Monday, March 31, 2008

1993 - America North DPF Takes a 'Lead' by saying "Just Say Whoa"

From my unpublished manuscript "Coca- Forgotten Medicine"
The Drug Policy Foundation would begin a trend of saying "just say whoa” by taking an early “lead” during the Clinton Administration (1993-2001) of pulling back from its longstanding mission of educating the public by radically scaling back or eliminating major components of its public education campaign, including eliminating its television show “America’s Drug Forum”. For the conferences, starting with the first one following the Clinton Administration’s start in January 1993, this meant reducing conference paper book reduced from 300+ to 50+ pages – with its November 1993 conference paper compendium “The Faces of Change” including no papers regarding the Coca, and with this D.P.F. conference not holding a cocaine panel, but to instead hold a panel “Latin American Perspective” panel, moderated by Elise Storck of the Washington D.C. based Panos Institute. For the Coca issue, this meant excluding any papers on thus relegating the Coca issue within a broader topic.
With the Drug Policy Foundation running three separate tracts at its annual conferences by 1992 – Medical, Legal, and General -- I submitted a trio of proposals: Suggested Studies of the Therapeutic Uses of Coca presents a number of possible beneficial uses of Coca in medicine (suggested by a number of sources), with a brief over-view, history and synopsis of the most recent medical research. The Laws Prohibiting Coca Leaf and Avenues of Change presents an overview of the tiers of law that deny the public their right to buy and use Coca products. These include international, national and local law, as well as those institutions entrusted as the guardians of the medical orthodoxy used to buttress these policies. This legal overview, produced with a full consciousness of how prohibition affects the market (and by extension drug abuse), explains the regulatory process, including what may be done within the confines of the law, and identifies those that enforce or influence legal policy, such as the FDA, the DEA, and private groups including the American Medical Association, the American Pharmaceutical Association, and the American Psychiatric Association (which is responsible for defining DSM criteria). As an antidote to existing policies, this paper presents a number of steps that the public may one day demand of legislatures and the U.N., including denouncing the Single Convention, repealing existing prohibition laws, charging the FDA to set up appropriate regulations on Coca products, and correcting today's institutionalized mis-conceptions about Coca. Coca-ine Policy: A History of Trends and Consequences. This paper reviews the early history of U.S. laws aimed at "controlling" cocaine and the Coca leaf, from the 19th century poison laws, to the 1914 Harrison Act, with an eye upon their consequences. Covered here are the laws and their consequences, from the early (1887-1897) State laws directed at isolated cocaine, the latter (1898-1913) State laws extending such sales restrictions to Coca leaf, and the 1914 Harrison Act which made the Treasury Department the official arbitrator of defining "legitimate medicine." Most importantly, this paper displays these laws effects upon supply and- most importantly for those concerned about drug abuse- use, by shifted use from Coca to isolated cocaine, as well as the shifting medical and popular attitudes (and perceptions) that ensured that the policies fostering drug abuse were incorrectly seen as policies fighting drug abuse.
The D.P.F.’s rejection letter, dated June 3, 1993, signed by Kendra Wright, Director of Development, would state:
Thank you for your interest in the Seventh International Conference on Drug Policy Reform. I have read your recently submitted proposals addressing coca. Unfortunately., due to the large volume of proposals received we cannot accept all of the quality topics suggested for this year’s conference. Fortunately, with your help, coca is one of the subject matters we have more then adequately educated our members on in years past. This year, we must make room in the manual and the panel discussions for the plethora of current issues affecting drug policy. We thank you for your interest and dedication to the reform of drug policy. I hope you will attend the conference in November and encourage you to submit a proposal to next year’s call for papers.

“the plethora of current issues affecting drug policy”?!

