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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

In this Issue

Judge Stops Anti-treatment Changes to Prop 36

Groups Stand Up for Patients in California

Save the Date: Beyond Zero Tolerance Conference

Federal Medical Marijuana Vote: Breaking Down the Numbers

Prop 36 Rally '06Judge Stops Anti-treatment Changes to Prop 36

On July 13, a judge in Alameda County, California, issued a temporary restraining order (PDF) to keep a new law modifying Proposition 36 from going into effect. The order was granted by Judge Winifred Smith at the request of Drug Policy Alliance, the California Society of Addiction Medicine, and Cliff Gardner, co-author of Proposition 36.

If implemented, the law, SB 1137, would radically change California's landmark treatment-instead-of-incarceration initiative. The changes would allow people engaged in drug treatment who relapse to be removed from treatment and locked up in jail for several days.

Margaret Dooley, DPA's statewide outreach coordinator for Proposition 36, said, "This legislation is unacceptable. Relapse is a common part of recovery, which doctors say is best handled through treatment. There is no evidence that stints in jail make for better outcomes, and they could indeed have the opposite effect. But SB 1137 is more than just bad policy--this law violates California's constitution."

According to the state constitution, changes that revise the intent of a ballot initiative cannot be made without putting the question to the voters. Daniel Abrahamson, director of legal affairs for DPA, explained, "SB 1137 radically rewrites Prop 36. Prop 36 provides treatment instead of incarceration, whereas SB 1137 allows incarceration during treatment. That's why this case is so clear cut."

In issuing the temporary restraining order, the judge found that the Drug Policy Alliance and California Society of Addiction Medicine had a "substantial likelihood of success" in the lawsuit to overturn SB 1137.

Proposition 36 was approved in 2000 by 61% of California voters. Since then, the initiative has saved the state over $1.3 billion and helped more than 60,000 people with drug convictions receive treatment and lead productive lives.

The next step in the legal proceedings to protect this groundbreaking initiative will be a ruling from Judge Smith on DPA's motion for preliminary injunction, which would keep the law from taking effect until the court rules on its constitutionality. The current temporary restraining order will remain in effect until the ruling on the motion for preliminary injunction.

The hearing for the motion for preliminary injunction will likely take place on August 23. Briefing, oral argument and a decision by the court on the constitutionality of SB 1137 will take place later this year.

Read More

Sacramento capitol 90x90Groups Stand Up for Patients in California

Several medical marijuana dispensaries were raided by federal and local officials in San Diego last week. Against this backdrop of fear and intimidation, drug policy reform groups have taken action to stand up for patients.

The Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Americans for Safe Access (ASA) filed a motion on July 7 to intervene in San Diego's lawsuit against the state, which seeks to overturn California's medical marijuana law, Proposition 215.

Daniel Abrahamson, director of legal affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance, explained, "Our motion to intervene will allow the court to recognize the harm done to patients by the county's frivolous lawsuit." Patients are already in a state of fear and uncertainty about access to their medicine, and will be further hurt if Proposition 215 is overturned.

The lawsuit, initiated by San Diego and joined later by San Bernardino and Merced counties, argues that federal laws prohibiting marijuana use invalidate state laws that permit qualified patients to use medical marijuana. The suit challenges California's laws permitting patients to use, and doctors to recommend, medical marijuana. It also challenges a law requiring the implementation of an identification card program to help protect legitimate patients from prosecution by local and state officials.

Abrahamson said, "We are confident the court will require the state's medical marijuana program to be implemented in San Diego, as required by law. Renegade politicians in San Diego are simply postponing the inevitable, while thousands of sick people suffer."

The groups that filed the motion maintain that states are free to implement medical marijuana policies of their own design, even though the federal government is free to enforce its own prohibition on medical marijuana. The California attorney general's office has taken the same stance on this issue.

The state attorney general will defend California's medical marijuana statutes, while the groups are intervening to assure adequate representation of those most directly impacted: medical marijuana patients, and their caregivers and doctors.

Read More

Beyond Zero Tolerance 90x90Save the Date: Beyond Zero Tolerance Conference

"New Directions in Drug Education and School Discipline" will be a one-day conference for educators, administrators, and prevention professionals.

October 25, 2006
Fort Mason Conference Center
San Francisco, CA 94123

Registration will be available online August 7, 2006, so be sure to check the BZT website!

