CRRH Hemp News - Online
The internet's longest running compilation of international news stories about hemp and marijuana.
Hemp News, a compilation of international news stories about hemp and cannabis, is a public service of Campaign for the Restoration and Regulation of Hemp (CRRH) and The Hemp & Cannabis Foundation (THCF). This is intended for political and educational use on the subject of cannabis and the wide-ranging effects of drug prohibition.

Activism | Alternative Energy | Biofuel | Biomass | Community | Decriminalization | Fashion | Fiber | Hempcrete | History
Industrial Hemp | Medicinal Cannabis | NORML | Nutritional | Oregon Cannabis Tax Act | Political | Prohibition | Recreational
Science | Sources | Spiritual | The Hemp and Cannabis Foundation

Hemp News No. 7

Compiled by Paul Stanford

UPwe 05/02/93 1244  Judge to ask Clinton to legalize drugs

   SANTA ANA, Calif. (UPI) -- A controversial state Superior Court judge says he
will take his plea for loosening the nation's drug laws to Washington in hopes
of influencing President Clinton's drug czar.
   Orange County Judge James Gray told a small audience at Orange Coast College
that the nation's "war on drugs" is a lost cause, The Orange County Register
reported Sunday. But Gray said the United States could put drug dealers out of
business by legalizing low-cost sales of heroin, marijuana and cocaine to adults
through licensed pharmacies.
   Gray, 48, said drug laws corrupt officials, invite crime, give rise to
unmanageable jail and court costs and turn addicts into embittered, unemployable
   The judge, a founder of the National Coalition for Drug Policy Change,
distributed a petition calling for unspecified revisions to the nation's drug
laws. Gray said prominent figures, including former Secretary of State George
Shultz, have singed the resolution.
   Opponents said that while they respect Gray's moral courage and intelligence,
Gray's views are just wrong.
   Gray, who presides in a county that long has been considered a bastion of
conservatism, first revealed his feelings about the drug war in April 1992.

UPma 05/09/93 1456  Bill restricting forfeiture before Senate committee

   TRENTON, N.J. (UPI) -- A proposal working its way through the system would
limit New Jersey prosecutors trying to confiscate property allegedly used in
   The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled for a hearing Monday on a bill
that would bar forfeiture except from someone actually convicted of a crime.
Property seized at arrest would have to be returned if the owner was acquitted.
   The measure would also require that the amount of property to be forfeited
has some relationship to the seriousness of the crime.
   Similar legislation has already been released by an Assembly committee.
   The legislation has pitted prosecutors and Attorney General Robert Del Tufo
against a coalition called Forfeiture Endangers American Rights or F.E.A.R.
Conservative libertarian groups like the Washington-based Cato Institute are
also lobbying for more restrictive forfeiture laws.
   In New Jersey, forfeited property goes to a Special Law Enforcement Trust and
is usually divided among the agencies involved in the seizure. Houses, cars and
cash have gone into the pot.
   Prosecutors can also seize property without a criminal conviction, using the
lower standards of proof required in civil proceedings.
   Advocates of a more restrictive law say the current one gives the government
the power to destroy livelihoods and drive people from their homes without any
real proof of criminal activity. They also point to examples like a Somerset
County man who lost $65,000 in savings and a $200,000 home because he was
growing marijuana in his backyard.
   F.E.A.R. also says prosecutors sometimes allow rich criminals to bargain
their way out of criminal charges by agreeing not to challenge forfeitures.
   Prosecutors who testified before the Assembly Judiciary Committee argued that
the law as it stands is an essential tool, especially in drug cases. They say,
for example, that someone carrying thousands of dollars in cash is almost
undoubtedly involved in a drug deal, even if investigators do not have the
evidence for a conviction.

