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Hundreds of Prop. 36 Grads Rally in Sacramento to Celebrate Program's Success!

MEDIA ADVISORY: April 17, 2007 Contact: Margaret Dooley (858) 336-3685 Hundreds of Prop. 36 Grads Rally at Capitol to Celebrate Program’s Success Treatment-Not-Incarceration Program Has Graduated Over 70,000 Californians and Saved Taxpayers Over $1.5 Billion in Six Years SACRAMENTO, April 17 – On Wednesday (April 18), hundreds of graduates and supporters of California’s six-year-old, treatment-instead-of-incarceration program, will gather on the West Steps of the Capitol Building in Sacramento for the second annual “Prop. 36 Works!” rally to celebrate the program’s success and advocate for greater access to treatment for all Californians suffering from addiction. ********************************************************************* WHAT: “Prop. 36 Works!” Rally, 700+ to Attend WHO: Prop. 36 graduates (w/ success stories), treatment providers, faith leaders WHERE: West Steps, Capitol Building in Sacramento, CA WHEN: Wednesday, April 18, at 10:30am-12pm rally; 2pm march ********************************************************************* The rally comes just days after researchers at the University of California at Los Angeles released their latest analysis of Prop. 36, which finds that the program needs at least $228.6 million to provide adequate services, improve treatment outcomes and increase taxpayer savings. UCLA’s figure is $80 million higher than the state spent on Prop. 36 in 2005-06, and $109 million higher than the governor has proposed spending in 2007-08. According to UCLA, every Prop. 36 graduate saves $4 for every $1 invested. The Legislative Analyst’s Office has estimated that the program generated net savings of $205 million in 2002-03 and $297 million in 2004-05. Conservatively estimating savings of $200 million per year, total program savings in six years surpass $1.2 billion. Nearly six years into Prop. 36, the number of people incarcerated for drug possession has fallen by 32% (5,000 people). By diverting so many into treatment, Prop. 36 rendered unnecessary the construction of a new men’s prison (saving an addition $500m) and also resulted in the shuttering of a women’s prison, bringing total savings to $1.7 billion. The UCLA report: For more on the rally, visit # # # UCLA study: More money needed for drug treatment program By DON THOMPSON, Associated Press Writer Friday, April 13, 2007 (04-13) 18:43 PDT SACRAMENTO, (AP) -- California should devote more money to drug treatment if it wants to see a voter-approved diversion program improve, according to a fourth and final UCLA review of the 6-year-old initiative that was released Friday. Fewer than a third of drug offenders complete treatment programs required by Proposition 36, the study found. The measure, approved in 2000, requires treatment instead of jail for nonviolent first- and second-time drug offenders. The 32 percent completion rate in the third year of the program was a decline from the more than 34 percent who completed treatment in the first two years, the researchers found. Renee Zito, who was appointed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in February to head the Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs, said the state-sponsored study supports the governor's view that changes to the program are needed. Schwarzenegger last year signed a Senate bill that permits jail stints of up to five days to force offenders to continue treatment, or if they test positive for drug use. A judge blocked the law after the Drug Policy Alliance sued, saying the jail terms violated voters' intent when they passed the measure with a 61 percent majority. "The latest report shows that changes are necessary to improve the rate — the rehabilitation rate," Zito said in a telephone interview. Alliance spokeswoman Margaret Dooley countered that the UCLA study shows the state should be spending $228 million on drug treatment programs, "which means the governor's budget is $109 million short." An estimated $149 million was spent last year on Proposition 36 programs. The University of California at Los Angeles study suggests drug rehabilitation programs that would cost an additional $79 million. But the governor's budget includes just $120 million for next year. More money should go to intensive treatment and supervision programs, including residential programs and programs providing at least 90 days of treatment, the report suggests. In addition, the report advocates allowing the use of methadone, a narcotics replacement drug, which some professionals oppose. "The governor will look at all options," Zito said. However, she said many of the report's recommendations do not require significantly more money. The money is well-spent if offenders complete the program, the report found. The researchers estimated the state saves $4 for every $1 it spends on treatment if the offenders stay off drugs, get jobs and stop committing crimes.
Sacramento, CA
United States

