Pubdate: Mon, 28 May 2001
Source: Santa Fe New Mexican (NM)
Copyright: 2001 The Santa Fe New Mexican
Author: Steve Terrel, The New Mexican


The war against the war on drugs is making some pretty strange bedfellows 
in New Mexico this year.

First there was former Gov. Toney Anaya and former state Sen. Mickey 
Burnett, old political enemies who worked together this year in lobbying 
the state Legislature on behalf of Gov. Gary Johnson's drug-reform package. 
Now there's conservative Republican Johnson and liberal Democratic 
Congresswoman Maxine Waters, both of whom are scheduled to speak this week 
at a national conference on drug policy in Albuquerque.

The event, scheduled to begin Wednesday, is the New York-based Lindesmith 
Center Drug Policy Foundation's 14th annual conference.

More than 700 people have registered for the event at Albuquerque's 
Convention Center, Katharine Huffman, director of Lindesmith's New Mexico 
operation, said last week.

Waters, who represents a district that includes South Central Los Angeles, 
is a former head of the Congressional Black Caucus and a vocal champion of 
minorities - and a frequent target of right-wing radio talk-show hosts.

Waters shared the stage with Johnson in Los Angeles last year during an 
anti-drug-war rally at the "Shadow Convention," which took place during the 
Democratic National Convention. There Waters called for the resignation of 
Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey - who eventually did resign at the end of 
President Clinton's term.

Waters is scheduled to be a part of a panel on "Race and the Drug War," 
beginning at 10:15 a.m. Friday.

Johnson, who has been interviewed on countless television news programs and 
in national magazines about his libertarian views on drug laws, is 
scheduled to speak at the opening session of the conference at 9 a.m. 
Thursday and at a luncheon at 1 p.m. Saturday.

Another featured speaker scheduled for the conference is Salt Lake City 
Mayor Rocky Anderson, a Utah maverick who made national headlines last year 
when he cut off funding for Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE), a 
police-sponsored anti-drug program. Anderson called the program "an 
absolute fraud on the people of this country."

Anderson also spoke at the Shadow Convention, where he was quoted as 
saying, "The Republican and Democratic Parties will not address the 
absolute insanity of our approach to fighting drug abuse and addiction. It 
is up to the American people to insist on a course that is honest, 
effective and just."

He is scheduled to speak at a luncheon at 11:45 a.m. Friday.

Among the scheduled panel discussions is one featuring several key players 
- - Sen. Roman Maes, D-Santa Fe, Rep. Joe Thompson, R-Albuquerque, state 
Health Secretary Alex Valdez and former Gov. Anaya - who fought for 
drug-reform bills during the past session of the Legislature.

The legislative effort was only partially successful. Only three of the 
eight bills in Johnson's package - the less-controversial ones - passed, 
while such hot potatoes as decriminalizing marijuana and reducing sentences 
for other drugs never even made it to the floor of either house.

The bills that made it through the Legislature and were signed by Johnson 
include one allowing licensed pharmacists to distribute hypodermic syringes 
to drug addicts; one that eliminates civil and criminal liability for 
individuals who administer antidotes for heroin overdoses, such as Narcan, 
under certain conditions; and one allocating $9.8 million for 
drug-treatment and prevention programs.

Most previous Lindesmith conferences have been held in Washington, D.C., 
Huffman said. "But there has been such interest in drug-policy reform all 
over New Mexico, thanks largely to Gov. Johnson, we thought it might be a 
good idea to have it here so more New Mexicans could attend.

"New Mexico just seemed like the perfect place this year," she said.

Response to that choice seems to have paid off, Huffman said. The number of 
registrants is more than twice the number who usually attend.

Lindesmith, which has offices in the state, has helped promote Johnson's 
views on drugs. The group paid for a task force, headed by retired District 
Judge Woody Smith of Albuquerque, that recommended sweeping changes to drug 

Lindesmith also paid for Anaya and Burnett to lobby the legislature for 
Johnson's drug bills.

The foundation is named after Alfred R. Lindesmith, a psychologist who 
wrote about drug addiction from the 1930s through the 1960s. It was founded 
in 1994 by Ethan Nadelmann, a former Princeton University professor who is 
Lindesmith's executive director.

Lindesmith's major benefactor has been billionaire philanthropist George 
Soros - though Huffman said the major source of income is memberships. 
Huffman said the foundation has 10,000 members.

Those wishing to attend the conference can register between 6:30 and 8:30 
p.m. Wednesday at the Hyatt Regency in Albuquerque, or 8 a.m. Thursday at 
the Albuquerque Convention Center. Cost is $80.

For more information:
- ---
MAP posted-by: Terry Liittschwager