No One Wants to Talk About Drug Legalization!

No One Wants to Talk About Drug Legalization!
Posted by FoM on June 20, 1999 at 06:44:11 PT
Source: Orlando Sentinel
WASHINGTONCongress seldom meets a hearing that it doesn't like, but the one that Rep. John Mica, R-Winter Park, convened on Wednesday raised quite a few hackles.John Mica.
Its topic: "The Pros and Cons of Drug Legalization, Decriminalization and Harm Reduction."The hearing, the first on the subject since 1988, was motivated by suspicions on Capitol Hill that legalization of drugs is the ultimate goal of people who promote marijuana as a medicinal palliative or advocate giving sterile syringes to heroin addicts to prevent them from contracting the AIDS virus.The hearing illustrated Congress' reluctance to rethink the war against drugs, on which the federal government spends nearly $18 billion a year. And it presaged the sort of discourse about drugs bound to surface in next year's election campaign."It's a politically risk-free area," said Eric E. Sterling, a former counsel to the House Judiciary Committee who helped draft the Anti-Drug Abuse Acts passed in 1986 and 1988. Sterling, who is president of the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation, attended the hearing."No member of Congress is going to lose a vote because they're tough on drugs," he said. "And it attracts media attention. I suspect pollsters would tell members of Congress that this is a very good area to be outspoken in."The hearing itself drew protests from opposing camps."We do not have hearings called 'The Pros and Cons of Rape,' " said Rep. Mark Souder, R-Ind., who is on the subcommittee.And Ethan A. Nadelmann, the director of the Lindesmith Center, a New York-based group working to change drug policy, dismissed the hearing as "an effort to smear the many moderate proposals for drug-policy reform with the broad and false brush of radical legalization."Ira Glasser, who testified before the subcommittee as executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, said, "I think they are engaged in an effort to discredit and attack and intimidate people who disagree with them." Glasser, who is also president of the Drug Policy Foundation, said in his testimony, "The government has demonized all drug use without differentiation, has systematically and hysterically resisted science and has turned millions of stable and productive citizens into criminals."
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