandatory Minimums
William Hurwitz, M.D., J.D., Indicted pain management specialist-McLean, VA: “‘Deserving’ vs. ‘undeserving’ patients?”
Jane M. Orient, M.D., Clinical lecturer,University of AZ, Executive Director, AAPS: “Opioid-phobia and reluctance to treat patients”
Siobhan Reynolds, Founder & President, Pain Relief Network, “Impact on families and economic issues”
DEA Diversion Program (Invited)
Moderator: Kathryn Serkes, President, Square One Media Network

More than 48 million people in the U.S. suffer from chronic pain, according to the National Institutes of Health.æRecent high-profile news cases of opioid usage have placed the issue on the front pages, including a debate over dependency vs. addiction, who is “deserving” and who is “undeserving,” of opioid treatment, and whether pain patients should be subjected to different standards of personal scrutiny than others.

The DEA claims drug diversion has reached crisis proportions, justifying increased investigative initiatives that frequently circumvent the Congressional appropriations process. Physicians are prosecuted and imprisoned, and patients sentenced based on pill counts.

Medical research and treatment has made tremendous advances in pain management, but is public policy keeping up?æAnd is law enforcement discouraging patient access to treatment as a result of prosecution of physicians under the Controlled Substances Act?

This distinguished panel will examine the current state of pain management, law enforcement initiatives, patient experiences, economic impact of untreated pain, funding sources, sentencing guidelines, H.R. 3015 prescription drug database act, and solutions for cooperation between lawmakers, regulators, law enforcement and the medical community.

Tuesday, Dec. 16,æ2003, B-338 Rayburn House Office Building, 12 Noon-1:30 pm, (luncheon served)
To register, visit, email Jeremy Snavely at, fax 520.325.4230, or call 800.635.1196 by 12:00 noon, Monday, Dec 15.

2. Start planning now for Pain Relief Network’s March on Washington, April 18-20, 2004

Catching up…

I’ve been (and still am) under the weather and having a hard time keeping up with posting, but here’s a few things worth checking out:
“bullet” On the local front, it looks like Ed Rosenthal’s visit to University of Illinois was a success (unfortunately I was busy here and we had our hempfest the next day). A good article on the student organizations in the Daily Illini.
“bullet”The New York Times brings back Brandeis’ views on states’ rights in this interesting article. I have always been a fan of his statement on the value of states’ rights:

…to stay experimentation in things social æand economic is a grave responsibility.æ Denial of the æright to experiment may be fraught with serious æconsequences to the nation.æ It is one of the happy æincidents of the federal system that a single courageous æstate may, if its citizens choose, serve as a ælaboratory, and try novel social and economic æexperiments without risk to the rest of the country.

While the Times article doesn’t talk about the drug war, it is particularly in regard to the drug war that I think this viewpoint has relevance (Medical marijuana is a prime example, as is the development of industrial hemp).
Canada loosened some of the rules regarding use of medical marijuana as required by the courts, but patients are upset, claiming that the government is ignoring court orders. Some are planning lawsuits, and the decisions led one group to proclaim:

Ontario Consumers for Safe Access to Recreational Cannabis is happy to
inform consumers that, because of Health Canada’s failure to implement
constitutional Medical Marijuana Access Regulations, wide-open marijuana
legalization is back in Ontario!

And Ottawa stays pot charges in 4,000 cases.
At the same time, we have the U.S. still threatening Canada’s borders for being lax on marijuana. (Am I crazy for worrying that someone in the U.S. administration watched “Canadian Bacon” or the South Park movie and didn’t realize they were fiction?)
“bullet” Steve Kubby’s application for asylum in Canada was unfortunately denied. An appeal will be coming. If he is sent to the United States, he will die. Help him out by writing a letter.
“bullet” Also be sure to check out my Daily Reads on the left for other good news and perspectives.

Tommy Chong Updates

“bullet”Chong Family Values in the LA Weekly:

The word most used by Paris and Precious Chong to describe their father’s ordeal is “surreal.” “They couldn’t have picked a kinder, more generous person to throw in jail than my father,” Paris says. Today the family remains afraid of what the Justice Department might yet do […]

Senator Paul Simon, R.I.P.

The man with the bow tie died today. What a life! Smart, honest, courageous – a delightfully geeky little man with enormous integrity and the ability to lead. I’m proud to say I had the opportunity to meet him and hear him speak. We can still heed his words, like these remarks about sentencing […]