Doctors, Lawyers, Pharmacists Push Drug Reform

Doctors, Lawyers, Pharmacists Push Drug Reform
Posted by FoM on December 13, 2001 at 11:34:24 PT
By Beth Kaiman, Seattle Times Staff Reporter 
Source: Seattle Times 
Hoping to persuade state legislators to shift money from punishing drug users to treating them, state organizations representing lawyers, doctors and pharmacists yesterday urged dramatic drug-policy reforms, saying the "war on drugs" has failed. The groups stopped short of calling for decriminalization, but the Washington State Bar Association, Washington State Medical Association and Washington State Pharmacy Association all have endorsed a King County Bar Association report released yesterday that calls for a new way of thinking about drugs  specifically, admitting that time in prison, or the threat of it  doesn't help to undo addictions. 
"There is nothing more expensive than long-term imprisonment," said Jan Eric Peterson, a past president of the state bar. "And nothing works worse." The report comes as legislators in Olympia prepare again to urge shorter sentences for drug offenders and more money for treatment programs. A bill to do that passed the Senate last spring but did not get through the House. King County Prosecuting Attorney Norm Maleng, who helped draft that bill, will return to Olympia during the session that begins next month to lobby for essentially the same bill, said Dan Donohoe, spokesman for Maleng's office. The coming together of the establishment of lawyers, doctors and pharmacists on the issue is a first in the state, and Fred Noland, another past president of the state bar, said that is significant. "We are calling for a real public dialogue on this ... one of the thorniest issues in society," he said. Some members of the task forces that prepared the report favored decriminalization, Noland said. And, in his perfect world, he said, 10 years from now, nonviolent drug users would not even make a stop at the courthouse  just at a treatment center, where help would be available on demand. But the talk can't get that far yet, not from three groups that represent the establishment. "We're aware this is a very difficult political subject," Noland said. Complete Title: Doctors, Lawyers, Pharmacists Push Drug Policy Reforms Source: Seattle Times (WA)Author: Beth Kaiman, Seattle Times Staff ReporterPublished: December 13, 2001 Copyright: 2001 The Seattle Times CompanyContact: opinion seatimes.comWebsite: Articles:Drug War Failed, New Report Says Unified Call To End War on Drugs
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