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More Black Men in Prison Today Than Enslaved in 1850, Drug Laws the Reason

Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, told an audience at the Pasadena Branch of the American Civil Liberties Union, "More African-American men are in prison or jail, on probation or parole than were enslaved in 1850, before the Civil War began." Why have rates of incarcerated black men skyrocketed over the past 30 years? Alexander says it's the war on drugs which focuses primarily on minority communities even though multiple studies have proved that whites use and sell illegal drugs at rates equal to or higher than blacks. Despite this data, four of five black youths in some inner-city communities can expect to be incarcerated in their lifetimes.
Publication/Source: 
The Root (DC)
URL: 
http://www.theroot.com/buzz/more-black-men-prison-enslaved-1850

First Federal Agency to Acknowledge Medical Marijuana Removes Anti-Tumor Information from Database

Last week, The American Independent was first to report that the National Cancer Institute (NCI) had added a section on medical marijuana to its treatment database, making it the first federal agency to formally recognize marijuana’s medicinal properties. Now, for reasons unknown, NCI has altered the page by removing any mention of the evidence that marijuana can diminish and even reverse tumor growth. The American Independent is awaiting reply from NCI on the reasons for the change.
Publication/Source: 
The Colorado Independent (DC)
URL: 
http://coloradoindependent.com/81475/first-federal-agency-to-acknowledge-medical-marijuana-removes-anti-tumor-information-from-database

U.S. Led Drug Prohibition Wars Have Failed, Expert Tells Panama Conference

Speaking at a regional security conference, Hans Mathieu, director of the Friedrich Ebert Security Foundation, said using violent repression in the "war" against drugs doesn’t work and policies against drug trafficking, especially those headed by the United States, have failed.
Publication/Source: 
Newsroom Panama (Panama)
URL: 
http://www.newsroompanama.com/panama/2532-us-led-anti-drug-wars-have-failed-expert-tells-panama-conference.html

New Directions New Jersey: A Public Safety and Health Approach to Drug Policy

The New Directions New Jersey conference will examine the decades-old ramifications of President Nixon’s declaration of the “war on drugs” in urban communities like Newark.

Drug policy experts from across the country and around the globe will discuss topics including: reducing crime and incarceration, effectively addressing addiction, treating drug use as a health issue, communities of color and the war on drugs, and drug policy lessons and models from abroad.

When asked about the war on drugs on the campaign trail, President Barack Obama said, “I believe in shifting the paradigm, shifting the model, so that we focus more on a public health approach [to drugs].” Polls show the American people agree. President Obama’s drug czar, Gil Kerlikowske, told the Wall Street Journal last year that he doesn’t like the term “war on drugs” because “[w]e’re not at war with people in this country.” Yet for the tens of millions of Americans who have been arrested and incarcerated for a drug offense, U.S. drug policy is a war on them—and their families. What exactly is a public health approach to drugs? What might truly ending the war on drugs look like?  This conference will serve as a model for those looking for new directions and strategies for ending the war on drugs.

“We see the impact of the ‘drug war’ first hand, where so many people are incarcerated for being economically disadvantaged by the disappearance of work,” says Bethany Baptist Church pastor, Reverend William Howard.  “Afterwards, they are virtually permanently barred from the legal workforce for the rest of their lives. We must take our stand against the destructive scourge of drug abuse and trafficking by developing new, sensible strategies that solve more problems than they create.”

The conference will be guided by four principles:

  • The war on drugs has failed and it is time for a new approach to drug policy.
  • Effective drug policy balances prevention, harm reduction, treatment and public safety.
  • Alcohol and other drug use is fundamentally a health issue and must be addressed as such.
  • Drug policies must be based on science, compassion, health and human rights.

Panel members and conference speakers include:

·         Rev. Dr. M. William Howard, Jr., pastor, Bethany Baptist Church

·         Ethan Nadelmann,executive director, Drug Policy Alliance

·         Paula T. Dow, New Jersey Attorney General

·         Garry F. McCarthy, police director, City of Newark

·         Michelle Alexander, Esq., associate professor, Ohio State University’s Moritz College of Law and the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity; Author, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

·         Beny Primm, MD, executive director, Addiction, Research and Treatment Corporation, Brooklyn, New York

·         Todd Clear, dean, School of Criminal Justice, Rutgers University

·         Donald MacPherson, former drug policy coordinator, City of Vancouver

·         Alex Stevens, professor of Criminal Justice, School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research, University of Kent, Chatham, UK

·         Stephanie Bush-Baskette, Esq., Author and Director of the Joseph C. Cornwall Center for Metropolitan Studies at Rutgers University

·         Deborah Peterson Small, Founder and Executive Director, Break the Chains: Communities of Color & the War on Drugs

