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February 8, 2006 - American Humanist Association (US)

Humanists Enter Fray over Drug Control Strategy

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Washington, DC - The 2006 National Drug Control Strategy, released today, is largely a continuation of previous approaches. "Current drug laws have caused unnecessary strain on the criminal justice system and have led to disproportionate and selective enforcement and sentencing," stated Mel Lipman, president of the American Humanist Association.

"Humanists strongly advocate for rational and pragmatic solutions to tackle the negative consequences of drug abuse without relying heavily on prohibition and incarceration," Lipman continued.

To offer an alternative, the American Humanist Association today releases a resolution (please see below) in support of the "implementation of rational drug policies that invest in research, education, and treatment, respect civil liberties, and use harm reduction as the standard by which they are assessed."

John P. Walters, Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), released the National Drug Control Strategy at a youth drug treatment program in Denver, Colorado. The strategy places particular emphasis on supporting prevention campaigns, student drug testing and drug courts. It also calls for the targeting of methamphetamine production and curbing drug trafficking.

"Current American drug policy overemphasizes incarceration as a way to target drug abuse, which is principally a health and social issue best addressed through a combination of education, prevention and treatment," continued Lipman.

Though the National Drug Control Strategy does support some prevention and treatment programs. Its primary error of omission is its failure to address the many thousands of unnecessary incarcerations. Additionally the President's Access to Recovery program offers vouchers for individuals to choose a treatment program, including faith-based providers.

"We need to ensure that individuals seeking help have equal access to secular programs," added Lipman. The AHA helped develop a secular alternative to religiously based recovery programs, SMART Recovery, at

The National Drug Control Strategy also heavily advocates for more support of random student drug testing in schools. "The effectiveness of drug testing has been called into question and amounts to an infringement on students' civil liberties," Lipman further stated.

"Drug policies must be consistent with principles of personal responsibility and liberty, while at the same time ensuring success-something current American drug policies have failed to accomplish," concluded Lipman.

American Humanist Association: Resolution On Drug Policy

Adopted by the Board of Directors

February 2006 ~ Washington, DC

Humanists -- guided by reason, inspired by compassion, and informed by experience -- long for and strive toward a world of mutual care and concern. We are committed to treating each person as having inherent worth and dignity and to making informed choices in a context of freedom consonant with responsibility.

It has become increasingly apparent that policies seeking to redress the negative consequences of drug use and abuse via prohibition and criminalization have failed. Rather than ridding society of the scourge of drug abuse, current drug interdiction efforts have allowed world-wide criminal enterprise to flourish, fostered class and racial disparities in enforcement, contributed to the degradation of life among many of the nation's poorest residents, and diverted valuable resources from protecting Americans from violence. Therefore, the American Humanist Association advocates rational and pragmatic solutions that focus on harm reduction as a means to resolve the negative consequences of drug use.

WHEREAS, drug abuse is principally a health and social issue best addressed through a combination of education, prevention and treatment, and

WHEREAS, the criminalization of all aspects of production, distribution, sale and use for certain classes of drugs is the proximate cause of a criminal justice system strained by non-violent offenders, and

WHEREAS, current drug laws, including mandatory minimum sentences, tend to disproportionately affect people with few financial resources, leading to selective enforcement and disparities in sentencing, and

WHEREAS, current laws prevent physicians from prescribing some drugs with medically proven uses for the alleviation of pain and suffering, and

WHEREAS, consistent with the principles of personal responsibility and liberty, the possession and use of regulated intoxicants should not be criminalized in the absence of a compelling public health concern, thus freeing the criminal justice system to focus on violent criminal activity, and

WHEREAS, providing unbiased, scientific information about the health, economic, and social consequences attributable to the use and potential abuse of currently illegal drugs will provide a rational basis for responsible decision making by individuals and public policy officials,

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the AHA supports implementation of rational drug policies that invest in research, education and treatment, respect civil liberties and use harm reduction as the standard by which they are assessed.

The American Humanist Association is the oldest and largest Humanist organization in the nation. The AHA is dedicated to ensuring a voice for those with a positive nontheistic outlook, based on reason and experience, which embraces all of humanity .

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