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Drug Reformers Go Hollywood -- Free Public Forum, Sunday 5/17, 11:30am

Drug Policy Foundation press release; for more information contact:

        Cynthia Cotts at (212) 887-0685

        Dave Fratello or Rob Stewart at (202) 537-5005

Actor Dreyfuss to Host Panel of Drug Experts, Hundreds from Entertainment Industry to Attend

Los Angeles, July 17 -- Hollywood is asking a revolutionary question: Is drug prohibition a colossal failure, just like alcohol prohibition was in the 1920s? Prohibition is the policy that relies on law enforcement to control drug abuse.

Today in Beverly Hills, actor Richard Dreyfuss will moderate a public forum called "Prohibition, the Sequel?" The forum will introduce Gustavo de Greiff, the Prosecutor General of Colombia, and a panel of experts who believe it's time to start treating drug abuse as a public health problem. Hundreds of guests from the entertainment industry are expected, including actos Michael Douglas, Dustin Hoffman and Ron Silver.

This two-hour presentation is a unique opportunity for celebrities, CEOs and City Hall officials to meet representatives of the Drug Policy Foundation (DPF), a nonprofit group based in Washington, DC, and New York. Since 1986, DPF has been educating citizens and public officials about alternatives to the drug war.

Two weeks ago, DPF received a major commitment from philanthropist George Soros, who pledged $3 million for operational sunds and $3 million for a grant program to promote innovative drug treatment strategies in U.S. cities. Past DPF donors include record producer David Geffen, philanthropists Beverly and Max Palevsky and the Grateful Dead's Rex Foundation.

"Prohibition, the Sequel?" will feature DPF's new executive director, David C. Condliffe, who was New York City's director of drug policy under former mayor David Dinkins.

Condliffe said, "Nobody thinks the current policy is working. It's time to break the taboo that surrounds this issue and start talking about practical alternatives."

Joining Condliffe on the panel are Judge James Gray of the Superior Court of Orange County, Calif.; Mike Gray, author of the forthcoming book "Lawyers, Guns and Money"; Ethan Nadelmann, director of the Lindesmith Center in New York; and Marsha Rosenbaum, principal investigator at the Institute for Scientific Analysis in San Francisco.

the title of the forum is intended to conjure historical memories. In the early 1930s, the U.S. government repealed alcohol prohibition after a turnaround in public opinion. A few short years after the Depression set in, the American people repealed prohibition because they recognized that it was a costly social experiment, one which escalated crime and corruption without decreasing the demand for alcohol.

In the 1990s, prominent judges, doctors and public officials are drawing a parallel between alcohol prohibition and drug prohibition. They say that after spending $150 billion on the drug war in the last decade, taxpayers are left with a social disaster: Federal prisons overflowing with nonviolent drug offenders; A generation of African-Americans trapped in the criminal justice system; Hard-core addicts huddled in the inner cities, spreading AIDS and tuberculosis to their loved ones; And an obscenely profitable black market in heroin and cocaine, which allows traffickers to spread violence and corruption worldwide.

"Prohibition, the Sequel?" is being co-sponsored by Town Hall and Show Coalition. Town Hall has been staging issue-oriented forums fot the Los Angeles business community for 57 years, and Show Coalition works to educate the entertainment industry about political issues.

Mark Gill, who is organizing the event for Show Coalition, said, "Drugs are one of the most explosive, emotional issues around. We want to bring the debate to a much larger audience."


WHERE: Writers Guild Theatre, 135 S. Doheny, Beverly Hills

WHEN: Sunday, July 17, 1994, 11:30 am to 1:30 pm.

The event is free, and tickets must be reserved in advance through Show Coalition, (310) 444-8380.

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