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Archive for Friday, September 1, 2006

Drug Policy Forum reflects on successes

Group helped pass marijuana ordinance, conducted opinion poll

September 1, 2006

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It's been one year since a new group surfaced in Lawrence with the goal of making Kansans rethink the war on drugs.

In that time, the Drug Policy Forum of Kansas has succeeded in helping pass a city marijuana ordinance, conducted a statewide public opinion poll and obtained official tax status as a nonprofit.

Executive director Laura A. Green said the group's e-mailed newsletter has grown from about 50 recipients to more than 600.

Green said that, typically, people who speak out for drug reform are labeled "radicals or legalizers" - something she's tried to avoid in her dealings with law enforcement and elected leaders.

"I'm not there to challenge them. I'm there to discuss the policies," Green said Thursday as she sat inside a west-side rental home she was renovating, wearing a T-shirt with the words "No More Drug War" on the back. "It's important that we have civil discourse with our elected officials and our law-enforcement community. ... Being antagonistic and critical is not our mission."

Green cited a statewide poll of 500 frequent voters, conducted by Jayhawk Consulting, as one of the group's main accomplishments in its first year. Among its findings:

¢ 73 percent of those polled agreed that students in junior high and high school who participate in extracurricular activities should be drug tested. But she cited research, including a 2003 study by the University of Michigan, that showed drug-testing in schools does not deter drug use. She said the group is planning a town-hall style forum on the subject where both sides will be presented.

¢ 52 percent of those polled believed we are losing the "war on drugs."

¢ By nearly three to one (60 percent to 21 percent), those polled said they viewed someone with a drug problem as a criminal to be punished, rather than a person with a health problem.

¢ 62 percent were unopposed to changing Kansas law to allow marijuana use by someone with a "serious and terminal medical condition" if it was recommended by a doctor.

One of the group's goals is to promote "public health" alternatives to the current criminal justice approach to drugs.

"For 35 years, we've had the same policies, and they're not working," Green said. "Our mission is to elevate the debate so that both sides are presented, so that the general public can make up their own minds on the issues."

The group first came into the public eye when it began pushing for a city marijuana ordinance that would allow cases to be handled in Municipal Court instead of District Court. According to Municipal Court, 66 cases have been prosecuted so far under the new law.

Green, however, said the changes have turned out to be somewhat of a "nonissue." The $200 fine adopted by the city for marijuana possession - which is in addition to a $100 fee for an evaluation - was higher than Green wanted to see, and the law left police with the discretion of whether to arrest someone or issue a citation.

Green said the group is supported by donations and grants it has received from the groups Common Sense for Drug Policy and the Drug Policy Alliance. Lawrence lawyer Bob Eye is a founding board member, and Carolyn Jones, of Lawrence, is the board secretary.

Lt. John Eickhorn, a Kansas Highway Patrol spokesman, said he and Green may not agree on the issues, but that, so far, their contacts have been cordial and professional. The two spoke at length earlier this summer, when Green questioned the increased law enforcement presence and police check lane at this year's Wakarusa Music & Camping Festival.

As of this week, Green is awaiting a response to a records request for information on how federal anti-drug grant money was used at the festival, as well as statewide.

"They expressed their concern, and I think that they did it in a polite way," Eickhorn said.

Comments

jayhawks71 8 years, 3 months ago

Classic name calling macon. People who still support the war on drugs just don't get it. Your "local drug dealer" is Wal-mart, any bar or restaurant that serves alcohol, any gas station/convenience store that sells cigarettes. Those seem to be acceptable drug dealers to those who want to push their morals on everyone else, yet they scoff when their moral system is questioned or threatened. Being about using the government to push your agenda on others means that, if you have any principles, you are open to others pushing their agenda to your detriment.

And of course cops don't typically agree with anything that would ultimately cost them their jobs! Afterall, they too have kids to put through college and to do your job day in and day out, you have to see some value in what you do (even the "illegal" drug dealer does this... the money the government allows them to make through the facts of simply supply and demand economics, helps to offset the feel of doing something illegal). Heck, some of the cops are making money on the side using their position to sell drugs, to access money confiscated (and taken for their own use) in drug busts, and for "protection."

