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Author Topic: Americans oppose the Drug Trafficking Safe Harbor Elimination Act  (Read 2685 times)

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Re: Americans oppose the Drug Trafficking Safe Harbor Elimination Act
« Reply #2 on: 09-21-2010 at 02:38:37 PM »

Just got off the phone with Pelosi's answering machine right before I emailed you about this. Good to see it here!

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Americans oppose the Drug Trafficking Safe Harbor Elimination Act
« Reply #1 on: 09-21-2010 at 12:34:53 PM »

Dear Voter,

House Democrats have scheduled a horrible drug war bill for a vote tomorrow (Wednesday). It wasn't even considered in committee, but they're trying to slip it through without anyone noticing.

Well guess what -- we're not going to let them get away with it! You can help by calling Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi right now at 202-225-0100. Tell the receptionist who answers that you want her to cancel the vote on the Drug Trafficking Safe Harbor Elimination Act scheduled for tomorrow.

The title of the bill is hugely misleading. It's called the Drug Trafficking Safe Harbor Elimination Act, but what it does is expand problematic drug conspiracy laws, create new mandatory minimum drug sentences, increase racial disparities, and subject Americans to incarceration for drug offenses and public health interventions that are legal in the foreign country in which they're committed. For example, an otherwise law-abiding American could face arrest for planning with some friends to use marijuana legally while on vacation in the Netherlands.

Right now, Democrats are nervous about making voters angry. That means you and I can have a real impact by letting Speaker Pelosi know we are furious that the House is trying to expand the drug war at a time when most Americans want major drug policy reform.

Here's what you need to know to make the call.

Call Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi at 202-225-0100. When the receptionist answers say something like:

"I'm calling to urge Speaker Pelosi to cancel the vote on the Drug Trafficking Safe Harbor Elimination Act that is scheduled for tomorrow.  It is shameful that Democrats are considering expanding the war on drugs, a war that is being waged primarily on young people and communities of color. I can't believe Democrats
are doing this."

Further Talking Points / More Information:

*  The Drug Trafficking Safe Harbor Elimination Act of 2010 (H.R. 5231), introduced by Rep. Lamar Smith (the only House member to speak against reforming the racist crack/powder disparity), creates a new crime of conspiring with one or more persons, or aiding or abetting one or more persons, to commit at any place outside the United States an act that would constitute a violation of the U.S. Controlled Substances Act if committed within the United States.

*  Even though this bill references drug trafficking in the title it also criminalizes possession and use of marijuana or other drugs in other countries if more than one person is involved -- even if drug use is decriminalized in that country. Thus, it imposes America's harsh drug policies on other countries, and further criminalizes a health issue. The bill's title is very misleading.

*  These penalties apply even if the controlled substance is legal under some circumstances in the other country.  An American treatment provider working with doctors in England, Denmark, Germany, or Switzerland to provide heroin assisted treatment and sterile syringes to heroin users in those countries could face arrest. As could an otherwise law-abiding American planning with some friends to use marijuana legally in the Netherlands while on vacation there.

*  Even when applied against drug traffickers, The Drug Trafficking Safe Harbor Elimination Act would likely perpetuate injustice. Under U.S. drug conspiracy laws a person can be found guilty even when there are no drugs or other physical evidence involved. The uncorroborated word of someone pointing fingers to get a reduced sentence is all it takes. Moreover anyone convicted of being part of a drug conspiracy is punished not for the offense they actually committed but for all the offenses committed by members in the conspiracy. This has led to very low-level, impoverished, first-time offenders receiving sentences that are decades long. Conspiracy laws drive the so-called "girlfriend problem" whereby thousands of  women every year are sentenced to harsh sentences for the crimes of their
abusive partners.

*  The United States houses 5% of the world's population but 25% of its incarcerated population.  This excess of incarceration is a direct result of punitive and ineffective drug laws, which are currently crippling our social and economic resources.  Trends in the U.S. are shifting toward alternative sentencing and away from the policies developed in the almost forty years since Nixon declare the "War on Drugs". HR 5231 would be a detrimental step in the wrong

*  House Leadership should not bring this problematic bill up for a vote. It has only two cosponsors and wasn't even considered in committee.

Thanks for joining me in standing against this sneaky expansion of the drug war!


Bill Piper
Director, Office of National Affairs
Drug Policy Alliance

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