cannabisnews.com: Two New Drug War Fronts: Treatment and Prevention





Two New Drug War Fronts: Treatment and Prevention
Posted by FoM on June 25, 2000 at 16:27:08 PT
By Ginger Rutland, Bee Editorial
Source: Sacramento Bee
Paul Seave, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of California, took time off from prosecuting bad guys the other day to host breakfast meetings for business and community leaders and some media representatives. He wanted to talk about the methamphetamine crisis in Sacramento.I was intrigued by Seave's invitation, partly because it lacked the federal prosecutor's usual sober, lawyer-like tones. "Methamphetamine has hit Sacramento like a freight train," he began. 
"We have the highest rate of methamphetamine-related emergency room admissions in California."At breakfast, Seave claimed great success at prosecuting criminals who sell the chemical feedstock that goes into producing meth -- ephedrine and pseudoephedrine. He said it's been so successful that feedstock prices have increased 500 percent. He said the purity of the street drug has fallen.And he also said, "So what?"Like a lot of thoughtful people who've watched or participated in the nation's war on drugs, Seave is frustrated. He's convinced law enforcement alone can't fix the problem. A Clinton appointee, Seave has little time left in his post and wants to use it to launch a drug prevention program in Sacramento that goes beyond law enforcement to include treatment and education.Much as I applaud the impulse, it struck me that Seave's efforts may come too late and do too little. Others are moving faster and further. As far as drugs are concerned, the political landscape is shifting under us.In 1996, California voters overwhelmingly approved legalizing pot use for medicinal purposes, a law that the federal government (the same folks who give Seave his marching orders) is attempting to quash. While state and federal lawyers skirmish over that, backers of the Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act are collecting signatures to qualify another drug initiative for California's November ballot.That measure seeks to divert drug addicts from prison into treatment. Under its provisions, people found guilty of sale, production or manufacture of illegal drugs would still face incarceration, but nonviolent substance abusers convicted of simple possession would instead receive treatment and probation. It would also authorize dismissal of charges for probationers who successfully complete treatment and would appropriate $120 million annually for drug treatment programs.The drug initiative has already won endorsements from 14 state legislators, including Sens. John Burton, John Vasconcellos and Richard Polanco and Assemblyman Rod Wright; and Sacramento City Councilman Dave Jones. All are left-leaning Democrats and therefore politically suspect among the most rabid drug warriors and their political allies.But the initiative has also been endorsed by U.S. Rep. Tom Campbell, Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate from California. In speeches, Campbell indicates a willingness to go even further, perhaps experimenting with allowing addicts to shoot up in clinical settings, as has been tried in Europe.Predictably, the California Correctional Peace Officers Association -- the prison guards union -- is opposed. After all, CCPOA has been a big unintended beneficiary of the drug war. As state prison populations have swelled as a result of draconian mandatory minimum drug sentencing laws, so have prison budgets and prison guard union membership -- and prison guard pay, union dues and political clout. The union has used its heft to influence legislative and gubernatorial races. It spent $1 million to help elect Republican Gov. Pete Wilson in 1994 and $2 million to help elect Democrat Gov. Gray Davis in 1998. Seave says that his plan for a local drug abuse prevention coalition was hatched months ago and that he was only vaguely aware of the Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention initiative when he hosted his breakfast briefing. So it's probably just a coincidence, but still worth noting, that to help him with his prevention effort Seave has tapped Ray McNally Temple Associates, a political consulting firm CCPOA also uses. McNally Temple is also the firm hired by Californians United Against Drug Abuse, the coalition -- which includes the prison guards union -- that has been formed to help defeat the treatment-over-prison ballot initiative, Drug addiction is not a victimless crime. Anyone who's been to a home where addiction is rife -- whether legal alcohol or illegal cocaine, crack, heroin and meth -- has seen its devastation. In our community, addiction is at the heart of most cases of child abuse and neglect, of poverty and violence, of wasted potential and lives.But the imbecilic war on drugs, waged disproportionately in poor minority communities, has had a hideous effect as well. In a report released this month, "Punishment and Prejudice," Human Rights Watch documented that even though there are five times more white drug users than blacks relative to population, black men are admitted to state prison on drug charges at a rate more than 13 times greater than white men. The drug war has sent poor black men to prison in alarming numbers, and now threatens the same for their wives, sisters and mothers. Whole generations of African American children have been effectively orphaned by laws that imprison their hopelessly addicted mothers and fathers.Now Seave wants to expand treatment and prevention. He's sponsoring a summit in October, seeking to form a coalition between community leaders and law enforcement to combat drug abuse. Meanwhile, the backers of the Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act plan are bypassing community leaders and law enforcement. They go before voters in November with their own plan.Ginger Rutland is an associate editor of The Bee. She can be reached at (916) 321-1917 or at: grutland sacbee.comPublished: June 25, 2000Copyright  The Sacramento BeeRelated Articles & Web Site:California Campaign For New Drug Policyhttp://www.drugreform.org/ Drug Czar Challenges California Voters http://cannabisnews.com/news/thread6018.shtmlNation's Drug Czar Blasts State Initiativehttp://cannabisnews.com/news/thread5937.shtmlPush For Treatment vs. Jail Makes Ballot http://cannabisnews.com/news/thread5917.shtml
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Comment #1 posted by legalizeit on June 26, 2000 at 06:54:07 PT
Success all right!
At breakfast, Seave claimed great success at prosecuting criminals who sell the chemical feedstock that goes into producing meth -- ephedrine and pseudoephedrine. He said it's been so successful that feedstock prices have increased 500 percent. He said the purity of the street drug has fallen.He's achieved the ultimate goal of drug warriors - making the street prices higher so that addicts will commit more crimes to support their habit, and go to jail so we can all see how well the drug war is working.>Predictably, the California Correctional Peace Officers Association -- the prison guards union -- is opposed. After all, CCPOA has been a big unintended beneficiary of the drug war. As state prison populations have swelled as a result of draconian mandatory minimum drug sentencing laws, so have prison budgets and prison guard union membership -- and prison guard pay, union dues and political clout. The union has used its heft to influence legislative and gubernatorial races. It spent $1 million to help elect Republican Gov. Pete Wilson in 1994 and $2 million to help elect Democrat Gov. Gray Davis in 1998.Yet another example of how the Drug War is more concerned with vested political interests than with fighting drugs. And a shining example of how the drug war depends on people staying addicted and being jailed. If we win the drug war, what are all these yobers going to do? Go back to slaughterhose working, firearm selling or junkyard tending?Also the fact that they supported both Wilson and Davis shows that the line dividing Demos and Repubs is getting narrower all the time. It used to be that we could look to Demos for some sense, but with the likes of Gray Davis and Dianne Feinstein (and head Drug Warrior Bill Clinton) in the party I have lost much of my faith in them. Looks like Libertarian is more the way to go now.I commend Seave for coming out in favor of treatment, but anything a Drug Warrior says must be taken with a kilo of salt.
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