Feature: In Britain, Labor's Decade-Long Drug War a Failure, New Report Finds

With Britain's 10-year UK Drug Strategy up for renewal or replacement next year, a series of reports detailing its flaws have appeared in recent months. Now, we can add one more to the list. This week, a new independent panel on drug policy issued a report saying that a decade of Labor's drug war had failed to curb the social problems and criminality related to drug abuse under prohibition.
UK government: failing at drug policy
The report, An Analysis of UK Drug Policy was authored by University of Maryland drug policy analyst Peter Reuter and Alex Stevens of the University of Kent, for the UK Drug Policy Commission. Headed by long-time drug reform proponent Dame Ruth Runciman, the commission describes its mission as "to provide independent and objective analysis of drug policy and find ways to help the public and policy makers better understand the implications and options for future policy."

If the commission's report is any indicator, policy makers can use the help. Labor's strategy of education campaigns, forced drug treatment, some harm reduction measures, and harsher prison sentences has not made an appreciable dent in drug use. Britain has the highest level of dependent drug users in Europe, the report found, and heroin use has skyrocketed from 5,000 people in 1975 to an estimated 280,000 now.

The report estimated the size of the British drug market at more than $10 billion a year and the cost of drug-related crime at more than $25 billion a year. It also found that Britain's drug use rates were among the highest in Europe.

While Reuters and Stevens were highly skeptical of the ability of drug policy to influence drug use, they praised harm reduction measures. "Government policies have only limited impact on rates of drug use itself," they wrote. "However, the UK has introduced evidence-based measures, notably the expansion of treatment and harm reduction, that have reduced the harms that would otherwise have occurred. On the other hand it operates measures, such as classifying drugs to deter use and increasing use of imprisonment, that have little or no support from available research."

The number of people in drug treatment had increased from 85,000 to 181,000 between 1998 and 2005, much of that increase driven by the criminal justice system, the authors noted. But the number of drug war prisoners has also increased by 111% in the past decade, and sentences are nearly a third longer than when Tony Blair took office.

The report's executive analysis section on policy implications is worth quoting at length:

There is little evidence from the UK, or any other country, that drug policy influences either the number of drug users or the share of users who are dependent. There are numerous other cultural and social factors that appear to be more important. It is notable that two European countries that are often used as contrasting examples of tough or liberal drug policies, Sweden and the Netherlands, both have lower rates of overall and problematic drug use than the UK.

Given the international evidence as to the limited ability of drug policy to influence national trends in drug use and drug dependence, it is unreasonable to judge the performance of a country's drug policy by the levels of drug use in that country. Yet that is the indictor to which the media and public instinctively turn. However, this is not to say that drug policy is irrelevant.

The arena where government drug policy needs to focus further effort and where it can make an impact is in reducing the levels of drug-related harms (crime, death and disease and other associated problems) through the expansion of and innovation in treatment and harm reduction services.

We know very little about the effectiveness and impact of most enforcement efforts, whether they are directed at reducing the availability of drugs or at enforcing the law over possession and supply. Imprisoning drug offenders for relatively substantial periods does not appear to represent a cost effective response.

Transparency in resource allocations is urgently needed if the overall and relative balance of supply and demand reduction interventions is to be considered.

The UK invests remarkably little in independent evaluation of the impact of drug policies, especially enforcement. This needs redressing if policy makers are to be able to identify and introduce effective measures in the future.

Unsurprisingly, the Blair government rejected the report's findings. "The British Crime Survey shows that drug use has fallen by 16% since 1998 and drug use among adults has fallen by 21%," a Home Office statement said. "We are determined to build on this progress by continuing to take more drugs off our streets, put more dealers behind bars and make sure young people are informed about the harms drugs cause," he said.

Equally unsurprisingly, the opposition Tories called the report "a shocking indictment" of Blair's drug policy. "After ten years in power this is a shocking indictment of the government's failure and shows that Tony Blair has utterly failed in his pledge to get tough on the 'causes' of crime," said Tory Shadow Home Secretary David Davis in a press release. "The consequences of this failure are not just that hundreds of thousands of young lives are being ruined -- drugs also fuel much of the gun and knife related violence on our streets today, thus destroying communities."

