15 Minutes of Your Time Could Help End the Drug War

NEW YORK—(ENEWSPF)—October 29, 2014.

By: Tony Newman

With so much war and destruction all around us, it is easy to get depressed and wonder how can we make this world a better place. What if you could help end a war that would save lives and money and see the results concretely in one week?

It’s possible, and here’s how.

Just 15 minutes of your time can help America find an exit strategy from our country’s longest war, the disastrous war on drugs. In one week, millions of voters from across the country will have an opportunity on election day.

Voters in Oregon, Alaska and Washington D.C. have an opportunity to join Colorado and Washington and legalize marijuana. Legalizing marijuana sends a clear message to leaders in Washington D.C. and the world that we don’t want to ruin lives with marijuana arrests. Victories in one or more of these states builds momentum for 2016 when California and others states hope to vote on marijuana legalization.

We can pass the tipping point towards the end of our country’s failed marijuana prohibition.

In California, voters have an opportunity to say no to mass incarceration. On the heels of reforming its harshest-in-the-nation Three Strikes law in 2012, Californians are now poised to refine six low-level, nonviolent offenses, including simple drug possession, from felonies to misdemeanors. Proposition 47 would then dedicate the savings — likely more than $1 billion a year — to schools, victim services, and mental health treatment. With retroactive sentencing and expungement provisions, the impact of Prop 47 in California on wasteful corrections spending and individual lives would be profound and surely resonate across the country.

These victories are not guaranteed. Even though 75 percent of Americans say the drug war is a failure and more than 50 percent want to legalize marijuana, we need folks to vote – especially young people, who don’t turn out the same way as they do in presidential election years.

With so much at stake, we need everyone who wants to end the drug war to give 15 minutes of their time and go to the polls. No matter where you live, call and reach out to friends in Oregon, California, D.C. and around the country in states with ballot initiatives to plead with them to get out and vote.

More than 40 years ago, President Nixon launched the drug war. The damage done to millions of our fellow citizens is real. Tonight 500,000 people will sleep behind bars because of a drug offense.

Thousands of kids are without their parents because of laws that lock up people for small amounts of drugs. Drug prohibition also led to thousands of violent deaths in our communities at home, as well as countless of our brothers and sisters in Mexico. Last year more than 650,000 Americans were arrested for marijuana possession alone, bringing a wave of collateral consequences like loss of freedom, benefits, jobs and even kids.

The drug war is a serious disaster but ending it can be fun. In the spirit of fun, some of our friends have rolled out creative ways to encourage young voters to get out, vote, and make history. Rock the Vote did a wildly successful “Turn Out for What” video with famous names like Lil Jon and Lena Dunham. Moore + Associates, a strategic communications firm behind popular viral videos (including Wake the F&%k Up!, which addressed voter apathy and starred Samuel L. Jackson, and Let My People Vote, which took on voter disenfranchisement and starred Sarah Silverman) made videos showing how easy it is for voters in Oregon to make their voices heard in a series called “In the Time It Takes.”

And for those people who like voter education information in the form of an attractive, shirtless guy, check out “Ryan” (not Gosling), sexily chopping wood orreading, while spreading the word about Oregon’s Measure 91 to tax and regulate marijuana.

It is not often that we have a chance to end a war and change history. We have that opportunity now.

Let’s send a message to the world and say loud and clear: NO MORE DRUG WAR!

Tony Newman is the director of media relations at the Drug Policy Alliance (www.drugpolicy.org)

This piece first appeared in the Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tony-newman/15-minutes-of-your-time_b_6070246.html

Source: www.drugpolicy.org