David Borden, Executive Director,
Every year is different in
drug policy reform. Past years have seen exciting victories at the
ballot box for sentencing reform, medical marijuana and asset forfeiture.
2002 saw some defeats in that arena. 2003 was more of a "keep plugging"
sort of year -- most of the action was in Congress and the legislatures,
in protests and demonstrations, and of course the general process of educating
the public about the terrible consequences of criminal prohibition of drugs.
Things went well or badly in the states, depending on where you looked
and at what you looked. In Congress, our side lost two important
votes this summer, on medical marijuana and Plan Colombia. But at
a different level, the votes were victories -- support for medical marijuana
increased by more than 60% since the last such vote five years before;
and the Plan Colombia vote was razor thin, a margin that not so long ago
would have seemed inconceivable.
Just as every year is different
in the issue, every organization is different too. I'd like to take
a moment to talk about some of the things we are doing here at DRCNet,
and some of the things we'd like to do if we find financial help.
Before I do so, I also want to mention -- as many of you already know --
that 2003 was a difficult year in drug reform funding overall, and DRCNet
was not spared from financial hits. If you can afford to make an
end-year donation -- a tax-deductible one to the DRCNet Foundation, if
that is helpful to you, or a non-deductible gift for our lobbying work
to the Drug Reform Coordination Network. If you can't make one now,
but can pledge something for the first month or quarter or half of next
year, that would help too. We are trying to balance next year's budget,
and though things look promising, we also need a bit more in confirmed
pledges or actual money in the bank if we are to avoid cutbacks that will
significantly undermine our ability to do this work. You can donate
online by credit card at http://stopthedrugwar.org/donate/
or print out a form to send in with a check or money order by mail to P.O.
Box 18402, Washington, DC 20036. Or free to give us a call at (202)
293-8340; ask for me or for our associate director, David Guard, and contact
us if you would like information on how to donate stocks.
DRCNet's action plan includes
two components that DRCNet readers know well, this newsletter as well as
our action alerts. More generally, educating and mobilizing the masses
on issues from sentencing to needle exchange to Plan Colombia to medical
marijuana, supporting the work and amplifying the messages of all the other
groups making up the drug policy reform movement, helping new groups start,
is all a critical part of our work.
With your help and with some
likely grants in the works, we will continue publishing Drug War Chronicle
-- the only comprehensive publication of original journalism on drug policy
and the reform movement. We believe that 2004 will see Drug War Chronicle's
subscriber base soar to over 40,000 e-mail recipients, and many more than
that accessing it via the web, but we need your help to ensure that this
happens. Also with your help, we will resume our web-based write-to-Congress
web sites -- the larger the Chronicle list gets, the more important our
list becomes for lobbying too, and the action alert web sites also help
to grow the list. One member with a friend has pledged $100 per month
by credit card to support our use of this service. Would you sign
up to give a monthly contribution, small or large, to bring us closer to
the goal? Visit http://stopthedrugwar.org/donate/
to sign up today!
DRCNet entering 2004 is more
than just information, though -- please continue and read about the rest
of our programs:
Out from the Shadows -- our
international campaign and conference series calling for an end to drug
prohibition and building an "edifice of opinion leaders" going on the record
calling for legalization (http://stopthedrugwar.org/shadows/).
Out from the Shadows has gotten a great start, with a 300-person conference
at the Autonomous University of the Yucatan, Mérida, Mexico, featuring
five members of national parliaments of Latin America (Bolivia, Colombia,
Costa Rica, Mexico and Uruguay) and leaders from the ranks of academia,
government, law enforcement, harm reduction, cocalero organizing, media
and others. Out from the Shadows Mérida set a record by drawing
more high-level participation than any previous drug reform conference
in history! Allies organized other Out from the Shadows events, including
a conference at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium, and a DC
press conference with Canada's Senator Pierre Claude Nolin. We are
seeking $50,000 in seed money to make the next conference possible -- if
you know any individuals or foundations who might be interested in Out
from the Shadows, please put us in touch!
||Arnold Trebach introduces
Senator Nolin of Canada and
Marco Cappato of the European
Parliament at the DC Out from
the Shadows news conference.
Higher Education Act Reform
-- DRCNet continues to lead, in partnership with our friends at Students
for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP), the campaign to repeal a federal law that
delays or denies federal financial aid for college to students because
of drug convictions (http://www.raiseyourvoice.com).
Our accomplishments in this area include two other drug reform records
-- ten members of Congress speaking at our Capitol Hill press conference
calling for repeal of the provision and 67 cosponsors of the bill to repeal
it (current count 64), the strongest showing for any positive drug reform
legislation before Congress in recent years. HEA offers our movement
its first chance to repeal a federal drug law in full since the Boggs Laws
(earlier mandatory minimum sentences) were taken off the books in 1970;
and achieving that repeal will in turn shift the climate on Capitol Hill
in favor of further changes in drug laws.