But the Tories would only offer more of the same, the press release indicated. "Conservatives would take real action to combat this scourge on society. Not only would we increase the amount of residential drug rehab beds and increase the prison capacity so that offenders can settle and complete their drug rehab courses, we would also establish a dedicated UK border police to stop drugs simply flowing in through our porous borders. This force would also act to detect and prosecute those who smuggle drugs into our country."

Danny Kushlick, director of Transform Drug Policy Foundation, which advocates legalization, had a different solution. "We know from evidence that misuse of drugs is related significantly to social ill-being and social deprivation," he told the Guardian. "You cannot deal with that stuff with education and prevention or through teaching younger and younger children. You deal with it by redistributing wealth and improving wellbeing."

Britain has seen report after report detailing the failures of prohibitionist drug policy in the last two years. Next year, it will have the opportunity to put the lessons learned into practice. When was the last time we had such an overview of drug policy in the United States?

Advocates say Rockefeller drug laws remain too harsh

Albany, NY
United States
The Ithaca Journal (NY)

Tougher prison sentences 'have little impact on flow of drugs'

United Kingdom
The Guardian (UK)

The First World Conference on Medication Assisted Treatment of Opiate Addiction

It is an honour and a pleasure to invite you to The First World Conference on Medication Assisted Treatment of Opiate Addiction with Inaugural Meeting – World Federation for the Associations for the Treatment of Opiod Dependence. We greatly appreciate the honour to organise a three-day interdisciplinary conference with the presentation of practice, drug policy research and evaluation, in the field of medical assisted treatment of opiate addiction (substitution treatment). The Inaugural Meeting of the World Federation of the Associations for the Treatment of Opioid Dependence would be the opportunity to get a partner to other international organisations in dialog for advocating for substitution treatment and a forum for scientific and policy discussion. Every international, national, city and community organisation or individual working in this field is welcome to join federation, so please give us a hand. We are delighted that so many distinguished world experts, clinicians, researchers and other professionals, members of users’ organisations, and others involved in the field have already agreed to attend. We will create every opportunity for a lively debate, from plenary and major meetings to small-scale workshops, and from debating sessions to round tables and forum discussions, so we really count on your participation and would be delighted to hear from you - your thoughts, comments, questions, and suggestions, which will be given proper consideration. You are invited to present different practices: in your country, city, communities, prisons and/or organisations, networks or at your own. You can present your research, good practices or obstacles in developing and scaling up substitution treatment. Slovenia's location between Europe's East and West and its diversity - a touch of the Mediterranean, the Alpine peaks and valleys with clear streams and lush forests, the Pannonian plain opening to the East - as well as its cultural heritage and the proverbial hospitality of the people, can likewise contribute appreciably to a successful acceptance and exchange of different views, and perhaps even to opening new horizons. We know we can make this event a most useful, enjoyable, and memorable experience for you. For registration and more information, see
Sun, 07/01/2007 - 9:00am - Tue, 07/03/2007 - 7:00pm

New Orleans awash in drugs, addicts more alone than ever

New Orleans, LA
United States
The Los Angeles Times

House Judiciary Committee Passes Second Chance Act

[Courtesy of FedCURE,]

Just a week after the re-introduction of the bill, today members of the House Judiciary Committee passed H.R. 1593, the Second Chance Act of 2007. The bill will now be sent to the House floor for consideration, which sponsors say will take place in mid-April. During the mark-up of the bill, members voted down several amendments that would have jeopardized the bipartisan support for the bill.

The Second Chance Act would authorize a $65 million re-entry grant program administered through the Department of Justice for state and county re-entry initiatives, and a $15 million re-entry program for community and faith-based organizations to deliver mentoring and transitional services. The bill also retains a number of drug treatment provisions that were added to the legislation last session. Last week, the Second Chance Act was reintroduced by Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL) and Chris Cannon (R-UT) and has a growing list of bipartisan co-sponsors. The Senate plans to reintroduce their version of the bill later this week.

For more information on the Second Chance Act click here or contact Sara Paterni at [email protected].

Washington, DC
United States

Lou Dobbs Sucks Live

I don't have cable, so the only way to catch the latest edition of Lou Dobbs' appalling series "The War Within" was to attend a live filming at George Washington University. The value of actually being there was limited, although it was comforting knowing I could disrupt the live broadcast if I felt I had to.