                                    RULES REACHES NEW HIGH

     By Gail Appleson
     NEW YORK, May 11, Reuter - The bitter feud between U.S. federal judges and
politicians over mandated prison terms for drug offenders has escalated into a
boycott of these cases by jurists and a call for their impeachment by members of
     Although these laws are aimed at ensuring defendants get similar sentences
for similar crimes, some judges say the rules force them to inflict harsh terms
on small-time drug offenders who don't deserve them.
     Congress has passed laws requiring mandatory minimum sentences in drug
cases based solely on the amount of narcotics involved.
     A judge cannot depart from the minimums unless a prosecutor files a motion
establishing the defendant has provided information about the crime.
     Encompassing these minimums are sentencing guidelines written by the U.S.
Sentencing Commission that establish prison-term ranges for certain crimes. The
ranges are based on the seriousness of an act, the defendant's criminal history
and other factors. The guidelines restrict a judge's discretion in deciding on a
prison term.
     The latest row stems from public speeches made by senior U.S. District
Judges Whitman Knapp of Manhattan and Jack Weinstein of Brooklyn who revealed
last month that they are refusing to take drug cases because of the unfairness
of the minimums and guidelines.
     Weinstein said he had to sentence a poor immigrant from West Africa to 46
months in a drug case and that the effect on her young children will be
     He said he was depressed at being a party to the cruelty connected with the
"war on drugs" being fought by the police and courts instead of medical and
social institutions.
     "I need a rest from the oppressive sense of futility that these drug cases
leave...I simply cannot sentence another impoverished person whose destruction
has no discernible effect on the drug trade," he said.
     Knapp and Weinstein are far from alone in their objection to the guidelines
and the minimum prison terms separately mandated by Congress.
     Judge Harold Green of the Federal District Court in Washington recently
went so far as to declare the guidelines unconstitutional as applied to a drug
     Even U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno has warned that sentencing reform has
produced unrealistically long mandatory prison sentences.
     She has said that the minimums and guidelines are doubling the federal
prison population and that criminal cases are driving civil suits out of the
     But some congressmen, including House of Representatives Republican Leader
Robert Michel of Illinois, are outraged that judges would refuse to handle drug
     In a harshly written letter to Weinstein and Knapp, Michel and seven other
Republican representatives said they stand ready to introduce a resolution of
impeachment to the House.
     "You have sworn to uphold the law -- not to subjectively select which laws
to enforce," Michel wrote, adding that if the judges could not fulfil the duties
of their office they should resign.
     U.S. District Judge Vincent Broderick of White Plains, New York, who heads
the criminal law committee of the Judicial Conference of the U.S. pointed out
that senior judges do not have to handle any cases and can choose the ones they
     "I think what Judges Weinstein and Knapp did was give voice to a real
frustration that judges feel in imposing sentences they do not feel are just,"
he told Reuters.
     The minimums are based on the weight of the drug involved in the crime and
do not take into account whether the defendant is a first-time offender or his
role in the activity.
     The following are the mandatory minimums for defendants convicted of
manufacturing, distributing or possessing drugs with the intent to manufacture
or distribute them. The minimums for crack cocaine apply even for simple
     10-year mandatory minimum:
     -- One kg (2.2 pounds) heroin
     -- Five kg (11 pounds) cocaine
     -- 50 grams (1.8 ounces) cocaine base (crack)
     -- 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of pure PCP -- Angel Dust -- or one kg (2.2
pounds) of a mixture of PCP
     -- 10 grams (0.4 ounces) of LSD
     -- 1,000 kg (2,200 pounds) of marijuana
     -- 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of methamphetamine
     Five-year mandatory minimum
     -- 100 grams (3.5 ounces) heroin
     -- 500 grams (1.1 pounds) cocaine
     -- Five grams (0.2 ounces) cocaine base (crack)
     -- 10 grams (0.4 ounces) of pure PCP or 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of a mixture
of PCP
     -- One gram (0.04 ounces) of LSD
     -- 100 kg (220 pounds) of marijuana
     -- 10 grams (0.4 ounces) of methamphetamine

