US Marijuana Party

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Conference takes on the drug war

Columbia Missourian, MO

When Cliff Thornton takes the stage, he tends to talk about race and class biases associated with the war on drugs.

The Green Party candidate for governor in Connecticut will give the keynote address this evening at the Midwest Drug Policy Conference in the Arts and Sciences Building on the MU campus.

“Cliff’s focus is on issues that relate specifically to minority and poor people who are often victims in the war on drugs,” said Dan Viets, state coordinator for the National Organization of the Reform of Marijuana Laws. “Those groups are often disproportionately impacted by drug laws.”

Thornton, who also serves on the marijuana group’s board of directors, is one of several speakers who will be advocating for more lenient drug laws. Other speakers at the conference, sponsored by the MU chapters of the marijuana organization and Students for Sensible Drug Policy, include medical marijuana patients, lawyers and activists. Both sponsoring organizations support the decriminalization of minor marijuana offenses and helped promote successful ballot initiatives in Columbia that deferred prosecution and limited the fine for possession of 35 grams or less of marijuana to $250.

Also the founder and director of an organization called Efficacy, which works to find peaceful ways to respond to social problems, Thornton believes education is the most important step in reforming drug laws.

“People need to know that the drug war is made only to be waged, not won,” he said.


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