TO: Interested persons
FROM: Steve Fox, MPP director of government relations
DATE: Monday, June 9, 2003
SUBJECT: Urge your U.S. representative to support three important amendments to the Office of National Drug Control Policy Reauthorization Act of 2003 (H.R. 2086)
Last Thursday, June 5, the Marijuana Policy Project, working in conjunction with the Drug Policy Alliance, scored a remarkable victory in Congress when the House Government Reform Committee placed strong (and new) restrictions on the use of the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign for political purposes. Coverage of this victory, along with mentions of MPP, appeared in today's edition of Roll Call -- see http://www.mpp.org/states/site/quicknews.cgi?key=4387.
This victory would not have been possible without the help of thousands of subscribers like you who sent faxes to members of Congress through our Web site. As we enter the next phase of this battle, we need your assistance again.
Please take two minutes to send a fax to your U.S. representative, urging him or her to support three important amendments when the bill reaches the House floor as early as next week. These amendments are detailed below. (See http://www.mpp.org/3ONDCPamendments to fax now.)
As noted in my last memo on May 23, the Marijuana Policy Project's "War on Drug Czar" -- http://www.mpp.org/WarOnDrugCzar -- has significantly altered the strategies of congressional drug zealots and has pressured them into making serious tactical errors. This was confirmed during the committee debate over the politicization of the Media Campaign. One of the leading Democrats on the committee said that the intent of the provision that stirred the controversy over the Media Campaign was to clarify that the ads "do not constitute partisan political activity -- as has been alleged in unsuccessful lawsuits brought by an opponent of the campaign." Lead zealot U.S. Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN), who was clearly agitated, blamed the controversy on "extremists" for whom marijuana is "their ideology."
Now that we have prevented the Media Campaign from being used to defeat initiatives and legislation, we have our sights set on three additional reforms to the Media Campaign and the drug czar's
1. Require the drug czar to use at least 50 percent of the Media Campaign advertising budget to educate children about the harms posed by drugs other than marijuana. As part of MPP's fight to reduce the harm associated with marijuana, we believe that teens and children must receive factual information about the relative dangers posed by all drugs. A Media Campaign that focuses solely on marijuana does nothing to prevent young marijuana users from moving on to harder drugs.
2. End the statutory requirement upon the drug czar to oppose medical marijuana initiatives and legislation. Currently, the drug czar is required to oppose all efforts to legalize any Schedule I drug, such as marijuana. This amendment, while far less than ideal, would at least give future drug czars the option of not opposing medical marijuana initiatives. Moreover, there appears to be broad support for this kind of incremental change in the law in Congress.
3. Prohibit the drug czar from using federal taxpayer dollars to bribe or coerce treatment providers and state officials to oppose initiatives or legislation. Surprisingly, a May 7 ruling by the federal Office of Special Counsel in response to a complaint MPP filed gave the drug czar permission to use federal funds for these purposes. Obviously, the law must be changed so that he cannot. (Please see this and other complaints and rulings at http://www.mpp.org/WarOnDrugCzar/complaints.html
These amendments will not pass if members of Congress do not hear from their constituents. Please take action now to raise awareness on Capitol Hill. Simply go to http://www.mpp.org/3ONDCPamendments, enter your address, select a letter, and click a button to send it to your representative. And, of course, feel free to forward this e-mail to anyone you think might be interested in taking action on this issue.
As always, MPP thanks you for your participation. The tide is turning in the battle over this nation's marijuana laws, and individuals like you are playing a major role.