APn  05/11/93 1509  Rancher-Drug Operation

Copyright, 1993. The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

   ODESSA, Wash. (AP) -- He was known as someone who took chances trying to hang
onto the family's cattle ranch.
   But in an apparent attempt to get out from under heavy debt so he could leave
the spread to his sons, Bud King took one risk too many.
   On Monday, the second-generation rancher began serving a five-year sentence
for his role in the biggest known marijuana-growing operation in state history.
   His arrest during a Sept. 9 raid on the King Brothers Ranch stunned neighbors
who knew King for his big stride, his can of chewing tobacco and a kerchief
hanging out of the back pocket of his jeans.
   "Everybody in town was really shocked and they're still talking about it,"
said Denny McDaniel, mayor of this town of 1,000 people. "That kind of thing
just doesn't happen here."
   Agents seized 6,000 mature marijuana plants in the raid. The high-grade
Indica marijuana hybrid had been grown between rows of corn on the 2,000-acre
ranch since 1988, prosecutors said.
   At his sentencing last month, King said he was "damned sorry" for getting
involved. "If I could change it, I would," he said.
   King has declined to discuss the case. But friends and relatives speculate
that he wanted to pay off substantial loans so he could leave the ranch to his
sons, Wade and Wes King.
   "That ranch was Bud's whole life," said Keith Kolterman, fertilizer manager
for the Odessa Grange.
   "I knew my brother had a lot of guts, but I also thought he had more brains,"
said King's brother, Wally.
   King pleaded guilty in January to conspiracy to grow and sell marijuana, and
failure to pay taxes on his drug profits.
   Because of liens against King's property, the federal government could not
easily seek forfeiture of the ranch. Instead, King agreed to pay $190,000 cash
for his interest in the ranch, and his sons will continue to run it.
   In exchange for a shorter sentence than the mandatory 10-year term, King
agreed to testify against some of the eight other men indicted in the case.
Their trials are scheduled to start in June.
   He also agreed to forfeit more than $1 million in delinquent taxes, fines and
cash forfeitures.

APn  05/11/93 1426 Commonwealth of Independent States - New Colombia

 AP Special Correspondent
   MOSCOW (AP) -- A ton of cocaine intercepted near St. Petersburg, Russia's
biggest drug bust ever, was the huge tipoff to a worrying new relationship
between Russian and Colombian crime cartels.
   The shipment was designed as an end run to European cocaine dealers, a
backdoor pipeline from Colombia via Russia. And the key link in the
long-distance trade may be recent Russian emigres in New York, Russian police
   Cocaine transshipment is just one element in a bleak scenario anti-drug
specialists outline for the Commonwealth of Independent States, where heroin
could soon go into production for the first time, and where vast fields of wild
marijuana await harvesting and marketing.
   "The problem could become extremely important," said Bernard Frahi of the
U.N. Drug Control Program. "The CIS could become like Colombia."
   Russian authorities say they were alerted to the big cocaine shipment by a
foreign government, which they have not identified.
   The white powder -- 2,400 pounds of it packed into cans marked "meat and
potatoes" -- was intercepted two months ago aboard a container truck headed
toward St. Petersburg from Finland.
   "The cocaine was being brought in from Colombia and they were going to take
it from Russia to Europe," said Alexander S. Sergeyev, anti-drug chief of the
Russian Interior Ministry.
   Cocaine is largely unknown among Russian drug abusers, who favor crude,
relatively inexpensive opium-based concoctions.
   One arrest was made quickly in the St. Petersburg case -- of an Israeli who
is a former Soviet citizen. But the suspect was not identified, and Russian
authorities otherwise have been tight-lipped about the bust, except to say, as
Sergeyev did, that "now we'll be much more attentive" to cocaine imports.
   In New York, however, a law enforcement source who spoke on condition of
anonymity said the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration was investigating
possible U.S. links to the St. Petersburg shipment.
   He supplied no details. But the Russian Police Digest, an Interior Ministry
publication, quoted ministry experts as saying known Russian organized-crime
figures who recently moved to New York had established contacts with the
Colombian drug cartels to organize deliveries to Russia.
   Some are not surprised by the Russian-Colombian connection.
   Greg Passic, chief of the DEA's money-laundering section in Washington, said
a top financial operator for the Colombian druglords, Franklin Jurado, was about
to fly to Moscow when he was arrested in 1990.
   "He was researching Russia," Passic said. "... It's an area they're
interested in."
   In Prague, the chief of the organized-crime section of the Czech Republic
police said the "Russian road" was important.
   "Russia has become a transit route for South American cocaine going to
Europe, because Aeroflot (the Russian airline) has direct flights from South
America, and the airport controls in Moscow are bad," said the Czech officer,
who for security reasons asked not to be identified.
   The Colombian cartels are pushing cocaine hard in Europe because the U.S.
"coke" market appears saturated and possibly shrinking. Heroin use, on the other
hand, is growing in America, something that could eventually encourage heroin
production in the CIS.
   Smugglers are alreadyy shipping heroin and other opium products via Russia
from the traditional cultivation and production centers of Afghanistan,
Pakistan, India and Southeast Asia.
   Although opium poppies are widely grown in ex-Soviet republics in central
Asia, the opium is converted into opium base or "koknar," a crude narcotic, and
not refined into heroin.
   But experts believe several factors have come together -- the breakdown in
law and order in the post-Soviet transition, the availability of chemists, the
opening of borders -- to spur heroin production in the CIS itself.
   "It's still not proven that heroin is produced there ... although it is
probably happening," Frahi, U.N. anti-drug chief for Europe, North America and
the Middle East, said at his agency's headquarters in Vienna, Austria.
   "The Russian mafias are looking for profit, and that would be in heroin, not
in transporting opium or base," he said.
   Refining and exporting heroin could turn the ex-Soviets into major players in
the world narcotics trade. And they have another commodity at hand as well --
   Marijuana grows wild in the southern ex-Soviet republics, and Sergeyev said
an estimated 1 million hectares-plus of wild marijuana -- more than 2.4 million
acres -- grows in Siberia and elsewhere in Russia.
   That's roughly equivalent to the area of the state of Connecticut.
   "Russian criminals understand very well that it's extremely profitable for
them to ship drugs out of Russia," the anti-drug chief said. "And they've
started doing it."

