Meetings of the National Drug Strategy Network Resume in Washington
On June 29, 1994, fifteen participants in the National Drug Strategy Network met on Capitol Hill at a meeting chaired by Gene Guerrero of the ACLU. (Announcements had been mailed to all Network members in the metropolitan Washington area.) There was consensus that an informal working group ought to meet on a regular basis to share information about drug policy. While no action will be taken by the group in the name of the group, these meetings will hopefully facilitate cooperative efforts by persons and organizations who wish to work together on particular issues.
A meeting will be held on Wednesday, August 10, 1994 at noon at the ACLU Washington Office, 122 Maryland Avenue, N.E., across the street from the U.S. Supreme Court, and on Thursday, September 8, 1994, also at noon at the ACLU Washington office.
Eric Sterling reviewed National Drug Strategy Network activities from 1989 to date. The meetings of the Network had ceased largely because many of the participants had been deeply engaged for the past two years on repealing mandatory minimum sentences and working on crime legislation in the Congress.
Ellen Weber from the Legal Action Center outlined drug treatment funding in the Congress and encouraged everyone to immediately let their Members of Congress know their views on legislation to restrict disability payments to drug addicts and alcoholics, discussed above in this issue of NewsBriefs.
Coletta Youngers of the Washington Office on Latin America reported on the "war on drugs" in the Andes, especially the controversy over whether the U.S. should provide intelligence and radar information about civilian aircraft that Peru and Colombia are preparing to shoot down in violation of international law. She stressed that drug suppression efforts continue to involve human rights violations in the region.
Peter Bourne, M.D., of the American Association for World Health, reported on his recent trip to Southeast Asia, especially to Myanmar (Burma) and to the Shan State in eastern Myanmar, where he met with Khun Sa, known to the world as "the opium war lord." Bourne said that Dr. Lee P. Brown, America's drug "czar" had just preceded him to Southeast Asia. He reported that Brown was met by relatively low-level officials. Bourne also reported that Brown was believed to be discussing military action against Khun Sa by the United Nations (which would, of course, include the United States). [The Myanmar generals are seeking to have the U.S. lift the arms embargo imposed against them -- because of their egregious human rights violations -- in exchange for going to war against Khun Sa. Philip Shenon, "Burmese Junta Offering U.S. An Opium Warlord for Arms," The New York Times, July 15, 1995, p. A2.]
Kevin Zeese, Vice President and General Counsel of the Drug Policy Foundation, reported that DPF will host a discrete international conference on human rights and drug policy in Washington, November 15, 1994, preceding their annual International Conference on Drug Policy Reform. The possibility of holding a briefing for Members of Congress and staff on the human rights issues early next fall was discussed. Kevin also reported on the Court rulings in Germany and Colombia on use of drugs, discussed above in NewsBriefs.
All who are interested in drug policy reform are welcome to attend these meetings. If you would like to be invited to future meetings, please contact the Network.