To be fair, tonight's episode was a bit less offensive than previous installments. The focus was on addiction, and despite periodic outlandish Dobbsisms about "winning the drug war" and so forth, there were many valid concerns raised. Still, for a show that promises "News, Debate, Opinion," Lou Dobbs entirely failed to provide any debate. He brought out recovering addicts and school administrators, but his primary expert guests were Nora Volkow (NIDA), Joseph Califano (CASA), and Terry Klein (SAMHSA). As far as I can tell, these people completely agree on everything from public health policy to pizza toppings.

Having just discovered that the drug war isn't working, Dobbs would do well to consult some of the experts who've been predicting failure for decades. Califano offered the startling statistic that the U.S. has 4% of the world's population, but consumes 2/3 of the world's drugs. It is of course mind-boggling to contemplate how such an observation doesn’t lead to an immediate referendum on the policies that have gotten us here.

Thus, Lou Dobbs has become a curious and increasingly common character in the drug policy discussion. He can see that nothing's changed. He wants to talk about "how to win," yet he insists on having that conversation with people who haven’t had an original idea about drug policy in their wildest dreams. Bizarrely, he interrupts the discussion of treatment to complain that our interdiction efforts are ineffective and under-funded, quickly snuffing out my faint hope that Dobbs' newfound interest in treatment would lead him to question the value of buying more helicopters to chase speedboats across the Gulf of Mexico.

Dobbs' insistence that the drug war is failing stands in stark contrast to recent ONDCP propaganda about how "America's drug problem is getting smaller," thus it's interesting to consider how a John Walters appearance on the "The War Within" would play out. If Walters could get over any potential objections to the premise of the program, he and Dobbs might have a blast plotting how to double our drug war losses.

Lou Dobbs, self-proclaimed champion of the middle-class, seems to think the solution to drug abuse is inside the wallets of American taxpayers. Guess he's got a "war within" going on right up there in his giant, ignorant head.

United States

Two Job Opportunities at Washington,DC-Based PreventionWorks

PreventionWorks, a needle exchange/harm reduction program operating in the District of Columbia, has recently applied for funding for a new program they are calling FOCUS. This will be an HIV treatment adherence support program for low-income residents of the District of Columbia who are current or former drug users, are in care for HIV infection, and struggling to focus on their HIV care and/or treatment regimen. Though funding has not been secured, the recruiting of strong candidates -- people with solid backgrounds in HIV and substance use, and who know District resources -- to staff the program has begun. Interested applicants should submit a cover letter and resume to Paola Barahona, PreventionWorks executive director, by e-mail ([email protected]), fax (202-797-3553), or mail (PreventionWorks, 1407 S Street, NW, Washington, DC 20009). Job 1: FOCUS Consultant Clinical Director The FOCUS Clinical Director will work 20 hours per week and will provide the leadership for the FOCUS program. The Clinical Director will supervise the two full-time Care Coordinators who will each carry a caseload of 20-25. The Clinical Supervisor will not carry a caseload. Instead, the Clinical Supervisor will conduct all of the support group meetings, will provide coverage during drop-in hours, and will provide individual counseling with clients as needed. Meetings will be an important part of this job, as the Clinical Director will attend the PreventionWorks weekly meeting, will conduct a weekly team meeting with the Care Coordinators, and will meet privately with the Executive Director weekly (or as needed). The FOCUS Clinical Director will be supervised by the PreventionWorks Executive Director. Performance goals will be outlined with the Executive Director at the beginning of the assignment. These will serve as the primary means of performance evaluation during semi-annual performance evaluation meetings. The FOCUS Clinical Director will work at least one evening per week and on Saturday afternoon. Aside from meetings, support groups, and drop-in hours, the schedule will be flexible. Requirements for the FOCUS Clinical Director include a bachelor's degree (master's degree preferred), certification as a Licensed Professional Counselor (CAC, LCPC, or LCSW), documented experience in HIV care and treatment and substance use issues, experience leading support groups and providing individual therapy, belief in and commitment to harm reduction approach regarding substance use, prior case management experience, prior supervisory experience, and a clean driving record. Additional desired qualifications include being bilingual (English/Spanish), having life experience with substance use and/or HIV treatment adherence, and having a familiarity with and connections to a wide variety of services in DC to which clients could be referred and from which clients could be recruited. Job 2: FOCUS Care Coordinators (2) Two Care Coordinators will be hired by the FOCUS Director to work with clients and help them adhere to their HIV medication regimens. The Care Coordinators will each work 40 hours per week (some evening and weekend coverage will be required) and carry a caseload of twenty to twenty-five clients. The Care Coordinators will work with clients to develop an individual treatment adherence plan and help clients stick to their plan. This position will require accompanying clients to medical appointments, meeting with clients individually on a weekly basis, calling and emailing clients to remind them about appointments and taking their medications, referring clients to a wide range of services that are geographically convenient and will meet the client's needs, staffing drop-in hours, and providing any additional support that clients require to help them adhere to their treatment regimen. The Care Coordinators will be supervised by the FOCUS Director. Performance goals will be outlined by each Coordinator with the Director at the beginning of the assignment. These will serve as the primary means of performance evaluation during semi-annual performance evaluation meetings. In addition, the Director will observe services and provide feedback to each Care Coordinator on a scheduled and/or spontaneous basis. The Care Coordinators will work at least one evening per week and on alternate Saturday afternoons. Aside from meetings and drop-in hours, the Care Coordinator's schedule will be flexible to allow each Coordinator to meet the needs of his/her individual clients. Requirements for the FOCUS Care Coordinator include an associate's degree (bachelor's degree preferred), experience with addictions counseling (CAC, BSW, LGSW preferred, but life experience could be substituted for these degrees), documented experience in HIV care and treatment and substance use issues, belief in and commitment to harm reduction approaches regarding substance use, prior case management experience, and a clean driving record. Additional desired qualifications include being bilingual (English/Spanish), having life experience with substance use and/or HIV treatment adherence, and having familiarity with and connections to a wide variety of services in DC to which clients could be referred and from which clients could be recruited.
Washington, DC
United States

