Pubdate: Fri, 16 May 2014
Source: Yes! (US)
Contact:  Yes! is part of the Creative Commons movement.
Author: Wendy Call


The movement to end the violence through the decriminalization of 
drugs has never had so much momentum. And it's never been easier to 
get involved.

On Saturday, May 10, the third annual "National Dignity March" 
converged in Mexico City, with hundreds of marchers having walked for 
a full month from cities and towns all over Mexico. Most of the 
marchers had lost family members or friends in drug-trafficking violence.

They were marching for justice in the country's drug war-calling for 
the deaths and disappearances to be fully investigated. They also 
demand that the Mexican government's response to drug trafficking 
include economic and public health initiatives rather than military 
action, which has escalated since 2006. (For more information on the 
movement's history and goals, see my in-depth article on this topic.)

It's not just students and pot-smokers who are in favor of 
legalization, but a large number of police officers too.

Over the last eight years, the death toll in the Mexican drug war has 
grown so large it challenges comprehension. More than 100,000 people 
have been killed or disappeared, according to the Movement for Peace 
with Justice and Dignity, the organization behind the march.

The poet and activist Javier Sicilia founded the group after his son 
was murdered by drug traffickers three years ago. The movement 
collaborates with organizations pushing for drug decriminalization in 
the United States as a pathway to reducing the violence in Mexico. 
Washington state and Colorado have both legalized marijuana through 
ballot initiatives, and many others are poised to follow their lead. 
Pro-legalization campaigns are underway across the country, from the 
local to national levels.

Increasingly, business interests also see the drug war as 
counterproductive and pro-business Forbes magazine joined the 
legalization chorus two years ago.

Javier Sicilia tells us that the real work to end the drug war is 
done "at the level of you-and-me, face-to-face." But where do you 
start? Here are six actions you can take right now:

1. Take action online.

Join the more than 200,000 individuals who have signed a petition 
called "End the Drug War in the Americas!" organized by the 
multi-issue, multilingual, international progressive group Avaaz: The 
World in Action.

You can also contact your federal representative through the Drug 
Policy Alliance's online petition, take the message to your federal 
legislator with the alliance'sgrassroots lobbying toolkit, and spread 
the word in your community.

2. Get informed, and then inform your friends.

Marijuana legalization and drug decriminalization are emotional 
issues. Challenge emotion with facts by reading the Open Society 
Foundation's summary of public initiatives, the Transnational 
Institute's excellent primer on drugs and democracy, the Drug Policy 
Alliance's well-organized review of the issues, and a 
recentHuffington Post article on the finances of prohibition.

3. Watch and share the documentary The House I Live In.

Winner of the 2012 Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize, The New 
York Timescalls the film "a model of the ambitious, vitalizing 
activist work that exists to stir the sleeping to wake."

The film is available online for streaming. Use the "Community 
Action" section of the film's website to find out what's happening in 
your area to end the "War on Drugs," and connect with one of the many 
organizations working to reform drug laws.

If the U.N. advocates an end to the drug war, national governments 
have more incentive to shift their policies.

4. Help drug policy activists reach a wider audience.

Groups like Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, the National 
Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, or Students for a 
Sensible Drug Policy want to help get the word out. Invite a speaker 
from one of these groups to your classroom, grassroots group, or 
neighborhood council to talk about drug legalization and the high 
costs of prohibition. (It's not just students and pot-smokers who are 
in favor of legalization, but a large number of police officers too.)

5. Join the campaign to legalize marijuana in your state , or help 
start one yourself.

States all over the country have started the process of 
decriminalization. If you don't see your state on the list, check the 
Common Sense for Drug Policy's Getting Active: What Can I Do? website 
for tips on how to start a legalization campaign.

6. Support those working for global change.

The United Nations General Assembly will be reviewing its policy on 
(currently) illicit drugs in 2016. If the U.N. advocates an end to 
the drug war, national governments around the world have more 
incentive to shift their policies. You can follow this process at the 
Commission on Narcotic Drugs blog run by the the London-based 
organizations International Drug Policy Consortium and YouthRISE.

Ann Fordham of consortium says the most important thing activists can 
do to support progressive change at the United Nations is to advocate 
at the local, state, and national levels for a drug policy that 
focuses on public health, not on prison time.

Wendy Call wrote this article for YES! Magazine, a national, 
nonprofit media organization that fuses powerful ideas with practical 
actions. Wendy is a writer, translator, and educator based in Seattle.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom