Advocates Gear Up for Drug-Reform Push

Advocates Gear Up for Drug-Reform Push
Posted by FoM on January 05, 2002 at 07:24:51 PT
By Jonathan McDonald, The New Mexican
Source: Santa Fe New Mexican
With only one legislative session left under Gov. Gary Johnson's administration, drug-reform advocates are pushing to get a package of changes to current state law passed.To help rally support, the Lindesmith Center Foundation for Drug Policy Study, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico are hosting a forum today at Santa Fe's Unitarian Church to push the cause. 
Johnson, a Republican, has called for major reform to the state's drug laws and is expected once again to push legislation seeking changes during this year's session, scheduled to begin Jan. 15.Many of his proposals have failed to win widespread support in the state Legislature. Some drug-reform advocates are concerned Johnson's successor might not be as warm to their cause as the state's current executive."Our current drug policies are failing us," said Peter Simonson, executive director of the ACLU of New Mexico. "We spend millions of dollars on strategies that the last decade has proven ineffective."The package expected to be proposed during this year's legislative session includes five bills that will be the topic of today's forum, said Carol Samuels, a spokesperson for the New Mexico Drug Policy Project.Simonson said he believes two of the five bills are critical to meaningful drug reform: giving judges discretion in sentencing drug offenders and reforming the state's asset-forfeiture law.Under the state's current policies, law-enforcement agencies can seize the house, car and cash of a suspect before he or she is convicted of a crime, such as drug trafficking."It's pretty startling. It's shocking, in fact," Simonson said of the current asset-forfeiture laws.The proposed changes that will be presented to the state Legislature this year would require police agencies to wait until someone is actually convicted before attempting to seize his or her property and sending that money to the state's general fund instead of to police agencies.Just as important, Simonson said, is "restoring judicial discretion" and allowing judges to set sentences they deem fit rather than following minimum-sentencing guidelines that can clog the prison system with nonviolent drug users.The drug-reform bills expected to be introduced during the session will also include proposals to legalize marijuana for medical use; create civil, rather than criminal, penalties for possession of 1 ounce or less of marijuana; and set up a system that will offer nonviolent drug users treatment instead of jail time.Simonson said these changes go beyond Johnson. All New Mexicans should be concerned about the proposed bills, he said."The governor's support is certainly appreciated, but this is an issue all of New Mexico should be concerned about, regardless of their political affiliation," Simonson said.The forum will be held from 9 a.m. to noon at the Unitarian Universalist Church at Barcelona and Galisteo streets. Source: Santa Fe New Mexican (NM)Author: Jonathan McDonald, The New MexicanPublished: January 05, 2002 Copyright: 2002 The Santa Fe New MexicanContact: letters sfnewmexican.comWebsite: Articles & Web Sites:TLC - DPF Gary Johnson's Home Page Gary Johnson's Visit to the Drug Policy Forum Head Debates Pro-Legalization Governor
Home Comment Email Register Recent Comments Help

Comment #1 posted by Jose Melendez on January 05, 2002 at 16:41:44 PT:
sounds familiar...
"Voters should ask politicians this question: "Do you support drug prohibition because it finances criminals at home or because it finances terrorists abroad?" "
-CHUCK BEYER, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Arrest Prohibition
[ Post Comment ]

Post Comment