Monday, March 30, 2009

Addiction is not a crime; it's a health issue

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"Help send a strong message that drug policy is a health - not a crime - issue."
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Jack Cole
26-year veteran cop
New Jersey State Police
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I'm writing to you from Law Enforcement Against Prohibition about an unprecedented opportunity to get our nation's lawmakers to finally realize that drug abuse and addiction is a public health - and not a criminal justice - issue.

As you probably know, President Barack Obama recently appointed Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske as his White House "drug czar," more formally known as director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

That means that the U.S. Senate will soon hold a hearing to question and confirm Chief Kerlikowske. Historically, the drug czar confirmation hearings are held in the Senate Judiciary Committee, the panel that handles crime and courts issues.

But, since many observers - including the president himself - have said that drug abuse is primarily a health concern, don't you think that the drug czar confirmation should be handled by the lawmakers who oversee such issues?

That's why I'm writing you today.

Please take one minute to visit and send a letter to your two U.S. senators, asking them to support moving the drug czar confirmation hearing to the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee, a much more appropriate forum.

We've made it really easy for you to take action. All you have to do is enter your contact information and click "send." If you have an extra minute, you can edit our pre-written letter to personalize it for added impact.

With the new Obama administration, we are cautiously optimistic that there will be a humane shift in drug policy: from the current punitive and forceful model, to a more compassionate one founded in public health.

Indeed, President Obama has repeatedly called for a new health-based approach to drug policy, including when he told Rolling Stone magazine that he believes in "shifting the paradigm, shifting the model, so that we focus more on a public-health approach."

Now, we have a brief window of time to get the message to our elected officials that we want to turn this rhetoric into reality.

Please take one minute to visit to do your part by taking action. Then, use the simple follow-up form to let your friends know about this opportunity, too.

Thanks so much for all that you do,
Jack Cole
Executive Director
Law Enforcement Against Prohibition

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