“Treating Drug Abuse as a Public Health Issue, Not a Crime” Forum and Panel Discussion in Chicago on Monday (8/20)

Saturday, August 18th, 2012

From the Chicago Consortium for Community Engagement:

Title: Treating Drug Abuse as a Public Health Issue, Not a Crime
Location: John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County 1901 W. Harrison Street, Chicago, IL (Cafeteria: Lower Level)
Description: Treating Drug Abuse as a Public Health Issue, Not a Crime Forum and Panel Discussion

When & Where
Monday, August 20, 2012, 5:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County
1901 W. Harrison Street, Chicago, Il (Cafeteria: Lower Level)
(Free parking in the hospital garage at Polk and Wood St. – enter at Polk St. entrance)

The epidemic of mass incarceration in America has resulted in what Professor Michelle Alexander describes in her book, The New Jim Crow, as a permanent under class or
“caste” of second class citizens. Over half of the more than 2.3 million prisoners in the U.S. are there as a result of drug convictions, 80% for drug use and possession.
This event will explore what has been learned since the declaration of the “War on Drugs,” examining the political framework, the challenges to our community, and
critically, alternatives to the current criminalization of those with drug addictions.

You should attend if you are:
◊ A medical professional with a desire to understand the link between the drug war and the issue of mass incarceration and ways to begin to reverse this humanitarian disaster
◊ A public servant who wants to see new possibilities amidst the challenges of drug abuse in our communities
◊ A community activist/organizer who is looking to grow your understanding of the systemic challenges, and build alliances with like-minded organizations
◊ A citizen who believes in a just society and are willing to work for it

5:30 p.m – 6:00 p.m – Registration & Refreshments
6:00 p.m. – Panel Discussion and Q&A: Welcome by the Honorable Toni Preckwinkle,
Cook County Board President; Moderated by Dr. Terry Mason, CMO, CCHHS; Keynote by Ethan Nadelmann, J.D., Ph.D., Exec. Dir., Drug Policy Alliance. Panelists: Major Neill Franklin, Exec. Dir., Law Enforcement Against Prohibition; Dr. Kameron Matthews, M.D., J.D., physician, Cook County Jail; Pamela Rodriguez, Illinois President, Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities (TASC); and Tio Hardiman, Illinois Director, CeaseFire.

Registration is helpful, though not mandatory: Call 773-966-1500
x2354 or email, prison@trinitychicago.org, with your name, telephone number and email address. Questions? Contact Patricia Simples, M.D. 312-864-7513.
Start Time: 17:30
Date: 2012-08-20
End Time: 20:00

This sounds like an all-star panel featuring some of the most serious speakers in drug policy reform. As Tyler Cowen might say, this is “self-recommending”.

Hat Tip: Shaleen Title

Eapen Thampy


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14 Responses to ““Treating Drug Abuse as a Public Health Issue, Not a Crime” Forum and Panel Discussion in Chicago on Monday (8/20)”

  1. #1 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 

    I have a radical idea; why don’t we only treat as crimes acts that damage property or people (other than the person acting). Want to turn your brain into rhinoceros custard? Fine. Just don’t steal to do it, or we jail you for theft. Want to take something that turns you into a werewolf? We don’t care, unless you hurt somebody other than yourself.

    It isn’t even necessarily a public health issue. It simply is a matter of treating people as criminals before they’ve done any harm to anyone but themselves.

  2. #2 |  jb | 

    I object to the Public Health characterization. Measles is a Public Health issue. Drug abuse is a private health issue.

  3. #3 |  markm | 

    jb: Drug abuse is a private health issue except when the drug in question often causes people under its influence to go looking for a fight, or to drive recklessly and endanger others. Oh wait, that’s one of the drugs that is legal for any adult, no prescription required…

  4. #4 |  Lawman_45 | 

    What is Tio Hardiman, Illinois Director, CeaseFire doing on this panel?. It’s not about humans abusing guns (which is not the way Ceasefire approaches the issue of drug-induced violence, anyway) but about treating DRUG abuse. Guns are not pathogens. There is no cause-effect relationship between illness and a piece of metal.

    Between chemicals INSIDE the body, yes. Between objects OUTSIDE the body, no.

    For example, being surrounded by gold bars doesn’t make a human being greedy. Many greedy people have no assets, something else is the cause of the behavior. Other factors are at work.

  5. #5 |  Shaleen | 

    As long as drugs remain illegal, the illicit drug market will be closely connected with violence, and yes, guns. Glad to see Tio Hardiman will be weighing on this panel. Chicago has a serious problem that we need to address together, as a community.

  6. #6 |  Lawmam_45 | 

    OK Shaleen. Then why didn’t they invite a representative of the NRA or of the Illinois State Rifle Association? Afraid to hear the other side of the story? Or are the 50% of Americans who own (or wish to own in Chicago) not part of the community. It’s hard to make progress when you attack that many innocent people as a result of your solution. If gun control worked, Chicago and Washington DC would be the safest cities in America, right now, not in some imaginary future.