This rejection letter was dated one day after The Wall Street Journal publishes a page one article “Bolivians Are High On a Toothpaste Made From Coca; Exporters Express Resentment That Kinship to Cocaine Is Blowing Their Business”, about Bolivia’s difficulties in promoting Coca exports. In response, I compiled and sent the D.P.F.’s Kendra Wright an information pack of Coca materials, consisting of various published news articles, such that from The Wall Street Journal, plus recent articles form The New York Times about the Coca issue in professional soccer (outside the U.S.A. known as football), and from The Washington Post about Coca tea drinkers urine testing positive for cocaine metabolites and the controversies about their loosing job eligibilities. I also included a one page abstract of a study of the medicinal use of coca tea to wean users/abusers of concentrated forms of cocaine. Though the D.P.F.’s 1993 International conference --- included medical sessions -- these included none regarding Coca.

Salvaging the little space allocated at the 1993 D.P.F. conference for the Coca issue through its panel on Latin American Perspectives, I would attend that panel where I met the one participant in that panel that gave a presentation on Coca, Baldemero Caceres. That panels’ questions and answers period with its audience provided us the opportunity to hear Anita Bennett, a British medical journalist, suggest giving Coca tea to women in labor in order to relax their vagina muscles to ease child-birth and reduce the instance of brain damage in newly-borns. Immediately afterwards, Caceres, Bennett and myself would meet and converse with Ira Glasser, President of the ACLU since 1978, who was present towards’ this panel’s closing, who was displaying an avid interest in the Coca issue that day, and who I then found to be friendly and encouraging.

For the upcoming 1994 annual D.P.F. conference, to be titled “The Crucial Next Stage: Health Care and Human Rights”, I made my first panel proposal: “Coca: Turning Over a New Leaf Towards Reducing Health Care Costs.”

This approach vividly demonstrates the drug war's sheer stupidity through revealing Coca leaf's many forgotten benefits. Magnifying the potential impact of this is the appeal to present day concerns, namely fighting drug abuse and reducing health care costs. A logical forum for presenting a variety of topics concerning Coca within this broad health care context, this panel addresses:

- Coca: powder cocaine and crack substitute: making their abuse obsolete.
- Medical Coca: a multitude of valuable therapeutic applications.
- Coca: the safer alternative to licit stimulants, particularly Tobacco.

Presenting Coca in this context is a potent antidote to popular misconceptions that drug prohibition somehow serves the general welfare. People support prohibition, generally viewing it favorably in inverse proportion to the degree they see illegal drugs as "bad." The story of Coca though is a powerful indictment of prohibition. Here is something clearly good, useful for a variety of medical uses, and as a daily stimulant. Indeed, to a greater extent than medical Marijuana, drug war proponents acknowledge such medical uses of Coca as a remedy for high altitude sickness, other forms of nausea, and stomach aches; indeed recommendations for these uses of Coca are found in virtually any Andean tourist guide book. People in most parts of the world though are generally oblivious to this, focusing instead the situation with concentrated cocaine that prohibition created and sustains. As people have had the drug issue defined in such a convoluted way to misperceive the illicit market in powder cocaine and crack -- cocaine hydrochloride and sulfate -- as the natural situation that would exist without prohibition, ignorance of Coca is crucial towards maintaining popular support for the drug war!

The social importance of this panel is undeniably high. Let the following serve as but one example. The leaf's reported utility to the newly born --- as Coca is valuable to CNS stimulation and improves the blood count of oxygen, giving it to women in labor has immense potential towards reducing the instances of brain damage amongst newborns (see the Saturday newsletter from the 1993 DPF conference) -- alone could save millions of dollars in medical bills and lost productivity, to say nothing of the prevalence of these heart-breaking tragedies sustained by widespread ignorance of Coca's therapeutic benefits.

Given the President's concerns over reducing health care costs and Coca leaf's potential with this, is extremely valuable to the general welfare. Indeed, perhaps this is the drug policy reformists' most powerful approach towards dispelling the false utopic vision now clouding a clear perspective of the drug war, for nobody can dismiss (or ignore) it without appearing down right callous.

The Clintons ought to find this irresistible.