The Truth About Marijuana Use in the UK

As Phil notes below, there's a new wave of reefer madness taking hold in England. The Independent's reporting is hysterical in both senses of the word, so much so that the ONDCP blog wasted no time in picking up the story.

We're told that marijuana addiction among teenagers has skyrocketed, that marijuana is 25 times stronger than it was generation ago, and that marijuana just might cause schizophrenia. And the underlying implication of all this is that the effort to legalize marijuana, culminating in the UK's 2004 reclassification decriminalizing simple possession, has somehow caused all of these horrible problems.

Interestingly, The Independent's multiple articles yesterday reached their conclusions without mentioning usage rates. Here's why: marijuana use in the UK is going down. From The Observer in October, 2006:
According to a report by the Central Narcotics Office, after more than a decade of rapid growth, seizures of cannabis resin in Europe dropped by a fifth last year, to 831 tonnes.

The apparent trend is reinforced by British figures which show that the popularity of cannabis in the UK has plummeted, with 600,000 fewer people smoking or eating marijuana than three years ago.
The failure to address this relevant, yet contradictory fact is a hallmark of alarmist pseudo-scientific drug war reporting. Instead we get this:
Today record numbers of young people are in treatment programmes for skunk [high-grade marijuana] abuse and hospital admissions due to the drug are at their highest ever.
We know that rumors of more potent pot are both wildly exaggerated and largely irrelevant since users adjust their doses to achieve the desired effect regardless of potency. We also know that potency has increased notably (3-4 times, not 25) and that increased potency has much to do with prohibition, which creates a financial incentive for growers to maximize their risk/reward ratio since punishment is determined by weight rather than THC content.

So if it isn't the potency, then what's driving the spike in marijuana treatment in the UK? I think the answer is that reduced stigma and a new policy of not arresting casual users have resulted in more people seeking help. It makes vastly more sense than arguing that marijuana suddenly turned into crack laced with heroin the moment they decriminalized it.

I can't prove my theory anymore than addiction "experts" can prove that marijuana had almost no THC in the '60's. But it makes intuitive sense. Wouldn't you expect more people to seek treatment once the risk of arrest is removed?

After decriminalizing marijuana, the British are seeing lower usage rates and more people seeking treatment. Let's talk about that.

United States

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