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Vote Hemp Press Release: Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2007 Introduced in Congress

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE February 13, 2007 CONTACT: Tom Murphy 207-542-4998 [email protected] Breaking News! Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2007 Introduced in Congress H.R. 1009 Would Give States Right to Regulate Farming of Versatile Hemp Crop WASHINGTON, DC - For the second time since the federal government outlawed hemp farming in the United States, a federal bill has been introduced that would remove restrictions on the cultivation of non-psychoactive industrial hemp. The chief sponsor of H.R. 1009, the "Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2007," is Representative Ron Paul (R-TX) and the nine original co-sponsors are Representatives Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Barney Frank (D-MA), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), Jim McDermott (D-WA), George Miller (D-CA), Pete Stark (D-CA) and Lynn Woolsey (D-CA). The bill may be viewed online at: http://www.votehemp.com/federal.html "It is indefensible that the United States government prevents American farmers from growing this crop. The prohibition subsidizes farmers in countries from Canada to Romania by eliminating American competition and encourages jobs in industries such as food, auto parts and clothing that utilize industrial hemp to be located overseas instead of in the United States," said Dr. Paul. "By passing the Industrial Hemp Farming Act the House of Representatives can help American farmers and reduce the trade deficit - all without spending a single taxpayer dollar." U.S. companies that manufacture or sell products made with hemp include Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps, a California company who manufactures the number-one-selling natural soap, and FlexForm Technologies, an Indiana company whose natural fiber materials are used in over 2 million cars. Hemp food manufacturers such as French Meadow Bakery, Hempzels, Living Harvest, Nature's Path and Nutiva now make their products from Canadian hemp. Although hemp grows wild across the U.S., a vestige of centuries of hemp farming, the hemp for these products must be imported. Health Canada statistics show that 48,060 acres of industrial hemp were produced in Canada in 2006. Farmers in Canada have reported that hemp is one of the most profitable crops that they can grow. Hemp clothing is made around the world by well-known brands such as Patagonia, Bono's Edun and Giorgio Armani. There is strong support among key national organizations for a change in the federal government's position on hemp. The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) "supports revisions to the federal rules and regulations authorizing commercial production of industrial hemp." The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) has also passed a pro-hemp resolution. Numerous individual states have expressed interest in industrial hemp as well. Fifteen states have passed pro-hemp legislation; seven (Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Montana, North Dakota and West Virginia) have removed barriers to its production or research. North Dakota has issued state licenses, the first in fifty years, to two farmers so far. Rep. Paul's bill would remove federal barriers and allow laws in these states regulating the growing and processing of industrial hemp to take effect. "Under the current national drug control policy, industrial hemp can be imported, but it can't be grown by American farmers," says Eric Steenstra, President of Vote Hemp. "The DEA has taken the Controlled Substances Act's antiquated definition of marijuana out of context and used it as an excuse to ban industrial hemp farming. The Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2007 will bring us back to more rational times when the government regulated marijuana, but told farmers they could go ahead and continue raising hemp just as they always had," says Mr. Steenstra.
Location: 
United States

