Press Release  | 11/14/2001

New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson To Debate Drug Enforcement Administration Head Asa Hutchinson At Yale Law School

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Debate Follows Controversial Dea Raid In Los Angeles

New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson will debate the new head of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration Asa Hutchinson on the topic of our nation's drug policy.

The Johnson/Hutchinson debate will take place on Thursday, November 15, 2001, from 8-10 PM at the Levinson Auditorium at the Yale Law School, 127 Wall Street, New Haven, CT. The debate is sponsored by the national Federalist Society and the Yale Law School Federalist Society chapter.

Governor Johnson, the highest-ranking elected official who has spoken out against the war on drugs, has generated national attention for implementing drug policy reform in New Mexico. He has addressed topics such as increased availability of effective community-based treatment instead of incarceration, reform of drug sentencing laws, civil asset forfeiture reform, and increased sterile syringe availability.

A recent nation-wide poll by the Pew Charitable Trust demonstrated that nearly 75% of the American public believes that the drug war has failed.

An independent poll taken last March by the Albuquerque-based Research and Polling, Inc. shows that 78% of New Mexicans support making marijuana available for medical use by patients suffering from diseases such as HIV/AIDS and cancer; 65 % support assessing civil fines rather than criminal sanctions for possession of small amounts of marijuana; and 63% support probation and treatment services rather than incarceration for first- and second-time "hard" drug possession offenders.

The debate comes just three weeks after DEA agents raided the Los Angeles Cannabis Resource Center, which distributed medical marijuana to nearly 1,000 seriously ill people. The DEA is receiving criticism for the October raid in Los Angeles. The LA Cannabis Resource Center had been the largest and most well run medical marijuana distribution center in southern California.

"At a time when government resources are best directed towards the war on terrorism, it's unclear why the DEA would choose to prioritize taking medical marijuana out of the hands of sick people," said Katharine Huffman, director of the New Mexico Drug Policy Project of the Lindesmith Center-Drug Policy Foundation. "This debate should be a good opportunity to raise some very important questions about federal priorities in the wake of September 11."


Tony Newman at 510-208-7711 or Shayna Samuels at 917-865-5957

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