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Saturday, January 31, 2009

Guest Blogger Kris Krane: Change Drug Policy Laws

The Broward Law Blog welcomes the Executive Director of Students for a Sensible Drug Policy with a commentary on the need to change our nation's drug laws. Many of my own views on this issue are best expressed at, my personal ranting page of collected columns. But here we endorse wholeheartedly and welcome Kris's call for help:

'George W. Bush may be relaxing at his ranch in Texas, but many of his friends are still waging a war on public health at home and abroad. Believe it or not, the day after President Obama took his oath of office, Bush-appointed cops raided a medical marijuana collective in California, despite our new president's pledge to end those cruel attacks on patients! And right now, U.S. delegates to the United Nations are stonewalling efforts to include life-saving, harm reduction measures in the new global drug strategy, even though Obama publicly supports those measures. (This includes needle exchange programs, which have been proven to drastically reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS.)

If successful, these remnants of the Bush administration could set global drug policy back ten years, since this strategy will not be reviewed again until 2019! And we risk further alienating our European and Latin American allies who strongly support the inclusion of harm reduction in this new global drug strategy.Clearly, our delegates need to fall in line with the new administration or lose their jobs. But the President has a lot on his plate right now. And that's why he needs to hear from Americans like you who want to see an immediate change in drug policy.

Please take a moment to send a letter to the President and Secretary of State Clinton urging them to order our U.N. delegates to advocate for public health instead of "zero tolerance" policies. The letter is pre-written for you, but you can edit it if you like:

Students for Sensible Drug Policy was one of 25 North American organizations to participate in a global forum last year that resulted in the formulation of recommendations that embraced harm reduction and recognized the fundamental human rights of drug users.

We won't let our voices be silenced because of a few of rogue Bush administration appointees who are blatantly ignoring the will of the current administration. Fortunately, we're not the only ones who are concerned about this. Just today, the New York Times published an editorial criticizing our delegates' opposition to harm reduction. And a few days ago, Congressman Henry Waxman (D - CA) and others sent a letter to U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, warning against "crafting a U.N. declaration that is at odds with our own national policies and interests… as we needlessly alienate our nation's allies in Europe."If they can send a letter, so can we.

Kris Krane,
Executive DirectorStudents for Sensible Drug Policy

P.S. Like the work SSDP is doing to influence President Obama and the United Nations to change drug policy? If so, please let us know by making a donation today.

1 comment:

  1. Here's change we can believe in, from Prez Obama:

    John B. Thompson, J.D.
    5721 Riviera Drive
    Coral Gables, Florida 33146

    February 1, 2009

    The Honorable Barack Obama
    President of the United States
    Washington, D.C. Via Fax to 202-456-2461

    The Honorable John D. Rockefeller, IV
    Chairman, Senate Commerce Committee
    531 Hart Senate Office Bldg.
    Washington, D.C. Via Fax to 202-224-7665

    The Honorable Kay Bailey Hutchison
    Ranking Member, Senate Commerce Committee
    284 Russell Senate Bldg.
    Washington, D.C. Via Fax to 202-224-0776

    Re: Confirmation of Commerce Secretary

    Dear President Obama, Senator Rockefeller, and Senator Hutchison:

    Whomever may serve as Commerce Secretary, I strongly urge both the Administration and the Senate Commerce Committee to inquire of the nominee what his/her position is regarding the ongoing, demonstrable fraud of the video game industry in marketing and selling Mature-rated video games to children behind their parents’ backs.

    In May 1999, shortly after “Columbine,” President Clinton met with entertainment industry spokesmen, and the Entertainment Software Association publicly promised the President and the American people “to close the loophole” that allows kids under 17 to purchase ESRB Mature-rated video games. See this promise at .

    Today, despite this promise, not a single on-line retailer of video games verifies the age of Mature-rated game buyers, despite the availability of reliable age verification software made by IDology, Veratad, and other suppliers.

    The FTC continues to find that there is also widespread sale of Mature-rated video games to kids under 17 in brick and mortar stores. The lone exception is GameStop, which has a zero tolerance policy in this regard, resulting in a 94% compliance with age ratings, as proven by FTC secret shopper stings. The ESRB refuses to require that other major retailers like Best Buy, Target, and Wal-Mart follow GameStop’s lead. Indeed, the ESRB formally promises that it will punish retailers who continue to sell Mature-rated games to kids under 17, and yet there is no known sanction ever being imposed. None.

    Maybe the most remarkable proof of the video game industry’s fraud through the ESRB is found in its ESRB/ERC Advertising and Marketing Guidelines. Take a look at “Principle #4 found at

    “No advertisement should contain any content that is likely to cause serious or widespread offense to the average consumer.”

    In other words, if Take-Take, the makers of the Grand Theft Auto games, airs television ads that truthfully depict the real content of the game—killing cops, running over innocent bystanders, having sexual intercourse with and then killing them with machetes, shotguns, and ramming them repeatedly with cars into brick walls, then the Entertainment Software Board’s Review Council will punish the developers who truthfully advertise their pornography and violence. This ERC Principle mandates false advertising.

    Further, this same ERC promises to enforce by sanctions the following “Principle:”

    “Companies must not specifically target advertising for entertainment software products rated Teen, Mature or Adults Only to consumers for whom the product is not rated as appropriate.”

    Despite this promise, the ESRB continues to allow game companies like Take-Two to advertise its Grand Theft Auto games on WWE wrestling television broadcasts with massive teen audiences in prime time. Take-Two has even been caught placing ads for their hyperviolent, pornographic games buses in major metropolitan areas. The ESRB has done nothing to punish this breach.

    The ESA also formally opposes Congressman Baca’s efforts to place warning labels on violent video games as to their effect upon behavior. The ESRB is actively, officially, suppressing information parents need about the nature of this product just as Big Tobacco suppressed the tobacco-cancer link. This is fraud that permeates the entire industry.

    A recent AOL poll of nearly a quarter million respondents found that 80% are “concerned about the violence in video games,” with 56% “very concerned.”

    No Commerce Secretary nominee can be allowed to go through Senate confirmation hearings without being examined closely about the video game industry’s widespread fraud and what to do about it. Indeed, given your concerns, President Obama, about the harmful effects of video games during the campaign, you should not nominate any person to serve as Commerce Secretary without knowing first his/her views on this vital issue.

    Regards, Jack Thompson