I wrote this with the idea of presenting the various therapeutic uses of Coca that could reduce health care costs, highlighting Anita Bennett’s idea of giving Coca tea to women in labor to ease childbirth and thus reduce the occurrence of protracted births that cause brain damage for newly borns. This panel was to feature (and had the support of) Harvard University’s Dr. Lester Grinspoon, yet was rejected by the D.P.F., with a letter taking issue with my inviting speakers, or in other words, inform proposed speakers of the proposed panel that it was proposed they would appear upon. `

“The Crucial Next Stage: Health Care and Human Rights” held November 16-19, 1994 at Loews L’Enfant Plaza Hotel in Washington, D.C. would include no panels nor panel presentations about Coca’s medicinal uses, and excluding even a Latin America panel, and by holding a cocaine panel focused strictly upon “The Historic Cocaine Report of the World Health Organization” held Thursday November 17 (4:00-5:30) with David Lewis, MD Brown University; Craig Reinarman, PhD Stevenson College; Lisa Mathew Simon Fraser University; and Don Des Jarlis. MD Beth Israel. This panel addressed the uses of refined cocaine and did not focus on the uses of coca.

This would not because the W.H.O. had ignored coca. Following the 1992-93 W.H.O. meetings, W.H.O. would set out to study Coca and cocaine.

In 1994, after two years of research in 19 countries, a group of well-respected investigators concluded that coca leaf chewing is not addictive. They also found that most cocaine users consume very little of the drug and experience few serious problems. The results were summarized in a March 1995 press release.

The U.S. government did not tolerate this, and would bully W.H.O. to suppress these portions of the study by threatening to withhold funds. In May 1995, according to W.H.O.’s records, the U.S. representative to WHO, Neil Boyer: "took the view that the study on cocaine...indicates that [WHO's] program on substance abuse was headed in the wrong direction" and that "if WHO activities relating to drugs failed to reinforce proven drug control approaches, funds for the relevant programs should be curtailed." The full results of the study were never released.

The U.S. government would be likewise quickly negative in its reaction to Luxembourg’s February 22, 1995 stand against Coca's prohibition, when its parliament at the Chambre des Deputes unanimously approved a resolution promoted by the COCA ’95 campaign asking the government to allow the import of coca leaves and inoffensive derivates to the country, including teas, and toothpaste. By the next morning, the U.S. Embassy had called the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Luxembourg to ask if the deputies had gone crazy. [an insane statement from a superpower that pushes criminal mercantilism for chemically laced Virginia Bright Leaf poison!]

So much for any expectations that the Clinton Administrations would have any better regard for the truth then the sadly similar opposition Republican Party
Back in the U.S.A., the Drug Policy Foundation’s 1995 9th International Conference on Drug Policy Reform in Santa Monica, California that October; it was titled "Harm Reduction: Bringing the International Community Together” would break with tradition in at least two ways. It broke a 7 year run of events located in Washington, D.C. And it would include the only[1] Coca specific panel appearing in any printed D.P.F. Conference Schedule in its entire run of conference from 1987- 2005: “COCA '95: A Necessary Drug Policy Alternative from Abroad” featuring a variety of Coca scholars from the international community: Peruvian journalist Roger Rumrill, MamaCoca author Anthony Richard Henman, Bolivian Dr. Jorge Hurtado [via video], and U.C.L.A.’s Dr. Ronald K. Siegel at U.C.L.A., and moderated by myself, Douglas A. Willinger, who proposed his panel to the D.P.F. earlier that year.

