CNDP February 2017 Newsletter #2
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Transforming the Debate on Drug Policy
Dear Friends and Colleagues,

A quietly courageous member of Maryland’s House of Delegates has introduced legislation that, if successful, would change the entire debate about drug policy in this country. I traveled to Annapolis last week to testify in support of the bill. We discuss this proposal here.

We urge those of you who have not yet done so on our site already to TAKE ACTION to save drug and mental health treatment now provided under the Affordable Care Act. These are the services easiest to cast aside as Congress debates repeal. We must a special effort to protect those whom society cares for least.

We look forward to our continued work with all of you in 2017.

Rev. Alexander E. Sharp, 
Executive Director, Clergy for a New Drug Policy
Testimony in Maryland
Sometimes the most important thing you can do if you want to change somebody’s mind is not to argue, but instead, ask a question gets at the very heart of the matter. This is exactly what Delegate Daniel Morhaim did last week as he introduced legislation before Maryland’s House Judiciary Committee that, if passed, could at long last bring an end to the War on Drugs in this country.

Under House Bill 488, low-level possession of low levels of any drug --- not just marijuana – would be decriminalized. The first arrest for low-level possession would be treated as a civil, not criminal offense, with a fine of $100. A court would refer the individual to treatment. The second arrest would lead to a $250 fine and a second assignment to treatment. Only with a third arrest would a criminal sanction be applied: jail and a $500 fine.

Delegate Morhaim is the first elected official to bring such a proposal forward in the United States. This is the second year he has introduced his bill. I was proud to testify on its behalf. The bill received a respectful hearing. The majority of those testifying were overwhelmingly supportive.
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Save Mental Health and Drug Treatment

Most of us don’t realize that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has for the first time provided mental health and drug abuse treatment as a right for people who need it.  It does so by including these as one of ten essential health benefits included under this legislation.
Specifically, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) provides coverage for ambulatory services, hospitalization, emergency services, maternity and newborn care, rehabilitative services, and others provisions. If an adequate replacement for the ACA is not put in place, nearly 2.8 million will lose eligibility for substance abuse treatment and mental health treatment.
These are the people who society cares for least.  The part of the ACA that now protects them will be the first to be cast aside when the debate about how to replace this legislation gets underway.   Clergy and others of religious faith have a special obligation to speak out on their behalf. 

CNDP urges both clergy persons and lay leaders to join in the attached Call to Action.  Share this message with others and take action by clicking the image above or the button below.

And join an interfaith cooperative against the War on Drugs.
Copyright © 2017 Clergy for a New Drug Policy, All rights reserved.
Clergy for a New Drug Policy 111 W. Jackson Blvd Chicago, IL 60604

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