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Common Sense for Drug Policy
3619 Tallwood Terrace * Falls Church, VA 22041
703-354-5694 (phone) • 703-354-5695 (fax) • kevzeese@laser.net

Robert E. Field
Kevin B. Zeese

For Immediate Release   February 19, 1997
Contact: Kendra Wright or Kevin Zeese, 703-354-5694

Government Admission of its Drug Policy Problem is First Step Toward
Recovery, Experts Say

Drug Policy Reform Advocates Say the Next Step is for
Government to Seek Help From Others

Common Sense For Drug Policy Recommends Treating
Drugs as a Public Health - Not Criminal - Issue

Washington, D.C. - Today the government is expected to admit that it has a drug policy problem, a move experts say could be the first step toward recovery.

"The government has been addicted to its zero-tolerance 'War on Drugs' for nearly three decades. By owning up to the problem, Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey has begun the long, difficult road to recovery," said Kevin Zeese, President of Common Sense for Drug Policy, a clearinghouse on drug policy alternatives. "The next step is for the government to seek support and guidance from others."

A draft of the 1997 National Drug Control Strategy was obtained by the Scripps Howard News Service and ran nationally on February 8. The Strategy is expected to be formally released February 19, 1997. According Scripps Howard, the Strategy concedes "for the first time that the nation's 'War on Drugs' is endless" and says the government will now view "America's drug habit as a disease to be treated and lived with rather than ultimately defeated."

Common Sense for Drug Policy argues that despite having spent $56 billion since 1993 on the drug war, there have been no victories. In response, the organization is calling for a reversal of the government's spending priorities. Today, a full 65 percent of the federal drug control budget goes to law enforcement while 35 percent is divided among all prevention, education and treatment programs.

"The result has been inadequate prevention, poor drug education programs and a lack of treatment availability," Zeese added. Common Sense for Drug Policy advocates the government move from its zero-tolerance, criminal justice model to a public health approach, and urges the government to adopt its "Kicking the Drug War Habit: A 12 Step Approach"


Common Sense for Drug Policy
3619 Tallwood Terrace * Falls Church, VA 22041
703-354-5694 (phone) • 703-354-5695 (fax) • kevzeese@laser.net

Robert E. Field
Kevin B. Zeese

Kicking the Drug War Habit: A 12 Step Approach

1. Reverse federal funding priorities to 65 percent for treatment, education, research and prevention and 35 percent for law enforcement.

2. Make public health-based strategies to curb the spread of disease and addiction the overriding strategy of drug control.

3. Prioritize and develop effective education and prevention programs to discourage drug abuse.

4. Eliminate the federal funding set-aside for the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program (DARE) which has been shown to be ineffective by research.

5. Refer non-violent drug offenders to alternatives to incarceration. This should include commuting sentences of non-violent drug offenders after review of cases by the U.S. Sentencing Commission.

6. Repeal restrictions on federal aid to cities and states conducting clean needle programs. Research has repeatedly shown syringe programs reduce the spread of AIDS and do not increase drug use.

7. Increase the availability of treatment with the goal of making it available upon request. This should include allowing general practitioners and health clinics to prescribe methadone as any other drug is prescribed.

8. Restore the power of judges for sentencing of drug offenders by repealing mandatory minimum sentencing statutes and making the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines discretionary.

9. Eliminate the racial disparity in sentencing between crack and powder cocaine as recommended by the U.S. Sentencing Commission in 1995.

10. Reschedule marijuana to schedule II of the Controlled Substances Act allowing doctors to presribe it, and re-open the Compassionate Investigational New Drug Program so patients have a legal source of medical marijuana.

11. Stop using civil forfeiture authority. Forfeiture of property should only be pursued upon a criminal conviction.

12. Appoint a national commission with the power to re-evaluate drug policy and put in place public health-based strategies.

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