Bearing in mind the D.P.F.’s down relegating of the Coca issue in its 1993 and 1994 conferences, I set out to help assure a higher quality decision by the D.P.F. by sending copies of this proposal to each member of its Board of Directors and Board of Advisors. My initial proposal listed additional speakers from South America: Hugo Cabieses; Theobaldo Llosa, and the by then, Coca-grower union leader Evo Morales* (* who on December 8, 2005 became elected President of Bolivia, taking office January 22, run for the office of the President of Bolivia). The D.P.F. would decline to invite Morales, apparently under legal advice to avoid a legal conflict with the U.S. State Department regarding getting him an entry visa to visit the U.S. to appear on this panel. Through the latter part of the summer of 1995, the D.P.F. attempted to get me to agree to cancel the COCA ‘95 panel with a letter suggesting, in part due to the difficulties in obtaining speaker’s visas – e.g. the State Department objections to the speakers -- and also to a lack of available funding for the speaker’s airfare. However, neither of these reasons actually mattered in denying the panel sufficient speakers with Roger Rumrill and Anthony Richard Henman already scheduled to be locally available, and with Jorge Hurtado appearing in the form of a presentation by videotape. I received a letter from the D.P.F. signed by Whitney Taylor dated September 11, 1995 formally congratulating me upon this COCA’ 95 panel’s inclusion in the upcoming conference agenda. The only last minute addition was Dr. Ronald Siegel, who was locally available and interested in participating, who I called upon the suggestion of Jack Herer, author of The Emperor Wears No Clothes. This panel would be the second best attended of the number of panel workshops that were scheduled simultaneously from, with the audience including Ethan Nadelmann and Jacob Sullum.

For the 1996 D.P.F. conference scheduled for that November 6-9, the compendium for which was titled “The Pioneers of Reform: Reflections + Visions”, held again at the Loews L’Enfant Plaza, I made my 3rd D.P.F. Coca panel proposal for the conference’s General, Medical and Legal: COCA '96: Medical, Legal and Social Considerations for the Next Millennia, with the tentative Speakers: Dr. Ronald K. Siegel, Dr. Jorge Hurtado, Joseph Kennedy, Anthony Richard Henman.

Medically, economically and socially, the situation surrounding the Coca plant is unjustifiable. Respected medical researchers suggest that the leaves of Coca offer interesting medical benefits as an effective and relatively safe medicine and stimulant. Dr. Andrew T. Weil, a proponent of Coca as an alternative to Coffee, particularly for people suffering Gastro-intestinal tract problems, noted in a recent magazine interview that Coca is "very good for any type of stomach or intestinal disorder. It stabilizes blood sugar, treats motion sickness, [and] has a relaxing effect upon the larynx for people who are speakers or singers. It also could be used as an aid to weight loss, because you can chew coca instead of eating a meal and use the energy to exercise. I think it could definitely be useful as a treatment to get people off of cocaine [hydrochloride and sulfate].” Coca's use in treating cocaine addiction-- akin to the use of methadone with regard to heroin abuse - is advocated by specialists such as Dr. Jorge Hurtado of the International Coca Research Institute in Bolivia. (Dr. Hurtado spoke via video at the premier D.P.F. conference Coca workshop COCA ‘95: A Necessary Drug Policy Alternative from Abroad). As can be gathered from numerous readings, unrefined Coca is far safer than other substances -- prescription and over the counter preparations -- employed for similar purposes. Revelations such as these suggest that re-legalizing Coca's international trade would be immensely beneficial from a public health standpoint. Indeed, Coca's historic use as a Tobacco substitute or "cure", along with the government's interesting concerns about this, as illustrated by such government publications as the United States Department of Agriculture's 1910 Habit-forming Agents: their indiscriminate sale and use a threat to the public welfare, in conjunction with their relative health effects, make our "drug war" exceptionally galling.

