Saturday, October 22, 2005

Hartford Drug Policy Reform Conf Considers Legalization

I helped set this conference up, and spoke at it today on the impacts of emerging neurotechnologies on the legalization debate. It has been amazing that, because of the sponsorship and chairmanship of a progressive physician member of the Hartford City Council, Robert Painter, the conference was sponsored by the city government. Two-thirds of the speakers argued the legalization/decriminalization case, and challenged the city and police to redirect municipal resources from drug prohibition to treatment. Of course a comprehensive policy solution requires a change to federal drug laws, but this is one of the first conferences to look at what can be done to reform drug policy at the local level. - J.

Drug Summit Takes On Issue Of Legalization

Hartford Courant

October 22 2005

Participants in a drug policy summit Friday at Trinity College agreed wholeheartedly that addiction is a serious problem, but were divided over whether that problem is fundamentally one of health - or of crime.

The conference, "Illicit Drugs: Burden and Policy," drew a large crowd with strong opinions about the causes and potential solutions of drug problems in Greater Hartford and the nation.

"Using drugs should not be a punishable offense; it should be a treatable condition," said Hartford City Councilman Robert L. Painter, who organized the two-day event.

Some who went so far Friday as to call for the legalization of illicit drugs say that eliminating the drug trade and controlling the quality of those substances would reduce addiction and the crime it often spawns.

"Let's think of something other than locking them up and throwing away the key," said Jack Cole, a former New Jersey narcotics officer who now heads Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, an organization that supports the legalization of drugs. "You can get over an addiction, but you cannot get over a conviction."...

Several people Friday said they believe the societal "war on drugs" has evolved into a war on poor and desperate people, especially black and Hispanic addicts.

"We've all heard the cliche that it takes a village to raise a child, but ask yourself this question: What if most of the village is on crack?" said Richard Burton, an NAACP national committee chair and moderator of one of Friday's panels.

Radical Thought

Karl Marx describes the mid-19th century condition in the Communist Manifesto as follows:

"The bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionizing the instruments of production, and thereby the relations of production, and with them the whole relations of society. Conservation of the old modes of production in unaltered form, was, on the contrary, the first condition of existence for all earlier industrial classes. Constant revolutionizing of production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation distinguish the bourgeois epoch from all earlier ones. All fixed, fast frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions, are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify. All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses his real condition of life and his relations with his kind."