Thursday, February 16, 2006

Charting our progress

Marijuana Policy Project sends a release outlining the lastest developments from the front lines drug policy reform, beginning with Mark Souder's scurrilous attacks from the House floor on Rob Kampia's having been asked to moderate a policy reform panel at the CPAC conference. Pete at Drug WarRant already has this covered so I won't go into it any further than to say I think Kaptinemo is onto to something when he suggests we should start suing these idiots for making false and slanderous statements on the public record. But as I've said before, it's still a good sign that the prohibs are reduced to such pathetic lies in order to defend their taxpayer funded gravy train.

There's good news in this release though and it's useful to see how far we've come in the last year.

* Congress cut $20 million from the White House drug czar's nonsensical ad campaign.

* Congress cut $210 million from the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program, this being the program that funds all those ethically challenged drug task forces.

* Congress cut $100 million from the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Program, a program that is partly used to bribe schools into employing warrantless pee testing of teenagers in public schools.

* Congress modified the ill-advised HEA Act, now exempting prior convictions from impacting student educational assistance grants. We have still a way to go on this one since they retained the provision that penalizes students with minor drug convictions while in school while ignoring alcohol related crimes. I have faith the tireless young people at SSDP will continue to hammer some sense into Congress on this issue.

* MPP played a major role in drafting language in the transportation infrastructure bill that was enacted with a requirement that the federal government study the varying levels of impairment caused by the use of marijuana and other illicit drugs. This is a change from the zero-tolerance approach used by the drug warriors (where the presence of THC in the body is taken to be proof of impairment, even if the THC is from days or weeks earlier).

Of course, not all news is good. The bill that funds the U.S. Justice Department gave $5 million to a marijuana eradication program and $1.7 billion to the Drug Enforcement Administration. And our favorite drug czar just unveiled his new budget request for $20 billion on drug war spending that he will probably receive.

Nonetheless, on the balance, it's been a positive year. We're making a difference and every day it becomes a little easier to believe we'll see sensible drug policy in our lifetimes.


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