Note: Inclusion on these pages does not imply support for, or association with Transform Drug Policy Foundation (unless specified) and Transform does not automatically endorse all views expressed here. Transform has no affiliations to any religious groups.UK
Reverend Jesse Jackson American civil rights activist and Baptist minister
Interfaith Drug Policy Initiative (USA) signed by:
Rethinking Plan Colombia: NATIONAL RELIGIOUS LEADERS SHARE CONCERNS ON US POLICY TOWARD COLOMBIA letter addressed to US presidential candidates October 11 2004, signed by:
Rev. Cheryl Jack Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Durham, Ontario, Canada
"We support the Runciman Inquiry's recommendations on pages 115-116 of their report that "the possession of cannabis should not be an imprisonable offence." (Para 77 ii). We also wish to support some of the cogent argument of Peter Lilley MP in his Audenshaw Paper 193, where he says that inebriation is regarded as a sin because it can lead to more serious wrongdoing. Alcohol inebriation has long been associated with violence in some cases, and it is possible that cannabis abuse could sometimes have harmful effects. However that is a matter for personal responsibility, guided by moral imperatives. Abuse, which is a sin, is not necessarily a crime: adultery is wrong, but it is not a crime. Murder is both a sin and a crime, by definition. We believe that it is time to decriminalise the possession of cannabis, for the following reasons. It leads to disrespect for the law among young people; it is enforced in a random manner; there is no link between cannabis and the use of hard drugs except for a tiny minority, which is a point Dr Leech has repeatedly made (Drugs and The Church page 17). Indeed the criminalisation of cannabis makes the association with hard drugs perversely more likely. Legislation is being used here to govern morality, and the indication is that it sets up greater problems in the future. We do take seriously the point that young people may be encouraged to use cannabis more heavily if this legislative change takes place, and we believe that even greater drug education is necessary in schools and with young people. We therefore support the Runciman Inquiry on the question of decriminalisation."
Source: from written submission to the Home Affairs Select Committee inquiry 'The Government's Drug Policy: is it Working?' 2001
Rowan Williams (then Bishop of Monmouth) Archbishop of Canterbury
"Persisting in our current policies will only result in more drug abuse, more empowerment of drug markets and criminals, and more disease and suffering. Too often those who call for open debate, rigorous analysis of current policies, and serious consideration of alternatives are accused of "surrendering." But the true surrender is when fear and inertia combine to shut off debate, suppress critical analysis, and dismiss all alternatives to current policies. Mr. Secretary General, we appeal to you to initiate a truly open and honest dialogue regarding the future of global drug control policies - one in which fear, prejudice and punitive prohibitions yield to common sense, science, public health and human rights"
“The legalislation of all drugs ought to be discussed rather than being completely dismissed as it currently is…We also need to change the way we respond to drug use and drug abuse, the appropriate response is not to introduce the criminal justice system and to jail people who use drugs.”
Source: Quoted in Dublin People , Tuesday 11 th November 2008
"We must use the 40th anniversary of a failed war to call that war into question. What if we treated drug addiction like alcohol addiction as a public health problem? Marijuana accounts for one-half of all drug arrests in the U.S.; decriminalizing it would save millions that could be used to treat addicts rather than arrest kids. Alternatives to incarceration should be preferred for those who pose no threat to others.
Harsh mandatory and minimum sentences should be repealed. Why not take drug addiction out of the criminal justice system and treat it in the public health system? It surely would be better to spend the money not on locking people up, but on clinics that might treat their illnesses.
Ending the “War on Drugs” doesn’t mean we abandon the effort to regulate them, to teach children of their dangers, or to treat those who are hooked.
But it does mean we don’t waste millions more lives and billions more dollars on a war that cannot be won."Source: The Chicago Sun-Times, "It’s time to end dismally failed 'war on drugs'"
.- This week, Archbishop Jose Luis Chavez Botello of Antequera-Oaxaca, Mexico stated that in the country’s discussion on the legalization of drugs, the most qualified voices must be heard and the truth must prevail.
“Serious debate discovers serious gaps, weaknesses, irresponsibility and harm both in persons, the family and in society. It also expands viewpoints to include other alternatives and actions,” the archbishop said.
For this reason, he called for qualified voices to be heard and to avoid having a caricature of a debate in which powerful individuals, groups or organizations seek their own interests, “without regard for the harm they cause others or society itself.”