For a full list of panel members, go to: http://www.drugpolicy.org/docUploads/DPA_New_Directions_NJ_final_prog_REFERENCE.pdf

Please RSVP to: [email protected]

Date: 
Sat, 03/19/2011 - 8:30am - 5:00pm
Location: 
275 West Market Street Bethany Baptist Church
Newark, NJ 07103
United States

Study Casts Doubts Over Canada's Strategy on Illicit Drug Use

Location: 
Canada
Much like the American approach to drug policy, it's not clear Canadians are getting a whole lot of bang for all the bucks thrown at the illicit drug problem, a new report says. "In the case of the strategy, many programs do not have the means to demonstrate the incremental impact of their activities...Many programs report output information...but the validity of the information remains questionable from an impact measurement perspective," the document says.
Publication/Source: 
CTV Television Network (Canada)
URL: 
http://montreal.ctv.ca/servlet/an/local/CTVNews/20110317/study-drug-use-ottawa-strategy-110317/20110317/?hub=MontrealHome

Life After the War on Drugs: Reviewing Past and Present Policies with an Eye Toward Legal Reform

University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law
2011 Law Review Symposium


 

"Life After the War on Drugs: Reviewing Past and Present Policies With an Eye Toward Legal Reform"


Introduction (10:00 – 10:15 a.m.)
• John Brittain, Professor, UDC-DCSL, Chief Counsel and Senior Deputy Director of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (2005-2009)

Panel 1: Drug Policy at Home and Abroad (10:15 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.)
• Eric Sterling, Advisory Board Member, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP)
• Brooke Mascagni, PhD Candidate, University of California, Santa Barbara
• Jordan Blair Woods, PhD Candidate, Cambridge University (U.K.), J.D. University of California Los Angeles

Lunch (12:00 – 1:00 pm)
• Lunch Keynote Speaker: Ronald C. Machen, Jr., United States Attorney for the District of Columbia

Panel 2: Conflicts between State and Federal Drug Laws (1:00 – 3:30 p.m.)
• Andrew Ferguson (Moderator), Professor, UDC-DCSL, Public Defender Service of the District of Columbia (2004-2010)
• Robert Hildum, Director, D.C. Dept. of Youth Rehabilitation Services (2010)
• Sumeet H. Chugani, Esq. and Xingjian Zhao, Esq., Diaz, Reus & Targ, LLP (Miami, FL)
• Alex Kreit, Director, Center for Law and Social Justice, Thomas Jefferson School of Law (San Diego, CA)

Panel 3: The Unknown Effects of the War on Drugs (3:45 – 5:00 p.m.)
• Brian Gilmore, Director, Michigan State University College of Law Housing Clinic
• Ken Lammers, Deputy Commonwealth Attorney, County of Wise and City of Norton in Virginia
• Michael Liszewski, Board of Directors, Students for Sensible Drug Policy

Cocktail Reception (5:10 – 6:00 p.m.)

Plenary Panel: Life After the War on Drugs (6:00 – 9:00 p.m.)
• Keynote Speaker: Wade Henderson, President and CEO, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
• Jasmine Tyler, Deputy Director of National Affairs, Drug Policy Alliance
• Mark Osler, Professor, University of St. Thomas School of Law (Minneapolis, MN)
• The Honorable Arthur L. Burnett, Sr., National Executive Director, National African-American Drug Policy Coalition
• Dr. Faye Taxman, Director, Center for Advancing Correctional Excellence, George Mason University

The event is free and open to the public, but registration is limited. To register, see http://www.law.udc.edu/events/event_details.asp?id=136549.

For any questions, please contact Symposium Editor Leila Mansouri at [email protected].

Date: 
Thu, 03/24/2011 - 10:00am - 9:00pm
Location: 
4200 Connecticut Avenue, NW University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law, Windows Lounge: Building 38, 2nd Floor
Washington, DC 20008
United States

ACLU: DEA’s Politics Are Keeping Cannabis-Based Medicines Off Shelves

After a decade of waging a hard-fought battle with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, which repeatedly denied his application for the production of medical marijuana, Dr. Lyle E. Craker, a professor at the University of Massachusetts, said he would call it quits, resigning his fight in bitter defeat. The ACLU released its final brief on Craker's case, which calls on the DEA to grant research permits for the production of medical cannabis. They flatly state that cannabis medicines have not yet cleared the Food and Drug Administration because of the DEA's pernicious politics and tight monopoly on the granting of production licenses.
Publication/Source: 
The Raw Story (DC)
URL: 
http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/03/08/aclu-deas-politics-are-keeping-cannabis-based-medicines-off-shelves/

Knox County D.A.R.E Drug Prevention Curriculum Bumped in Face of Call for Measurable Results

