A Conference on Drugs Brings Together Groups

A Conference on Drugs Brings Together Groups
Posted by FoM on March 02, 2000 at 08:41:28 PT
By Kathleen Wilson, Scripps Howard News Service
Source: InsideDenver
Representatives from such diverse interests as Philip Morris Co. and anti-smoking agencies, advocates of medical marijuana and police, Coors Brewing Co. and alcohol treatment groups are holding a three-day conference here on substance abuse.In a keynote address Wednesday former Cabinet member Joseph Califano said that teens live in a world "adrift in a sea of substances." 
"Too many parents are not engaged in their teens' lives, are in denial about their children's exposure to substances or are resigned to their teens smoking," Califano said in his address at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. Califano heads the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, which is co-sponsoring the conference with the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Center for Public Affairs.The event comes two decades after Nancy Reagan began her "Just Say No" anti-drug campaign. While illegal drug use among teens may be leveling off, teen smoking is just as popular as it was 22 years ago and binge drinking among teens and college women is up, Califano said. He called the conference unprecedented for drawing together interests from business and schools to law enforcement and the clergy to discuss the issues in one place, but said it will take them all to stem the problems.He also chastised the nation's presidential candidates for promising to solve problems from homelessness to Medicare spending without addressing substance abuse."Substance abuse and addiction works in the dark alleys of just about every health and criminal justice problem this nation faces," he said.Califano also criticized mandatory drug sentences, which are backed by the public but filling the nation's prisons with long-term inmates. "Mandatory sentences take away the carrot of early release as encouragement to enter treatment while in prison," he said. "They also take away the stick of revoking parole, which can provide the motivation to continue treatment upon release." Panels during the three-day event are focusing on how religion, schools, the medical profession, business, government, entertainment and law enforcement among others should deal with abuse and addiction to substances from tobacco and alcohol to marijuana and methamphetamines.The first panel of the day, on education, questioned whether drug-free schools are possible. It opened with public school critic Theodore Forstmann, who said public schools themselves are the problem. Many public schools are no more than day-care detention centers, he said, and drugs are an unfortunate consequence of their collapse."I believe if we could truly reform education, it would be incredibly helpful in the war on drugs," said Forstmann, chairman of an organization that provides private-school scholarships to poor children. Paul Vallas, credited with turning around Chicago's public schools, said that system takes a hard line on drugs and weapons but also offers programs to help troubled children and recruits youth counselors from area churches.Sharon Draper, a national teacher of the year from Cincinnati, said more funding for school programs would help, as would rewards for children who stay out of trouble. So would facing the fact that drugs are available in schools, she said.Principal Yvonne Gelpi said the drug testing that she instituted at De La Salle High School in New Orleans has not just rooted out drugs, but also reduced fights. The Catholic school tests the hair of both students and staff, a method that shows the presence of drugs for as long as nine months.Kathleen Wilson writes for the Ventura County Star in California. Ventura, Calif. Published: March 2, 2000  Copyright, Denver Publishing Co.
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Comment #1 posted by kaptinemo on March 02, 2000 at 12:02:54 PT
'Advocates of medical marijuana'? Where? 
Out of a sense of fairness, I usually read Mr. Califano's statements. For, despite our obvious bias against him and his organization, never let it be said us reformers are as close-minded as his camp so obviously is. But it was the hope of seeing some statement from the 'advocates of medical marijuana' participating in a forum with him that was the *main* reason behind my reading this time. I guess they were drowned from all the mandatory Just Say No! sheep-bleating going on.
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