HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Forum Attacks United State's Crackdown On Drug
Pubdate: Mon, 30 Apr 2001
Source: Badger Herald (WI)
Copyright: 2001 Badger Herald
Author:Jonathan Goldman, Campus Reporter


The fight against the war on drugs took center stage last weekend as the 
UW-Madison Students for a Sensible Drug Policy held its first drug policy 
reform conference on campus.

The conference brought together speakers from around the country to address 
social and political issues relating to the government's attempted 
crackdown on drug trafficking and usage.

The prevalent theme of the conference was that the U.S. government's 
current war on drugs is ineffective.

David Borden, executive director of the Drug Reform Coordination Network, 
cited the immense number of prisoners incarcerated on drug convictions as 
one of the main problems of the drug war, as well as mandatory minimum 
sentences for drug offenders.

Borden, along with other panelists, argued for the legalization of all 
drugs within the United States.

"If we legalize drugs, we can make the condition of addiction less 
destructive," Borden said. "With the current high cost of drugs, users are 
driven to desperate measures."

Borden said the goal of drug reforms should be regulation of substances, 
similar to the regulation of alcohol.

"I'm obviously not in favor of putting crack cocaine in the checkout line 
in grocery stores," Borden said, "but the illicit drug market is killing 
people 's chances of hope in the inner cities."

Keynote speaker and author of Drug Crazy: How We Got Into This Mess and How 
We Can Get Out Mike Gray agreed with Borden, saying that in areas where 
drugs are legalized, such as Holland, the rate of use among people of all 
age groups is substantially lower than in the United States. In Holland, 
marijuana is available in coffee shops to any user over the age of 18.

"When [drug use] becomes routine, it isn't considered cool anymore," Gray 
said. "There is nothing romantic about hanging out with Dutch businessmen 
in a coffeehouse while they have coffee and a lunchtime toke."

One of the topics most relevant to students in attendance was the Higher 
Education Act, in which students applying for financial aid are asked to 
report any criminal convictions related to illegal drugs. The Free 
Application for Federal Student Aid form states that a drug-related 
conviction does not automatically make students ineligible for aid; 
however, many students were denied financial aid last year due to prior 
convictions, according to Borden.

Organizers and speakers alike considered the conference a great success and 
are hopeful that further changes will be made in the near future. Gray said 
recent actions in several states across the country will catalyze the 
destruction of the drug war.

According to Gray, the Hawaii legislature's recent action toward legalizing 
marijuana for medical purposes reflects citizens' growing dissatisfaction 
with the drug war and is the precursor for decriminalization of marijuana 

"The government will soon be in the embarrassing position of fighting a war 
that citizens don't support," Gray said. "We've tried imprisoning our way 
out of the problem, but that obviously hasn't worked."

UW-Madison SSDP President Jacob Davis is optimistic about the prospects of 
success through SSDP's efforts.

"We have very motivated, determined people working to make a change," Davis 
said. "We won't let even the largest obstacles stand in our way of 
bettering society."
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MAP posted-by: Terry Liittschwager