Press Release: Antwerp Prosecutor Ignores Ministerial Guideline On Cannabis

[Courtesy of Draw Up Your Plant] On 25 January 2005, a common guideline was established by the Belgian Minister of Justice and the chief prosecutors in relation with offences against the law on cannabis consumption. Among others, this guideline* determines the following: “The possession, by an adult person, of a quantity of cannabis that does not exceed 3 grammes or 1 cannabisplant, meant for personal consumption, with no aggravating circumstances or disturbance of public order, will only lead to the simple registration by the police “ “The offences that are registered in the framework of this guideline, will not lead to the confiscation of the drugs. These may remain in the possession of the involved person.“ On Friday 9 February 2007, at 9 hs, the Chamber of Accusation of the Court of Appeal of the city of Antwerpen will consider the legitimacy of the use of special investigation methods that have been used by the police in the investigation of the association Trekt Uw Plant vzw ("Draw Up Your Plant"). These methods, like observation of houses and persons, have been used due to the fact that the prosecutor suspects 'Draw Up Your Plant' of establishing an illegal cannabis plantation. This plantation, existing of one motherplant and 5 cuttings, was presented publically on 12 December 2006 in the Botanical Garden of Antwerpen, by 6 members of the association, among who Stijn Bex, Member of the Belgian Parliament. The presentation had been announced publically. Permission had been asked and obtained from both the Lord mayor as well as the Public Order section of the police of the city of Antwerpen. No disturbance of public order nor any other aggravating circumstances took place. According to the guideline of January 2005, the police should have done nothing more than register the facts; no legal sanctions, not even a confiscation should have followed. In the guideline, nothing is mentioned about the question if people may put their cannabis plants together. However, the Antwerp prosecutor is determined to denounce the association and 5 of its members (the sixth member, Stijn Bex, enjoys parliamentary inmunity) because of the "cultivation of drugs'. If the Chamber of Accusation approves the investigation methods used by the police, the court case against 'Draw Up Your Plant' will probably take place on 28 March. With this action, the Antwerp prosecutor ignores the ministerial guideline of January 2005. What's more, it seems as if the prosecutor would like to bury the entire guideline, and again make it possible to prosecute even the smallest quantity of cannabis. *http://www.staatsbladclip.be/wetten/2005/01/31/wet-2005009061.html ANNEX The facts: The association Trekt Uw Plant (Draw Up Your Plant) has been founded in September 2006 in Antwerpen, and registered accordingly at the local Chamber of Commerce. The objective of the association is to allow each of its adult members to grow 1 cannabisplant in a common plantation, in a closed circuit, without any kind of trade taking place. The association wants to work in all transparency, in collaboration with the authorities. On 27 July 2006 the seed of the first motherplant of the association is planted in a public event, in presence of media and police. On 12 December 2006, the first 6 members of the association each take a cutting of this motherplant. The six plants are then transported to the definitive location of the plantation, the address and the key of which are being delivered to the Antwerp Lord Mayor Patrick Janssens, so that the city services like police, fire brigade and others can execute the necessary controls in a relaxed atmosphere. During this transport, the police intervenes. Four people are arrested. They are submitted to hourlong interrogations, their private houses are searched. The cannabis plants, the mobile telephones and personal agendas of the detained are confiscated, as well as the computer and financial administration of the association ENCOD (with whom Draw Up Your Plant shares office space). These goods are returned one week later, when it appears that the computer has not survived the treatment by the Antwerp police: the hard disk is completely useless. At that moment, so it appears now, the prosecutor office has been following the activities of the association for several weeks. Hundreds, possible thousands of police working hours have been used to spy on the association, in spite of the fact that it has been functioning in all openness. What is the prosecutor up to? The police investigations have not led to any new elements. However, the prosecutor office, represented by substitute-prosecutor Olivier Lins, is determined to carry out the case against Draw Up Your Plant, and now requests the Chamber of Accusation to approve the applied methods of investigation. According to us, this leads to only one conclusion: the Antwerp prosecutor wants to get rid of the ministerial guideline, and return to the situation before the year 2003. After years of discussions inside and outside the Belgian parliament, the drugs legislation in this country was modified in May 2003. This modification established that the possession of a quantity of cannabis for personal use by adults would no longer be prosecuted. On 20 October 2004, the Court of Arbitrage decided to abolish this modification, because of its vague formulation. Then, on 25 January 2005, a new common guideline was declared by the Belgian Minister of Justice and the chief prosecutors of all Belgian legal districts. The intention of this guideline remained the same: possession of cannabis is illegal, but if there are no aggravating circumstances, no prosecution will take place. With these modifications, Belgium has in fact installed a tolerant policy concerning cannabis, as has been the case in most European countries and some states of the US for years. This policy aims to establish a distinction between dealers and consumers, as well as between cannabis and other, more riskful drugs. In this way, authorities wish to shift the emphasis in their drugs policy from the legal aspect towards the public health aspect. Substitute-prosecutor Olivier Lins has an own opinion on this tendency. In a speech during a seminar at the Antwerp University on 24 November 2005 Lins said the following: “In relation to cannabis use, there exists big confusion now. This confusion has been created by the authorities, although there was absolutely no need to do so. What matters is consequence in policy and clarity in communication: either we legalise cannabis or we do not, that would create clarity at least. The current situation, a kind of tolerant policy, is not really clear. One can question the need to install a special regulation for the possession of a quantity for personal use by adults. I don't think this need exists.” A tolerant policy is the only way in which authorities can get round the current prohibition of cannabis. This prohibition is internationally agreed: cannabis is mentioned on a list that has been established during the make up of the Single Convention on Drugs in 1961 by the United Nations. Although there have been many calls from experts in many countries to submit this prohibition and its consequences to a thorough review, authorities continue to ignore the issue. Above all the US administration is an arduous partidarian of the continuation of this policy. What is this really all about? Draw Up Your Plant is an effort of involved and concerned citizens to establish a definitive and clear regulation on the cultivation of cannabis in Belgium. Due to the current illegal status of cannabis, no control whatsoever is possible on the production, trade and use of this substance, that is used regularly by approx. half a million people in Belgium. Criminality, public nuisance, coffeeshop tourism to the Netherlands, serious risks for public health by adulterated cannabis and free access by minors are among the direct consequences of this situation. In the model of Draw Up Your Plant, these problems can be avoided or reduced. The court case against Draw Up Your Plant will become the case against the tolerance with regards to cannabis possession which exists in Belgium since 2003. It seems as if the Antwerp prosecutor wants to do everything to re-establish an absolute ban on cannabis. Thus, legal authorities would again get hold of the agenda in the way cannabis is treated, in stead of public health. The clock would be turned backwards for several years. Stijn Goossens Philippe Decraene Joep Oomen TREKT UW PLANT (vzw) Lange Lozanastraat 14 2018 Antwerpen België Tel. 03 237 7436 - GSM: 0479 982271 / 0495 122 644 E-mail:[email protected] / [email protected] www.hardcoreharmreducer.be / www.cannaclopedia.be / www.encod.org
Location: 
Antwerp, VAN
Belgium

Op-Ed: End draconian double-standard on cocaine use

Location: 
Chicago, IL
United States
Publication/Source: 
Baltimore Sun
URL: 
http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/oped/bal-op.chapman05feb05,0,5744425.story?coll=bal-oped-headlines

Second National Conference on Methamphetamine, HIV, and Hepatitis Underway in Salt Lake City

Around a thousand people, including some of the nation's foremost experts in treating, researching and developing responses to methamphetamine use, gathered at the Hilton Hotel in downtown Salt Lake City as Science and Response: The 2nd Annual Conference on Methamphetamine, HIV and Hepatitis got underway Thursday. Sponsored by the Salt Lake City-based Harm Reduction Project, the conference aimed at developing evidence-based "best practices" for responding to meth and emphasized prevention and treatment instead of prison for
meth offenders.

This year's conference was uncontroversial -- a marked change from the first one, also held in Salt Lake City, which was attacked by congressional arch-drug warrior Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN) because presenters openly discussed the impact of meth on the gay community. Souder was also incensed that the US Department of Health and Human Services provided limited financial support for the conference, and authored a successful amendment to the appropriations bill funding the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy calling for an investigation of the conference and HHS policy.

"The fact that there is absolutely no controversy this year indicates more than just a leadership change in Congress. It shows that our approach -- bringing together all the stakeholders and families affected by meth -- is the right one," said Harm Reduction Project executive director Luciano Colonna in a statement on the eve of the conference.

While Colonna sounded sanguine in the statement above, he was less so as he opened the conference Thursday morning. Visibly choking up at times as he sounded the theme of this year's conference, "500 Days Later," he noted that since the first conference in August 2005, "thousands have died or been incarcerated." And Colonna could not resist a reference to Souder and ideological allies in Congress. "There's no need to mention the names of cheap mudslingers because their party lost," he said to loud applause.

"I'm tired of seeing meth users incarcerated because of failed theories and practices followed by many treatment providers, faith-based groups and other organizations," Colonna said. "We look to the criminal justice system to solve our problems, and its participation has been a result of our failure. Just as with the homeless, veterans, and the mentally ill, we have failed as a system of care and as a country. We have the audacity to attack the criminal justice system as if the strands of this mess can be separated out, but we are all culpable."

If Colonna wasn't going to name names, Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson had no such compunctions. As he welcomed attendees to his city, Anderson hit back. "I will say Souder's name," Anderson proclaimed. "We shouldn't ever forget the people who caused so much damage. They don't care that needle exchange programs help injection drug users avoid HIV; they have the attitude that if people use drugs, they deserve what they get. People like Mark Souder would rather make political hay out of tragedy rather than having the integrity to deal with issues based on facts and research."

Citing drug use surveys that put the number of people who used meth within the last year at 1.3 million and the number who used within the last month at 500,000, Anderson pointed out that, "If it were up to Souder, they would all be in prison."

Mayor Anderson, a strong drug reform proponent, had a better idea. "Those numbers are the purest case for harm reduction," he argued. "We know there are people who will use drugs and we can reduce the harm, not only for them and their families, but for all of us. The current approach is so wasteful and cost ineffective. And thanks to you, treatment programs are much more available, but in too many areas, you have to get busted to get affordable treatment. It is time to make treatment on demand available for everybody," he said to sustained cheering and applause.

