#194 NM Governor Johnson Ready To Back Talk With Action

Date: Sun, 07 Jan 2001
Subject: #194 NM Governor Johnson Ready To Back Talk With Action

NM Governor Johnson Ready To Back Talk With Action


DrugSense FOCUS Alert #194, Jan 07 2001

New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson took an important step toward
bringing reason to drug policy when he started criticizing the drug
war. Now, he says he is going to move beyond rhetoric by attempting to
work with the state legislature to propose drug law reform.

Naturally, traditional drug war supporters are expressing dismay over
the challenge to absolute drug prohibition without even waiting to see
the nature of the reform. But some media in the state seem to be
swayed by Johnson’s ideas.

As a good editorial from the Albuquerque Journal this week noted,
“What is needed next is for the Legislature to objectively consider
the drug-related bills Johnson has promised to present, including a
bill to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana.”

Please write a letter to the Albuquerque Journal and other newspapers
that have covered the story to show that people around the world
support Johnson’s brave stand.


It’s not what others do it’s what YOU do


Phone, fax etc.)

Please post a copy your letter or report your action to the sent
letter list (sentlte@mapinc.org) if you are subscribed, or by
E-mailing a copy directly to MGreer@mapinc.org Your letter will then
be forwarded to the list with so others can learn from your efforts
and be motivated to follow suit

This is VERY IMPORTANT as it is the only way we have of gauging our
impact and effectiveness.



Source: Albuquerque Journal (NM)
Contact: opinion@abqjournal.com


These newspapers have also covered the latest developments in the Gary
Johnson story. Please also send a copy of your letter to them.

Title: US NM: Johnson Bill Would Legalize Small Amounts of Pot
URL: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v01/n027/a05.html
Pubdate: Sat, 06 Jan 2001
Copyright: 2001 Albuquerque Journal
Contact: opinion@abqjournal.com

Title: US NM: Governor To Pursue Changes In Drug Policy
URL: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v01/n027/a08.html
Pubdate: Sat, 06 Jan 2001
Source: Albuquerque Tribune (NM)
Contact: letters@abqtrib.com

Title: US NM: Johnson To Propose Some Drug Legalization For NM
URL: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v01/n028/a10.html
Pubdate: Sat, 06 Jan 2001
Source: El Paso Times (TX)
Contact: opinion@elpasotimes.com

Title: US NM: Johnson’s Staff To Draft Eight Drug Bills
URL: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v01/n029/a01.html
Pubdate: Sat, 06 Jan 2001
Source: Santa Fe New Mexican (NM)
Contact: letters@sfnewmexican.com

Title: US NM: Local Political Leaders Blast Johnson’s Plans
URL: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v01/n033/a02.html
Pubdate: Sat, 06 Jan 2001
Source: Farmington Daily Times (NM)
Contact: markl@daily-times.com



US NM: Editorial: Let Serious Drug Policy Reform Begin

URL: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v01.n035.a02.html
Newshawk: Sledhead
Pubdate: Sat, 06 Jan 2001
Source: Albuquerque Journal (NM)
Copyright: 2001 Albuquerque Journal
Contact: opinion@abqjournal.com
Address: P.O. Drawer J, Albuquerque, N.M. 87103
Website: http://www.abqjournal.com/

As America’s drug czar, Barry McCaffrey, leaves office, we find the
use of steroids, ecstasy and other drugs is up nationally, despite a
federal drug-fighting budget in the billions.

We find Rio Arriba leads New Mexico counties in per-capita drug
overdose fatalities, with 16 deaths last year. Since the beginning of
1999, 70 have died in Rio Arriba and Santa Fe counties alone. Per
capita, New Mexico is the worst in the nation in drug overdose deaths.

People are dying, prisons are filling up and treatment facilities are
inadequate. It is time to seek “common sense” drug policy reform.

That is what Gov. Gary Johnson asked for in creating a special
committee last summer; that is what he has received in its
recommendations to him this week. What is needed next is for the
Legislature to objectively consider the drug-related bills Johnson has
promised to present, including a bill to decriminalize possession of
small amounts of marijuana.

To some, the proposals will be anathema. But it is important to note,
as the committee points out in its letter to Johnson, that much of
current drug policy — and public perception — “is based on
misleading and even patently false information about illegal drugs.
… Even more disturbing, ( we ) determined that false information
frequently comes from sources that we expect to be reliable, including
our own federal government.”

Johnson has been criticized, with reason, for shooting from the hip in
advocating radical drug policy changes, without details and underlying
analysis. That criticism loses validity with the work of this
committee. Comprised of New Mexicans familiar with the state, its 10
members have extensive and varied expertise in health, community
issues, law enforcement and the courts.

Current drug policy, the committee found, is “expensive, harmful to
families, wasting taxpayer money, filling prisons and is not letting
the Legislature prioritize its resources,” in the words of chairman W.
C. “Woody” Smith, a retired state court judge. “What we’ve been doing
for decades is make things worse.”

The committee approached its task, as Johnson requested, in terms of
“harm reduction.” What could the state do with drug policy to decrease
death, disease, crime and suffering, and at the same time exercise
fiscal responsibility with taxpayer dollars?

The state Department of Health has already acted to reduce harm in northern
New Mexico: On Wednesday it delivered to Espanola Valley doctors 100
syringes of naloxone ( cost to the state: $1.50 each ), a drug which
reverses the deadly effects of overdosing on heroin, morphine or methadone.
Dr. Steve Jenison, of the state Public Health Division, and Alex Valdez,
state health secretary, helped facilitate the action; both are members of
the drug policy committee.

State Police would like to train officers in administering naloxone,
but first want the Legislature to pass a law protecting them from
possible lawsuits.

The panel also recommends amending laws to allow the sale of sterile
syringes in pharmacies and to allow doctor-prescribed medical use of
marijuana. It recommends amendment of criminal statutes on drug
possession to reduce first and second offenses to misdemeanors, as is
done in Arizona and California, and require treatment rather than jail

It suggests a number of ways to make effective treatment available and
to enhance drug education. It points out that particular attention
should be paid to the needs of children and teen-agers suffering from
mental illnesses who are self-medicating with alcohol and other drugs.

It is time for a re-examination of thinking about drugs. It is time to
shift focus from imprisonment to treatment and prevention, from fear
and ignorance to education.

It is imperative that this panel continue in some form. It behooves
the Legislature to develop a comprehensive statewide drug policy. For
starters, lawmakers should conduct a meaningful impact analysis of
what current laws, incarceration and lack of treatment cost the state,
not only in actual dollars, but in terms of lost wages, broken
families, school dropout rates and lost lives.


To the editor:

While the upper levels of government often leave me dismayed, my faith
that there are some politicians who really do care about the people
they govern is always bolstered when I hear Gov. Gary Johnson
promoting ideas about drug policy reform. Now that he is talking about
getting some legislation on the issue into the statehouse, I am even
more impressed.

I’m not surprised that there are many other politicians and drug war
beneficiaries who are decrying even the discussion Johnson has raised.
When drug policy is reformed even slightly, the remaining vestiges of
drug prohibition are further exposed as disastrous and
counterproductive. This fading illusion of a successful drug war, not
the problems associated with drugs, is the true concern of the drug

Stephen Young

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Prepared by Stephen Young – http://home.att.net/~theyoungfamily Focus
Alert Specialist