Press Release  | 02/24/2003

Justice Department Indicts 27 People for Selling Drug Paraphernalia, Including Marijuana Pipes and Bongs

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On Eve of Potential War, Bush Administration Spends
Drug Policy Experts Question Government Priorities, Available for Comment

Attorney General John Ashcroft and U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan of the Western District of Pennsylvania today announced the indictment of 27 individuals on charges of selling drug paraphernalia. Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, the nation's leading organization working to promote alternatives to the war on drugs, today responded with the following comments to the Justice Department's "Operation Pipe Dreams":

On Marijuana: "These new arrests indicate an increasing politicalization in the war on drugs, and especially the war on marijuana. It's remarkable at a time when more than 1/3 of Americans think marijuana should be legal to target those involved with marijuana. It's an absurd waste of resources. Their drug war is really a culture war that has nothing to do with creating a safer society. Referring to marijuana as a poison, when no one has ever died of a marijuana overdose, is absurd. It would be more logical -- although I'm not suggesting this -- to prosecute people who sell beer mugs because of the poison consumed in them."

On Money: "The government is spending millions of dollars in taxpayer money to incarcerate people who pose absolutely no threat to the health or well being of our society."

On America's unique stance on drugs: "These paraphernalia laws exist in no other advanced democracy. They're uniquely American. There is no evidence that these laws have any impact on reducing drug use whatsoever."

Ethan Nadelmann's BIO: Ethan Nadelmann is the founder and executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, the leading organization in the United States promoting alternatives to the war on drugs. Nadelmann was born in New York City and received his BA, JD, and PhD from Harvard, and a Masters degree in International Relations from the London School of Economics. He then taught politics and public affairs at Princeton University from 1987 to 1994, where his speaking and writings on drug policy -- in publications ranging from Science and Foreign Affairs to American Heritage and National Review attracted international attention. He also authored the book, Cops Across Borders, the first scholarly study of the internationalization of U.S. criminal law enforcement.

Tony Newman at 510-208-7711

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