CNDP April 2017 Newsletter #1
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New Models for Policing
Dear Friends and Colleagues,

This issue marks the beginning of the third year of Clergy for a New Drug Policy.  We use this occasion to review the significant progress nationally to respond to drug use as a health, not a punishment, issue. Law enforcement is assisting those who need treatment rather than arresting them.
Evidence now exists that marijuana can help those who are suffering from opioid addiction.   Project director Rev. Saeed Richardson explores how people who have dismissed marijuana use as immoral might come to terms with this new discovery.
Finally, we call your attention to legislation being introduced today that would make Illinois the ninth state to tax and regulate marijuana for use by those 21 and older. 

Rev. Alexander E. Sharp, 
Executive Director, Clergy for a New Drug Policy
Lessons From Portugal

As we celebrate the second year of Clergy for New Drug Policy, this is a good time to bring us all up-to-date on the central issue that lies at the heart of our work. Our mission is to seek a “health not punishment” response to drug policy. We will be successful when all non-violent, low-level drug users are not treated as criminals and steered to treatment if they are struggling with addiction.

One nation does this with great success. Sixteen years ago, Portugal decriminalized all drugs, not just marijuana. Police refer all non-traffickers to “dissuasion commissions”, consisting of a doctor, social worker, and a lawyer. Selling drugs is still against the law. If the user is deemed a recreational user, the commission issues a small fine, or perhaps community service; in other words, a civil sanction.;

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Marijuana: From Gateway to Gatekeeper

On March 15, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions shared with reporters in Richmond, VA that he was, "astonished to hear people suggest that we can solve our heroin crisis by legalizing marijuana." He concluded that the ultimate responsibility for our country was to declare that "using drugs will destroy your life."

An article published in March by the Drug and Alcohol Dependence journal presents evidence to the contrary. The study found a 23% reduction of opioid-related hospitalizations after nine states passed legislation enabling the use of medical marijuana. Additionally, overall opioid-specific overdoses were reduced by 13%.

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Illinois Proposes Legalizing Marijuana
CNDP staff participated in a press conference Wednesday morning to announce legislation that would legalize marijuana in Illinois. House Bill 2353 and Senate Bill 316 would permit adults to purchase up to one ounce of cannabis from a licensed store.  All cannabis would be taxed at the state’s sale tax of 6.25%.
We introduced the newly formed Coalition for a Safer Illinois that will support the bills.  Included are:  Law Enforcement for Action Partnership (LEAP), Doctors for Cannabis Regulation (DFCR), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Illinois Chapter of the National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), Students for a Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP), and the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP).
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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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