Given the topic of the conference, it is not surprising that attendees are a different mix than what one would expect at a strictly drug reform conference. While drug reformers were present in respectable numbers -- the Drug Policy Alliance in particular had a large contingent -- they are outnumbered by harm reductionists, treatment providers and social service agency workers. Similarly, with the event's emphasis on "Science and Reason," the panels were heavy with research results and presentations bearing names like "Adapting Gay-Affirmative, Evidence-Based Interventions for Use in a Community-Based Drug Treatment Clinic," "Stimulant Injectors From Three Ukraine Cities," and "The Impact of Meth Use on Inpatient Substance Abuse Treatment Facilities for Youth in Canada."

The mix of interests and orientations led to some fireworks at the first conference, especially around the issue of stimulant maintenance therapy, or providing meth users with a substitute stimulant, such as dextroamphetamine, much as heroin users are prescribed methadone. Such issues may excite controversy again this year, but an opening day panel on the topic caused only a few raised eyebrows -- not any outbursts of indignation. The controversy is likely to come in Vancouver, where Mayor Sam Sullivan recently announced he wanted to implement an amphetamine maintenance pilot program with some 700 subjects.

With three full days of plenaries, panels, breakout session, and workshops, last weekend's conference not only provided information on best practices for educators, prevention workers, and treatment providers, but also helped broaden the rising chorus of voices calling for more enlightened methamphetamine policies. In addition, the conference pointed the Chronicle to a number of meth-related issues that bear further reporting, from the spread of repressive legislation in the states to the effort to expand drug maintenance therapies to stimulant drugs like meth and the resort of some states to criminalizing pregnant drug-using mothers. Look for reports on these topics in the Chronicle in coming weeks.

Conference cites jump in meth use

Location: 
Salt Lake City, UT
United States
Publication/Source: 
The Salt Lake Tribune
URL: 
http://www.sltrib.com/ci_5141288

Third-Party Candidacies vs. Voting for the Lesser Evil

Last week's < a href="" target=_blank_>feature article on the Zeese and Thornton campaigns (Zeese is running for US Senate in a tight race in Maryland and Thornton is running for governor of Connecticut—links in the article) included a discussion between Ethan Nadelmann of the Drug Policy Alliance and Eric Sterling of the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation on the possible benefits and liabilities of third-party campaigns. That discussion provoked a lengthier (and continuing) exchange on a nomination-only list for leading drug policy reformers, and I think it should be a topic of serious discussion here among the unwashed masses as well. Both Thornton, running as a Green, and Zeese, running a "unity" campaign as the Green-Libertarian-Populist nominee, have clearly rejected the clarion call of the two-party system. From a pragmatic perspective, the fundamental question is whether working outside the two major parties will bring success on drug policy reform faster than attempting to bring either of the two major parties (most likely the Democrats, given the Republicans' social conservative base and penchant for the "war on" metaphor) around to a palatable position on the issue. For some reformers, defeating the Republicans is everything. What if Zeese pulls enough votes from the Democrat to throw the Maryland senate race to the Republicans and—nightmare scenario—the Republicans keep the Senate by one seat? There will be much howling and gnashing of teeth among Democratic loyalists, just as there was after the 2000 presidential elections, when much of the party faithful blamed Ralph Nader for costing Al Gore the White House. Zeese and Thornton and their supporters will undoubtedly—and fairly—respond that they are not beholden to the Democratic Party and are as entitled to seek peoples' votes as either the donkeys or the elephants. Besides, again echoing the post-2000 discussion, they will say, there's not that much difference between the two major parties. I guess that's a matter of perspective. If you look at the broad contours of drug policy, there is a broad, bipartisan consensus on the status quo. From that viewpoint, Democrats are no better than Republicans on drug policy. A particularly progressive congressional Democrat might work toward a kinder, gentler drug war, perhaps sponsoring a bill that reduces the crack-powder cocaine sentencing disparity, for instance, but none are saying we need to do away with the peculiar institution of drug prohibition in its entirety. But coming in for a closer look, there are significant differences between the two parties when it comes to nibbling away at the edges of the drug war. The congressional votes on the Hinchey-Rohrabacher amendment, which would bar the use of federal funds to raid medical marijuana patients and providers in states where it is legal, and the Higher Education Act's anti-drug provision both show Democrats much more likely to favor such reform at the margins. Is that difference enough to make independent or third-party campaigns that may weaken the Democrats a mistake? I'm not going to try to answer that question right now. Instead, I invite our readers to weigh in, and I hope that will include some of the people who have been discussing this already. Is Zeese a menace or a messiah? Is Thornton dashing after windmills or leading the way to a new politics? You tell us. (This blog post was published by StoptheDrugWar.org's lobbying arm, the Drug Reform Coordination Network, which also shares the cost of maintaining this web site. DRCNet Foundation takes no positions on candidates for public office, in compliance with section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and does not pay for reporting that could be interpreted or misinterpreted as doing so.)
Location: 
United States