We have crimes against PEOPLE that should be pursued which are going unsolved and unaddressed because police are chasing someone chooses to inhale the smoke of a plant in his own home! Get the nanny state under control!

Finally, what is with the warring mentality in this country? The WAR on terror, the WAR on drugs, the WAR in Iraq. Yeah Yeah Rah Rah War War! Show our might, show our force regardless of who it is.

Prohibition doesn't work. It makes your "local drug dealer" a criminal not because he sells drugs, but because of the things he must use to protect his investment; Probition makes a career in dealing drugs lucrative by restricting the supply, leading the price to increase; the government is missing their chance to tax the sale and distribution of drugs the same way they do for the more addictive and equally or more dangerous substances in cigarettes or alcoholic beverages. They have a chance to regulate the quality (read: safety) of these substances. If they really want to "protect us" that would be a more fruitful endeavor instead of dumping pesticides from planes over the countryside in Colombia spraying NON coca growers and children. Yeah, our government really cares about no one.

Even in Kansas, Prohibition has finally fallen because it doesn't work.

oldgoof 8 years, 3 months ago

Drug abuse is bad, but the 'Drug War' is worse. And damned expensive too. What is wrong with learning about impact of existing policies.

miker 8 years, 3 months ago

A stint in jail is a lot more tuffer on the puffer. 50% of the nation's jail's population are the victims of the war on drugs. I'm sure some of these folks would welcome another chance through counseling or rehab. And I'm not talking 'bout the big boys who play with guns while plying their trade. Dealers , not rec - users , belong in the system. "Won't you please tell the man I didn't kill anyone , no , i'm just trying to have me some fun" - John Prine

prioress 8 years, 3 months ago

The "war" on drugs is like the "war" in Iraq, it benefits certain people who get govt. contracts, but the rest of it is a waste. Drugs (including alcohol and cigarettes) are medical issues that should have very little to do with regular law enforcement.

belle 8 years, 3 months ago

It's not the drugs Macon, it's the mentality. Our government spends billions of dollars each year in The War on Drugs. Has this been successful??? Too bad our jails are full of drug dealers and drug users. Here's the deal, you put a drug dealer in jail, and another one will emerge! When the other one emerges, not only are we paying to keep the other one in jail, but we're going to pay to hunt down the new one. It's a losing battle. Let's put our resources into something more effective. And seriously, let her parent her own children without you tipping your nose to her. I doubt you even know her.

belle 8 years, 3 months ago

Just because alcohol is legal, doesn't mean it's available for 8 and 12 year olds to sit around and get drunk. Just because you feel something should be legal, doesn't mean in turn, you want to give it to children.

c_doc77 8 years, 3 months ago

The so-called "war on drugs" was started to get rid of the CIA's competition in the cocaine trade. Beyond that, it was just one more step toward what we are beginning to experience as Americans - tyranny.

This war was the pretext upon which our freedoms began to erode. The so-called Patriot Act and warrantless wiretaps did not happen over night; they were part of an incremental attempt to empower the federal government beyond their constitutional boundaries. Does anyone else remember George W. Bush being quoted as saying that the Constitution is "just a god damned piece of paper"? Yeah, he actually said that. Google it.

jonas 8 years, 3 months ago

Why do we keep talking to Macon? It's obvious he's just in the need of some good, quality drugs.

c_doc77 8 years, 3 months ago

rant continues And furthermore, why do you think the federal government (under Ashcroft's direction) fought so ardently against California's medical marijuana laws? Why do they think it's better to have cancer patients hooked on legal narcotics?

They have to prove to the world that federal power trumps state's rights every time, and in every circumstance. If this city ordinance thing becomes part of a national trend, you can bet the feds will bring the hammer down. The Bush administration has already made public comments against Canada's more liberal marijuana policy. And Canada is a sovereign nation.

