Electoral Politics: Nationally Known Drug Reformer Seeks Green Party Gubernatorial Nomination in Connecticut 1/27/06

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Cliff Thornton, the founder and moving force behind the drug reform group Efficacy, publicly announced this week he is seeking the Green Party nomination for governor of Connecticut. Thornton's campaign kicked off with a well-attended press conference in Hartford Wednesday.

Cliff on Thornton on Australian speaking tour
For years, Thornton has taken his message that drug prohibition has failed to the rubber chicken circuit of Rotaries, Kiwanis, and other clubs, college campuses, drug policy conferences and conventions and anywhere else he can get a forum. He estimates that more than 300,000 people have heard him make the connections between race, class, and the war on drugs.

In October, some of home-state Thornton's efforts bore fruit with the "Hartford's Drug Burden—Where to Put Our Resources?" conference that brought a bevy of nationally known drug reformers to town to meet with local elected and law enforcement officials in an effort to bring some fresh ideas to Connecticut drug policy. That conference continues to reverberate, with other cities inquiring about holding their own conferences and legislation impelled by the conference that will help keep drug policy in the spotlight.

The Thornton campaign will undoubtedly do its part on that score, too.

He was already hard at it Wednesday. "It's time to bring the drug war into the political arena," he said. "Drug policy starts with one question. Are people ever going to stop using illegal drugs? The overwhelming response is no. If that is the case, the next question is, how do we create an atmosphere where those people cause the least harm to themselves, and second, the least amount of harm to society as a whole?" he said. "We have to answer these questions in their entirety before we go anywhere else. The answer definitely is not the war on drugs."

Thornton needs to file 7,500 valid signatures with state officials by August 9 to qualify for the ballot. If successful, he will join a race that pits Republican Gov. Jodi Rell against either New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr. or Stamford Mayor Dannel Malloy, who are fighting for the Democratic Party nomination. He would also become the first black man and the first Green to run for governor of Connecticut.

Green Party spokesman and Thornton campaign manager Tim McKee told the New Haven Register the campaign's all-volunteer team would collect from 10,000 to 12,000 signatures to ensure a "safety zone" by deadline time.

"Cliff's got an extremely controversial point of view and we know that. He's gotten a great reaction. We're going to run a hard-hitting, clean campaign," he said.

While the Connecticut Green Party has no explicit mention of drug policy reform, it is an affiliate of the national Green Party. In 2004, the national Greens adopted a platform that includes the following planks:

  • We call for decriminalization of victimless crimes. For example, the possession of small amounts of marijuana.
  • We call for legalization of industrial hemp and all its many uses.
  • We call for an end to the "war on drugs." We support expanded drug counseling and treatment.
Thornton is not the only nationally known drug policy reformer testing the electoral waters in runs for state-wide office this year. In Alabama, US Marijuana Party founder Loretta Nall has traded the pot leaf for the Libertarian banner as she seeks the governorship there. And in Maryland, longtime drug reformer Kevin Zeese is running as an independent for the US Senate seat currently held by retiring Sen. Paul Sarbanes (D).

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Issue #420 -- 1/27/06

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Feature: San Diego Politicos and Activists Face Off Over Medical Marijuana | Feature: Study Claiming Methamphetamine is Overrunning Hospital Emergency Rooms Fails to Withstand Scrutiny | Feature: Medical Marijuana Refugee Steve Kubby Expelled From Canada, Faces Life Threatening Jail Sentence in California | Feature: On the Occasion of our 420th Issue, We Look at 4:20 | Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories | Europe: Ireland to Start "Cautioning" Marijuana Users -- No, Wait a Minute, We Changed Our Mind | Europe: British to Review Drug Classification Scheme | South Asia: Indian Farmers, Maoists Team Up in Opium Trade | Australia: Green Party Takes a Step Back on Drug Policy | Electoral Politics: Nationally Known Drug Reformer Seeks Green Party Gubernatorial Nomination in Connecticut | Medical Marijuana: New Mexico Bill Wins Senate Committee Approval | Weekly: This Week in History | Job Opportunities, MPP in DC and Nevada | Weekly: The Reformer's Calendar

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