Press Release  | 10/29/2002

Drug Policy Alliance Network Conducts First-Ever Drug Policy Voters

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More Congressional Candidates Support Drug Policy Reform Than Ever Before
Vast Majority of Responses Indicate Increasing Political Interest in Changing our Nation

This year's election season is shaping up to be one of the most important ever for drug policy reform advocates. With more than 46 statewide reforms enacted in 2001 alone and additional initiatives on ballots across the country, politicians are getting the message that Americans are fed up with the War on Drugs.

To that end, the Drug Policy Alliance Network compiled a nine-question survey to gauge federal candidate's opinions on drug policy issues. This questionnaire was sent to every major party candidate in the country. The vast majority of responses received were boldly supportive of drug policy reform issues, potentially indicating a new trend in support for policy reform.

"More and more politicians are willing to 'come out of the closet' for drug policy reform," said Bill McColl, Director of National Affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance Network. "For the first time, voters will actually be able to make an informed decision based solely on a candidate's opinions on drug policy."

Some incumbents who have been supportive of drug policy reform issues in the past and answered the survey include:

  • Barney Frank (D-MA)
  • Jessie Jackson Jr. (D-IL)
  • John E. Sweeney (R-NY)
  • Robert E. Andrews (D-NJ)
  • James McDermott (D-WA)
  • Corrine Brown (D-FL)
  • William Lacy Clay Jr. (D-MO)
  • Diane Watson (D-CA)
  • John Olver (D-MA)

Other interesting responding candidates to note include:

  • In Florida, Jan Schneider is facing the controversial election hopes of Katherine Harris (R-FL)
  • In Texas, "Pro Life, Pro Gun, Pro Tax Cuts," candidate Pat Ahumada (R) is also pro-drug policy reform
  • In Pennsylvania, Bill Choby, author and founding member of the Republican National Committee, is markedly supportive of several of the questions asked.
  • In some states, voters will be asked to choose between two candidates who are competitively supportive of drug law reform. For example, in California's 8th District, sympathetic Nancy Pelosi will be facing the Deputy Attorney General and general council for the Log Cabin Republicans, Mike German, an ardent supporter of medical marijuana

Despite receiving more responses than many other non-profit organizations engaged in similar projects, organizers still feel that far too many federal candidates failed to answer the survey. A nationwide action alert designed to motivate constituents to contact their Congressional candidates proved to be quite effective in enticing many federal candidates to answer, making this not only an immense organizational effort, but also a grassroots political campaign that has never been attempted on this scale in the past.

"Our mission is to help inform Americans about the harms of our current drug policies. Armed with this voter information, the millions of reformers and harm reduction advocates have a real opportunity to make a difference on November 5," explained McColl.

Candidates are still encouraged to return their responses so that we can further gauge the potential opportunities 108th Congress may have to offer. Federal candidates interested in answering the questionnaire can contact Voter Project Coordinator, Christopher Mulligan at (202)216-0035 x 201 or by email at cmulligan [at] drugpolicy [dot] org.

The responses to this important voter guide can be found at:
http://actioncenter.drugpolicy.org/voterguide.html

Shayna Samuels at 646-523-6961 or Tony Newman at 510-208-7711

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