Location: 
TN
United States
This spring, the Knox County Sheriff's Office will teach its final classes of the 25-year-old Drug Awareness Resistance Education program in local county schools. D.A.R.E., developed as a drug prevention curriculum by the Los Angeles Police Department for children 10-12 years old, has been long criticized by many studies and organizations -- including the U.S. Surgeon General, the National Academy of Sciences, and the U.S. Department of Education -- for not being effective at keeping kids away from drugs later in life.
Publication/Source: 
Knoxville News Sentinel (TN)
URL: 
http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2011/mar/08/d-a-r-e-drug-prevention-curriculum-bumped/

Council on Foreign Relations Report Urges US Embrace Drug Reform

A just released special report from the prestigious Council on Foreign Relations has called on the US government to entertain serious drug reforms, including allowing states to experiment with marijuana legalization, as part of an effort to get a handle on violent Mexican drug trafficking organizations.

The border at Tijuana. Prohibition hurts on both sides. (Image via Wikimedia)
The report, The Drug War in Mexico: Confronting a Shared Threat, is authored by David Shirk, professor of political science and director of the Trans-Border Institute at the University of San Diego. Shirk is a leading scholar on US-Mexican relations.

Shirk describes the growth of the so-called cartels, the Mexican state's response, and the US's role as consumer of drugs and supplier of cash and weapons, and prescribes a number of measures that would make for a more effective fight against the cartels. But he also makes clear that a "smarter" war on drugs may be necessary, but is not the ultimate answer to the problems generated by drug prohibition.

"Mexico's security crisis illustrates the limitations of current anti-drug strategies and offers an opportunity to shift the paradigm to a more sensible approach," Shirk wrote. "Over the last four decades, the war on drugs has lacked clear, consistent, or achievable objectives; has had little effect on aggregate demand; and has imposed an enormous social and economic cost. A state-driven, supply-side, and penalty-based approach has failed to curb market production, distribution, and consumption of drugs. The assumption that punishing suppliers and users can effectively combat a large market for illicit drugs has proven to be utterly false. Rather, prohibition bestows enormous profits on traffickers, criminalizes otherwise law-abiding users and addicts, and imposes enormous costs on society."

Drug legalization should be on the table, Shirk concluded after listing possible negative effects, including drug traffickers shifting to other areas of illicit opportunity and increased drug use leading to increased use-related harms:

"Any effort to legalize drugs would need to proceed with careful study, ample deliberation, and due caution. Yet, with or without legalization, authorities should work with greater urgency and focus to develop public health and law enforcement measures to prevent, treat, and reduce the harms associated with drug consumption," Shirk wrote. "In the end, treating drug consumption and organized crime as separate problems will make it possible to address both more effectively. To make this possible -- and before other countries or even some US states venture further down the road toward drug legalization -- the US federal government should move quickly to examine the current approach and chart a course toward a more effective drug policy."

The report has three specific recommendations for US drug policy, here quoted verbatim:

 

Reevaluate US Drug Policy

The US Congress should commission an independent advisory group to examine the fiscal and social impacts of drug legalization as well as other alternative approaches to the war on drugs. The commission should be provided adequate funding -- at least $2 million -- to provide a comprehensive review of existing policies and develop realistic, clearly defined, and achievable policy recommendations for reducing the harms caused by drug consumption and abuse.

Shift US Counter-Drug Priorities to Focus on Major Sources of Illicit Income

To allow policy experimentation, the federal government should permit states to legalize the production, sale, taxation, and consumption of marijuana. While testing this policy shift, authorities should redirect scarce law enforcement resources to focus on the more damaging and socially unacceptable drugs (like heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine) from which Mexican DTOs derive more than 70 percent of their drug proceeds.

Lead International Efforts on Drug Policy Reform

The United States should lead the international dialogue on the future of international drug policy by collaborating directly with other countries in the Americas to develop alternative policy approaches to reduce the harm caused by drugs. Specifically, the United States and Mexico should work together in promoting the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission's "New Hemispheric Drug Strategy," with an emphasis on protections for basic human rights, evidence-based drug policy, and a public health approach to drug abuse.
 

People have been knocking bricks from the wall of drug prohibition for some time now, but this report from the CFR should help to accelerate the process.

New York, NY
United States

Legalize Dagga and Other Drugs: South African Medical Journal

Location: 
South Africa
South Africans are still mulling over comments by the editor of the South African Medical Journal, who has called for government to look at legalizing certain drugs, such as dagga (marijuana) and cocaine. Editor JP van Niekerk says the high number of drug offenses that the country sees is proof that the country's prohibitionist war on drugs is ineffective, and authorities therefore should look at legalizing and regulating certain drugs.
Publication/Source: 
East Coast Radio (South Africa)
URL: 
http://www.ecr.co.za/kagiso/content/en/east-coast-radio/east-coast-radio-mobile-news?oid=1077703&sn=Mobile+news+detail&pid=171901

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