DrugSense FOCUS Alert # 179 July 27, 2000 

DrugSense FOCUS Alert # 179 July 27, 2000 
Posted by FoM on July 27, 2000 at 10:28:04 PT
Washington Post Gets It, But Time Magazine Doesn't
Source: MapInc.
In an effort to raise consciousness about important issues overlooked by the two major parties, political gadfly Arianna Huffington is organizing "Shadow Conventions" to coincide with the Republican and Democratic national conventions. One of the issues to be highlighted at the Shadow Conventions is the disastrous war on drugs. In a piece from the Washington Post this week (below), columnist Judy Mann makes it clear why the war on drugs must be confronted. 
She illustrates how millions of Americans have been hurt by the drug war. Mann also shows how the major parties have written off those millions of Americans by keeping discussions about reform off the agenda. On the other side of the spectrum, Time Magazine this week published a report on the Shadow Conventions that casually dismisses the need for drug policy reform. The story suggests Huffington tossed drug prohibition into the mix of issues at the Shadow Conventions merely to gain funding from billionaire George Soros. Anyone who has read Huffington's columns on the drug war in recent months knows she offers a passionate and remarkably frank analysis: and for example. If Time's reporter had analyzed the subject using facts instead of speculation, surely he would have seen it is the drug warriors themselves who are trying to squeeze every dime they can from drug problems, not Arianna Huffington. Please write one or two letters: one to the Washington Post to support Mann's assessment of the tragedies of the drug war; and/or another to Time Magazine to tell editors that drug policy reform is crucial for the future of America, even if political elites don't want to talk about it. WRITE A LETTER TODAY It's not what others do it's what YOU do  PLEASE SEND US A COPY OF YOUR LETTER OR TELL US WHAT YOU DID (Letter, Phone, fax etc.) Please post a copy your letter or report your action to the sent letter list (sentlet if you are subscribed, or by E-mailing a copy directly to MGreer Your letter will then be forwarded to the list with so others can learn from your efforts and be motivated to follow suit This is VERY IMPORTANT as it is the only way we have of gauging our impact and effectiveness. CONTACT INFO: Source: Washington Post (DC) Contact: letterstoed Source: TIME (US) Contact: letters  ARTICLE #1 US DC: Column: Make War on the War on Drugs URL: Doug McVay Pubdate: Wed, 26 Jul 2000 Source: Washington Post (DC) Copyright: 2000 The Washington Post Company Page: C13 Contact: letterstoed Address: 1150 15th Street Northwest, Washington, DC 20071 Feedback: Website: Author: Judy Mann, Washington Post Cited: The Lindesmith Center / Drug Policy Foundation: MAKE WAR ON THE WAR ON DRUGS The Justice Department has just issued another indicator of the damage being done by the war on drugs: An all-time high of 6.3 million people were under correctional supervision in 1999--1.86 million men and women behind bars and 4.5 million on parole or probation, 24 percent of them for drug offenses. The criminal justice system reached 1 percent of the adult population in 1980. Its reach now exceeds 3 percent--about one of every 32 people. Our $40 billion-a-year war on drugs has created more prisons, more criminals, more drug abuse and more disease. An estimated 60 percent of AIDS cases in women are attributed to dirty needles and syringes. A recent U.S. Supreme Court decision probably will spur more litigation in the drug war, as prisoners use the ruling to appeal unusually harsh sentences. The court ruled that any factual determination used to increase a sentence will have to be made by a jury, not a judge. While a judge can use a standard of the preponderance of the evidence in sentencing, a jury must decide beyond a reasonable doubt, says Graham Boyd, director of the Drug Policy Litigation Project of the American Civil Liberties Union. "If the government wants to impose draconian sentences for drug crimes, they should have at the very least to prove their case to a jury by a criminal standard, and that hasn't happened in the past--amazingly." That's just one example of the civil rights casualties of a war in which paramilitary police raid people's homes and authorities seize their assets without due process, flying in the face of the Fourth and Fifth amendments. A few politicians are brave enough to declare the obvious: The war on drugs hasn't worked. New Mexico's Gary E. Johnson (R) was the first governor to call for marijuana legalization and other major drug policy reforms. Rep. Tom Campbell (R-Calif.), a candidate for the U.S. Senate, is the first major-party politician to run statewide with a platform that includes prescription access to heroin. They will speak at the "shadow conventions" to be held at the same time as the Republican and Democratic conventions to address three issues of critical importance that organizers say are being given short shrift by the two major parties: the drug war, campaign finance reform and the growing gulf between rich and poor. Drug policies affect millions of people who have family members behind bars. Some of them will be at the shadow conventions. They will put names and faces on this whole failed drug war effort. Many of them are likely to be black. While African Americans constitute 13 percent of the illegal drug users, they account for 74 percent of those sentenced for drug