Towards helping the public understand the Coca issue, this proposed Drug Policy Foundation Coca session shall address Coca leaf as medicine and stimulant, along with the current "war on drugs" now denying the world the myriad benefits of the natural leaf. Tentative speakers include Dr. Ronald Siegel [U.C.L.A.], Dr. Jorge Hurtado [International Coca Research Institute, in Bolivia], anthropologist Anthony Henman, [author, the 1978 book, MamaCoca] and archaeologist Joseph Kennedy [author, the 1985 book, Coca Exotica]. [All the speakers have been informed of this Proposal, and have responded favorably, conditional upon the Foundation providing their registration, travel and accommodation expenses.] As the audience participation and our speakers' lively presentations at the recent COCA '95 panel in Santa Monica suggest that COCA '96: Medical, Legal and Social Considerations for the Upcoming Millennia could be one of the 10th annual conference's more intriguing, if not important, events. It is also intended that the session will include discussion of new directions in drug policy reform advocacy. Discussion is intended to include the effects of the last (almost) one hundred years of government drug policies as well as identifying the policies likely to promote drug abuse by creating more potent drugs such as crack, i.e. banning the unrefined herb Coca and at the same time basing the penalties visited for its possession or sale upon the gross weights of the product. By shifting the entire "coca derivatives" market from Coca tea and Coca Wine "" towards crack, the war on drugs cruelly betrays the public's concerns over the problems of crime and drug abuse.

This proposal is best approved as a plenary panel with a workshop afterwards, perhaps accompanied by a special session for speakers from South America. It is further suggested that this proposal serve as one for the Foundation to include the Coca issue as a part of its mission towards educating the public about drug policy alternatives, via forums on Capital Hill, as we approach the upcoming millennia.

Douglas A. Willinger; (914) 636-8214 (fax)
COCA '96, Joep Oomen; 011 322 733 5708 (fax)

The D.P.F. declined this proposed Coca panel, and apparently any other by including no other panel devoted to Coca; it would likewise include no papers regarding the Coca issue or Coca’s therapeutic uses within its conference compendium. Although an early version of the conference schedule included Dr. Jorge Hurtado, President of the International Coca Research Institute in Bolivia within a plenary panel on the medical uses of illegalized substances, titled ----, Hurtado would not be included as the result of the D.P.F. failing to pay his airfare. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) is a global leader in the fight against illicit drugs and international crime. Established in 1997, UNODC has approximately 500 staff members worldwide. Its headquarters are in Vienna and it has 21 field offices as well as a liaison offices in New York. UNODC relies on voluntary contributions, mainly from governments, for 90 per cent of its budget.

For the 1997 D.P.F. conference, Inter-Continental Hotel, New Orleans, LA., October 15-18, 1997. I made the proposal for a panel: Tinctures of Opium, Wines of Coca, etc: Popular, Pre-prohibition Uses of Natural Plants Perverted by Drug Prohibition into today's "Hard" Drug Plague It was not limited to Coca, but rather covered the broader issue of the iron law of the drug war to promote more concentrated and generally dangerous substances. It was to feature Jim Hogshire, author, Opium for the Masses, who had recently been arrested as reported in an article in The New York Times that quoted Trebach in support of Hogshire, along with the following proposed panelists:

Dr. Andrew T. Weil, author Chocolate to Morphine
Dr. Lester Grinspoon
Cynthia Cotts, writer, National Law Journal
Dr. Ronald K. Siegel, UCLA, author Intoxication (1989)
Michael Montagne, Boston College of Pharmacology
Dr. John Morgan

It would demonstrate the destructive iron law of prohibition by re-educating the public about its right of free choice in food and medicine it surrendered in the name of greater safety (with less thought), particularly the glaring double standard of the official policies towards Coca contrasted with those for Tobacco, as well as the high perpetual costs in trillions of dollars for expensive medical treatments for situations otherwise avoidable, but for the political influence of those favored by what was or was not being defined as “habit-forming” or “dangerous.” It would have naturally connected with the politics behind the initial 20th century “drug war” and its continuation/perpetuation, specifically the development of the laws of 1906 and 1914, and the development of the prescription drug industry. The D.P.F. would reject this proposal, with my-self reporting this October 10, 1997 as follows:


*From a recent -- May 25th 1997 -- article from The New York Times, regarding the legal persecution of Jim Hogshire, author of the book "Opium for the Masses"

"To opponents of the drug war, the case showed how drug policy could clash with other American values. 'The guy was being persecuted because of the fact that he wrote a book,' said Arnold Trebach, founder of the Drug Policy Foundation, a Washington D.C. group that seeks alternatives to the drug war. 'A book! In America! Have we totally lost our sense of who we are?'"

