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October 12, 2006 - Daily Campus (CT Edu)

Thornton Suggests Drug Policy

By Theresa Murphy

Return to Drug War News: Don't Miss Archive

Green Party candidate Cliff Thornton was welcomed Wednesday afternoon by Students for Sensible Drug Policy, who invited Thorton to speak during their weekly meeting.

Thornton described the Green Party as "a party of social and environmental justice ... it's not a legalizing party, it's a party about common sense."

If elected, Thornton hopes to focus on the environment by removing 400,000 cars from the road in four years, through conservation and a mass transit policy.

Thornton pointed out that although the environment is the number one priority for the Green Party, drug policy is also a very important aspect of his campaign.

"The population of Connecticut is 3.5 million people," Thornton said. "Less than 6 percent of that population is black and Hispanic males. Seventy percent of the people in jail are black and Hispanic males, and 70 percent are also there for drug offenses.

"Eighty percent of the people who die from illegal drugs in this state are white. What is wrong with this picture?"

Thornton explained that he supports the legalization of hemp, cannabis and heroin for medicinal purposes, cocaine, methamphetamines and ecstasy and the decriminalization of all drugs for future debate and study.

This may sound extreme at first, but Thornton provided strong arguments to back up his ideas. He also provided real life examples from countries like Switzerland and Amsterdam who have progressive drug policies, which have proven to be successful.

On the issue of legalizing hemp and cannabis, Thornton explained the hesitation to legalize the drugs has less to do with people using the drug and more to do with the fact that hemp would revolutionize the garment, food and paper industries.

The legalization of the aforementioned drugs for medicinal purposes is referring to maintenance programs, which are used to end the crime and violence associated with the drug trade, while weaning addicts off of drugs by giving them medically prescribed doses until they are ready to quit.

"Since 1965, half of the people who smoked cigarettes quit, and we didn't arrest a single person for smoking," Thornton said. "It's about education."

"I'm for ending prohibition," Thornton said. "That's the price. It's about bringing all of these drugs within the law somehow."

"Thornton spoke about a strong passion for the importance of education in the next generation," said Sara Senko, a 3rd semester sociology and anthropology double major. "The drug war affects all areas of social life and he really advocated social action."

Thornton encouraged students to be political, arguing "The only way to change these drug laws are from inside the system."

"My generation screwed things up," Thornton said. "Now it's up to you to move forward. It's up to you to fix it. I'm sorry!"

"It's important to bring awareness [to] Green Party issues because they focus on issues that the two main parties don't focus on," said Daniel Cornelius, a 5th-semester political science major and president of the Students for Sensible Drug Policy.

"But it's also important to incorporate some of the ideas associated with drug policy reform into the two major parties because no social movement has been successful without the backing of the two main parties."

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