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National Coalition for Effective Drug Policies (NCEDP)

New coalition calls for fresh drug control policy: Urges emphasis on prevention, rehabilitation and family unity

Washington, DC, February 5, 1999 - Members of the National Coalition for Effective Drug Policies (NCEDP) urged the White House to develop a drug strategy that focuses on prevention and treatment instead of punishment. The Coalition made the comment in reaction to the National Drug Control Strategy scheduled to be released on February 8, 1999.

"It is time to end policies that result in the imprisonment of nonviolent drug offenders, particularly poor and minority Americans who are struggling with drug addiction," said Hilary Shelton of the NAACP. "We need to invest in community-based drug treatment, AIDS education and prevention. We must provide every American with economic opportunities that engender hope and help them avoid drug abuse."

Throughout the Clinton presidency, two out of three drug control dollars have been spent on law enforcement. Members of the National Coalition for Effective Drug Policies call for spending two out of three dollars on prevention and treatment.

"Current drug policy does not protect America's children, it makes criminals of them," charged Kendra Wright, director of Family Watch. "Armed police play teacher, dogs sniff-search students, school administrators suspend adolescents for aspirin, and new legislation denies the 50% of high school graduates who try an illegal drug the opportunity to attend college. These punitive policies have not prevented adolescent use of heroin and cocaine from rising. Our drug policy should involve educators who present honest and accurate information, and an investment in America's youth through programs that provide alternatives to drug use."

The NCEDP urges a new course that focuses on the drug issue as a public health matter. The Coalition urges increased funding of prevention programs, syringe exchange programs and expansion of treatment programs, including methadone maintenance and treatment on request, which provides a variety of treatment options.

For a diversity of perspectives on national drug policy, NCEDP recommends the following organizations as resources:

Alternative Strategies: Scott Ehlers, Drug Policy Foundation, (202) 537-5005, Kevin Zeese, Common Sense for Drug Policy, (703) 354-5694.

Criminal Justice and Civil Liberties: Leslie Hagin, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, (202) 872-8600, Rachel King, American Civil Liberties Union, (202) 675-2312, Eric Sterling, Criminal Justice Policy Foundation (202) 312-2015.

Family and Youth Issues: Kendra Wright, Family Watch, (703) 354-4002.

International Border Issues: Sanho Tree, Institute for Policy Studies (202) 234-9382.

Marijuana Issues: Rob Kampia, Marijuana Policy Project, (202) 462-5747, Keith Stroup, NORML, (202) 483-5500.

Overuse of Incarceration: Jason Zeidenberg, Justice Policy Institute, (202) 678-9282.

Public Health Approaches to Drug Abuse: Jeff McIntyre, American Psychological Association, (202) 336-6064, H. Alexander Robinson, Robinson and Foster, (202) 547-1995.

Women's Issues: Kathleen Stoll, Center for Women Policy Studies, (202) 872-1770.

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