Posts tagged ‘Drug Policy Alliance’

New York Legislators Don’t Understand Meaning of’Reform’

Some state senators in New York don’t understand the recent reforms of the Rockefeller Drug Laws. Instead, they are referring to them as the ‘Drug Dealer Protection Act’.

Of course, this is completely absurd. The reforms simply removed mandatory minimum sentences which limit judicial power. Of course, judges still have the power to sentence people to long, harsh terms in prison – they just also now have the power not to sentence them when they deem it inappropriate. It’s the way most aspects the judicial process work – for some reason, some people like to think drug policy should be treated differently. (Of course, some people also think that drug possession should not be treated as a criminal issue in the first place, but that’s a separate matter).

The Drug Policy Alliance has set up a very quick form through  which you can let New York legislators know that the public opposes reversing these reforms. Full text of the email from gabriel sayegh appears after the jump.


June 18, 2009 at 3:01 pm Leave a comment

Rockefeller Reforms Passed By New York State Senate

Voting on the reforms to the Rockefeller Drug Laws was initially delayed by illness; Senator Ruth Hassel-Thompson was taken ill on Wednesday (Senator Hassel-Thompson attended the New Directions for New York conference in January, sponsored by the New York Academy of Medicine, so her vote for the reforms could have been considered safe). Despite this turn, the state senate approved serious reforms to the Rockefeller Drug Laws as part of the state budget by a 32-30 vote margin. Leading the debates in favor of the reform was Senator Eric Schneiderman.

The DPA has created an automated feature to thank senators; please consider sending a quick message of appreciation.

April 3, 2009 at 2:55 pm 1 comment

New York Assembly Passes Rockefeller Reform; Senate Votes Tonight

Yesterday, the New York State Assembly passed a reform of the Rockefeller Drug Laws as a part of the state budget. The state senate will vote on the issue tonight. Please send a letter to your state senator if you have not already and ask them to support this necessary reform. 


April 1, 2009 at 1:35 pm Leave a comment

Repeal of Rockefeller Drug Laws – Senate Votes Tomorrow

The Drug Policy Alliance just sent an email reminding all New Yorkers that the state legislature votes tomorrow on a repeal of the Rockefeller Drug Laws. Contact your legislators and Governor Paterson to ensure that this repeal passes. (The DPA’s automated feature will send your letter to both your state senator and Governor Paterson in one go).

March 30, 2009 at 1:59 pm Leave a comment

Kellogg’s Takes a Hit… but Not a Hint

According to an email sent by the Drug Policy Alliance:


The Kellogg’s public image has taken a huge hit, after the company refused to renew Michael Phelps’ contract because of his marijuana use. The advertising industry’s own leading journal recently reported that Kellogg’s treatment of Phelps was more damaging than the peanut recall.


Our calls have worked – partially. Kellogg’s has taken a hit, but not enough of one to encourage them to recant their statement. Executive Directory Ethan Nadelmann has been requesting a meeting with Kellogg’s, but they have refused. Tell Kellogg’s that you expect them to meet with Ethan Nadelmann to discuss their actions regarding Michael Phelps.

March 18, 2009 at 1:57 pm Leave a comment

Needle Exchanges: Change We Can Believe In

Just a few months ago, many of us were fretting over the rumors that Jim Ramstad, an opponent of needle-exchange programs, would be Obama’s new pick for drug czar. 

Just yesterday, the Obama administration indicated unequivocally that it would abandon the ‘war on drugs’ paradigm for needle exchanges in favor of a harm reduction approach.

Ethan Nadelmann, the executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, said of the shift:

“These statements really indicate a significant shift,” he said. “It’s not just a repudiation of the Bush administration, it’s a repudiation of the Clinton administration. This signals a new direction in US drug policy. This is about all the leading scientists and all the public health people pushing in the same direction and Obama saying he’s putting science above politics.”

This increases my optimism about the nomination of Gil Kerlikowske for drug czar, a man who – though a police chief – has reportedly complied with the local needle exchange programs and marijuana deprioritization. Hopefully, the United States will soon follow Seattle’s lead and adopt a ‘lowest priority’ policy with regard to marijuana as well.

March 17, 2009 at 2:05 pm Leave a comment

Clear the Road for Medical Marijuana Scientific Research

Poor Professor Lyle Craker. All he wants is a license from the DEA that will allow him to grow marijuana for scientific, research purposes. Guess what the DEA refuses to give him?

Craker, of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, intends to use this marijuana for research – probably into one of its many medical uses, like the treatment of cancer, HIV/AIDS, Crohn’s disease, or Multiple Sclerosis. This isn’t news; he’s been asking for this permit for a few years.

Currently, all marijuana used for research purposes must be provided by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), which is a federally run organization. Recall what you may have learned Economics 101: if there is only one (legal) provider of a good/service, the situation is known as a monopoly. The NIDA claims that their supply is large enough, but people like Craker disagree.

The only way to advance the cause of medicinal marijuana is through scientific research (because  the 17,000+ existing studies apparently don’t count). And if research is blocked, then, well, we’re at a standstill – at least until something changes.

For this reason, the Drug Policy Alliance asks that you send a letter to ensure that Obama acts to protect scientific resarch. Full text of the letter after the jump.


March 15, 2009 at 11:15 am Leave a comment

Rockefeller Drug Laws Dealt a Blow

Today, the New York State Assembly approved a bill that represents an important step towards eventual repeal of the Rockefeller Drug Laws. According to the New York Times, the bill ‘restore[s] judges’ discretion in many lower-level drug-possession crimes that are felonies by eliminating laws that require a prosecutor’s consent before judges can send certain felons to drug treatment instead of prison.’

While a complete overhaul of the Rockefeller laws still requires more work, this is an important step. New York Governor Paterson has already committed himself to overturning the laws.

To get involved in reform of these laws, sign the Drop the Rock petition. You can also print out copies of the petition for others to sign as well.

This reform has received praise from many organizations. In the words of gabriel sayegh of the Drug Policy Alliance, ‘The general theme is [that] states are making greater efforts to divert people into treatment programs, and they’re starting to use prison not as a first resort but a secondary or last resort’.

March 4, 2009 at 11:28 pm Leave a comment

A Recap of New Directions

Between last night’s plenary and today’s conference, a lot was presented in the New Directions for New York conference. The talks centered around the Four Pillars method currently used in Vancouver. The four pillars (and there was one talk about each pillar) are:

  • Prevention
  • Treatment
  • Harm Reduction
  • Enforcement

There were, of course, disagreements on how each pillar should be addressed, but most at the conference agree with the approach – or at least agree that the approach is better than the Draconian Rockefeller Drug Laws.

The speakers included a range of people with various backgrounds, from Drug Policy Alliance Executive Director Ethan Nadelmann to Russell Simmons, and two officials from Vancouver attended the event to discuss the success of the Four Pillars – and how the work is still not yet done.

The conference focused mostly on hard drugs, with very little discussion of marijuana, but many of the arguments presented (eg, arguments dealing with the inefficacy of and problems with encarceration) could be extended to cannabis with little or no adjustment. (more…)

January 24, 2009 at 2:53 am Leave a comment


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