He added that “serious debate” is a “necessary tool for informing, educating and fostering responsible participation in society.” Also, he said a debate on the legalization of drugs “would be an important aid so that those who must make decisions can stand on solid ground and have the sufficient means to make appropriate decisions and take appropriate actions.”
Civil Rights Religious Leaders Drug War Pronouncement, February 15, 2003
"We who have participated in the civil rights movement know the power of creative, persistent, nonviolent resistance. We are committed to translating the lessons we have learned into invitations for action now, believing it is urgent to redress the grievances and correct the injustices of our present drug laws. We believe the war on drugs is a continuation of historic institutional racism, aimed at enriching those in power and impoverishing communities of color. The drug war is a war against the American people, particularly those who are young, poor, and people of color. In the words of William Douglas, it is “a slavery unwilling to die.”
In the words of political economist John Flateau: “Metaphorically, the criminal justice pipeline is like a slave ship, transporting human cargo along interstate triangular trade routes from Black and Brown communities, through the middle passage of police precincts, holding pens, detention centers and courtrooms; to downstate jails or upstate prisons; back to communities as unrehabilitated escapees; and back to prison or jail in a vicious recidivist cycle.” The alarming escalation of our prison population is a direct result of national drug policy. The war on drugs continues to write off millions of human beings and squander urgently needed resources that might be invested in education, housing, public health and economic development.
Interfaith Drug Policy Initiative (US)
the quote below is taken from 'Eight Steps to Effectively Controlling Drug Abuse & The Drug Market' a policy initiative of the IDPI. The document has been signed by:
National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA
"For decades the United States has been fighting a losing war against drugs. While budgets have increased dramatically over the last two decades and drug-related incarcerations consistently reach new records, drug problems worsen. Adolescent drug abuse is increasing, overdose deaths are at record levels, heroin and cocaine are cheaper, more pure and more available, and health problems related to drugs, especially the spread of HIV/AIDS, are mounting, while an expensive and ineffective international counter narcotics policy entails growing human rights and environmental costs. Drug problems can be reduced at less cost if we change course and adopt strategies that work. At a time when the federal budget is limited programs need to re-evaluated and funding needs to go to programs that work. We need new ideas to save lives, we can't afford to continue to be wrong.
Rethinking Plan Colombia: NATIONAL RELIGIOUS LEADERS SHARE CONCERNS ON US POLICY TOWARD COLOMBIA
from a letter addressed to US presidential candidates October 11 2004, signitories below:
Rev. John L. McCullough, Executive Director and CEO Church World Service
"As representatives of a broad range of U.S. churches and faith communities we are calling upon you as a presidential candidate to commit to a serious reassessment of current U.S. policy towards Colombia. We believe it is time to envision a new strategy to respond to the needs of both nations and to work for the peace and security of our respective peoples."
"we respectfully urge you to include the following recommendations in a new vision for U.S. policy towards Colombia:.....
"III. Humane drug policies that meet the needs of those most directly impacted.
We share a deep concern about the consumption and production of illicit drugs. Billions of dollars have been spent on fumigation and interdiction yet, drug consumption continues unabated in our communities, drug offenses have exploded the prison populations, and treatment programs go under funded. This approach is not working.
The churches and faith communities in the U.S. and Colombia are painfully aware of the devastation of drugs in the lives of individuals, families and our communities. We see the end results every day and minister to affected families. It is precisely because we are so well versed in the human costs of the drug crisis that we are well placed to call for effective drug policies that will have lasting impact in all of our communities.
As the Office of National Drug Control Policy's January 2004 Pulse Check Study of drug abuse in 25 U.S. cities states: powder and crack cocaine remains readily available and there are no clear positive trends on price and purity. As church organizations, we do not claim expertise on the best demand reduction strategies, but we urge you to shift the focus of current drug policy.
We call for increased drug treatment programs and realistic, pragmatic prevention strategies as a much more sustainable and humane way to achieve the goal of reducing drug abuse in the United States.
Thank you for your attention to the great courage and great needs of our Colombian brothers and sisters. We hope to work with you as we seek durable solutions for all affected communities."
The General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association (US)
passed the "Alternatives to the War on Drugs" Statement of Conscience on June 22, 2002.
Father John Clifton Marquis, S.T.
