Subject: Report: Putting the Brakes on the Drug Legalization Movement" Conference (USA)
From: "Greg Schmid" <email@example.com>
Date: Thu, 11 May 2000 19:09:12 -0400
Below is the long awaited report regarding the Government subsidized anti-PRA conference in Lansing last week....so obnoxious they made the PRA operative in attendance sign an agreement not to record the conference!
Following is a summation of the content as well as the intent of the "Putting the Brakes on the Drug Legalization Movement" conference on May 3 & May 4. It was also referred to as "Training the Trainer".
I arrived with a digital camera and a tape recorder in hand. I was directed to take them back to my room. I asked if tapes of the conference would be available, and was told they would not. Prior to entering the conference room, they demanded that I sign an agreement that there would be no taping or pictures. I signed it, and requested a copy. They seemed reluctant and suspicious.
Also included in the agreement were that no questions could be asked from the floor. Questions were to written out on cards supplied at each table, and they had to include your full name and the organization you were representing. They were given to the speaker at the end of each presentation, and responded to "as time allowed." I noticed several
speakers thumbing through the cards; apparently picking and choosing.
The local organizer, and director of the Troy Community Coalition is Mary Ann Solberg. Ms. Solberg has not read the proposed amendment. I overheard a conversation on the lunch break on the second day wherein a Michigan attendee explained to her that the that PRA 2000 is not just a "medical excuse marijuana" initiative. She expressed surprise. Then she made the statement that "my attorneys have told me not to talk about PRA in public."
Then she noticed me listening and lowered her voice to a whisper. It became apparent that many attendees had not read the amendment.
The content presented was two-fold. There was information about the negative impact of drugs. The other information was about efforts that failed to stop legalization in other states, with many speakers giving detailed instructions on how stop the effort in this state.
The Honorable John Pappageorge, Representative, Michigan House of Representatives. Representative Pappageorge was one of the kick-off speakers. He commended the organizers and attendees for their efforts and expressed support for the movement. He spoke exclusively about the issue of medical marijuana. It appears that he has not read the proposed amendment either. He referenced medical efficacy only in terms of pain reduction. Nothing about the control of glaucoma, nausea, or spasticity. He denied that marijuana reduces pain, and stated that he tells that to children.
Dr. David Gross, chairman, International Scientific and Medical Forum on Drug Abuse "It's All About the Children"
Dr. Gross gave the keynote address. He gave a lengthy presentation refuting the efficacy of marijuana as medicine. He stated that the reform movement is about "Power and the Dollar". He said that pro-legalizers don't care about sick people, or possible dangers to children. His remarks were inflammatory.
Jack Hook, chief of demand reduction, Drug Enforcement Administration "Drug Strategy, from a National Perspective" Mr. Hook refuted that people are imprisoned for "simple possession" of marijuana. His presentation was confusing, and he contradicted himself at least three times. Among his statements were that in 1998 a "measly" 4% of prisoners were new commitments, and that 39% were probation and parole violators. This statement appeared to be an attempt to justify imprisonment for possession. He also stated that in the last 20 years as many drug offenders have been imprisoned as in all the years prior. And added that "but that's good because drug use is down 30%. He claimed that 64% of prisoners are there for drug related charges, but that they are drug traffickers, not persons who were convicted of possession. He also stated that one joint is the carcinogenic equivalent of 15 to 20 cigarettes, and that he tells that to children. He demeaned the compassionate measure of remanding persons to treatment, rather than prison. He stated sarcastically "Counseling? Drug traffickers won't benefit from it."
Darnell Jackson, director, Michigan Office of Drug Control Policy "Overview of Drug Control Strategy in Michigan" Mr. Jackson stated that pro-legalizers "play on the ignorance and sympathy" of the public. He stated that "Don't believe them when they say that this is a compassionate measure." He was one of many presenters who explanation and description of the reformers in order to increase awareness, and training attendees to strategize resistance of PRA 2000.
I noted that no one referred to PRA 2000. Rather, they said "what's happening in your state", or "the proposal", or "the amendment", etc.
