Pubdate: Fri, 05 Jul 2002
Source: Columbia Missourian (MO)
Copyright: 2002 Columbia Missourian
Author: Terri Durdaller, Missourian staff


A religion with more than 1,000 congregations across the country is calling 
for a change in U.S. drug policy.

During their annual General Assembly meeting last month in Quebec City the 
Unitarian Universalist Association, a creedless religion with 
Judeo-Christian roots, adopted a policy to explore alternatives to the war 
on drugs, calling for the legalization of marijuana and treating drug use 
as a health issue rather than a crime.

"The so called war on drugs is creating violence, endangering children, 
clogging the criminal justice system, eroding civil liberties and 
disproportionately punishing people of color," the Rev. William Sinkford, 
president of the Unitarian Universalist Association, said in a press 
release. "It's time for a cease-fire."

The General Assembly that passed the resolution consists of 1,700 delegates 
representing member congregations, but members remain free to express other 

The Rev. Bill Haney of Unitarian Universalist Church in Columbia said he 
thinks the statement is too detailed.

"It spells out too many steps in detail rather then opening up a dialogue 
for conversation," Haney said. "Many people will assent to the statement in 
principle but maybe not in detail."

Charles Thomas, executive director of the Unitarian Universalists for Drug 
Policy Reform near Washington D.C., said a small number of delegates made 
unsuccessful attempts at changing the language of the policy to stop short 
of calling for the legalization of marijuana as well as the 
decriminalization and medicalization of other drugs.

Jim Davis, former president of the Unitarian Church in Jefferson City said 
putting someone in jail for possession of marijuana is "pointless."

"Treating drug abuse as a law enforcement problem is not solving the 
problem because the problem continues to grow and get worse," Davis said.

Davis said while he isn't advocating drug use, he believes it should be 
seen as a medical and socioeconomic problem.

Thomas said that Unitarian Universalists for Drug Policy Reform encourages 
other denominations to follow suit.

"The drug war has many negative ramifications," he said. "Other religions 
were not giving a thorough assessment of the U.S government policy, 
occasionally taking positions on a few of the negative consequences of the 
drug war. They were pruning the tree instead of going for the full trunk of 
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MAP posted-by: Larry Stevens