Marijuana Legalization an Issue at Country

Press Release February 13, 2005
Media Contact

Tony Newman at (646) 335-5384 or Elizabeth M

WASHINGTON, D.C. – At the country’s oldest and largest annual gathering of grassroots conservatives, a broad spectrum of political heavyweights will be meeting to network and discuss hot topics like the war on drugs, which is increasingly a flashpoint in Conservative circles. Co-Sponsors of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) include, the NRA, Americans for Tax Reform, the American Conservative Union, and Log Cabin Republicans.

For the first time this year the nation’s largest drug policy reform organization, the Drug Policy Alliance, is co-sponsoring CPAC. The Alliance’s executive director, Ethan Nadelmann, will also speak about the failures of the war on drugs during a February 19th panel entitled, “Conservative Principle and Unresolved Issues: Differences Within the Family.” In June, Nadelmann’s National Review cover story, titled “An end to Marijuana Prohibition,” challenged American conservatives to take a stand against the U.S. government’s expensive, ineffective and harmful prohibitionist policies. Subsequent columns in the leading conservative magazine featured Nadelmann going head to head with drug czar John Walters on the same issue. The National Review cover story will be included in the conference materials given to thousands of CPAC attendees. (The article is available on-line.)

As the war on drugs continues to waste taxpayer money, destroy families, and undermine the rule of law, more and more conservatives are speaking out. An increasing number of elected Republicans are taking the lead in reforming the country’s failed drug laws. In New Mexico, former Governor Gary Johnson was a staunch opponent of the war on drugs, and he passed landmark drug treatment and sterile syringe access legislation while he was in office.

Maryland Republican Governor Robert Erhlich also passed treatment instead of incarceration legislation in 2004 and is working on reforming so-called “mandatory minimum” drug sentences this year, and New York’s Republican Governor George Pataki passed modest reforms to that state’s notorious mandatory minimums, known as the Rockefeller drug laws, last year. In addition, California Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed into law a number of drug policy reform measures that his Democratic predecessor had vetoed, including a law making it legal for California pharmacies to sell clean syringes to reduce the spread of AIDS from injection drug use.

During last August’s Republican National Convention, the Drug Policy Alliance ran an ad called “The Right Response to the War on Drugs” in the conservative daily the New York Sun. The ad quoted prominent figures like Grover Norquist, William F. Buckley, Jr., Milton Friedman, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, among others, critiquing the war on drugs. The ad is viewable on our website.

A young woman holds a sign that says "End the Drug War."

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