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Greens call for an end to the War on Drugs

flag_logo.jpg

Greens call for an end to the War on Drugs and
enactment of sane drug laws that treat addiction
as a medical problem

  • Greens cite disproportionate targeting of
    people of color: “The real crime is the War on
    Drugs”
  • Funding for the War on Drugs should be shifted
    to treatment

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Green candidates and leaders called for an end to the ‘war on drugs,’ calling national and state drug policy a ‘war on American citizens’ and a waste of national resources.

“Draconian drug laws, mandatory sentencing, zero tolerance, and ‘three strikes’ statutes have been used to lock away hundreds of thousands of young people, poor people, African Americans and other people of color in prisons and prevent them from living productive lives,” said Clifford Thornton, Green candidate for Governor of Connecticut .  “The Green Party recognizes drug addiction as a medical problem. Addicts should be treated as patients, not as criminals.” Mr. Thornton, who is also co-founder of Efficacy, Inc., which advocates major reforms in drug policy.

Greens especially called for immediate decriminalization of marijuana, citing an FBI annual Uniform Crime Report that police arrestedan estimated 786,545 persons for marijuana violations in 2005, the highest number ever recorded, and that 88% of these were charged with mere possession.

“Marijuana prohibition needs to be repealed immediately — death from marijuana use is nearly zero, while hundreds of thousands die every year from using alcohol and nicotine,” said Matt Abel, Green candidate for Congress in Michigan’s 9th District, member of NORML, and a criminal defense attorney and who has handled numerous marijuana cases.  “Locking up Americans for such offenses is a waste of lives, and a waste of about $69 billion per year in taxpayer dollars. Furthermore, the prohibition against medical marijuana has denied relief for people who suffer various symptoms of AIDS and other serious diseases, just as prohibition in many states against needle exchange has allowed HIV to spread faster.”

“Politicians who are afraid of being labeled ‘soft on crime’ have enacted laws that have only aggravated public health problems related to drug use,” added Nelson Eisman, Green candidate for Governor of Wisconsin.  “They drove addicts underground when they needed medical help.  They increased the spread of drug-related violence, which is a result of drug prohibition, not a result of the drugs themselves.  They turned young people into hardened criminals, and placed a third of young African American men behind bars at some point in their lives.  The real crime is
the war on drugs.” [Source: Thomas P. Bonczar, U.S. Dept. of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, “Prevalence of Imprisonment in the US Population, 1974-2001,”  CJ197976, August 2003]

“The use of drugs by wealthy, powerful people like Bill Clinton or George W. Bush is considered a youthful indiscretion to be overlooked, while for middle class and especially poor Americans, it’s something that deserves years of jail time,” Mr. Eisman added.

Green Party leaders noted that the war on drugs, supported by both Democratic and Republican parties, has been used as an excuse for massive rights violations, especially denial of Fourth Amendment guarantees against warrantless search and seizure and Fifth Amendment guarantees of due process, and for military attacks against Colombia, Panama, and other Latin American countries.

“There is almost no difference between Democratic and Republican administrations or majorities in Congress when it comes to drug policy,” said Kevin Zeese, Maryland Green candidate for the U.S. Senate,  President of Common Sense for Drug Policy, , and co-founder of the Drug Policy Alliance (formerly Drug Policy Foundation).  “The war on drugs has been an obvious model for President Bush’s so-called war on terror.  Both programs attempt to induce fear in the American public and target certain populations for vilification and incarceration.  Both programs benefit corporate lobbies with enormous political influence — the defense and security industries, and the growing private prison business that makes its profits by filling up cells.”

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