Pubdate: Sun, 1 Jul 2001
Source: The DrugSense Chat Room
Note: This is part of a series of chats being posted to the DrugNews 
clipping service as an exception to policy.
Cited: Common Sense for Drug Policy
The Coalition for Compassionate Leadership on Drug Policy
The November Coalition
Forfeiture Endangers American Rights
Never Again! Rally in Tulia July 22


Monday, July 2, 2001 8 p.m. Eastern in the NY Times Drug Policy Forum join Keith Stroup, 
executive director of NORML

Keith will follow up with a chat in the DrugSense Chat Room on Sunday, July 
8, 2001 at 8 p.m. Eastern


Future guests already scheduled in the series include Al Giordano, Steve & 
Michele Kubby, Renee Boje, and Al Robison. See for details.



Note: Due to a technical problem, some of Kevin's answers did not post 
completely as indicated by the (*) below.

Amanda: Kevin, is there any light at the end of the Drug War tunnel from 
where you are sitting?

Kevin: Well, there are going to be a lot of victories along the way. The 
drug war will keep having the edges cut off it. Issues like racial 
profiling, mandatory sentencing, funding for needle exchange are likely to 
be the first to go. But, this is a marathon with hurdles so be prepared for 
that. If we see an opening for a sprint we will all sense it, redouble our 
efforts and end this abusive war.

Diane_fornbacher: Question: What are the three most important pieces of 
advice to drug policy reform activists you can give Kevin?

Kevin: The three most important things for activists are: Build your 
credibility by being accurate with the facts. 2. Put forward the human face 
in non-threatening ways and 3. Reach out to organizations whose members and 
constitutients are hurt by the war so we can expand our base. Of course, 
always try to influence the media. They are our megaphone.

Josh: What are the Dems response to Walters?

Kevin: Walters nomination is going slowly. It is likely it will not be 
considered until after the August recess. So, there is time to get 
organized. There is a coalition developing to work on this. Their web site 
was mentioned in the last DrugSense weekly. He is being criticized by the 
right wing -- especially the New Republic. The Dems are being pretty quiet. 
A key will be whether he is considered by Leahy, the Chairman of Judiciary 
or whether he will (*)

Antigen: Kevin, what's your position on right to (coerced) treatment?

Kevin: Regarding the question on the therapeutic state, that is a 
legitimate concern. We lay out those concerns in Drug War Facts section on 
drug courts. One key is to be very open about the potential problems so 
that we can ameliortate them. It is a mistake to hold back treatment 
instead of prison as if I were standing before the judge I would want the 
choice and so everyone should have it. But open discussion among reformers 
and recognition that this (*)

Chris_Buors: Kevin, I am fearful of the "public health" model being 
advocated by many activists, Like Dr. Thomas Szasz I see it as the road to 
oppression through the therapeutic state. Comments?

Diane_fornbacher: Question: How do you recommend those interested in Drug 
Policy Reform avoid burn-out -- due to the immensity of the WoD problem?

Kevin: Regarding burnout, the biggest source of burnout has been drug 
reformers attacking each other! Instead, we should be caring for each 
other. We are on the same side and while we have differences we should not 
focus on those as much as what we have in common. It is also important to 
work hard, but also play hard. For some that means turning off and 
vacationing, for others -- they have their own approaches. Don't feel 
guilty taking a break.

Debra: Kevin, in Michigan, needle exchange is pretty much left up to local 
governments, but we still have state paraphernalia laws.  Is it worth 
taking the time to go to each locality, or should be working at change on a 
state level?

Kevin: All politics is local. In order to change state and federal law you 
need to build local support. So pursuing the local is not inconsistent with 
working to change state/federal in fact it is essential.

jack_dectis: Kevin, Any ideas on speeding up the end of the WOD, ala Europe?

Kevin: Europe is making great strides. I was pleased to see the changes in 
England as they have been resisting "going Dutch." In many respects a 
conservative US president will help because the socially liberal european 
leaders do not feel like he is their ally anyway. So they do not need to 
build that type of relationship with him. It is not insignificant that for 
the first time the Dutch will be on the UNDCP while the US is off. Europe 
is leading the watch up.

Dean_Becker: KEVIN: Would it not be a good idea to single out a select few, 
the worst of the prohibs and try to single them out as civil rights 
snatching mo fos?

