Pubdate: Fri, 23 Aug 2002
Source: Capital Times, The  (WI)
Copyright: 2002 The Capital Times


Progressive Dane is on the right track with its call for Madison to become 
a national model by adopting a new approach to the way we deal with drug abuse.

The group presented the recommendations of its Drug Policy Task Force at a 
forum earlier this week - the culmination of 18 months of studying drug 
issues. The public forum included drug treatment professionals and city and 
county officials, among others.

Mayor Sue Bauman and Madison police have said in the past that drug abuse 
should be regarded as a health problem and noted that the city's focus on 
enforcement is inadequate. Though they consider it critical that they "be 
at the table participating," according to Assistant Police Chief Noble 
Wray, they haven't come up with any specific changes.

Progressive Dane supports the City Council's creation of a committee to 
study drug policy enforcement but they organization is not letting that 
stop its push. It has put forth a wide variety of long-term ideas as well 
as suggestions for immediate implementation.

It also supports a proposal by Ald. Judy Olson to let users of medical 
marijuana grow their own plants inside the city. In Madison, it's a crime 
to obtain - but not use - marijuana.

Progressive Dane also wants police officers to use their discretion under 
city law to issue citations for simple pot use instead of pressing criminal 
charges, which is allowed under state law. And it wants to be sure 
enforcement officials understand the ramifications of the law and their 
actions. Some, for example, didn't know that students with drug convictions 
on their record can be denied federal financial aid. Individuals with drug 
convictions can also be denied housing assistance.

Madison, as Progressive Dane's task force notes, "is doing better than most 
places in the country." But on this critical issue, it's not good enough.

Progressive Dane has shown the ways we can do even better. Now it's up to 
the community to do so.
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