We have just received a $25,000
grant from the Tides Foundation Fund for Drug Policy Reform for the HEA
campaign, and are seeking roughly $10,000 to complete the current project's
budget and another $10,000 to expand it. The current project involves
grassroots mobilizations in states around the country lobbying Republican
Senators to cosponsor the first Senate repeal bill with Sen. Ted Kennedy,
who has given his commitment to introduce the repeal bill once such a cosponsor
is found. The expansion plan would include a series of forums around
the state of Ohio, efforts to start and energize SSDP chapters around the
state, substantial local media work, promotion around the state of a student
government resolution calling for the law's repeal, grassroots mobilizing
and campaigning, "grass-tops" high-level lobbying, more. We will
also need further funds by April to continue the campaign on to further
|Ten members of Congress
spoke at our May 2002
HEA press conference.
The Perry Fund -- We are
seeking funding for a national media/fundraising/organizing campaign built
around the John W. Perry Fund, our scholarship program for students who
have lost financial aid because of drug convictions. We recently
had an initial success in this area, an excellent article in the Corvallis
Gazette-Times, Oregon, featuring Perry Fund grantee Melanie Cavyell of
Linn Benton College (http://www.gtconnect.com/articles/2003/12/12/news/community/friloc01.txt).
Also, a Perry Fund PSA has run or is currently running on about two-dozen
campus radio stations around the country.
You can help with this in
the meantime. We have five students in a variety of locations around
the country whose education we have helped fund -- all of it with donations
given expressly for the Perry Fund, not with our general support donations
-- and we would like to continue supporting them for at least one more
semester. (Four of them will be eligible again for aid after that.)
We have received several more completed applications from additional deserving
would-be students. Most of our grantees have decided to go public
telling their story, a courageous act that does more to fuel discussion
of the issue than perhaps anything else.
||Perry Fund grantee Donald Miller, with David Borden
and former Urban Justice Center intern Gabe Freiman
What we are asking is that
those of you who know of individuals or foundations, preferably who are
not currently active drug reform supporters but who may have compatible
values, to tell them about the Perry Fund and put them in touch with us.
In many of these cases, one or two of a few thousand dollars is enough
to get the students through a semester or more. A small gift to the
Perry Fund, and participation in media work if they are willing, could
be a great way to bring a new donor into the movement. We currently
have completed applications from students or would-be students in New York
City, Oregon, California, Colorado, Idaho, Las Vegas, metro-Washington
DC/Virginia, Washington state, North Carolina, Texas, Ohio and elsewhere.
for more information on the scholarship. The Perry Fund is charity
but it is also something more, it is a statement.
Under-treatment of Pain --
We are currently seeking funding for a major, behind-the-scenes effort
to bring massive pressure to bear on police and prosecutors to stop their
monstrous persecution of doctors who aggressively treat chronic pain patients
with opioids (narcotics); and to help groups in the pain movement take
their work to the next level to make that possible.
I hope this leaves you with
a better idea of what DRCNet is about and how important your support of
our organization is to the issue. With your help, there is hope for
change! Thank you for being a part of drug policy reform.
-- END --
Issue #317, 12/26/03
Message from the Executive Director: Another Year at DRCNet and in Drug Policy Reform |
Canadian Supreme Court Upholds Marijuana Law -- Cannabis Battle Heads Back to Parliament |
The New Jersey Weedman is Back! Forchion Announces House Bid Before Arrest at Liberty Bell Pot-Smoking Religious Demo |
Newsbrief: The Complete List of President Bush's Drug War Prisoner Pardons |
Newsbrief: Return of the Undead, Part I -- "B-1 Bob" Dornan to Challenge Rohrabacher in House Race, Attacks Medical Marijuana |
Newsbrief: Return of the Undead, Part II -- Arch-Drug Warrior McCollum Seeks Florida GOP Senate Nod |
Newsbrief: Prohibition-Terror Link? |
Newsbrief: Cable Giant Censors Medical Marijuana Issue Ads in New Hampshire |
Newsbrief: Todd McCormick Released from Federal Prison |
Newsbrief: Why Don't People Seek Treatment? |
Popular Television News and Drama Programs to Discuss Mandatory Minimum Sentencing in January |
BUSTED: New and Improved Video Offer from DRCNet |
DRCNet Temporarily Suspending Our Web-Based Write-to-Congress Service Due to Funding Shortfalls -- Your Help Can Bring It Back -- Keep Contacting Congress in the Meantime |
Perry Fund Accepting Applications for 2003-2004 and 2004-2005 School Years, Providing Scholarships for Students Losing Aid Because of Drug Convictions |
The Reformer's Calendar
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