LOS ANGELES-Twenty years after their heyday as an underground
phenomenon, the drug-fueled dance parties known as raves are making a
comeback as massive, commercial events.
But a recent wave of ecstasy-related deaths and hospitalizations tied
to such events have left some officials skeptical about their makeover.
Last week, a 15-year-old girl died of apparent drug-related causes
following an enormous rave held at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum,
prompting a temporary moratorium on such gatherings at the
municipally owned venue.
[continues 1178 words]
Will the Obama Administration Put Justice Back in the Criminal Justice System?
President Obama faces a heap of crises: a major economic recession,
crumbling national infrastructure, and ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Buried in that heap is another war, one less present in public
discourse but no less toxic: the drug war. The concentrated
battleground of the drug war has been on domestic soil, with
America's so-called interdiction efforts spreading the fight across
the world, from poppy-rich Afghanistan to the coca-nurturing Andes to
the most brutal battlefield of them all, Mexico, which saw more than
5,600 drug-related murders last year, including several that involved
publicly displayed decapitations
[continues 3100 words]
Prop. 36 Has Driven Thousands of Hard-Core Drug Addicts Away From
Prison and into Treatment, but Backers Worry That Recent Changes to
the Program Could Stifle Its Success.
"I should have been killed, if it wasn't for the airbag," she
whispers, so as not to disturb the court session. Bert Gabriel, her
brassy-haired, grandmotherly case manager, dispassionately surveys
her client's mottled arms. Gabriel knows that for this woman to be in
court today, she had to survive a lot more than a car crash -- she
had to overcome a twenty-year heroin habit. Nevertheless, today she's
sober and ready to graduate from Proposition 36.
[continues 6347 words]
Homemade Crystal Meth Makes Another Big Comeback, And The Hapless War On
Drugs Fumbles Once Again
"I don't have a bedtime, I don't have to come, Since I became an
amphetamine bum" --The Fugs
Like some demented e-mail from Julia Child, one website recipe calls for
200 pseudoephedrine pills (Actifed, Sudafed, Suphedrine, etc.), one and a
half cups of ammonium nitrate fertilizer, three cans of lighter fluid,
three AA Energizer lithium batteries, one bottle of Red Devil lye, water,
iodized salt, and one bottle of Liquid Fire drain opener.
[continues 3354 words]
Thanks for your excellent editorial regarding the latest GOP obsession and
smoke screen: HR 1528. I am becoming more and more alarmed at the workings
of our federal government. It's almost like Washington, D.C., is no longer
a part of the United States.
And it's time people wake up and got involved!
The legislation proposed by our neighbor to the north (Sensenbrenner of
Wisconsin) is draconian and the implications chilling.
And while some say, "It's just a starting point for discussion," and given
the current behavior of the U.S. Senate Majority, I think we need to be
[continues 392 words]
Struggling Against The Hysteria
1) Please Eat the Hemp, the Conclusion: The Hemp Industries Association won
its fight against the feds' proposed new rule that would've made it illegal
to sell foods containing hemp seed and oil. In February, the U.S. 9th
Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the HIA, and in late September the feds
declined to appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.
2) Pretty (and Stoned) as a Princess: In April, the Texas Department of
Public Safety kicked off a statewide program designed to put an end to
illegal drug use at "organized rave parties." The DPS campaign aimed to
educate the public about the dangers of "club drugs" like Ecstasy, and
issued a watch list of items commonly identified with ravers -- like
"colorful, beaded bracelets" and "princess" costumes.
[continues 540 words]
Promoters, Vendors Could Also Face Fines, Jail for Audience Substance Abuse
So you're at a music show, let's say Dave Matthews Band, when the
unmistakable smell of marijuana wafts your way.
It's a scenario familiar to people who attend concerts regularly; there's
always somebody in the crowd who sneaks an illegal substance past security.
Under the terms of an anti-drug bill being considered by Congress, Dave
Matthews, his band, the show promoter, the bartender, and even the guy who
sells T-shirts could all be fined or jailed for that fan's joint.
[continues 803 words]
Do your children, friends, or other loved ones own "colorful, beaded
bracelets and necklaces?" Do they use nasal inhalers or have trouble
concentrating? Are they depressed? Do they own a "princess" costume?
If so, your loved one just might be an illegal-drug-taking Raver. "A
pattern of this behavior or ownership of several of these items may
indicate that your child is involved in the rave scene," warns the
Texas Department of Public Safety. But don't panic (at least not yet),
because the DPS on April 28 kicked off a statewide program to put an
end to illegal drug use at "organized rave parties." (Okay, now you
[continues 501 words]
Today is different: You're speaking to a psychiatrist--not in a sterile,
fluorescent-lit hospital, but in a residential office on a peaceful,
tree-lined street. You suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, and
you've talked for hours in this very room, but always skipping the violent
chapter that keeps you up at night, giving you flashbacks and causing you
to feel estranged from your loved ones. Now an emergency room doctor and
nurse are stationed inside the house. You've brought an overnight bag.
Today, you've been given 125 milligrams of Ecstasy, and maybe, just maybe,
you'll finally be able to face your demons.
[continues 1787 words]
All Disco Donnie Wanted To Do Was Throw Some Wild Parties.
Then he threw New Orleans into the center of a national debate over music,
drugs, the First Amendment and pacifiers.
The most striking thing in Betty Estopinal's Metairie CPA office is a
massive portrait of her son Disco Donnie, constructed entirely of Mardi
The stench of smoke and must rises to the State Palace Theatre's massive
balcony. It's a few minutes until the start of the first local screening of
Rise: The Story of Rave Outlaw Disco Donnie, a new documentary about the
heyday of the local rave scene and its legendary promoter.