Indeed, have we totally lost our sense of who we are?!?! Like others, I was heartened to hear Dr. Trebach's words of support for Hogshire, and applauded his efforts at educating the public.

Inspired by professor Trebach's words of support for "controversial" approaches to solving the problem of the Drug War, I made this formal proposal to the DPF for a panel at this year's annual conference. I thought the subject would have been of intense interest to both activists and scholars involved in drug war politics. Along with Coca leaf, Opium was outlawed by the so-called Harrison "Tax" Act of 1914, which aimed at the issue of "habit-forming" drugs, banned the citizen's right to purchase or possess Opium and Coca, or any of their various components like morphine or refined cocaine. This prohibition effectively stopped the trade in the plant products, while making the trade in potent white powder derivatives - heroin and cocaine hydrochloride -- immensely profitable. With the dominance of the latter modes of "hard" drugs, we need independent scholar working to enlighten the public about the uses of natural plant versions of the now illicit drugs- in short a look at how drugs are more likely to be consumed WITHOUT the twentieth century drug war, particularly that substance called "God's Own Medicine" -- opium. Professor Trebach's 1982 book, The Heroin Solution, suggests the need to talk seriously about opiates, particularly their use in pain control and patients' access to relief. My panel would give D.P.F. conference attendees just this forum to hear about the therapeutic potential of the PLANTS targeted by twentieth century "drug" prohibition, giving us the chance to avoid the canard of "hard drugs" and focus on a realistic approach to drugs and drug use.

--- Below is my Proposal ---------


Tinctures of Opium, Wines of Coca, etc:
Popular, Pre-prohibition Uses of Natural Plants
Perverted by Drug Prohibition into today's "Hard" Drug Plague

11th International Conference on Drug Policy Reform,
October 15-18, 1997
Douglas A. Willinger, moderator
Submitted to the Drug Policy Foundation. Speakers that it is proposed that the Drug Policy Foundation formally

Jim Hogshire, author, Opium for the Masses
Dr. Andrew T. Weil, author Chocolate to Morphine
Dr. Lester Grinspoon
Cynthia Cotts, writer, National Law Journal
Dr. Ronald K. Siegel, UCLA, author Intoxication (1989)
Michael Montagne, Boston College of Pharmacology
Dr. John Morgan

"Hard" drugs - e.g. "heroin" and "cocaine" -- have evoked great fears, leading people to advocate or acquiesce to more repressive and expensive drug laws and drug law enforcement, as if these molecules were necessarily pernicious. Yet prior to prohibition, opiates and cocaine were widely used as safely as aspirin and caffeine are now. Because we are so conditioned to react to the powder forms of these drugs, we forget that these more direct modes of ingestion -- sniffing, smoking and injecting -- were formerly a relatively rare phenomenon. Prior to the twentieth century's "war on drugs," most people using these drugs took them in dilute form, whether as raw plant material, or plant preparation of comparable potency. Such plants and their popular preparations, were widely recognized medicinal agents, worldwide. These substances have long and positive histories predating their criminalization by U.S. federal statute via the 1914 Harrison "Tax" Act and successive laws, and were used throughout the medical community as effective, cheap, and safe treatments for a variety of ailments. Opium poppies have been taken medicinally for thousands of years, taken topically, smoked (and even brewed as a tea, as suggested in Hogshire's "Opium for the Masses.") "Cocaine" -- or more accurately, Coca just had many uses. The Extra Pharmacopoeia (the British counterpart to the U.S. Pharmacopoeia) cited Coca as a "nervine and muscular tonic, preventing waste of tissue, appeasing hunger and thirst, relieving fatigue, and aiding free respiration ... useful in various diseases of the digestive and respiratory organs.... " Meanwhile, the Wine of Coca, , became the most widely praised plant preparation of the time. ’s creator, Angelo Mariani was hailed by Pope Leo XIII as a "benefactor of humanity" for making Coca available around the world- after 40 years of Coca wine distribution." All of this of course, prior to prohibition. Any honest program of harm reduction in drug use must go beyond the narrow-minded discussion of today's "hard drug problems": heroin and cocaine hydrochloride, to look at Opium and Coca, to reveal the drug war's most intense effects upon drug abuse -- shifting markets to the infinitely more dangerous concentrated substances, while the natural forms are virtually forgotten.

