Project 21 Press Release



For Release: July 25, 1997

Contact: Arturo Silva at 202/543-4110 or [email protected]

D.C. Initiative To Legalize Marijuana A Bad Idea, But Why Isn't the President Saying So?
Ballot Initiative Actually Calls on Government to Distribute Marijuana

As drugs continue to ravage American communities and rob millions of children of their futures, the African-American group Project 21 is calling on President Clinton to speak out against a proposal to legalize drugs in the nation's capital.

Dubbed Measure 57 or the "Legalization of Marijuana Treatment Initiative of 1997," a proposal to legalize the "possession, use, cultivation, and distribution of marijuana" for "medical purposes" only needs 16,763 valid D.C. signatures by December 8 to get on the D.C. ballot.

"Marijuana is the gateway drug to harder drugs," said Project 21 member Stephen Craft, a staff chaplain at the Jefferson City Correctional Center. "I'm a former addict, and I'm telling you the D.C. initiative to legalize marijuana is pure nonsense. This is a political scheme, a joke, a sham. This attempt to legalize marijuana is phase one of a larger agenda to get all drugs legalized. Next, there will be calls to legalize heroin as a pain killer. Marijuana is a precursor for something bigger. Sin never stops at one place. I'm not a physician, but as a former drug user, I can assure you that legalizing marijuana is a bad idea, even for so-called medical purposes."

The provisions of Measure 57 include:

*A requirement that the D.C. Commissioner of Public Health establish a plan for the city government to distribute marijuana.

* A section explaining how minors under the age of 18 can use marijuana.

* Allowing medical patients to designate a "parent, sibling, spouse, child or other close relative, domestic partner, case manager/worker, or best friend" to help grow, use or buy marijuana.

* Permitting a doctor to give a written or oral recommendation to a patient for marijuana use. The word "prescription" is not included anywhere in the legislation.

"President Clinton's abdication of his responsibility as a moral leader in the drug war, and his failure to speak out against initiatives such as the one in the nation's capitol demonstrate a lack of leadership," said Project 21 member Jesse Peterson, a former drug addict and presently a mentor to inner city youth. "He has no problem using the full force of the federal government to target the tobacco industry for making their products appealing to youth. But drugs, which have done far more to destroy the youth of this country than tobacco, get a free pass from the President. I hope that the American people won't give the President a free pass on hypocrisy."

Critics of the President's silence on drug use point out that U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' statistics show that between 1992 and 1994 "recent marijuana use" among 14-15 year-olds rose 200 percent; among 12-13 year-olds, marijuana use was up 137 percent. Many of these critics partially blame the President's silence on illegal drug use for the increase. With his reelection secure, the President is again coming under criticism for his willingness to talk about almost anything, except the evils of using illegal drugs.

For interviews, or a copy of a paper on the Clinton Administration's record on the war on drugs, contact Arturo Silva at 202/543-4110 or [email protected], or visit http://www.nationalcenter.org/ht0725.htm on the web.

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