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A Guide to the Drug-Legalization Movement





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Ethan Nadelmann, Ph.D.




The Lindesmith Center-Drug Policy Foundation

New York
925 9th Ave
New York, NY 10019
(212) 548-0695ph
(212) 548-4677fx

Washington, DC
4455 Conn Ave, NW
Wash, DC 20008
(202) 537-5005ph
(202) 537-3007

San Francisco
2233 Lombard St
San Fran, CA 94123
(415) 921-4987ph
(415) 921-1912fx

Legal Affairs
717 Washington Street
Oakland CA 94607
(510) 208-7711ph
(510) 208-7722fx

New Mexico
1322 Paseo de Peralta
Santa Fe, NM 87501
(505) 983-3277ph
(505) 983-3278fx

1225 8th Street, Suite 570
Sacramento,CA 95814
(916) 444-3751ph
(916) 444-3802fx

Research and Policy Reform Center
(501(c)(4) affiliate of the Lindesmith Center-Drug Policy Foundation)
1201 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Suite 300
Washington, DC 20004

Executive Director

NORML Advisory Board, 1984
DPF Advisory Board, 1989
DPF Advisory Board, 1993
DPF Board of Directors, 1994
DPF Board of Directors, 1995
DPF Board of Directors, 1996
DPF Board of Directors, 1997




Ethan Nadelmann founded The Lindesmith Center in 1994 with the philanthropic support of George Soros. He now serves as executive director of The Lindesmith Center-Drug Policy Foundation. The two organizations merged July 2000.


On Legalization
On Harm Reduction
On Heroin Maintenance

On Legalization

"'So what you're saying is, you want to legalize drugs, right?' That's the first question I'm typically asked when I start talking about drug policy reform. My short answer is, ‘No, that's not what I'm saying. Legalize marijuana? Yes, I think we need to head in that direction. But no, I'm not suggesting we make heroin and cocaine available the way we do alcohol and cigarettes.'"
Source: "Seeking Peace in the War on Drugs," Ethan Nadelmann, Utne Reader Sep/Oct 2001, Issue: 107.

"The best answer is to move slowly but firmly to dismantle the edifice of enforcement. Start with the possession and sale of cannabis and amphetamines, and experiment with different strategies. . .Move on to hard drugs, sold through licensed outlets. These might be pharmacies or, suggests Ethan Nadelmann, director of the Lindesmith Centre, mail-order distributors. That, after all, is how a growing number of people in America acquire prescription drugs, including some that are not licensed for use in their country. Individual states could decide whether to continue to prohibit public sale. Removing the ban on possession would make it easier to regulate drug quality, to treat the health effects of overuse, and to punish drug-users only if they commit crimes against people or property."
Source: "Set it Free: The Case For Legalisation Is Difficult, But The Case Against Is Worse," The Economist, July 26, 2001.

"On the legal front, Mr. Nadelmann advocates legalizing marijuana. He is evasive about cocaine and heroin. ‘We don't have a position on that,' he said. ‘There are huge fears associated with this possibility,' he added, acknowledging that selling crack in corner drugstores might not go down well with most Americans".
Source: "Rabbi's Son Seeks Truce in America's War on Drugs," Forward, June 1, 2001.

The war on drugs is really a war on people - on anyone who uses or grows or makes or sells a forbidden drug. It essentially consists of two elements: the predominant role of criminalization of all things having to do with marijuana, cocaine, heroin, Ecstasy and other prohibited drugs and the presumption that abstinence - coerced if necessary - is the only permissible relationship with these drugs. It's that combination that ultimately makes this war unwinnable.
Source: "An Unwinnable War on Drugs," Ethan A. Nadelmann, New York Times, April 26, 2001.

"Medical marijuana is the compassion cover for legalization. Ethan Nadelmann, a spokesman for George Soros (a billionaire backer of the California initiative), has stated: ‘Ultimately our drug policy should be based upon one very simple notion, that people should not be discriminated against based upon the substance they consume.'"
Source: "If Marijuana is Medicine, Dr. Kevorkian Wrote the Prescription," Don Feder, Boston Herald, April 2, 2001.

On Decriminalization

On Harm Reduction

"‘Let's stop pretending we want a drug-free society!' Mr. Nadelmann declared, waving his arms for emphasis. ‘Drugs are here to stay. Instead of waging a lost war and brandishing prohibition as the solution, we need to focus on a harm-reduction approach and helping drug users and addicts getting their lives together.'

"By harm reduction, he means treatment. Two-thirds of the government's $19.2 billion annual drug budget is spent for interdiction and enforcement. Estimates are that nearly one-half of addicts needing treatment can't get it for lack of funds.

"He also wants job training, literacy courses and housing assistance for addicts, whether or not they discontinue drug use."
Source: "Rabbi's Son Seeks Truce in America's War on Drugs," Forward, June 1, 2001.

"Indeed, as one quoted exponent of the movement, Ethan Nadelmann, acknowledges: ‘There never has been a drug-free society. We must learn how to live with drugs so they cause the least possible harm and the best possible good.'"
Source: "Drug War's Critics Don't Excuse Abuse," Northwest Florida News, June 16, 2001.

On Heroin Maintenance


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