MAP Gets Press

Freedom Fighters of the Month - Mark Greer and Matt Elrod

Source: High Times (US)
Pubdate: Sep, 2000
Copyright: 2000 Trans-High Corporation, redistributed by MAP by permission
Website: http://www.hightimes.com/
Author: Steven Wishnia

The top site bookmarked on my Web browser at HIGH TIMES is mapinc.org, the DrugSense/Media Awareness Project's collection of over 37,000 drug- related news articles. 

The MAP Inc Website is the most-surfed drug-policy site in the nation, averaging over 70,000 hits a day last March and getting over 100,000 one day April. 

According to a Webtrends.net comparison, the DrugSense/MAP Websites are more popular then those of the Drug Czar's Office, Partnership for a Drug-Free America, CASA and DARE combined.  Last April, almost 8,000 other sites had links to MAP.  Aside from news clips, which are also accessible on lists "asset forfeiture" to "raves," the site offers guides to writing letters to the editor, and contains links to over 75 pot and hemp sites, 83 general drug-policy reform sites and 20 prohibitionist groups. 

The site is the brainchild of Mark Greer, 52, a former computer salesmen from Southern California.  Greer discovered the Internet in 1993, and hooked up with the Drug Reform Coordination Network.  They originally collected articles to help people write anti-Drug War letters to the editor.  But Greer soon realized that the articles were worth archiving.  Today.  he says, MAP has 400 to 500 "newshawks," almost all volunteers, sending in about 1,000 articles a month from the US, Canada, Western Europe and Australia.  He's now trying to arrange translations of stories from Colombia and Mexico. 

Greer split from DRCNet in late 1994, establishing DrugSense as an umbrella group to encompass other activities, primarily helping less technical activists get access to the Web.  Webmaster Matt Elrod came aboard in 1995. 

Elrod is also Webmaster for Kevin Zeese's Common Sense for Drug Policy, and has done computer work for the November Coalition, the Drug Policy Foundation and the Vancouver Compassion Club, as well as offering free "hand-holding and technical support" to scores of' other groups.  Sometimes, he confesses, he feels "a bit of an armchair activist," working out of a log house on B.C.'s [Vancouver] Island, a long way from the drug raids in the ghettos or the Skid Row of Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. 

Still.  he contends, the Net is an invaluable information resource for activists.  "We've won the internet battle, because we're not limited to soundbites," he says, "in any debate, the prohibitionists are pounded into the dust."

Greer echoed that theme at last May's DPF conference, noting that while MAP offers links to prohibitionist Websites, the likes of DARE and the PDFA don't reciprocate.  "Our secret weapon is accuracy," he said.  "We link to them --- they don't link to us,"

"Out in the streets, I'd just be another body," Elrod concludes.  "We all have to do our part, and this is the best way I can."


D. Is Not For Drugs
Pubdate: Fri, 29 Jun 2001
Source: STLtoday-com (MO)
Website: http://www.stltoday.com/
Author: Chris King

He doesn't care if you smoke dope.  He doesn't advocate that you do.  He is far from a slacker, no turn-on and dropout type.  He works as a union laborer on the East Side and has grandkids.  Doesn't go out much.  Really can't be bothered.  He also moonlights tirelessly, burning up the Internet constantly seeking to reform the current drug laws, especially concerning marijuana, which he defines as a medicine, not a drug. 

We'll call him "D." In fact, that's what his friends call him.  A fuller identification would be no favor to him, given the repressive political climate that surrounds criminalized drugs. 

His labors as an activist are many.  He edits the Web site for The Media Awareness Project, archiving all of its published letters and managing its media database that lists, he says, "I don't know how many papers, magazines, and other publications from around the world.  It's interesting to read that most countries are not following the U.S.  lead and are moving toward more sensible policies." His newest endeavor is another Web site, the Drug Policy Forum of Illinois.  ( Note: a good search engine, such as Google, should lead you to these resources.  )

He is also thinking about manning a "hempformation" booth at the Illinois State Fair.  "I hope I'm not mentally ill," he jokes, alluding to the public nature of such a gesture. 

How did he get into this?

D.  Says, "That's an easy one.  I read a newspaper article about two dudes who added a drug to baby formula they manufactured that killed 38 babies - six months and a $130,000 fine.  Followed by a small article about two East St.  Louis men facing life in prison for marijuana distribution.  I've carried them in my wallet since.  Needless to say, it's not dated and is faded real bad after 20 years, but with effort it can be read."

What effect has any of it had?

