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League of Women Voters Considering National Drug Policy Study


March-April 1998

The Drug Policy Study Committee of the League of Women Voters of Albuquerque/Bernalillo County, NM, has proposed a study of national drug policy by the National League of Women Voters (NLWV). The proposal will be presented at the National Convention of NLWV, June 12-16, in San Diego, CA (The League of Women Voters of Albuquerque/Bernalillo County, "Drug Policy Study Committee Proposal to the National League of Women Voters National Convention," June 12-16, 1998). National Drug Strategy Network member Steve Bunch, president of the New Mexico Drug Policy Foundation, contributed to this report.

The proposal for a study of national drug control policy by the NLWV reads in part:

... national policy directly influences and often dictates local laws and enforcement policies and practices regarding the use and distribution of drugs.

The current national drug policy reflects a keen appreciation of the costs to society from the use of illegal drugs. It attempts to curb that use. However, numerous studies have shown that this drug policy has cost billions of dollars and has not resulted in a significant reduction in supply. With respect to the policy's goal of "increasing the safety of American citizens," the policy is implemented in part by "helping law enforcement seize criminal assets." Is this objective being accomplished at the expense of basic Constitutional Rights which Americans cherish? Further, one of the costs of the "war on drugs" has been overcrowding in prisons and the necessity for local citizens to bear the expense of building and maintaining new prisons. Do these costs outweigh the benefits of striving to live in a possibly unachievable "drug free" society?

WE PROPOSE assessing the answers to these and many other questions, including the apparent factual premise on which the policy is based, namely, that certain drugs are so inherently bad that they should be classified as illegal in all respects and all quantities.

WE PROPOSE a study of current and alternative drug policies. It should cover the history and development of the present policy and the nature of addiction -- both physiological and social.

Many learned individuals have questioned the wisdom and implementation of the National Drug Policy. The League of Women Voters has a reputation for solid research and study of tough national issues vitally affecting the lives of American Citizens. We believe that the time has come for the League to study the existing drug policy and possible alternatives, as well as the nature of addiction.

The Drug Policy Study Committee, League of Women Voters, Albuquerque/Bernalillo County, 5015 Prospect NE, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87110. Contact Mary G. Wilson at (505) 878-0430, E-mail: <>.

Steven T. Bunch - President, The New Mexico Drug Policy Foundation, P.O. Box 6994, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87197, Tel: (505) 344-1932, Fax: (505) 344-6716.