Leaders Discuss Drug War Policy

Leaders Discuss Drug War Policy
Posted by FoM on September 11, 2001 at 08:44:05 PT
By Andrew Webb 
Source: Daily Lobo
Gov. Gary Johnson battled it out over drug legalization with the new administrator for the DEA during a heated debate at the UNM Continuing Education Center Monday.The public debate was the first on drug policy for Asa Hutchinson, who was confirmed to the Drug Enforcement Agency post by the Senate Aug. 8. About 250 people packed the auditorium for the event, which was taped for the Pennsylvania-based weekly National Public Radio program “Justice Talking.” 
Margot Adler, the host of the program, introduced Johnson and Hutchinson. She said public discussion of drug policy and law enforcement was of growing importance.“Since the Nixon administration, Americans have spent billions on drugs, and billions fighting them,” she said.During introductory speeches, Johnson said he was fighting for the legalization of marijuana and the lessening of punishment for other drugs, increased drug prevention education, and what he called “harm reduction” — providing such stopgaps as methadone and needle exchanges to users to prevent overdoses and the spread of disease. Johnson has gained nationwide attention for his belief that the “war on drugs” is a failure.“Half of law enforcement, half the courts and half the jail population are drug related,” he said. “90 percent of the arrests are for possession only, and half these are Hispanic. I’m going to live to see 80 million Americans arrested for drug use. We have to stop arresting 1.6 million people a year.”Johnson called drugs a handicap and said he didn’t think anyone should use them, but said the decision should be left to individuals, not law enforcement.Hutchinson agreed with Johnson’s statement that drugs are harmful, but said legalization would only encourage use.“If we as a nation want to discourage use that harms, our laws should reflect those values,” he said. “Our laws should be the master teacher, and they should be enforced.”He said he supported the idea of public debate on the subject, and that he was a strong advocate of programs like drug court, which allows some offenders to go through treatment programs and community service in lieu of jail time. Johnson said his views on drug policy came from personal experience — he has publicly admitted to using marijuana in the past.“My fundamental belief is that these are bad choices, but you’re not harming anyone but yourself,” he said.Hutchinson, a former U.S. representative from Arkansas, said his experience as a federal prosecutor allowed him to see what drug use did to families.“We can do better than giving in to drug culture,” he said.Adler asked the two to outline their ideas for what the U.S. drug policy should look like.Johnson said his ideal policy would work to reduce death, disease and crime through treatment, and stress legal action for drug users who harm someone else while under the influence of drugs. He called attempts to seize drugs at U.S. borders, “pissing in the wind,” and said more money should be put into education and treatment.Hutchinson agreed that an updated policy should include strong treatment programs. He called education a critical component, citing its role in recent shifts in public opinion regarding tobacco and seatbelt use. But incarceration, especially for traffickers, should continue to be available as an option, he said.Johnson contended that incarceration was overused.“The government assumes that everybody that smokes marijuana belongs in jail,” he said.Hutchinson argued that fining people for minor drug offenses would fail to deter users.“I don’t think you’re discouraging use by saying you’re not violating a federal law,” he said.Johnson defended Hutchinson after the crowd booed the DEA administrator’s suggestion that New Mexicans are not buying in to the governor’s ideas.“This represents a huge change in federal policy to have Asa here to talk,” he said, congratulating Hutchinson for his participation.Michael Chapman, the chief public affairs officer for the DEA, traveled to the debate from Washington, D.C. with several agents to support Hutchinson.“Mr. Hutchinson is genuinely interested in doing the best he can do to answer the problem of drug abuse, and he’s more than willing to get the message out to the public, and listen to what they have to say,” he said.The debate was sponsored by the UNM Law School, KUNM 89.9-FM and the National AIDS Brigade. Note: Debate covers legalization, education, treatment.Newshawk: ShirleySource: Daily Lobo (NM)Author: Andrew Webb Published: September 11, 2001Copyright: 2001 Daily LoboContact: lobonews unm.eduWebsite: Articles & Web Sites: Justice Talking Gary Johnson's Home Page Governor Debates DEA Chief Gov. Debates Legalizing Drugs with DEA
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Comment #4 posted by Sled on September 11, 2001 at 11:49:00 PT
The Debate - The Rest Of The Story
I was there. Hutch stuck with the usual line & the Gov. wiped thefloor with him. The crowd was overwhelmingly friendly toward the Gov.& reform. Drew strong applause for the Gov. & boos for Hutch. Anoccasional very light applause for Hutch. Only his agents & croniessupported him at all & there were only a few of them present.If anything, Hutch got laughed at more than anything & it wasn't allreformers there by any means. A lot of gray heads in the audience &they supported reform.Hutch stuck to the latest buzzwords, with "traffickers" his favorite.No doubt, he watched the movie & that's all that he came away with.IMHO, he didn't take the Gov. seriously prior to debate, didn't have aclue what the Gov.'s positions were, thought everyone there would befor his position, walked into a minefield, & stepped on every mine insight.He was flustered, completely bereft of knowledge of this subject,became red-faced a number of times, & blew the whole thing, so whatelse is new. The guy is way out of his league.I made a tape of the whole thing, even though they requested thateveryone turn of any recorders. I'm sure I'm not alone. With all thevideo cameras in evidence, I think a a clandestine copy should beavailable shortly.C-Span taped it for later broadcast & if they don't censor it heavily,you'll be very pleasantly surprised.Hutch got his ass kicked & then some.Live from the front.....Sled
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Comment #3 posted by Sudaca on September 11, 2001 at 09:35:31 PT
the Law
how come this country can be so progressive on things like sex (especially teenage) with AIDS , unwanted pregnancy, the use of condoms etc. Would ASA say that the US encourages underage unsafe sex because it's not against federal law?
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Comment #2 posted by Patrick on September 11, 2001 at 09:28:42 PT
An excellent point
“This represents a huge change in federal policy to have Asa here to talk,” he said, congratulating Hutchinson for his participation.I can hardly wait to read the actual transcript or better yet watch it, and then read the slice-n-dice commentary from our most articulate spokespeople here at cannabisnews. I just want to point out again that the "fact" that "head" of the DEA put himself up to debate in public is huge. He could dish his warped viewpoint to us in sound bites. Instead he chose a debate. Finally!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 
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Comment #1 posted by Sudaca on September 11, 2001 at 09:04:56 PT
Is this really an argument ASA
"“We can do better than giving in to drug culture,” he said."so that's what bothering you. 
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