He says that his Web sites combine to receive nearly 3,000,000 hits a month and attract more visitors than The Office of National Drug Control Policy, The Partnership for a Drug Free America, The Center for Addiction and Substance Abuse and DARE combined.  "No site supporting existing policy even comes close to the DrugSense/MAP sites for relative popularity and number of visitors," he notes. 

Nevertheless, D.  says, "I have no grand illusions of changing the world overnight.  I'd really much prefer people don't listen to me ( in a way ) and just educate themselves.  I'm just trying to make it easier for them to find the information."

Among that information is heartrending stories about people who never smoked pot for pleasure but did develop debilitating illnesses, such as glaucoma, that are uniquely eased by cannabis, and who fight for their lives ( and often languish in prison ) trying to get access to the one drug that helps them.  Also, many stories about non-violent offenders expensively clogging our prison system. 

"I really need to explain I'm not pro-drug!" D.  emphasizes.  "I am pro-reform.  It seems to me the current laws cause more harm than good.  With Bush denying student loans when someone has been arrested for pot, I find it bizarre.  I think harm reduction is my real goal, and that means a major overhaul of the current drug laws."

It's a goal he takes seriously, laboring at his computer for hours at night after manning a jackhammer or pouring concrete all day to support his family. 

D.  says, "I also get up at 4 a.m.  to get in a couple of hours before work.  I've said for 20 years if someone can prove to me I'm wrong, I'd be more then happy to stop and just live my life like everyone else.  I'm still waiting!"


A Virtual Breeze Comes To Washington

Pubdate: Tue, 24 Nov 1998
Source: USA Today (US)
Author: Sam Vincent Meddis, USA TODAY

One of the real nice things about working at USA TODAY is the view.

From my cube on the 22nd floor of the company's tower in Arlington, Va., I'm afforded what can only be described as a spectacular panorama of Washington, D.C.

What I like best is that on a clear day you can almost see the hot air rising from the various government buildings there.

As you might expect, the bombast, deception and exaggeration of official Washington get particularly thick when some hot-button issues pop up on the political agenda, anything from taxes to gun control to Monicagate.

But it seems to me that nothing has caused more sustained government hot air thanthe so-called drug war.  Now thanks to the Internet, a cool breeze may be moving in.

Let me explain.  I personally braved many an anti-drug wind as a reporter for the paper covering criminal justice issues.

It even seemed fitting that the last story I wrote before becoming online tech editor here was about our nation's misguided drug policies.

The story, which ran on Nov.  20, 1995, was about the FBI's annual report of crime across the USA.

What caught my eye were statistics showing that, contrary to drug warriors' get-tough pronouncements, police were arresting more low-level users and fewer dealers, while busting as many people for marijuana as for the hard-core drugs cocaine and heroin combined.

Over the years I saw how billions of dollars were misspent on law enforcement efforts to battle drugs: thousands of arrests from inner-city dragnets with military-sounding names, sweeps that turned neighborhoods into war zones; huge increases in prison populations because of mandatory sentences that rivaled punishment for rape and homicide, incarcerations that often only made inmates more crime-prone and violent; extravagant and largely futile measures to prevent illegal drugs from entering our country, such as the ill-conceived dirigibles strung on our southern border that smugglers all-too easily sidestepped.

All the while, insufficient attention was paid to the underlying reasons why our nation has such a gigantic drug appetite.  Or as Barry Krisberg, president of the National Council of Crime and Delinquency http://www.nccd.com/, once described it to me, "why so many people in
America want to blot out their existence with drugs."

What we need is increased education and less scare tactics, more treatment and fewer busts.

But the leaders of America's drug war are, in a sense, addicted to their get-tough policies.  What has been lacking on the national scene to help cure them is a stronger reform voice.

Until now.

The Internet is starting to level the playing field between drug warrior and reformer.

''It's an incredible tool for the reform movement,'' says Kevin Zeese of the group Common Sense for Drug Policy http://csdp.org/factbook/.  ''It's been a way to get people communicating, getting the information flow flowing and coordinating.''

The Lindesmith Center http://www.lindesmith.org/, for example, promotes what it calls "harm reduction," an alternative approach to the drug problem that tries to minimize the adverse effects of both drug use and prohibition. Another reform site, DrugSense http://www.drugsense.org/, serves as a kind of clearinghouse for breaking stories and editorial opinion.

Paul Armentano of NORML http://norml.org/, which advocates the legalization of marijuana, says it's not a matter of drug-reform Web sites preaching to the converted.

NORML's site gets several thousand visitors each day, and the feedback from many first-time visitors is quite positive, he says.  "Eventually this is going to cause a very big groundswell for this issue."

In addition to providing news reports and backgrounders on issues such as the medical use of marijuana, the site also takes advantage of the Web's interactive capabilities by allowing a visitor to send a free fax to members of Congress.