And in case you are wondering, I do not smoke marijuana.

c_doc77 8 years, 3 months ago

Marion: I understand your point. I'm familiar with the prohibition era anti-hemp/marijuana politics. However, the modern "war on drugs" is largely a product of the Reagan administration under the direction of Vice President and former CIA operative and chief, George H.W. Bush.

c_doc77 8 years, 3 months ago

logrithmic: "Reichwing"? That's classic, and definitely embodies the neo-con ideology. But let me be clear on this, truth is neither left or right, black or white. We live in a full colored muti-dimensional world. We don't need to feel that we have to be on one side or the other. Reality is not partisan.

That said, we should all aspire to live outside the boundaries of propaganda, no matter which "side" it comes from. Truth be told, most Democrats are a mere faction of the political status quo. They are just as much a part of this Reaganesque war, even if they are only at fault for just going along with it.

c_doc77 8 years, 3 months ago

War on Terror=War on Drugs=War on Humanity

GardenMomma 8 years, 3 months ago

Prospector, thanks for the chuckle. Very true.

Kelly Powell 8 years, 3 months ago

logrithmic....Did cigarette smokers beat you up as a child? Is it necessary to use them as your straw dummy? you want pot to be legal...cool, I'm fine with that, in fact I think any naturally occuring plant/drug should be legal.....I also would like to get pain killers through the pharmacy without having to shuck out money to a doctor(I have a trick knee that goes out on a rare occaison) they have the capability to track someones buying of scripts and it could be controlled......I'll agree with you on alot of things, but you need to quit the antagonistic stance....It makes you sound like a unreasonable hippy on a crusade.

oldgoof 8 years, 3 months ago

marion, c-doc: ha ha ha. Lets make it THREE prez's. I always thought NIXON coined the term. I did a quick check and I think we are all correct.

From Wikipdedia: "The War on Drugs is an initiative undertaken by the United States to carry out an "all-out offensive" (as President Nixon described it) against the prohibited use of certain legally controlled drugs. . .The Congressional Research Service. . . noted the nation's [effort] could be considered to have started in public policy dating to November 1880. . .It became officially the "war on drugs" in the 1930s, with the marijuana scare that banned possession and cultivation of cannabis (including hemp). . .Nixon's modern-day "War on Drugs" began in 1971. In 1988, towards the close of the Reagan Administration, the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) and its director, the Drug Czar was created to centrally coordinate legislative, security, diplomatic, research and health policy throughout the government.

oldgoof 8 years, 3 months ago

One take from an enlightened narcotics cop: . http://leap.cc/publications/wod_cole.htm . Or see audios and videos of other former law enforcement officials: . http://leap.cc/Multimedia/

jonas 8 years, 3 months ago

Still, I saw an anti-pot commercial that I actually respected yesterday on TV. It was basically a teenage kid saying he smoked pot and nothing bad happen, because he never left his friend Larry's couch. It had something I didn't know actually existed in anti-drug commercials: a degree of truth to it. Funny how that happens.

c_doc77 8 years, 3 months ago

Thanks for the correction, oldgoof. Honestly I'm not too familiar with Nixon's policies. But I suppose one could say that the "war" has grown in intensity since the Nixon era, and took a sharp turn for the worse during the Reagan era. Perhaps my limited viewpoint is the result of growing up in the 80's and witnessing what happened from that time until this.

oldgoof 8 years, 3 months ago

c-doc....no problem. This whole thing continues to spiral upwards with no end in site. Marion's suggestion of reading up on Harry Anslinger was also very interesting.

It is insanity.

I highly recommend people to sign up to get Laura Green's free monthly newsletter here: http://www.dpfks.org/frmmember.html

xenophonschild 8 years, 3 months ago

I am very much for legalizing marijuana, but am also very much against drug addicts.

Kind of like someone saying they like wine, but deplore winos.

People - personalities - have different strengths and weaknesses. Some people are weak where drugs are concerned. Some would just like to toot a little weed and sit around and giggle. Some want to stick poison up their arms until it kills them.