Kevin: It is essential that drug war politicians begin to pay a political 
price for their votes. We need to start targeting the most extreme in 
effective ways so that they lose their seats. Once a few extremists get 
knocked out it will allow room for others to change their views -- in fact 
most in Congress know the drug war is not working and will never work -- 
they just see no poltical advantage to supporting reform. Knocking out the 
Bob Barr's of the (*)

Matt: Kevin, You mention infighting, do you think diversity (segregation) 
within the movement is good, November, FEAR, cannabis, harm reduction and 
so forth?

Kevin: No, I think it is important for issue specific reform groups 
recognize they are on the same side. We are much stronger working together. 
There may be times that we work in tangent rather than in coalition, but my 
sense is that is becoming less common as reform becomes more politically 
acceptable and as we show support at the polls especially during the 
initiatives. In fact, these groups are working together more and more 
through various coalition (*)

Matt: Kevin, don't you think reform groups should focus on their special 

Kevin: Of course, but they should realize they are part of a bigger issue, 
e.g. mandatory sentencing and forfeiture are about the drug war. Indeed, 
the last time mandatory sentences were repealed in 1970 it was when the 
drug laws were overhauled. They were not repealed piecemeal.

Matt: Kevin, what about women splitting off? This is an issue now in 
Canada.  Some feel it fragments while I point to the success of the WONPR

Kevin: Women are key spokespersons. Drug policy has always been heavily 
impacted by women -- the Womens Christian Temperance Union brought in 
prohibition and the Women's Org for National Prohibition Reform ended it. 
The suburban drug war moms escalated the drug war in 1978 and early 80s. We 
need women spokespersons in their own organizations as well as with other 
reform groups. They are among the most important out there.

Diane_fornbacher: Kevin, how can we effectively get public role models (ie 
entertainers, sports stars) to understand and openly support our various 
drug policy reform efforts and ... is this a good idea?

Kevin: This is another key group. They are getting active on their own -- 
in their work. You can see it in music, tv and movies. There are people in 
LA working on this. It has been a tough nut to crack but with the success 
of Traffic there seems to be a window of opportunity. They have a lot to 
lose so we need to make it as safe as possible for them.

Debra: Kevin, what, in your opinion, is the best way to effect change on 
the issues in Colombia?

Kevin: Colombia is a great opportunity for outreach to the environmental 
community, anti-military, peace, anti-globalization, civil rights and 
student communities. That type of outreach is critical to reform as well as 
to ending the Andean Regional Initiative. The big problem with this issue 
is the economic interests involved. They are playing a hidden hand and with 
W in the White House their hidden hand is powerful.

THX1138: Have we covered the latest news about the "marijuana epidemic" 
yet? Did we decide whether this is good news or bad news?

Kevin: We did not cover it. But two points, first, it is exaggerated and 
second, it shows the marijuana prohibition does not work.

Matt: Kevin, how seriously should we take allegations of CIA complicity in 
Central America? I understand the new marijuana epidemic has caused a 
decrease in "hard drug" use ... as expected

Kevin: The CIA conspiracy issue is exaggerated -- in my view. The CIA let 
some of their allies import drugs but it is not significant as to the 
overall market. Emphasizing leaves a misimpression that the government is 
not trying. They are. It will just never work.

Matt: Kevin, and raising coke-contra makes us look like conspiracy nuts?

Kevin: Yes. The CIA is good at making people look nuts.

Kubby: Kevin, Is there a Plan Canada for the Soros group? What specific 
steps will be taken to support legalization in Canada?

Kevin: I can't speak for the Soros group. It looks like the emphasis has 
been on the US but they have given money to Canadian groups as well as 
others around the world working for reform.

imhuman/Leslie: What is the best way for us to get out the word about the 
Prison Industrial Complex expense versus what we as a nation spend on 

Kevin: Getting info out on this is not different from other issues. Even 
though we are a high communication society with lots of vehicles for 
communication it is not easy to get out unpopular thoughts. Use all sources 
Internet, letters to editor, demonstrations, advertising, outreach to 
potential allies. You have to keep knocking on the door till someone answers.

Dean_Becker: KEVIN: What is the July march in Tulia all about, what will 
you do there?

Kevin: The Tulia event includes a day of events in Tulia with a vigil 
around the courthouse at midnight to say Never Again to the arrests that 
occurred two years ago. Also, there will be a Freedom Ride from Austin. 
And, there will be a tour of Rockefeller drug law moms that will end in 
Tulia. If anyone wants to get involved let me know.