--- My proposed panel would fill this serious void in the conference. NONE of the other panels allow a direct venue for either Opium or Coca although I am convinced many people -- including Dr. Trebach -- would be interested in hearing about these subjects. Jim Hogshire could do double duty and speak about his legal difficulties on the panel, The First Amendment – The Next Target of the War on Drugs.

Besides Hogshire, this proposed panel has a good list of speakers of interest to the conference attendees. Dr. Lester Grinspoon would make an excellent speaker about both Opium and Coca. So would Cynthia Cotts, drug reporter for a number of publication now on the staff of the National Law Journal; as well as Dr. Ronald K. Siegel of UCLA, who has long researched the psychotropic plants, and gave a good presentation at my 1995 DPF conference panel COCA '95: A Necessary Drug Policy Alternative From Abroad, that I moderated on October 21, 1995 in Santa Monica. Dr. Andrew Weil would certainly make an interesting presentation.

Given his background, I find it incomprehensible the DPF has not featured him as a conference speaker in seven years! All of my proposed speakers have indicated their interest in appearing on DPF panels, so the problem isn't lack of suitable material or interesting speakers. And I doubt the problem is lack of intellectual curiosity by Trebach and other DPF members.

So how come the DPF doesn't seem to be able to walk the walk -- after all, it certainly talks the talk!

Just who makes the decisions regarding conference panels?

Maybe Arnold Trebach doesn't know what his underlings are doing with his organization, which seems to be playing it so cautiously it's hard to distinguish between them and some of the drug warriors. Did this panel proposal: Tinctures of Opium, Wines of Coca, etc -- Popular, Pre-prohibition Uses of Natural Plants Perverted by Drug Prohibition just slip between the cracks amidst DPF staff changes? If the cause is political fear of "controversial", non-establishment ideas on promoting and end to Drug War mayhem, I am not alone in thinking that kind of compromise is fatal -- and should be fatal -- to any movement that pretends to advocate for people's rights. What if civil rights workers of the 1950s and 1960s had, rather than challenge segregation as wrong (and stick to their guns) instead chosen to meekly apologize for the color of their skins and an oppressive government policy? Does anyone out there have any advice about how can we get through to the right people within the D.P.F. [main phone 202 537 5005; fax 202 537 3007, web site with chat rooms and forum boards,], for them to recognize the very fallacy of NOT pointing out how twentieth century prohibition is morally WRONG, and thus the need to attack the very dogma of the State Party line that [certain] drugs are evil? As the D.P.F., after all, was initially founded to help educate the public about the issues of drug policy, it would be a shame for it to lose its sense of what it was.

Douglas A. Willinger
Tinctures of Opium, Wines of Coca, etc:
Popular, Pre-prohibition Uses of
Natural Plants Perverted by Drug Prohibition
Into today's "Hard" Drug Plague

The 1997 conference held in New Orleans, which would not include this proposed panel, nor any other panels on these topics, but would include another indication of the Drug Policy’s Foundation’s apparent lack of willingness to deal with the underlying issues of drug policy, in the form of a “Cocaine Round-table” attended by, amongst others, Lyn Zimmer, Ethan Nadelmann and Ira Glasser. There, I heard Glasser, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) speak about the failure of drug policy reformers to adequately deal with the cocaine issue, saying words to effect that cocaine was popularly seen as dangerous unlike marijuana, hence making discussing liberalizing the laws difficult, and asking what should we do? Hearing this was good. But not so for his non-response to the question I would ask him: what about coca? With the public fearful of cocaine why not educate them? Show them its safety when used akin to popular uses of caffeine and nicotine: who uses or judges either of the latter as a concentrated drug sniffed as a powder or smoked or injected? Ira Glasser could only sit in a stony silence that would only be broken by Ethan Nadelmann by saying

“Doug, why do you have to bring up that? Your 1995 panel in Santa Monica was excellent, but do you really think this is an appropriate time to again bring up coca?!”