UPf  05/11/93 1128  Drug trafficking on the increase in Russia

   MOSCOW (UPI) -- Russian crime-fighters said Tuesday the country was
threatened with a troubling increase in drug trafficking and warned it was time
to sound the alarm before things got worse.
   "Russia is turning into a transit state for narcotics," Alexander Sergeyev,
head of the Russian Interior Ministry drug trafficking department, told
reporters Tuesday. "We must sound the alarm and take measures."
   Sergeyev said there were some worrying new trends, such as a marked increase
in the number of powerful synthetic drugs pioneered by Russian chemists in
underground laboratories and sold freely on the streets of major cities.
   Russia was being overrun by a network of competing, heavily-armed drug gangs
making a fortune from selling narcotics both in Russia and abroad, Sergeyev
said. He said the number of drug-related crimes had doubled in the last three
years and the number of addicts was rising monthly.
   Interior Ministry figures show the number of drug addicts in Russia has risen
by 60 percent over the last 10 years and now stands at 1.5 million people, 70
percent of whom are aged between 18 and 30.
   Ten years ago, police were seizing less than one ton of drugs a year, but in
1992 that figure grew to 22 tons, and police chiefs claim the illegal turnover
from the drug trade exceeded 60 billion rubles ($300 million) last year.
   Sergeyev said plantations of opium poppy and marijuana were spreading
throughout Russia, and wild marijuana was now growing across 2.5 million acres.
   Drugs also were coming across the weakly defended border between Tadzhikistan
and Afghanistan, and were then being smuggled into Russia across the almost
transparent borders of the Commonwealth of Independent States. Sergeyev said a
third of all drugs in circulation in Russia came through other C.I.S. countries.
   The Interior Ministry drug chief said a recent seizure in St. Petersburg of
one ton of cocaine with a street value of $100 million smuggled in from Columbia
and destined for Europe showed Russia had become "a major staging post for
   Drug abuse in Russia used to be restricted to areas where poppy and hemp were
grown but has now spread to all of Russia's major cities, Sergeyev said. Most
opium poppy was grown in the Northern Caucasus region.
   Drug traffickers are exploiting Russia's murky laws and economic chaos to
launder their profits in new private firms. "There is even evidence that foreign
drug barons are coming here to launder their money," Sergeyev said.
   But a worrying problem for Russian crime-busters is the growth in secret
laboratories employing highly qualified Russian chemists who are producing
powerful new types of synthetic drugs.
   Officials say 150 such labs were exposed last year, many employing chemists
displaced from their old establishment jobs in the revamped economy. The arrest
of a drug gang earlier this year in Moscow turned up lab equipment and chemicals
stolen from a number of city factories.
   Russian underground chemists have pioneered a new drug, trimethyl-
phentonile, called "glass" in Russian, which Sergeyev said was many times
stronger than heroin.


