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November 2003
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Horrible new bill to be proposed by Mark Souder

This critical alert from Drug Policy Alliance (Thanks to Richard Lake).

Now, just before Congress goes out of session, one of the country’s harshest drug war extremists, Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN), is about to introduce some of the scariest legislation we’ve seen this year.
Rep. Souder’s bill increases penalties for many drug offenses and takes away the right of judges to show mercy when it’s appropriate. The bill also enacts new draconian penalties that could sentence compassionate Americans that grow and provide medical marijuana to decades in federal prison.
Although it’s titled the ‘Drug Sentencing Reform Act,’ this dangerous bill is all sentencing and no reform. It will destroy the lives of thousands more non-violent Americans.
We know that Rep. Souder wants to introduce his bill within the next couple of weeks and is asking for co-sponsorship from other Representatives. Make sure your Representative doesn’t support this bill. Call NOW and tell your Representative not to co-sponsor Rep. Souder’s Drug Sentencing Reform Act because it contains no reform and ties the hands of judges.
Action to Take:
CALL YOUR REPRESENTATIVE NOW!
To reach your representative by phone, call the US Capitol Switchboard at 1-800-839-5276 or call your representative’s office directly by looking up the phone number here.
Tell your Representative: “I’m a constituent and I’m calling to urge Rep. [Name] not to co-sponsor Rep. Souder’s Drug Sentencing Reform Act, which he is about to introduce. The Drug Sentencing Reform Act contains no reform and ties the hands of judges. It will punish nonviolent Americans and compassionate citizens that provide patients with medical marijuana. I would like Rep. [Name] to tell me where s/he stands on this bill. S/he can send a letter to me at [Address] or an e-mail to [Address]. Thank you for your time.”
More Information:
The so-called Drug Sentencing Reform Act has yet to be introduced, but it will do the following:
** Tie the hands of judges by making it harder for them to reduce sentences for non-violent drug offenders. (It does this by expanding the so-called ‘Feeney Amendment’ to apply to drug offenses). This will mean longer sentences for non-violent offenses, with taxpayers like you picking up the cost!
** Mandates that most people on parole, probation or supervised release be subjected to random drug testing, even if their original offense had nothing to do with drugs. (If enacted, thousands of non-violent Americans could be sent to prison for years for smoking marijuana in the privacy of their own home and then failing a drug test.)
** Directs the U.S. Sentencing Commission to no longer allow lower sentences for non-violent drug offenders that have certain mitigating circumstances (such as being addicted to drugs) or for non-violent drug offenders that made a mistake and are otherwise good citizens.
** Enacts new draconian penalties for growing, distributing, and providing ‘high-potency’ marijuana to others, including medical marijuana – which often has a higher potency to better relieve the suffering of AIDS, Cancer, and other patients. If enacted, this provision will allow the federal government to send more medical marijuana patients and their caregivers to federal prison for years, in some cases decades.
** Read Rep. Souder’s explanation of his bill here (pdf). Our analysis is based on Souder’s explanation and our discussions with congressional staffers.

Side note: If you live in Indiana’s third congressional district, you might start thinking about getting a new representative.

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