Some GOOD NEWS from Congress! Drug Policy

(HT to Law Enforcement Against Prohibition’s Cops say Legalize blog)

The Conference Committee dealing with the 2010 Consolidated Appropriations Act has approved three significant reforms, following the lead of the House version,

* Washington, DC will finally be allowed to implement the medical marijuana initiative that voters overwhelmingly approved in 1998 but has been blocked by Congress each year since then.

* Funding for the White House “drug czar’s” ad budget has been slashed by more than a third of its size last year. Studies have repeatedly shown that these ads actually cause teens to use more — not fewer — drugs.

* Washington, DC will be able to use federal funds to implement syringe exchange programs.

The advertising budget for the  National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign comes in at $45 million, $25 million below 2009 and the Obama Administration’s request. This follows steady drops since 2000, when the Clinton Drug Czar’s office had a full half billion to play with. in the Reagan, Bush I, and Clinton years, this money was selectively applied to reward networks and other media outlets which played ball with the respective Administrations on unrelated issues, as originally exposed in a series of articles by D. Dan Forbes at Salon.com.

I’m pretty sure the lions share of the credit here goes to House Appropriations Chair Dave Obey, who sat on the Conference Committee, and has been strong behind the scenes on drug policy reform since 2003.

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    • Ben Masel on December 9, 2009 at 9:29 pm
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    Not for the writing, LEAP did most of the work, but for bending Obey’s ear on drug policy at every opportunity since 1992.

    • Ben Masel on December 9, 2009 at 10:19 pm
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    We have a ‘combined hearing” coming up i the Wisconsin Assembly and Senate’s Public Health and Health Committees respectively, for the Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act next Tuesday. Governor Doyle’s promised to sign if it reaches his desk. I’m very coinfident we’ll clear the Senate, more guardedly optimistic on the Assembly. Pre-emptive public support from the Senate’s conservative Republican firebrand Glenn Grothman will help a lot, keeping the R. leadership from making this a Party Loyalty vote.

    In New jersey, a bill passed the Senate last sprring, stalled in the House, there’s a renewed push to get it through while Corzine’s still Governor, tho Gov-elect Christie says he’d sign a weaker bill.

    In Pennsylvania, sometimes dkos poster Representative Mark Cohen introduced a bill a year ago, at the time not imagining much chance that it’d pass this term, but has been pleasantly surprised by expressions of support from Republican colleagues. It reached a Committee hearing last week, and there’s plans to take more testimony. Inside gossip suggests the Committees may draft a weaker bill, and it could pass.

    • Ben Masel on December 9, 2009 at 10:20 pm
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    speaking in favor of the Hinchey/Rohrabacher Amendment to the Department of Justice Budget, which sought to bar use of  appropriated funds for Federal prosecutions of Patients and Providers legal under their State’ laws.

    Mr. Chairman, I congratulate the authors of this amendment. I simply want to say this: If I am terminally ill, it is not anybody’s business on this floor how I handle the pain or the illness or the sickness associated with that illness.

     With all due respect to all of you, butt out. I did not enter this world with the permission of the Justice Department, and I am certainly not going to depart it by seeking their permission or that of any other authority.

     The Congress has no business telling people that they cannot manage their illness or their pain any way they need to. I would trust any doctor in the country before I trust some of the daffy ducks in this institution to decide what I am supposed to do if I am terminally ill.

     The idea that somehow this is a gateway that we are creating for a drug like meth is a joke. I detest meth. I have seen what it does. It is a plague on my district. It is especially horrendous in the midwest, and it is getting worse every day. That has nothing whatsoever to do with the management of pain and misery for people who are sick and who are dying.

     When is this Congress going to recognize that individuals in their private lives have a right to manage their problems as they see fit without the permission of the big guy in the White House or the big guy in the Justice Department or any of the Lilliputians on this Congressional floor? Wake up.

  1. for staying on this. It’s a lonely advocacy in my experience. Many of the same folks who will “press one” on a phone survey to say they favor reform will turn their back on anyone who supports it publicly.

    There’s nothing funny about pain management, and medical marijuana is far too maligned, not only by opponents, but also by the excessively brand-conscious of any party.  

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