Circa 05/11/93 [untitled - bulletin on Mandatory Minimums & what you can do about them from the Cannabis Reform Coalition at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst]

Don't ever forget
That the least fascist
among the fascists
are also

Roque Dalton, Salvadoran Poet/Revolutionary  Poemas Clandestinas, 1986, pg. 126.

Ecology is the echo
produced by the noise
with which capitalism is destroying the world.

So, independent of what the university says,
Ecology is more than a science is
a discreet veil, a lubricating ointment and,
in the best of cases,
a scientific-technical aspirin.

Of its validity and efficacy it can be said,
that while capitalist destruction
continues producing profits for the owners of the world
and is more important than environmental conservation,
the only possibility ecology has
for being important
is to continue being a business."

Roque Dalton  --Salvadoran Poet/Revolutionary
Poemas Clandestinas (San Franscisco: Solidarity Publications), pg. 127.

"Nor do piecemeal steps however well intended, even partially resolve
problems that have reached a universal, global and catastrophic Character.
 If anything, partial `solutions' serve merely as cosmetics to conceal the
deep seated nature of the ecological crisis.  They thereby deflect public
attention and theoretical insight from an adequate understanding of the
depth and scope of the necessary changes."

Murray Bookchin, In The Ecology of Freedom (Palo Alto: Cheshire Books, 1982) pg. 3

"If we do not do the impossible, we shall be faced with the unthinkable."

From: Sol Lightman (
Organization: University_of_Massachusetts_at_Amherst_Cannabis_Reform_Coalition
Subject:      Mandatory Minimums & what you can do about them
To: Multiple recipients of list ACTIV-L (ACTIV-L@MIZZOU1.BITNET)

Yesterday at our last general meeting of the semester, Nancy Brown,
the New England coordinator for Families Against Mandatory Minimums,
spoke as a guest.  Some of the things she had to say appalled me.

She began her speech by rattling off a list of sentences delivered
under the Mandatory Minimum Sentencing Guidelines now in effect in this
country.  The list was just the tip of an iceburg, but even so, it
contained several sentences which could only be described as utterly

For those of you who are unaware of what Mandatory Minimum Sentencing
is all about, I will breifly describe to you this system.

I have sitting on my desk a chart which Mrs. Brown gave me, along
with other materials.  On one axis is the severity of a criminal
offense.  On the other are what can be best thought of as the opposite
of `brownie points' called Criminal History Points.

When a person is convicted of a crime in this country, their
criminal history is examined and they are given criminal history
points according to guidelines set forth by the federal government.
Their offense is also assigned a severity rating by another set
of guidelines.

A judge, when determining that person's sentence, does not need
to use his own discretion, he just looks up the sentence on the
chart and off they go to prison.  In fact, the judge is not
allowed to adjust the sentence on the chart ... downward.

Exceptions to this rule are afforded for the following reasons:

1) The defendant ratted out somebody else
2) The defendent must be hospitalized, or in-house detention
   is deemed adequate for this case (i.e. a handicapped person)

The entire attached document, which describes the Criminal
History Point system is cleverly written to discourage the very
thought of reduced sentences.  100% of the examples given which
describe a situation where the sentences may be altered, describe
an increase in the sentence.

So what happens when a person is convicted of an offense which
requires, say, a ten year sentence, and they only deserve, say,
two?  They get ten.  Period.  End of case.

Now the system which I have described seems very logical at first
glance -- applying a uniform sentence based on history and severity
of offense -- which is probably why it has been in effect for so
long.  But let us take a look at what has happenned during that

I was also supplied with the following statistics.

o  The US now has the highest incarceration rate in the ENTIRE WORLD.
   425/100,000.  Only the former Soviet Union and S. Africa come close.
o  From 1975 to 1990, the US prison population has more than quadrupled
   We now imprison people at a rate 4 times that of most European
   countries, with no noticeable effect on the crime rate.
o  The US now has 1.2 million people in jail or prison.  In order
   to provide for our weekly influx of 2000 prisoners, we would
   have to build 4 new prisons a week, that's $2 billion/month
o  The cost to maintain our current prison population is $16 billion
   a year.  Each prisoner costs $20,000 per year.
o  Corrections is the fastest growing public sector employment.
o  One out of every four African American males are in custody
   on any given day.  This compares to 1 out of 16 for South Africa.
o  If we continue our present rate of prison population increase,
   1/2 of our population will be in prison by 2053.