offenses. Convicted felons lose their right to vote, a backdoor way of reinstituting Jim Crow laws. Pressure to change drug laws is mounting, and it is coming from unlikely places, including farmers, who are forbidden to grow hemp, the plant from which marijuana comes but which has other, non-drug uses. The Lindesmith Center, which advocates drug policy reform, did a survey several years ago that found more than 50 percent of farmers in five midwestern and western states favored legalizing hemp. Only 35 percent were opposed. "This was the first indication we had that the public, in fairly conservative agricultural states, were supporting this," says Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the center. More recently, Hawaii and North Dakota passed legislation legalizing hemp's cultivation, and similar measures are "in play" in more than 10 other states, Nadelmann says. From 30 to 40 countries, including Canada, have made it legal. "This is quite galling for farmers on the northern border who can look across the border and see people growing this stuff," he says. Nadelmann believes that both Texas Gov. George W. Bush and Vice President Gore, the Republican and Democratic presidential candidates, would be well served if they did some research on hemp. "It may be an issue that a number of people care about, and it would be sending a message they are willing to think rationally about the economic and agricultural interests of farmers even when the product has a relationship to marijuana." The Lindesmith Center is one of more than 35 public policy, health, religious and racial advocacy organizations that sent a list of 10 tough questions to the presidential candidates during the primaries, pointing out where the drug policies have failed and asking what they would do to change them. None of the candidates have answered, according to Kevin B. Zeese, co-chair of the National Coalition for Effective Drug Policies, although the groups will try to pursue the issue during the general election campaign. "Unless the drug issue is forced on them, they prefer to avoid it rather than confront it," Zeese says. "Our basic point is the drug war is bankrupt and our policymakers aren't facing up to it. We tried to construct those questions in a way that showed the drug war methods are causing more problems than they solve, and we got a range of groups to show a breadth of concern about this." Highly visible people, including Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura (I), are now calling for a genuine debate on how to deal with drugs. Approaches gaining support include legalizing marijuana (except for sale to minors), prescription access to heroine, needle exchanges, taxing drugs and redirecting most of the drug war funding into public health and education. We are a nation of intelligent and thoughtful people who deserve better than overheated rhetoric and a drug policy dictated by crazy hard-liners and pandering politicians. At the very least, in the face of the well-documented harm the war on drugs has caused, we deserve a debate on how to control the drug market in a way that works. This lackluster presidential campaign would be a good place to start. ARTICLE #2 US: Time Magazine: The Arianna Sideshow URL: Newshawk: Come to the Shadow Conventions Pubdate: Mon, 31 Jul 2000 Source: TIME (US) Copyright: 2000 Time Inc. Contact: letters Address: Time Letters, Time & Life Bldg., Rockefeller Center, NY, NY 10020 Fax: (212) 522-8949 Website: Author: Andrew Ferguson Bookmark: MAP's link to shadow convention items: Note: Shadow Convention websites: & THE ARIANNA SIDESHOW The Activist And Socialite Has Plans For Two "Shadow Conventions" She Hopes Will Roil The Establishment. What Are They Really About IT'S NOT EASY GETTING A political convention off the ground =AD especially when the convention is not really a convention but a "shadow convention," and especially when the politics being convened is not the old-fashioned kind but a new, revolutionary kind of politics that will "transcend the old categories of left and right." Arianna Huffington has been learning this lesson the hard way all summer. While Americans across the country =AD hundreds of them! maybe thousands! =AD eagerly await the twin spectacle of the Republican and Democratic conventions in Philadelphia and Los Angeles, the syndicated columnist and former Newt Gingrich confidant has been trying to round up participants for a self-styled alternative =AD the Shadow Conventions 2000, dubbed by sponsors as a "Citizens' Intervention in American Politics." "It's really exploding in ways I could not have imagined," Huffington says, riding through downtown Philadelphia a few weeks before the Republicans are scheduled to arrive. Today she has already held a press conference, visited two newspaper editorial boards, met with a dozen area activists and scouted the arena where the shadow revels are to be held. But the complications never let up. An aide's cell phone beeps, and he hands it over. "Bill Bradley," he says. Bradley has unofficially agreed to appear at one of the shadow conventions. "Bill!" she says, though in her heavily Greek-accented English it comes out "Beeeel!" "How are you'?" A long silence ensues. "Oh, Bill, that's ridiculous," Huffington says at last. "No, no, no. He's just trying to make trouble, Bill. It is false. He does not know what he is talking about." In time she hangs up, evidently having mollified Bradley. "He just saw Bob Novak on Inside Politics," she explains, referring