Calvina Fay, executive director, Drug Free America Foundation "Drug Legalization in the New Millennium" Ms. Fay summarized her talk as "who, how, and about" legalizers. She urged identification of individuals and groups. She said, "Remember, they don't use the L word." (legalization) Also that "in the 1960's we fought hippies" but that "now they look and act mainstream." And that the reform movement is "well organized to promote their cause." She stated that the Drug Policy gives grants. She stated that "they are brain-washing our children to think they can use safely" and are "attacking employers rights to maintain a drug free workplace." She described the "90's style of legalization, which she claimed focused on attempts to "medicalize" addictive drugs. She talked about "buyers clubs" and stated that they sure other drugs in addition to medical marijuana. She claimed that Dennis Peron clears $5 to 8 millions yearly, but that's "only what he admits to."
This and all of the other presentations were made with slide shows, in Mr. Perons case, there views of charts and equations. In presentations that delineated steps to take in order to defeat PRA, each item was shown on the screen, some with elaboration, some not.
Richard Romley, County Attorney, Maricopa County, Arizona "Medical Marijuana: A Smokescreen" He referred to medical marijuana as "Trojan Horse." He gave a detailed history of legalization in California, Arizona, Alaska, and Colorado. He showed TV commercials that promoted the issue, describing them as "outrageous." He stated that "Arizona got caught asleep at the switch. We had thought it didn't have a chance." He stated that they couldn't get press because the reformers said "Why are you using government dollars to promote a political issue?" He also said that "medical issues shouldn't be decided at the ballot box, but by a Doctor." He went on to sat that "This is a movement" and that "Our strategy has to change on how we approach this."
There followed a list of instructions for defeating PRA entitled: "Put the Brakes On"
1. "Hold the Media Accountable"
Mr. Romley blames the internet for press support of reform, because legalizers use it to pressure the media. He urged that attendees develop internet sites for the purpose of pressuring media sources, - to "fight fire with fire."
2. "Fund Raise Fast and Furious"
He urged to "tie into" the business community as a way of getting funding. He advised that attendees should "play on" business losses from drug use such as absenteeism lower quality of work, and loss of productivity.
3. "Establish a Strong Grass Roots Organization"
He referred to the business and medical communities, as well as recovering people.
4. "Choose Your Campaign Spokesperson Carefully"
He said that ideally it should be a medical person. He said not to use people from the law enforcement community because "they'll use it against you."
5. "Take Advantage of Potential Strategies"
He advised getting a law firm to donate their services. To request that they go over petition signatures, and to evaluate the constitutionality of the proposition. He summed it up by saying "Just get the whole thing gone."
6. "Never, Never, Never Give Up"
This quote was accredited to Winston Churchill. Apparently, it was meant to be motivational.
There followed a question and answer segment. When asked why they lost in Arizona, he stated it was a lack of money. Also, because the medical community does not want to get involved. He said that physicians refuse, but some pharmacists have agreed to involvement.
There was a question asking how many pro legalization people use, along with a comment that "They seem so intelligent. People are influenced by them because they seem so fine." Rather than responding to the question and comment, he advised using victims of drugs, such as the Mother of a child who was killed by someone who was high. He was asked if federal dollars and support could be procured, he stated that "You're on your own."
Calvina Fay followed with supporting comments and suggestions.
"Harness the media."
"Get videos which can be ordered from our web site on how to get press."
"Get added to our internet list."
"We can help you get the right spokesperson. The best is Doctors."
"Turn the compassion issue back."
"Try to involve children."
Dr. Eric Voth, chairman, International Drug Strategy Institute "Why Marijuana is Not Medicine" He began his presentation with studies and statistics supporting the theme of his presentation. He also stated that "One way we can hammer these people" is to try for limits on spending for proposals, "just like we have for campaigns." He urged "try going after Insurance Companies," suggesting that they would have an increase in liability suits to employers because people would be high in the workplace.
Dr. Voth seemingly contradicted his claim that marijuana cannot be medicinal. When he was asked the question "Does marijuana have any impact on epilepsy?" he responded "Interestingly enough, there are some things in marijuana that suppress seizures."
Calvina Fay, executive director, Drug Free America Foundation Susan Combs, executive director, Leadership Michigan and Drugs Don't Work Programs
"The Impact of Drugs on Michigan Employers"
Ms. Fay talked about employee drug and testing employees for drugs. She cited the American Civil Liberties Union for their questioning the constitutional right to perform drug tests. She introduced Ms. Combs as the "local tsarina" on the issues of drug use in the workplace and drug testing. They encouraged trying to get medium and smaller sized companies to initiate a "Drug Free Workplace" program. They described studies that had proven that the programs are successful in reducing absenteeism, accidents, and employees taking medical leave.