It is plain to me that this constitutes a problem.

Attorney General Janet Reno has called for a reveiw of these guidelines.

If you would like to express your support for reformation of
these guidelines and/or current drug laws and drug sentencing,
the phone number of her office is:

Office of Attorney General Janet Reno:  202-514-2000

The Chairman of the Judiciary Committee is Charles Schumes.
If you would like to express your thoughts to his office,
call Cheif Council Paul Beaulier (BOWL-LERR) at 202-226-2406.

There is currently a bill in the Congress to reform the
Sentencing Guidelines.  The Edwards Bill, introduced by
Representative Don Edwards, is bill HR957.  It would remove
mandatory minimum sentencing from the federal law books.

The following members of the Judiciary Committee are not
sympathetic to the Edwards bill.  It would probably be in
your best interests to inundate them with mail.

Rep. Charles Schumer
2412 Rayburn Office Bldg.  Washington D.C. 20515
1628 Kings Highway Brooklyn N.Y. 11229

Rep. John Conyers Jr.
2426 Rayburn Office Bldg.  Washington D.C. 20515-2201
Federal Bldg. Rm. 669  231 W. Lafayette Detroit MI 48226

Rep. George W. Gekas
1519 Longworth Office Bldg.  Washington D.C. 20515-3817

Rep. Dan Glickman
2311 Rayburn Office Bldg.  Washington D.C. 20515-1604
Room 134  401 N. Market St. Wichita KS 67201

Rep. Romano L. Mazzoli
2246 Rayburn Office Bldg.  Washington D.C. 20515-1703
Federal Bldg. Rm. 551
600 Martin Luther King Pl. Louisville KY 40202-22

Rep. Jim Ramstad
504 Cannon Office Bldg.  Washington D.C. 20545-2306
8120 Pennsylvania Ave. So. Suite 152 Bloomington MN 55431

Rep. George E. Sangmeister
1032 Longworth Office Bldg.  Washington D.C. 20515-1304
101 N. Joliet St.  Joliet IL 60431

Rep. Steven H. Schiff
1427 Longworth Office Bldg.  Washington D.C. 20515-3101
625 Silver Ave.  SW Suite 140 Albequerque NM 87102

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner Jr.
2444 Rayburn Office Bldg.  Washington D.C. 20515-4909
120 Bishops Way   Brookfield WI  53005

Rep. Lamar Smith
422 Cannon Office Bldg.  Washington D.C. 20515-4321
10010 San Pedro Ave.  Suite 530 San Antonio TX  78216

Several federal circuit judges are refusing to hear drug cases
in protest of the drug laws/mandatory sentencing.

In addition, one judge, Hon. Whitman Knapp of Manhattan, has actually
defied the mandatory minimum guidelines by delivering a reduced
sentence.  Several Congressmen are right now making motions to
impeach him.

Please educate yourselves about these events and write to your
local newpapers and other periodicals in support of these brave
stands, and the above proposed legislation.

Two groups you should consider joining are:

Families Against Mandatory Minimums
1001 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Suite 200 South
Washington D.C. 20004
(I have addresses of the local branches.)

Citizens United for Rehabilitation of Errants
P.O. Box 2310
Washington, D.C. 20013-2310
202-842-1650  Ext. 320


Justice Mocked; The farce of mandatory minimum sentences.
By Colman McCarthy

A year ago Patricia Martorana, a 20-year-old woman I came to know and
admire when she had been a gifted student leader at Vero Beach (Fla.)
High School, was attending Valencia Community College in Orlando. She
waited tables to earn tuition money. Her career plans included earning a
degree to work for the Florida forestry department as a wildlife

Today Martorana is caged in a federal prison in Marianna, Fla. She is
three months into a two-year sentence after plea bargaining to a charge
of conspiracy to distribute LSD.

