Friday, August 29, 2008


I'm writing to you from Denver where I'm attending the Democratic
> >National Convention (look for an email from me next week about the
> >Republican National Convention). I thought you might be wondering
> >how my colleagues and I feel about Sen. Barack Obama's selection of
> >Sen. Joe Biden as his running mate. Sen. Biden is unquestionably one
> >of the chief architects of the modern war on drugs but also an
> >unlikely ally in some of our most important fights. He has been at
> >the center of many of our national campaigns -- perhaps more so than
> >any other senator.
> >
> >In the 1980s, Sen. Biden played a major role in enacting the
> >draconian mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines that have filled
> >our prisons with nonviolent drug law violators. And he sponsored the
> >law creating the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) --
> >he actually coined the term "drug czar," giving Bill Bennett and
> >other drug war extremists a national stage and increased funding and
> >power. In 2003, he passed the RAVE Act, which makes it easier for
> >the government to prosecute bar and nightclub owners for the drug
> >law offenses of their customers.
> >
> >On the other hand, Sen. Biden has been a strong supporter of
> >treatment and prevention. For instance, he was one of only five
> >senators to vote against confirming President Bush's drug czar, John
> >Walters, who has a history of short-changing treatment. And he
> >helped write the Drug Addiction Treatment Act, which makes it easier
> >for family doctors to prescribe buprenorphine and other replacement
> >therapy medications from their offices, taking the pressure off
> >special treatment clinics.
> >
> >Earlier this year, Sen. Biden surprised many by introducing
> >legislation to completely eliminate the 100-to-1 crack/powder
> >cocaine sentencing disparity, leapfrogging more modest reforms put
> >forth by Sens. Kennedy, Hatch, Sessions and others. Like many senior
> >members of Congress, Biden had voted for the legislation in the
> >1980s that created the disparity. Unlike most though, he has the
> >guts and humility to admit he was wrong.
> >
> >Sen. Biden's groundbreaking bill has seven co-sponsors, including
> >Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton. It is a sign of how
> >politically popular drug policy reform has become among voters that
> >a major presidential candidate not only co-sponsors a reform bill
> >but nominates the bill's sponsor as his running mate. That Sen.
> >Biden is willing to be on the same ticket with Sen. Obama, who has
> >indicated he understands the war on drugs isn't working and called
> >for a new paradigm, may be evidence that his own views on drug
> >policy are shifting.
> >
> >The Drug Policy Alliance and Drug Policy Alliance Network's
> >relationship with Sen. Biden has certainly been rocky. We strongly
> >opposed the RAVE Act, dubbing him the "Footloose senator" and
> >leading a national grassroots campaign that forced him to change key
> >elements of his bill. Now we're working with him to eliminate the
> >crack/powder disparity.
> >
> >No matter who wins the White House in November or what positions
> >they take, we'll keep fighting for drug policies that are grounded
> >in science, compassion, health and human rights. We'll thank
> >policymakers when they're right and criticize them when they're
> >wrong. We're glad you're with us.
> >
> >Sincerely,
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >Executive Director
> >Drug Policy Alliance Network

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