    Did you read the front page story of the August 18 Wall Street Journal? Black on Black VIOLENCE is cultural. That article, reporting on REALLY serious efforts to reduce violence, did not once mention “gun control.” They were looking for solutions, not window dressing.

    Ceasefire won’t bring anything new to the table. Abe Lincoln used to tell about the man who, like Ceasefire, complained that he’d cut the board 3 times and it was still too short. Rehashing 40 year’s of failed tactics won’t bring progress.

  7. #7 |  Nicolas | 

    Of course drug use is not a “public health” issue. It is not even a personal health issue unless physiologic harm results from usage.

    Drug use is no more a “public health” matter than is eating cake, though eating too much might cause diabetes. It is no more a “public health” matter than is driving a car, although thousands die in car accidents. It is no more a “public health” matter than is shooting a gun, though shooting at someone can result in severe injury or death. It is no more a “public health” matter than is sexual intercourse, though intercourse can spread disease and death.

    Forced drug “treatment” is an especially pernicious punishment in that it is presented as being in the interest of the person being punished. It is dishonest and no less than a form of torture.

    As Thomas Szasz has proposed, there should be a wall of separation between government and medicine.

  8. #8 |  Mattocracy | 

    What Nicolas said. Public Health Issues are still being addressed by gov’t busybodies. It’s substituting one kind of doom for another.

  9. #9 |  Shaleen | 

    I agree with Nicolas about forced drug treatment. Totally coercive, at best wasteful and at worst inhumane, and also used to inflate numbers of “addicts” for various dishonest purposes. It will be interesting to see if that comes up at the panel. But drug abuse is absolutely a public health issue.

    Lawmam, thank you for the long argument strangely unrelated to anything I said, but I have zero interest in arguing gun control laws with you. I personally do not believe gun control is an effective solution to violence. Nor do I agree with every single person on the panel on every single issue, but that wouldn’t be my criteria for setting up a panel. This is a dialogue about drug abuse and the illicit drug market, and I think it’s a great line-up of people with various aspects of relevant expertise on the subject.

  10. #10 |  Other Sean | 

    What you all said, plus however high I can count.

    There’s an obvious temptation for libertarians to sing along with this public health nonsense, because hey, it gets us a few new allies (never mind that they mostly seem to be creepy left-paternalists who want to tax fat and classify any behavior they don’t like as a disease). And let’s face it, terms like “medical use”, “decriminalize”, “harm-reduction” and “public health issue”, sound a whole lot better when you’re trying to tell your mother-in-law what you think of that Ron Paul guy.

    But it’s all a huge mistake. Everyone knows what we’re after anyway. We’re already being accused of supporting black tar on demand for 8th graders; it gains us nothing to sound like mealy-mouthed bullshit artists in the bargain.

    What’s the best case scenario with this strategy? Maybe the subterfuge of using all these weasel words gains us 5-7 points in some marijuana law poll, and maybe we even get a “possession under” law passed in a few big cities, a couple years sooner than we otherwise would have. Wow. Hear the trembling hoof-beats of revolution on the march.

    And here’s everything we have to sell out, just to get that:

    1) We only make progress on weed; in every other area, our “allies” decide the substance in question is “too dangerous” and must be kept firmly in the control of doctors, who in turn will be closely watched by DEA agents. The difference is, now this is being done with our support and approval.

    2) Even weed only becomes effectively legal for middle class adults and white kids who can’t talk pretty during a car stop, because…

    3) Weed law will become for poor folks and black kids what traffic law is today: a complex maze of onerous regulations and catastrophic fines, punctuated by occasional visits to the lock-up and humiliating lectures from the bench. This time, of course, we will add the indignity of “case workers” and “addiction counselors” who collect a little rent with each trip to the dispensary.

    4) Worst of all, we’ll have given up any argument that drug use is an individual right, and a source of harmless recreation for millions.

    It’s not worth it…not at all.

  11. #11 |  Leon Wolfeson | 

    Harmless, right. It’s typical privilege speaking, ignoring the society you don’t believe exists.

    There’s a known, working harm-minimization model – Portugal. I’ve yet to hear any even slightly convincing arguments against implementing it.

  12. #12 |  Leon Wolfeson | 

    @4 – So temptation doesn’t exist. Right.

    @6 – Ah yes “the inferior race is so culturally”.

  13. #13 |  Other Sean | 

    What’s that, Leon…I had to send my man Saunders out to fetch a replacement for my ratcatcher (it being still August, you know). It happens that I ruined the damn thing after being thrown clear of a brush fence this morning.

    You were saying something about Portugal. What are the summer homes like there?

  14. #14 |  Russ 2000 | 

    Obamacare will essentially make illness a crime anyway so I don’t see any good coming out of this in reality.