I doubt if any member of Congress had Patricia Martorana or citizens
like her in mind when the 1986 Anti-Drug Abuse Act was passed.
Amendments that were a pitched response to get tough on drug offenders
set mandatory minimum sentences. Judges were left with no sentencing
options. The congressional intent was to cast a judicial net so wide and
tight that, at last, drug lords and kingpins would be snared and given
the stiff punishment they deserved. And members of Congress could
champion themselves as winning the war on drugs.

They're winning all right - small. Patricia Martorana, whose case is not
unusual, according to legislative and judicial groups that monitor the
effects of mandatory minimums, was a nonviolent first offender. She did
not deal, buy, sell or use drugs. Her "conspiracy" to distribute LSD, as
detailed in the plea agreement with a federal prosecutor, was marginal
and fleeting at best.

Last May, Martorana was phoned at home by an undercover agent posing as
a buyer. He had been given her number by a high school friend of
Martorana. The agent, along with a government informant who was
cooperating to have time cut from his sentence from an earlier drug
crime, was directed by Martorana to someone she knew at work who was a
dealer. The agent paid him $1,340 for 1,000 dosage units of LSD.

Martorana was given $100 as a commission by her co-worker. In a stakeout
of the young woman's apartment, surveillance agents learned it was there
that the dealer transferred the LSD to Martorana's high school friend,
who then sold it to the undercover agent outside.

For this role in a relatively minor drug deal set up by legal
entrapment, and in a state teeming with violent and huge drug rings, a
young college student is now a federal prisoner. When Martorana was
sentenced in early November, a family member recalls, the judge
expressed a sentiment of frustration routinely heard from the bench: the
mandatory minimum sentencing law gave him no choice but imprisoning the
student for two years. He was forbidden to consider that this was a
nonviolent first offense or that Martorana's participation was small or
that her mother recently died of cancer and her father is disabled.
Probation, community service or counseling was out.

On Feb. 17, Rep. Don Edwards (D-Calif.) introduced legislation calling
for an end to mandatory minimums. He was responding to the increasing
opposition to the restriction from the American Bar Association, judges
in all 12 judicial circuits and the U.S. Sentencing Commission.

Occasionally a jurist can no longer take it. In late 1990, a
Reagan-appointed federal judge in San Diego resigned because of
mandatory minimums: "They have destroyed the discretion of judges," J.
Lawrence Irving said. "They are grossly unfair to the litigants. For the
most part the sentences are excessive, particularly for first-time

It works the other way, too, as in "guideline sentences." This is a
process by which drug kingpins can bargain for lower sentences if they
cooperate with prosecutors by fingering others in the ring. A mandatory
sentence can be avoided by naming names. "The moral of this story," says
Julie Stewart, director of Families Against Mandatory Minimums, a
Washington advocacy group, "is that if you're going to get caught on a
drug charge, be a kingpin. You can talk and get off lightly. It also
means that those who have little or no information to bargain with get
the hardest hit. They're the least guilty."

FAMM's files bulge with cases of citizens serving drug sentences of 5,
10 and 20 years without parole chances for first and often minor

Inside her Florida prison, Patricia Martorana sees the injustice up
close: "There are women here serving 10 to 15 years on charges of drug
conspiracy. They are doing more time than some murderers. I would say
that over 50 percent of the women here are first offenders."

All are doing hard time, compliments of a simplistic law passed -  and
kept on the books - by an unthinking Congress. In addition to
brutalizing the lives of people like Patricia Martorana, justice itself
is mocked. Forced to obey mandatory minimums, judges can't judge. They
can only process, stamping defendants as they pass by like slabs of meat
on a judicial conveyor belt. If the 1986 law has had a measurable effect
on drug deals, it's news to the judges.

The University of Massachusetts at Amherst                |  _________,^-.
Cannabis Reform Coalition                               ( | )           ,
S.A.O. Box #2                                            \|/           {
415 Student Union Building                              `-^-'           ?     )

UMASS, Amherst MA 01003  |____________  `--~ ;

* To find out about our on-line library, mail a message with the
* pattern "{{{readme}}}" contained IN THE SUBJECT LINE.
* You will be mailed instructions; your message will be otherwise ignored


Hemp News No. 7

Compiled by Paul Stanford