Moderator: re: freedom ride, when is the ride and is there a website?

Kevin: For contact on the Freedom Ride to Tulia email Tracey Hayes at Diane_fornbacher: Kevin, how do activists bring more money to their 
respective actions w/out depleting our limited funding resources?

Kevin: The funders who have gotten involved have done so because they have 
seen working being done. Everytime you raise the reform flag you have a 
chance to increase your funding and funding for the movement. I know there 
is not enough money, but there is more than there has been and it is 
growing steadily.

Dean_Becker: KEVIN: If you could take a wild guess on the dollar swing, 
from billions paid for the drug war to billions made on taxes after the 
war, what would it be?

Kevin: We are spending $20 Bill federally and probably $25 to $30 billion 
at the state and local level. SOme of that would still need to be spent on 
prevention and treatment as well as law enforcement for people who break 
non-drug laws. As far as taxes go it is a wild guess to make -- anywhere 
from$10 bill (conservatively) to $30 billion annually.

Chris_Buors: Kevin do you make a "soft drug" "hard drug" distinction or do 
you work for decriminalizing all?

Kevin: I work for decriminalization of all. In the short run marijuana 
decrim should come first and we should adopt harm reduction for hard drugs.

Antigen: Kevin, why does tax money have to be spent on psychiatric treatment?

Kevin: For the same reason it is spent on medical treatment. It is a health 
problem that not everyone who has can afford.

Debra: Kevin, any ideas on involving AIDS patients in the mmj movement 
while reducing their risks of arrests, harassment, etc.?

Kevin: AIDS patients are well aware of the benefits of marijuana. To 
involve people you need to listen to their concerns, show you care and show 
how it relates to the drug war.

Chris_Buors: Will you ever run for office Kevin?

Kevin: It would have to be a vastly different political scene than it is 
right now. But I have learned not to say never since almost every never 
I've said I've ended up doing.

Dean_Becker: KEVIN: how can we convince our neighbors, like the couple that 
ran the 2 pae ad, without the cost of thousands, should we start 
neighborhood groups, like neighborhood watch or PTA, dare to share info 
with those we fear most?

Kevin: Definitely. All politics is local. Real organizing is a block by 
block, community by community activity. That in combination with national 
and local media creates the critical mass needed for reform.

Diane_Fornbacher: Kevin, do you believe it would be a valuable campaign to 
have funders pay for ads if users are willing to go public like those who 
took out the ad in the Williamette?

Kevin: At some point I would like to see an ad of 100 highly respected 
people -- CEO, celebraties, athletes, musicians, politicians etc. coming 
out of the closet. They will have to do it as a group as there is safety in 
numbers. When this occurs we will be near the end of the drug war.

Richard_Lake: Kevin, in this small town in upper Michigan (Escanaba pop. 
13,000) everyone is either a deer poacher or moonshiner or both. Many smoke 
like everwhere else, but they all publically support their local narks. I 
can do what I want on the 'net, but I am afraid if I was public downtown I 
would just get shot at. Any ideas????

Kevin: Sometimes it is not best to piss in your own backyard. If you cannot 
work locally there are other places to work. Do it where you can, where you 
are comfortable so you can be effective.

Matt: Kevin, what do you make of goings on at the UN? Does it matter?

Kevin: It is good to see the US dropped off and the Dutch added, especially 
when the Dutch are leading the attack against Arliacci -- the head of UNDP. 
It matters. All of this adds up.

Diane_Fornbacher: Kevin, who are your personal civil rights heroes?

Kevin: Most of my heroies come from the civil rights movement -- Dr King, 
Malcolm X. Also Gandhi. Those are a few.

Kevin: Stay active. You will do more than you think you were capable. 
Recognize we are in the midst of change, making progress and push harder to 
end the war on drugs.

THX1138: Kevin, maybe you answered this already, but isn't the Justice 
Dept. finding that marijuana isn't a gateway drug after all good news and 
not bad? I'm having a hard time understanding why so many in reform are 
poo-pooing this study.

Kevin: That is a good part of the recent study -- the problem with the 
study is it is exaggerated and intended to create fear among parents. We 
need to point out the good in it and use it to point out how prohibtion 
fails to protect our youth.

Kevin: Thank you all for coming. I enjoyed it. Stay active. We are on the 
cutting edge of change and following in the footsteps of many who have 
fought for justice and equality.
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake