A forum last July 17 in Beverly Hills introduced members of LA's entertainment and business communities to the case for drug policy reform. "Prohibition, the Sequel?" featured Colombian Prosecutor General Gustavo de Greiff and the Drug Policy Foundation's new executive director, David Condliffe. Actor Richard Dreyfuss moderated the forum, which also included Judge James P. Gray of the Orange County Superior Court; Mike Gray, screenwriter (wrote original script for The China Syndrome) and author of the soon to be released book Lawyers, Guns and Money; Ethan Nadelmann, director of the Lindesmith Center in New York, formerly of Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School; Marsha Rosenbaum, principal investigator at the Institute for Scientific Analysis in San Francisco; and Mark Kleiman of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.
Dr. Condliffe, former New York City director of drug policy under Mayor Dinkins, told a sad story of an unsupervised infant that died accidentally while its mother worked as a prostitute to pay for her drug addiction. Condliffe explained that it was not drugs that caused this tragedy, but high drug prices caused by prohibition which forced the mother to prostitute herself.
De Greiff's description of attempts by the American government to discredit him drew an emotional response from members of the audience, many of whom lived through the Senator Joe McCarthy's persecution of the entertainment community during the 50s. Judge Gray called de Greiff a "hero" for taking on the legalization issue, and Mike Gray drew analogies between the crime and corruption of alcohol prohibition and our similar problems in today's drug war. Richard Dreyfuss talked about his past history with cocaine.
Many audience members left interested if not yet convinced, realizing for the first time that drug legalization is a respectable idea advocated by many respectable people. "Prohibition, the Sequel?" was co-sponsored by Town Hall and the Show Coalition, organizations which work to educate the business and entertainment communities on political issues.
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