Alabama Candidate Campaigns on Cleavage (Loretta Nall)

Location: 
AL
United States
Publication/Source: 
Associated Press
URL: 
http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/national/1134AP_Candidates_Neckline.html

Regulating Heroin Trade Suggested

Location: 
Bridgeport, CT
United States
Publication/Source: 
Connecticut Post
URL: 
http://www.connpost.com/news/ci_4463922

Be careful who you hang out with, Joe…we’re watching.

From the Journal Inquirer in Connecticut:

U.S. Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman on Wednesday attended a fundraiser in Florida organized by a former finance chairman of the Republican National Committee, a top aide to the senator confirmed.

Lieberman's communications director, Dan Gerstein, said the reception held at Mel Sembler's St. Petersburg offices - where guests were asked to contribute a minimum of $1,000 to the three-term incumbent's battle against Greenwich Democrat Ned Lamont - went like "gangbusters."

Joe Lieberman is again publicly palling around with Mel Sembler of Mel and Betty Sembler, the mega-prohibitionists responsible for many atrocities (i.e. Straight, Inc.) and who are funding Calvina Fay’s current attack on SAFER and marijuana law reform in Colorado.

TAKE NOTE: According to Allen St. Pierre at NORML, Mel and Betty Sembler also used to help fund Lieberman and Bill Bennett's Empower America's anti-drug junkets and speaking gigs. If Lieberman wins re-election, prohibitionists like the Semblers will continue to have strong access to influential members of the House and Senate.

Want to know more about the Semblers? Read an article by Arnold Trebach, the “Grand Old Man” of drug policy reform and good friend of Stop the Drug War (DRCNet).

As always, Radley Balko at The Agitator also has some great stuff on this.

And plenty more can be found here and here .