David Borden of the Drug Reform Coordination Network http://drcnet.org/ says that federal authorities have historically downplayed studies that contradict their get-tough approach.  As then-President Richard Nixon did in 1972 by ordering limited printings of a report calling for decriminalization of personal amounts of marijuana, Borden says.

Another government technique is to release critical studies late on a Friday, when little media interest is likely, he says.  Because of the organization's Drug Library http://www.druglibrary.org/, studies now are widely available to the public.

The internet, says Borden, "is changing things in a fundamental way."

Can the Net blow away the anti-drug cloud that hangs over our nation's capitol?

I'll be watching.

By Sam Vincent Meddis, USA TODAY

On the Web is a weekly column on issues and topics that will help you become a better informed, more adept Web traveler.

UN Drug War satirized in Ad featuring President Clinton at the General Assembly
Sense.jpg (2261 bytes) In coordination with Common Sense for Drug Policy a pro reform ad ran on CNN 108 times between Thursday 6/4/98 and Sunday 6/7/98 in NY and DC. It depicted President Clinton with a voice over of what he _should_ be saying at the UN General Assembly Special Session on Drugs The DrugSense web page was prominently displayed at the end of the ad.

Published in the Isreali magazine, "Anashim" on April 28, 1998.
English Synopsis by the Author, Adi Alia
MAP is all about documentation. This site documents every piece of info about drugs, without taking a stand, although its owners are liberal. They collect articles written by scientists, stuff that was published in newspapers, anything... Their purpose is to make people react and comment on those subjects.
You can also contribute: if, for instance, you've come across a news item that says a policeman in Ofaqim (a small town in southern Israel) "planted" drugs in people's houses just to impress his boss (it just happened here last week) - you can translate it and send it to MAP.
The hot story of the month is the "letter assault" on the New York Times, after publishing an article by A.M Rosenthal. One of the most interesting comments came from a police chief with 35 years of experience, who said that the war on drug only brought more corruption, racism and violence. MAP says that if anybody wanted to buy the space these letters were printed on - the price would have been $13,000.
anashim.gif

Source: The Northwest Florida Daily News
Pubdate: 22 Mar 1998
THE NETROVERT - INFORMATION ON POLITICS EASY TO GET
The Internet is changing the face of American politics.
The culture of sound bites and spin doctors that has dominated the electoral follies for generations is beginning to lose its influence.
The Internet gives voters a new way to acquire political information, independent of the moneyed interests that have had such a corrupting influence on the process.
Consider, for example, that on the Internet, the war on drugs was lost a long time ago.
Online, it's very difficult to find someone to defend this massively destructive and massively expensive social experiment, and impossible to find someone who can defend it ably.
The drug warriors have nothing but reefer madness propaganda to support their position, and on the Internet, with its instantaneous access to scientific materials, this is an overwhelming disadvantage.
Polls conducted among Internet users show a huge majority want to end the war, and a lot of them have set up polished and professional Web sites dedicated to that purpose.
One particularly good one is the Media Awareness Project (http://www.mapinc.org/), which collects and archives news on the war.
A while back, for example, the site recorded a truly astonishing example of political stupidity on the part of Steve Forbes, the man who would be America's CEO.
It seems that the good citizens of Washington, D.C., were entertaining a petition to permit the medical use of marijuana. Evidently Forbes saw thi s as a golden opportunity to establish his drug warrior credentials.
He made the usual arguments, assuring us that allowing the sick and dying to smoke pot without fear of incarceration would lead inevitably to the collapse of civilization.
That's all well and good, from a political viewpoint. Lots of voters believe the same thing.
But then Forbes goofed. He claimed that "well-financed legalization forces" want to "make America safe for Colombian-style drug cartels."
The drug lords' greatest fear is that we might end the war, and take away the countless untaxed billions they have come to expect as their due.
That Steve Forbes is apparently ignorant of this basic economic fact does not argue well for his candidacy. If he doesn't understand that "legalizers" and drug lords are the bitterest of enemies, how will he ever grasp the more subtle aspects of statecraft?
His opponents in the primaries will, unfortunately, never take him to task for his foolish remarks.
In American politics, to criticize even the most obviously deranged drug war rhetoric is to leave yourself open to the charge that you're "soft on drugs."
That accusation can be fatal to your career, and few politicians are brave when their career is at risk.
But the Internet is slowly flooding America's political grassroots. It's becoming America's political memory, and it never forgets. Voters can now share their opinions directly with thousands of other voters, cheaply and efficiently.
Some of them are going to be wondering if it's really such a good idea to elect a dullard to the highest office in the land, even if they like his political philosophy.


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