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Support Drug Policy Reform Bills in Connecticut

In 1992, the state of Connecticut stepped onto the cutting edge of drug policy reform by decriminalizing possession of syringes without prescription, allowing injecting drug users to purchase and carry sterile needles with less fear of legal sanction, reducing transmission of HIV and paving the way for legal needle exchange programs.

This year, the Connecticut legislature is again considering more cutting edge reforms, designed to allow greater freedom in medicine and in addiction treatment, and to incorporate public health principles in drug policy overall. The stage has been set by a groundbreaking report by the Connecticut Law Revision Commission, which made a comprehensive set of recommendations for rolling back the prison state and deregulating and rationalizing other aspects of drug policy. (Check the DRCNet web site over the next few weeks for the full text of the Law Review Commission's report.)

The bills before the legislature are partial reforms. But they are positive, significant steps that will help establish a public health, harm reduction paradigm in drug policy. Once health is seen as the focus of drug policy, prohibition must ultimately fall -- because having large numbers of people buying unregulated drugs on the streets is clearly an unhealthy situation for all parties involved. We urge all supporters of drug policy reform, of human rights, and of public health, to support these bills by contacting their legislators and distributing copies of this bulletin to others. (Many of Connecticut's legislators have e-mail addresses, so this one is especially easy to fulfill.)

SB1263 -- An act concerning the medical use of marijuana. The purpose is to allow the medical use of marijuana in Connecticut. At last report, the bill was said to have a chance of getting out of committee. Messages of support should go to your own senator and to the co-chair of the Public Health Committee:

Senator Toni Harp (D) P.O. Box 9493 New Haven, CT 06534 (203) 784-0204 [email protected]

HB 6991 -- An act concerning drug policy. It is very far- reaching and progressive in regard to strategy options, recommending a comprehensive public health approach. (This is the bill to enact the recommendations of the Law Review Commission. Messages of support should be sent to your own Representative and to the chairman of the Joint Judiciary Committee:

Senator Donald E. Williams Jr. (D) P.O. Box 201 Thompson, CT 06277 (860) 928-0481 [email protected]

Also being heard by the Public Health Committee:

Support for these bills should be sent to your own senator and to Senator Toni Harp (address above). Both Chairpersons are supportive of the bills listed here. The split is along party lines.

Please oppose SB 16, a bill "to end the needle exchange program to protect people from publicly discarded dirty needles." Tell your senator that needle exchange programs decrease the number of publicly discarded needles, and that it would be immoral to end such a vital AIDS prevention program. (And while you're at it, send a special e-mail to the sponsor of the bill: Sen. Thomas Upson, [email protected].)

Please write your state Senator and Representative in support of SB 1259, SB 1260, SB 1261, SB 1263 and HB 6991, and in opposition to SB 16. The address for all Connecticut state legislators is:

Legislator's Name
Legislative Office Building
Hartford, CT 06106-1591

The numbers for legislators are:

Senate Democrats (860) 240-8600
(800) 842-1420
Senate Republicans (860) 240-8800
(800) 842-1421
House Democrats
(860) 240-850
(800) 842-1902
House Democrats
Rank and File
(860) 240-858
(800) 842-8267
House Republicans
(860) 240-8700
(800) 842-1423
House Republicans
Rank and File
(860) 240-878
(800) 842-8270
Judiciary Committee (860) 240-0530
Public Health Committee (860) 240-0560

An e-mail directory of legislators is online at http://www.ctstateu.edu/state/leg_email.html, and many of the legislators do have e-mail. Legislative and other state information is online at http://www.state.ct.us.

For further information, contact Cliff and Margaret Thornton, [email protected].

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