to the conservative columnist and the CNN political show on which he regularly appears. "Bill's worried because Novak says no one knows who is financing our conventions. Novak says if people knew, they would not want to appear. This is false." She sighs deeply. "But this is the kind of thing we will have to put up with. The Establishment hates anything it cannot control. What it cannot control, it tries to eliminate." Huffington and her colleagues are convinced they have hit on a formula that will roil the muddy middle of American politics, from Bushies on the one side to Gorites on the other. Their plan is media-savvy and politically astute. Concurrently with the party conventions, an assortment of activists, professional pols and celebrities with populist pretensions (from stand-ups like Bill Maher to superstars like Warren Beatty) will gather for four days of speechifying, seminar giving and satirical merrymaking, all on the indisputable assumption that the national press corps (and the public) will be so starved for spectacle and spontaneity that it will lavish attention on them =AD and their issues. CNN and C-SPAN have expressed interest in broadcasting some sessions live. "We want to throw light on the things that no one will be talking about in the other conventions =AD and have a genuine debate, not an infomercial," Huffington says. She and her co-conveners =AD who include Scott Harshbarger of Common Cause and antipoverty activist Jim Wallis =AD have whittled their agenda down to three items. One day will be devoted to campaign-finance reform, the next to the growing income gap between rich and poor, and the third to "reforming" =AD read liberalizing =AD the nation's drug laws. If all goes well, organizers hope, this trinity of issues will form the nucleus for a "new politics," re-energizing the half of the electorate now so alienated from the old politics that it no longer bothers to vote, Campaign-finance reform is the thread that ties all other reforms together. "It's no accident that the major parties aren't addressing the income gap and are ignoring the failed war on drugs," says Harshbarger, "The constituencies that are hurt by these issues aren't donating millions of dollars to the political parties. Unless you fix campaign finance, you can't move on to the other issues." Still, it seems a curiously arbitrary trio of concerns =AD particularly the drug-war component, which scores scarcely a blip in any catalog of the public's disenchantments. Why single out drug laws instead of guns, for example, or the environment, or educational policy, or any of half a dozen issues with greater populist appeal? One reason =AD ironically enough, given the convener's hostility to big money in politics =AD might be cash. A third of the convention's tab will be picked up by organizations funded by George Soros, the international financier whose passion for ending the drug war has made him an all-purpose bogeyman for political establishmentarians everywhere. Other funding will come from foundations and individual donors across a narrow span of the political spectrum, from the center to the center left. "Transcending the old categories of left and right," after all, is a favorite rhetorical trope of liberals who are tired of being dismissed in a political culture that makes "moderation" the pre-eminent virtue. NOTE: The rest of this article has been deleted for space reasons. To read the whole piece, go to:  SAMPLE LETTER #1 To the editor of the Washington Post: Judy Mann does an excellent job of summarizing some of the tremendous damage done by the drug war ("Make war on the war on drugs," July 26). Sadly, the politicians and government officials who have the power to stop the tragedy prefer to pretend there is no tragedy. It seems as if the simplistic "Just Say No" mantra repeated to the point of nausea by politicians in the 1980s has been replaced by an attitude even more frustrating and dangerous: "Just Say Nothing." It's well past time for more American leaders to face their denial and break the silence. Stephen Young SAMPLE LETTER #2 To the editor of Time: Your article on Arianna Huffington and the upcoming Shadow Conventions, "The Arianna Sideshow," was a fair piece but I was confused by the following: "Still, it seems a curiously arbitrary trio of concerns =AD particularly the drug-war component, which scores scarcely a blip in any catalog of the public's disenchantments." Barely scores a blip? Do you only read your own magazine? Get a clue. There is an intense and powerful debate rising in the media of this country. The drug war has taken the "land of the free" and made us the most incarcerated nation on the planet. Get out more often. In fact, step into the "Shadows" and see for yourself. Allan Erickson IMPORTANT: Always include your address and telephone number Please note: If you choose to use this letter as a model please modify it at least somewhat so that the paper does not receive numerous copies of the same letter and so that the original author receives credit for his/her work. ADDITIONAL INFO to help you in your letter writing efforts 3 Tips for Letter Writers: Letter Writers Style Guide:  TO SUBSCRIBE, DONATE, VOLUNTEER TO HELP, OR UPDATE YOUR EMAIL SEE TO UNSUBSCRIBE SEE Prepared by Stephen Young Focus Alert Specialist Mentioned Article:Make War On The War on Drugs Alert Archives: MapInc. Archives: Search - The Shadow Conventions: CannabisNews Search - The Shadow Convention:
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