Ira Glasser’s attitude against educating the public about Coca, or for that matter, the surrendering of drug freedom for the prescription drug industry, is consistent with the politics of south-eastern U.S. Tobacco interests against the market threat of Coca , given his well documented relationship with Tobacco interests . This would parallel or follow numerous correlations of Ira Glasser’s direction of the American Civil Liberties Union, of which he has served as its President since 1978, of taking positions more friendly to Tobacco interests, with the ACLU’s acceptance of funds from Tobacco interests.

This sort of anti-Coca, anti-herbal medicine, anti-free market, attitude would also manifest itself later with the ultimate curtailment by the group the International League for Peace and Freedom, which had a delegation at that 1997 D.P.F. conference working upon the Coca issue, of its pro-Coca campaign which included a subsequent “tour of truth”,"Women Speak Out about War & Drugs-the Realities" to 5 major U.S. cities, Los Angeles, San Francisco Bay Area, Houston, Washington DC and New York, with speakers include, from Columbia, Omayra Morales-Miraflores, Secretary of the Andean Council of Small Coca Leaf Growers; from Peru, Catalina Barbosa, Representative of the Indigenous Ashanika Organization of the Apurimac River; and from the U.S., Marsha Burnett, former drug user and current HIV prevention and "harm reduction" activist; plus Andrea Saenz, U.S. WILPF staff, born in Ecuador This was work that I would find a few months later had been curtailed “from upstairs” in that group’s hierarchy, with a number of that group’s staff leaving.

[1] The one other D.P.F. Conference Coca specific presentation – in what could be termed a one person panel – was at its year 2000 13th International Conference on Drug Policy Reform – listed in its schedule as the “Student Paper Competition” which had given 1st place to a paper about Coca by Christian. Subsequently, the D.P.F. ended this Student Paper Competition, which it had started in 1996.

Secret Documents Reveal A.C.L.U. Tobacco Industry Ties

The ACLU's Tobacco Addiction (American Civil Liberties Union receives donations from tobacco industry)

In 1987, the ACLU's executive director, Ira Glasser, began to solicit Philip Morris for annual grants without first consulting his board of directors, he admitted to me in an October 1992 interview. By that time, the leading cigarette manufacturer had given the tax-exempt ACLU Foundation $500,000. Second-ranking R.J. Reynolds also contributed, but Glasser refused to tell me how much.

National Radio Project Transcript


For more than seventy-five years now, the American Civil Liberties Union has had a very important role in defending the Bill of Rights in the United States. But recently, some longtime supporters of the organization have been raising questions about the ACLU positions on issues involving large corporate interests. One of those interests is the tobacco companies. Now, new information has surfaced about ties between cigarette firms and the American Civil Liberties Union. We invited the Executive Director of the ACLU, Ira Glasser, to be on this program, but he declined. A few days ago, we invited the national ACLU to provide two spokespersons of its choosing to appear on this program, in studio and/or by telephone. The ACLU declined that invitation as well.

Allies: The ACLU And The Tobacco Industry

"At the same time that it takes money from the tobacco industry, it allies itself with the tobacco industry to fight legislation intended to ban or restrict tobacco advertising and promotion--but it does not inform its approximately 300,000 members of either activity."

The ACLU and the Tobacco Companies by Morton Mintz (PDF) (HTML)

1 comment:

Unknown said...

It is hard to find a section on the medical uses of coca, although I do not expect to see it in that pill form and am happy to have it flow through the narrative given to recent history.

If people that wanted to free the weed would take up freeing coca it would help there case, kind of like having a right hand and a left jab in the fight.

Your website is a display of effort so badly needed to end the insanity of the substance and plant prohibitions.