Drug Debate Heats Up!

Drug Debate Heats Up!
Posted by FoM on July 10, 1999 at 09:07:36 PT
Legalization Discussion Splits State Lawmakers 
Source: ABQ Journal
SANTA FE -- Gov. Gary Johnson's call for public debate on drug policy, including decriminalization of drug use, was applauded Friday by some key Democratic legislators but rejected outright by Republicans. 
"I'm not interested in discussing that issue," said Senate Minority Leader L. Skip Vernon, R-Albuquerque, at a meeting of the Legislature's interim Courts, Corrections and Criminal Justice Committee. "The governor's had some great ideas. He's had some bad ideas, and this, frankly, is the worst one I've seen," Vernon said. Rep. Ron Godbey, R-Albuquerque, said: "I don't feel decriminalization is even worthy of discussion." But some Democrats on the committee said they welcomed the Republican governor's call for public discussion of state and national drug policies. "I applaud the governor for looking for new solutions," said Sen. Cisco McSorley, a Democrat who represents a University of New Mexico-area district in Albuquerque. "My district has made it clear they support decriminalization of pot (marijuana) for small amounts," McSorley said. "I think we need to do a huge amount of public discussion on this." Rep. R. David Pederson, D-Gallup, vice chairman of the committee, said he thought a debate on drug policies would be positive. "To say we can't even discuss this is very short-sighted," Pederson said. "I think that's political posturing for the 2000 elections." Sen. Michael Sanchez, D-Belen, who chairs the committee, said he plans to meet privately with Johnson to see exactly what the governor has in mind. Decriminalization would mean eliminating or reducing penalties for drug use. Beyond calling for a public debate on the nation's drug problem, Johnson has yet to suggest specific changes in policy or possible legislation. He has not been specific about which drugs he would consider for decriminalization or legalization, but he has said marijuana would be a logical first step. Johnson met Friday with the New Mexico Drug Policy Foundation, a private nonprofit educational group led by Steven Bunch, an Albuquerque lawyer, said Diane Kinderwater, the governor's press secretary. "The governor, as he said he would do, is going to be educating himself on this issue," Kinderwater said. Also on Friday, several members of the Legislative Finance Committee meeting in Deming expressed concern about Johnson's suggestion that some degree of decriminalization be considered. Rep. J. "Andy" Kissner, R-Las Cruces, said Johnson's suggestions are "just outrageous," especially because of the state's zero tolerance approach to drunken driving. Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, said that, with New Mexico prison expansions to reduce crime by locking up criminals, talk of decriminalization sends "a mixed message, in general, that I don't think is positive to law enforcement." The finance committee was in Deming to discuss drug interdiction efforts along the Mexican border and heard from Deming-based U.S. Border Patrol officials and state Public Safety Secretary Darren White. White, a Johnson Cabinet member, said he agrees with the governor's assertion that the drug war is failing because only about 5 to 15 percent of illegal drugs crossing north over the border with Mexico are seized. But White said: "I'm not personally ready to throw the white flag up." White said he believes other tactics should be considered, such as reducing demand on the U.S. side and cracking down on nations, such as Mexico, that supply the bulk of drugs consumed by Americans. Also coming out against decriminalization was James Jennings, director of the New Mexico High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, a Las Cruces-based joint task force of federal, state and local narcotics police. "As far as law enforcement is concerned, we need to keep our guard up, we need to keep up the pressure," Jennings said. "I personally don't think legalization has ever been the solution. It's been a miserable failure (in some European countries)." White appeared to irritate Smith when he said that even if State Police doubled its current staff of 40 narcotics investigators, it would not significantly affect illegal drug trade in New Mexico. "There's just so much product and there's so much of a demand," White said. Smith said he still expects to see requests for additional State Police next year.N.M. Organizations Make Drug Reform Alliance-July 06, 1999, July 10, 1999 By Loie Fecteau and Rene RomoJournal Staff Writers
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Comment #2 posted by Tom Paine on July 11, 1999 at 06:01:40 PT
USA versus Holland. CHARTS. Drug reform SUCCESS!*DRUG WAR TABLES AND CHARTS. [Click table of contents (TOC) names,not TOC URLs. Several INTERNATIONAL charts, too. Many links.These charts expose the lies of U.S. Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey concerning Holland and much more.
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Comment #1 posted by Freedom Fighter on July 10, 1999 at 12:35:52 PT
Jennings Quote:
"It's been a miserable failure (in some European countries)."BOLD FACE LIE....Look at Holland and compare then numbers!
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