For more information, please contact events! at 916.608.8686 or .

Continuing Education Units are available for educators, alcoholism and drug abuse counselors, and licensed clinical social workers.

The conference is co-sponsored by the San Francisco Medical Society; California State Assemblywoman Jackie Goldberg; San Francisco Department of Public Health, City and County of San Francisco, Office of the Mayor; Marin County Department of Health and Human Services; and Drug Policy Alliance.

Prop 36 Rally '06

Federal Medical Marijuana Vote: Breaking Down the Numbers

At the end of June, Congress voted on the Hinchey/Rohrabacher amendment to prohibit the federal government from undermining state medical marijuana laws. If you have not yet thanked or spanked your representative for how he or she voted, now is the time. Find out how!

The final total on this year's vote was 163 for and 259 against. Most Democrats voted for the amendment, while most Republicans voted against it. Here's the breakdown:

* 144 Democrats voted for it, and 53 voted against it, a support rate of about 73%. This is one fewer Democratic vote than last year, but three Democratic supporters couldn't make the vote. So Democratic support is actually up two over last year.

* 18 Republicans voted for it, and 206 voted against it (a support rate of about 8%). This is three more Republican votes than last year.

* One independent voted for it, the same as last year.

Members of Congress are slowly but surely starting to recognize that their constituents demand compassion and common sense. Make sure to let them know how you feel about the issue

Quote of the Week

"Jail sanctions will not be an option. If we find or hear about any jail sanctions, we will be back in court immediately seeking an order of contempt."

--Daniel Abrahamson, director of legal affairs for DPA, speaking to the Sacramento Bee about the recently-granted temporary restraining order that prevents legislation changing Proposition 36 from being implemented.

FACT: Proposition 36 was passed by California voters as a treatment-instead-of-incarceration initiative. To change a voter-approved initiative in a way that subverts its intent is a violation of the state constitution.


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Support the Drug Policy Alliance's work to promote drug policies based on science, compassion, health, and human rights.

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In the News
» DPA Files Lawsuit against Undemocratic, Anti-treatment Bill

» Congress Votes to Cripple History Program in Name of War on Drugs

» Action Alert: Save Lives Now - Prevent Overdose

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Classified 40 x 60DPA Seeks Director for California Capital Office

The director, based in Sacramento, bears primary responsibility for DPA's California legislative advocacy, supervises a small professional office, and serves on the DPA management team. The ideal candidate will have 7-10 years of experience in public policy, legislative and/or governmental affairs, political campaigns or ballot initiatives; criminal justice and/or public health experience preferred. For more information on responsibilities and qualifications, please see the full posting.

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Los Angeles 40x50Law Enforcement And The War On Drugs - A Los Angeles Event

You are cordially invited to the official launch of Mike Gray's "Law Enforcement Against Prohibition," a short video about the eponymously named group (called LEAP for short) of patrol officers, chiefs of police, judges and more, which works to end the U.S. prohibition on drugs. Please join us on July 27 for a viewing of the video followed by a discussion on the role of law enforcement in drug reform in Los Angeles and beyond.

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XVI International AIDS Conference

AIDS 2006 will be one of the most important scientific gatherings in the fight against AIDS, as well as a unique opportunity for science, government, community and leadership from around the world to advance our collective response to the epidemic.
Aug 13-18, 2006
Metro Toronto Convention Centre
Toronto, Ontario

more info

6th National Harm Reduction Conference

For the 6th National Harm Reduction Conference - "Drug User Health: The Politics and the Personal" - we have returned to Oakland, one of our home bases and the site of our first national conference, held in 1996.
Nov 9-12, 2006
Marriott Oakland City Center Hotel
Oakland, CA

more info

2nd National Conference on Methamphetamine, HIV and Hepatitis: Science & Response 2007

This year's conference will once again be driven by collaboration and diversity--it will introduce the latest in methamphetamine research and innovative programming to a wide audience. By presenting the spectrum of response to methamphetamine use, we hope to learn from one another by drawing upon what is effective or promising and applying it to our work.
Feb 1-3, 2007
Salt Lake City Hilton
Salt Lake City, UT

more info

» More Events

Contact Us
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70 West 36th Street, 16th Floor
New York, NY 10018

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