Ms. Combs was asked which drug is most commonly found in drug screening.
She answered "Marijuana, but that's because it stays in the system so long." That comment ended her presentation. Ms. Fay quickly reclaimed the microphone and told us to go to lunch.
Dr. Voth (second presentation)
"Addiction Promotion Through Needle Exchange & Heroin Maintenance"
He described the failure of these programs, using England and Holland to substantiate his premise. He stated that addicts get needles, but then share them. He stated that maintenance programs, with the exception of those that distribute methadone, perpetuate addiction.
Dr. Goth also stated that law enforcement has a "fear of busting spokespeople" for the reform movement because it may be viewed as retribution. He also addressed the contention that legalization of medical marijuana would result in greater availability to children and that it is a "gate way" drug into the use of such drugs as heroin, cocaine, and LSD. He presented studies wherein marijuana was only one of the drugs at issue. He presented the findings in their totality, rather than breaking out marijuana.
Mary Ann Solberg, executive director, Troy Community Coalition "What's Next For Michigan?"
She began by presenting a greeting sent by Governor Engler. Per Ms. Solberg he stated "I applaud your efforts. The harm drugs cause is irrefutable. The legalization effort should be stopped dead in its tracks." She also delineated a list of how-to's.
1. Each of you make 5 presentations. We will help you. Show videos. Talk to public officials. Work with your faith communities and PTAs. Recruit spokespeople, especially physicians. Join committees to fight legalization of marijuana.
2. Hold mini conferences around the state. It's time to stand up for what we believe in.
3. Write letters to the editor.
4. Begin, now, to develop associations with businesses. When and if it is passed, we will need equal time. We need to buy air time now for the final 2 weeks before the elections, or else there won't be any left.
5. Recruit people.
Make Michigan the first state to just say no.
Calvina closed the conference with several questionable statements. She claimed that "they teach their people to fit in with mainstream America." She repeatedly used the phrase "medical excuse marijuana." She spoke of claims that the War on Drugs has been a failure. She refuted that by stating "we've reduced drug use by 50%." She made the incredible claim that "They are proactively recruiting our children to use drugs to create a customer base." And something about the efforts to "Hook them young."
I also have some other facts and comments. Each participant was given an enormous binder of materials, which included the text of PRA 2000, a petition, and a list of instructions about how to get signatures and process the petition. Also, 2 tapes. And there was a 40 page list of organizations, internet sites, and individuals who are supportive of legalization.
The recent actions in Hawaii were explained and addressed at various times. It was termed "tragic and really frightening."
A couple of speakers claimed that there had been numerous attempts to organize a debate with pro legalization people. They said that none of the legalizers would agree to participate.
The majority of the participants were law enforcement personnel. It appeared that many of them were administrators, but some were line officers. I overheard comments from three of them. One expressed
neutrality regarding the issue. Two of them expressed support. Mentioned were the drain on departmental resources, and having to work excessive overtime. Another said, "I don't give a shit, man. Let it pass. The whole thing is stupid."
I had a conversation with an undercover narcotics agent who told me that DARE is good because "it gives kids a chance to rat out their parents."
When I couldn't think of how to respond, he said "you know, it gives them a chance to get help and stuff." When I expressed admiration of the many persons who had sacrificed personal time to attend the conference, he stated that he was on duty. I mentioned having worked for the state, and that we were not allowed to involve in political issues on state time. He looked confused and said that: "I don't think it's looked at that way."
Another law enforcement official mentioned that the DARE training gives officers a chance to find out about parties. In another conversation, I mentioned that 5 school districts in Southeast Michigan had dropped the DARE program. Someone from another area stated "well, that's because they ran out of money." I said no, the schools had decided it was a waste of time and money. I went on to describe the probe done by the Detroit News wherein they stated that the efficacy of DARE is being challenged. Also, their claim that DARE officials would not cooperate with studies, or denied studies, that showed that DARE is ineffective. I got surprised looks and some doubtful expressions. They seemed unaware that DARE had become controversial.
I mentioned petition passing in another group, and the reports that a high ratio of persons presented with the petitions were glad to sign. I don't think they believed it.
I hope this report is helpful for you.