Location: 
United States

Canadian MP Libby Davies--statement on Insite and NDP Harm Reduction Resolution

Federal NDP Passes Emergency Motion to Protect InSite, Safe Injection Site Dear Friends, The work and action taken at the grass roots level to bring the issue of InSite to national and international attention was remarkable. I really want to thank all of you who took the time to respond to our call for help. It made a huge difference and really demonstrates how, when we work together, it can pay off! There is more work to do to protect and expand harm reduction programs across Canada, and I won’t give up on it. Please find below, an article I wrote for Rabble.ca on September 7 (www.rabble.ca). I’m also pleased to report that a motion to protect InSite, and further expand similar harm reduction programs across the country, was overwhelmingly supported at the federal NDP policy convention in Quebec City this last weekend. Sincerely, Libby INSITE TAKES ON CONSERVATIVES September 7, 2006 Libby Davies, MP Vancouver East and NDP Spokesperson for Drug Policy Last week, in an uncharacteristic move, the Conservative government was forced to bow to public pressure and allow INSITE, North America's first safe injection facility for Intravenous Drug Users, to continue for another 18 months under a special exemption under section 56 of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. This is a huge victory, because the Conservative government has, from day one of the struggle to open a safe site for injecting, vociferously opposed such an idea. It clashes with their narrow views that the correct response to drug use is primarily law enforcement, ignoring harm reduction measures where drug users are treated with respect and dignity. INSITE has been open for three years, but it took six long years prior to that, to take what was a seemingly radical idea from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside and turn it into a functioning, publicly-funded, peer-assisted, scientifically-evaluated operation. Located on the much maligned 100 block East Hastings Street, INSITE has been under a media microscope from the beginning and has been scrutinized, poked and batted about and described as everything from the worst evil, to a life-saving centre. This victory to keep INSITE open, at least for now, is worth taking a closer look at. There are some important markers for activists who have been frustrated by the lack of response and accountability of the Conservatives, on so many issues of concern, whether it is child-care funding, housing or safety. What forced them to pay attention this time and apparently change course and make a decision that is contrary to their political direction? During the early days of the last federal election, Stephen Harper blew into Vancouver and threatened a Conservative government would close down INSITE, scaring the pants off everyone. So what changed? The short answer, I believe, is the Conservatives were overwhelmed by a well-planned, well- executed, and multi-layered campaign, that made it politically impossible to just say no. This well-organized community campaign had tremendous impact and included an interactive website. That, in and of itself, set the momentum and direction for INSITE's survival. In my office, we had already written numerous letters, statements, press releases etc, but it was our call for emails and letters to support the community campaign and to write to the federal health Minister that generated the biggest response I have ever seen on any issue I have worked on. The response from many hundreds of people from across Canada was immediate and solid. I attribute this in part, to the growing media coverage that became national, and even international, as the World AIDS Conference, took place in Toronto in August. Certainly the media attention helped focus and direct people who were generally sympathetic to INSITE and wanted to act. But it's important to note that it was the community activists who set the media stage and kept it going with new developments, actions and new support every few days. Two other factors made a key difference: multi-party support, and academic support. For example, INSITE had the backing of three former Vancouver Mayors and the current Mayor, representing support from across the political spectrum. The ongoing scientific/academic comment and validation fuelled the case that INSITE is part of a bigger drug policy strategy that is working and helping people and local communities, were very important. So often, I encounter folks who understandably feel discouraged and hopeless about changing the political course to a progressive outcome in the face of neo-conservative politics. Yet when we take something on, define it, organize, and develop broad and multi-faceted actions, there can be clear victories. In the case of INSITE it ran the gamut from stopping traffic at busy Toronto intersections for a breathtaking minute (so well-organized through the community coalition group, INSITE For Community Safety), to publicizing academics and their papers and evaluations, to masses of emails and letters from ordinary people at all layers of society. But most importantly, it was drug users themselves — so often marginalized and demonized by society, who spoke out about their own lives and experience, and demanded our attention and support. There was a very strong underlying message that came through again and again. It is that, all lives matter. Human dignity matters — whether it's AIDS victims in Africa or poor drug users in the Downtown Eastside. This powerful message, spoken in so many ways, by so many different people, could not be countered by Conservative bafflegab and rhetoric. Now, there is one last piece to this story, for the bigger battle is yet to come. When after months of silence, the Conservatives finally put out their press release giving the reprieve for INSITE on September 1, only 11 days until the deadline, late on a Friday, on the eve of a long weekend, hoping no-one would notice (most of all them!), the biggest part of the story went largely ignored in media coverage. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief — but the Conservatives had a final message: INSITE is okay for now, but by the way, the Conservatives are going to re-write Canada's drug strategy. In his press release, the Health Minister promises more “studies,” more anti-harm reduction, more funds slated to punitive enforcement, and more regressive legislation. “The Minister also noted he will be working with his federal counterparts at Justice and Public Safety, along with the Canadian Centre for Substance Abuse, to accelerate the launch and implementation of a new National Drug Strategy (NDS), which will put greater emphasis on programs that reduce drug and alcohol abuse.” (September 1, 2006, Health Canada.) Interestingly, the media gave little attention and coverage to this part of the announcement, yet it is a clear signal that the Conservatives are gearing up for something bigger. In 2002, a special Parliamentary Committee on the Non-Medical Use of Drugs I was on, supported the so-called 4 Pillar Approach: Harm Reduction, Prevention, Treatment and Enforcement, as a sensible drug policy for Canada, recognizing the need for a health-based strategy that moves from the fundamentally flawed law enforcement framework. These recommendations came after comprehensive hearings and extensive testimony from across Canada. Of course the Conservative members of the Committee were opposed to this approach, and the call in the report for the government of Canada to “...remove any federal regulatory or legislative barriers to the implementation of scientific trials and pilot projects, and assist and encourage the development of protocols to determine the effectiveness of safe injection facilities in reducing the social and health problems related to injection drug use.” So, they appear determined to undo years of research, by the Parliamentary Committee as well as by groups like the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, VANDU (Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users), BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, and endless international research that supports INSITE, harm reduction, and the comprehensive strategy it is part of. All in all, a bigger battle is looming, and it will come soon. Clearly the Conservatives think they have bought themselves some time to undo progressive drug policy reform work. But I am optimistic. The community is well organized on this one, indeed we are already moving far ahead, as groups like Creative Resistance (www.creativeresistance.net), challenge drug prohibition laws and policy as the cause of much pain and misery. There are always lessons and tactics to be learned as we move forward. The Conservatives may think they have this one in the bag but I don't think so. When we organize and get creative, we have a lot of power!
Location: 
Vancouver, BC
Canada

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