Go figure.

belle 8 years, 3 months ago

I recommend watching the documentary "Grass"

It's very informative, will make you laugh, and allll about Harry Anslinger.

staff04 8 years, 3 months ago

Both sides of this argument make valid points, but neither really has a solid leg to stand on. Much like many other social/political/ethical/moral issues, this one will not likely go anywhere because the hypocrisy abounds on both sides.

Pro-legalization/decriminalization elements can say that if you are going to outlaw the evils, then alcohol and tobacco should be treated with the same seriousness as marijuana. Probably true, but if they were faced with that as an option, they probably wouldn't be too happy about it.

The crack-down crowd loves to cry about the evils of pot, but won't acknowledge the facts that pot doesn't kill while all these legal substances have a long history of causing death and wouldn't dream of outlawing them.

I don't support across the board legalization, but I also don't think people should be doing hard time for recreational use/possession. Not any more than the crack-down crowd would advocate hard time for alcohol use/possession.

prioress 8 years, 3 months ago

"The crack-down crowd loves to cry about the evils of pot, but won't acknowledge the facts that pot doesn't kill while all these legal substances have a long history of causing death and wouldn't dream of outlawing them." ++++++++ Part of the "addiction" issue here is the government itself. It is addicted to the excessive taxes levied on booze and ciggies, while simultaneously raging against their evils. Prohibition of most bad habits, drugs, tobacco, alcohol, prostitution, etc. is a waste of time and resources.......but it's fun, isn't it? (At least for those who make money off the process.)

c_doc77 8 years, 3 months ago

Hyping up the evils of alcohol and tobacco actually makes it easier for the government to raise taxes on these items. The worse something is for you, the more plausible the justification to punish people for buying the, hence the term "sin tax".

Not only is this true concerning tobacco and alcohol, of late people like John McCain have argued that the federal government should have some oversight of Indian casinos, which are ran by sovereign indigenous nations. You can bet that if this argument gets off the ground, the Feds are going to want a cut of this money also.

It would not be legal for the federal government to tax these casino revenues, but with enough money and power what is illegal can easily become legal. If you don't believe me, just as George W. Bush.

as_I_live_and_breathe 8 years, 3 months ago

the best anit drug commercial I ever saw I only saw one time.

A young man looks into the camera and says,

" I was a straight A student, star quarterback and worked part time. Then I got caught smoking marijuana. I got fired, kick off the team and out of my house."

it wasn't the drugs that messed up his life... it was the stigma attached.

JUST SAY NO TO DRUG LAWS.

davisnin 8 years, 3 months ago

I sometimes just sit around my house all day smoking cigarettes and forget to shower so I put on some patchouli oil and then I go to McDonalds and then I come home and smoke some more cigarettes and listen to some crappy jam music and then I forget what I'm doing so I smoke some more cigarettes but I run out so I make a phone call to this guy that sells cigarettes out of his trailer.

xenophonschild 8 years, 3 months ago

I dream about getting a bunch of fundamentalist Christian conservative Republicans (who are what I think of when I think "ass*oles) loaded on some good Jamaican white-bud.

When you review the panoply of actions and means you can do to change, improve another person's life, getting these people high would be a genuine gift to them.

We need to legalize the beautiful weed.

davisnin 8 years, 3 months ago

Ahh, the tolerance of the left makes me ashamed of myself.

Klickhammer 8 years, 3 months ago

The Christian Right has too much power and the Drug War is too effective (at its intended aims: rounding up undesirables, and funneling money to our activities in C. America) to allow any president to legalize a drug they've spent so much time demonizing. It's a dissident's drug anyway, associated with the counter culture of the sixties (of which much effort has been spent creating the "hippie" character to obfuscate the plain fact that the people almost won the nation back) and business doesn't benefit from a bunch radicals running around. In fact, it attempts to prevent it. See COINTELPRO for reference. This becomes a "state's rights" issue because no president can risk the fallout. As a nation, we're miles and miles away from any such legislation, considering that some of our other hard won freedoms are being systematically rolled back before our eyes.

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