"The United States' federal, state, county and city governments have spent the last 50 years writing and enacting antidrug laws with increasingly severe punishments for offenders. These laws are false gods promising a salvation they cannot produce. Every year, they demand more adoration from their devotees: more time, more money, more people, more resources. And yet, no matter how punitive the sanctions (including the death penalty itself), the drug-providing business has only escalated; indeed ballooned. This is simple, historical fact.
"Legalizing all drugs in the United States would have one immediate and dramatic effect: it would render them cheap. In today's market, a kilogram of illegal heroin or illegal cocaine has a street value of several million dollars. A kilogram of illegal marijuana has a street value of about a quarter million dollars. A kilogram of legal cocaine would be worth perhaps a couple hundred dollars and a kilogram of legal marijuana would be price with expensive tobacco. As long as drugs are illegal, the obscenity of the pricing structure will perdure. Legal drugs do not drug lords make. Legal drugs eradicate the reason for violence to control the trade."
Rev. Cheryl Jack Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Durham, Ontario, Canada
"The reality is that the war on drugs is not being won. The reality is that people keep bringing drugs into Canada through clandestine means, people continue to buy these drugs at exorbitant prices hoping that they won't get caught in the process. And so the cycle continues…and the dealers get rich, the people caught with drugs are criminalized and could be thrown in jail for six months to life depending on the amount they are caught with and whether the drug was distributed or only possessed.
Perhaps the question we need to ask ourselves this morning is simply this: "What are the best means to regulate the distribution and consumption of the great variety of psychoactive substances available today and in the foreseeable future? "
"It seems to me that many, if not most people in Canada think that if you make drugs legal, you're making a statement to the effect that we're going soft on criminals. Personally, I don't believe this to be the case and I'll tell you why. I think that, in reality, a society which insists on criminalizing drugs is a society that guarantees that absolute power and wealth remain in the hands of the gangs and pushers.
If drugs were legalized, producers would be licensed, and taxed and sales permitted only through licensed establishments and government control boards. Of course, as in the case of alcohol and tobacco, people under eighteen would not be served. Products would be labelled so consumers would know precisely what they were buying. Government. inspectors would test to ensure that people were not buying contaminated goods. Canadians would have an orderly sales and regulatory system mirroring that for alcohol. It would be safe, efficient and most importantly free of criminal violence.
This wouldn't be easy. It couldn't be accomplished overnight. There are many questions to consider."
Reverend Arnold W. Howard Enon Baptist Church in Baltimore, Maryland
"Jesus said, you judge a tree by the fruit it bears. It is no surprise that our punitive approach to drug abuse has bared the fruit of chaos on our streets, insanity in our classrooms, and delusion in the halls of Congress. As if drugs aren't a hard enough problem, we don't need our drug laws ruining lives, too. Any policy based on fear, retribution, demonization, and marginalization will beget ill results. We become the embodiment of that which we hate."
For fear of moral outrage, there has been an unspoken rule that drug laws must keep getting harsher and more punitive, regardless of the results of such policies. It's only fitting that faith groups united or commitment to reducing drug abuse and the hare associated with it, are the ones calling for a drastic shift toward policies that seek to heal, not punish. I pray that we will all gain the courage to challenge our retributive desires and chary a new course toward healing, compassion and love."
Professor Walter Wink Professor of Biblical Interpretation at Auburn Theological Seminary in New York City
"The Quaker commitment to non-violence has direct implications for the United States' failed drug war. It is a spiritual law that we become what we hate. Jesus articulated this law in the Sermon on the Mount when he admonished, “Do not react violently to the one who is evil” (Scholars' Version). The sense is clear: do not resist evil by violent means; do not let evil set the terms of your response. Applied to the drug issue, this means, “Do not resist drugs by violent means.”
"I am not advocating giving up the war on drugs because we can't win. I'm saying that we lost because we let drugs dictate the means we used to oppose them. We have to break out of the spiral of mimetic violence. The only way to do so is to ruin the world market price of drugs by legalizing them. We have to repeal this failed second Prohibition. The moment the price of drugs plummets, drug profits will collapse—and with them, the drug empires.
"No one wants to live in a country overrun with drugs, but we already do. We should at the very least commit ourselves to a policy of “harm reduction.” We can not stop drug violence with state violence. Addicts will be healed by care and compassion, not condemnation. Dealers will be curbed by a ruined world drug market, not by enforcement that simply escalates the profitability of drugs. A nonviolent, nonreactive, creative approach is needed that lets the drug empire collapse of its own deadly weight.