[continues 3926 words]
1) Ashcroft Busts Chong: In February, U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft
gleefully announced that his drug warriors busted 50 individuals, including
pot-comedy icon Tommy Chong, as part of a Justice Department-led undercover
drug paraphernalia trafficking operation code-named Operation Pipe Dreams.
It seems that although Chong's Internet-based hand-blown-glass bong company
had refused several previous attempts by Ashcroft's crusaders to have a
bong shipped to paraphernalia-intolerant Pennsylvania, someone at company
HQ inadvertently shipped an autographed bong to an assistant U.S. attorney.
Chong was sentenced to nine months in federal prison.
[continues 512 words]
Those 20,000-strong mega-raves at the Orange Show Fairgrounds in San
Bernardino are no more. Big downtown events are fewer and farther between.
Superstar DJs are finding fewer and fewer gigs on the rave circuit. And
fans of euphoric trance and emotional ecstasy are relegated to a handful of
smaller, legit venues, places such as Pomona's Glass House, downtown L.A.'s
Orion, and Qtopia in Hollywood. Not like it was.
At Qtopia, for example, raving is still alive but not so well. The promise
of techno-hippie pastures filled with hugs and uplifting tunes has given
way to kids crashed out on the dirty concrete and vibing to infantile
trance. On a recent Saturday night at the club, all the trappings of
e-culture are in evidence, but little of the original uplift. Green lasers
pierce man-made fog as ravers begin hitting the ground with ecstasy-induced
fatigue. Pot smoke clouds a concrete patio outside, nearly every single
inch of which is covered in graffiti art. Cholos, skaters, and club kids
bounce to the sound.
[continues 3412 words]
Serving nine months in federal prison for putting his face on a bong, one
of America's most beloved comics contemplates the war on stoners,
thoughtcrime and reuniting with Cheech.
The joke, of course, is that this is Sgt. Stadanko's revenge. The
arch-nemesis of every Cheech & Chong film, actor Stacey Keach seemed
like he'd play the greasy, bumbling narc forever, but now U.S.
Attorney General and religious jihadist John Ashcroft has taken over
the role, and he's not playing it for laughs.
[continues 2012 words]
Over the summer, when I have a free weekend and some cash, I like to spend
it at a music festival. I gather up some buddies, pack my bags, grab my
tent and head away from the real world for a short time. It's a way for us
to escape the predictably monotonous tone of the northern Virginia lifestyle.
Arriving on a Thursday or Friday, we set up camp, crack a few beers, and
anticipate the upcoming shows. We look forward to a weekend free from
convention. Most of all, we enjoy being treated like responsible adults.We
arrive and our cars aren't searched. We walk around aimlessly at
[continues 514 words]
A National Antirave Act Wants To Stop You From Dancing In The Dark.
Hollywood has a long tradition of films in which the ridiculous plot serves
only as a flimsy excuse for the soundtrack. Such was the case with the
idiotic "plot" of the 1984 movie Footloose in which the family of a
high-school rebel (a young Kevin Bacon) moves to a Utah town and Bacon
discovers that they've outlawed--can you believe it?--dancing. Fast-forward
to this year. With virtually no attention, Congress passed an onerous new
national antidrug bill--one whose implicit effect is to outlaw certain types
of dancing. Enter the RAVE Act.
[continues 599 words]
Chris Suckow sees himself as a marked man.
The 25-year-old self-employed contractor is successful in his business,
having expanded his decorative concrete business, Surface Specialties of
Mississippi, from South Mississippi to include work in Hattiesburg.
Many men his age have not come this far professionally.
Many men his age have not endured what he has personally.
"At 25 years old, I'm basically where I should have been three years ago,"
he said with unflinching self-analysis. "Every day is a struggle - not so
much because of other people, but mentally. I feel like I've got to work a
little harder than everyone else."
[continues 1392 words]
With little fanfare, highly touted researchers from Johns Hopkins University
recently made a stunning announcement. Data from their experiments with the
now infamous drug Ecstasy, published a year ago in Science, turned out to be
It seems the vials had been mislabeled and the drug administered to -- and
that killed 20 percent of -- the study's laboratory monkeys and baboons was
not Ecstasy but a completely different substance.
As a research scientist, having conducted the first federally funded
sociological study of Ecstasy users, I am happy about the recent news that
one dose of Ecstasy does not, as the widely publicized Science article had
claimed, cause irreversible brain damage leading to Parkinson's disease.
[continues 760 words]
At this very moment, a man named John Walters is sneaking around the country on
a mission to find new and unusual ways to disgrace the ideal of civil liberty.
He is cunning, brutally insensitive and wholly opposed to the very freedoms you
and I are supposedly entitled to. He is not, however, an enemy of the state; he
is employed by the state. Mr. Walters works at a little agency named the Office
of National Drug Control Policy - an organization not nearly as innocent as it
sounds. John P. Walters is this nation's "drug czar." I know what you're
thinking: "WTF? America has a czar?" Why yes, yes it does. The best part is
that he even abuses his power with the same panache as an imperial Russian
[continues 800 words]
MIAMI - In the movie "Footloose," Kevin Bacon's character asks, "Is it a
crime to dance?"
Nineteen years later, the rock 'n' roll beat has given way to an electronic
thump. But the dancers' complaint is similar.
Young people who like to dance till dawn at clubs say a new federal statute
amounts to an attack on their culture, while promoters fear it will put
them out of business.
The source of their anguish is the Illicit Anti-Drug Proliferation Act,
Congress' attempt to reduce drug use in nightclubs.
[continues 860 words]