DRCNetDrug Reform Coordination Network


Lawmakers addicted to repression

In a pre-election, addicted frenzy, Republicans and Democrats alike are stampeding to enact mindless new drug war legislation that will escalate penalties and prison populations to unprecedented levels. The Clinton Administration's new drug strategy calls for sharply increased mandatory minimum sentences for low-level methamphetamine and powder cocaine offenses, and lawmakers from both parties have introduced legislation to do all that and more. We need your help now more than ever to hold back the tide of repression. Please write your U.S. Representative and your two Senators and tell them you are opposed to any increases in drug penalties, and that you specifically oppose to the following bills:

S. 1612 Sponsored by Sen. Jesse Helms (R-NC), creates a 10-year mandatory minimum sentence for firearm possession (even legal possession) while in commission of a felony. DRCNet takes no position on gun policy except where it has bearing on drug policy. We oppose this bill because nonviolent drug offenders who happen to also own a firearm, even legally registered, even if it is entirely inaccessible and played no role in the offense, would be subject to the mandatory minimum. For example, one can grow a small quantity of marijuana in one's home, and have a legally registered gun packed away in a closet or car trunk, and be subject to the mandatory minimum. This bill seeks to circumvent a recent Supreme Court decision that struck down application of existing penalties in that way.

S. 1607 Sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), increases mandatory minimum penalties for prohibited possession and distribution of methamphetamine precursor chemicals, including ephedrine, pseudophedrine, iodine, red phosphorus and hydrochloric gas, and possession and manufacture of equipment use to manufacture methamphetamine.

H.R. 3067 Sponsored by Rep. Vic Fazio (D-CA), companion bill to S. 1607.

S. 1398 Sponsored by Sen. John Breaux (D-LA), raises mandatory minimum penalties for powder cocaine to the level of crack cocaine (e.g. 5 years for 5 grams). (Last year the US Sentencing Commission recommended going the other direction and lowering crack cocaine penalties to match powder cocaine penalties.)

H.R. 3194 Sponsored by Rep. Christopher Shays (R-CT), companion bill to S. 1398.

H.R. 3154 Sponsored by Rep. Thomas Barrett (D-WI), companion bill to S. 1398.

You can call your Representative and your two Senators (or find out who they are) through the Congressional Switchboard, (202) 224-3121. You can write them at:

The Honorable {your Rep/Senator} US House of Representatives/US Senate Washington, DC 20515/20510

Please also tell President Clinton you oppose his drug war escalation:
President Bill Clinton,
The White House,
1600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW,
Washington, DC 20500,
(202) 456-1111,
(202) 456-2461 (fax).


Your Name

Your Address                                                                            Date

The Honorable {your Rep/Senator}
US House of Representatives/US Senate
Washington, DC 20515/20510

Dear _____:

I am writing to ask you to oppose any legislation that would increase penalties for drug offenses. I oppose the War on Drugs because it is ineffective, generates violence, makes drugs more harmful, and ruins lives. We have the highest incarceration rate in the entire world, and it has to stop.

Specifically, I ask you to vote and speak against the following bills, should they come to your attention in committee or on the floor:

S. 1607 and H.R. 3067, to create new offenses and mandatory minimum sentences for methamphetamine and its precursor chemicals, including the commonly-used medicines ephedrine and pseudophedrine;

S. 1398, H.R. 3194 and H.R. 3154, to increase mandatory minimum sentences for powder cocaine; and

S. 1612, to create and raise mandatory minimum sentences for firearm possession -- even of legally registered firearms -- when in commission of a felony, like growing marijuana, even if the firearm has nothing to do with the offense, even if it is packed away in a drawer, closet or trunk. The Supreme Court ruled that existing penalties could not be applied in this way, and they were right.

I urge you to remember that people's lives are at stake, and to avoid participating in the disgraceful, election-year "tough on crime" masquerade taking place.


Your Name

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