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December 2007
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Drug Policy Conference – Closing Plenary

Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan – conservative mayor publicly supporting drug policy reform. He is a quadriplegic (from a skiing accident).

“I consider this the most important social issue of our time”

– Vancouver had the first methadone program in the world.
– Vancouver has the only supervised injection site on the continent.
– One of two cities in North America that has heroin assisted treatment.
He brought up the analogy between physical disability and drug addiction.
Physical disability used to be considered a moral issue. People burned at the stake, ostracized, blamed, etc. Because somebody said “I am not sick. I’m disabled,” Sam is now able to be mayor.
So he then talked about someone named Robert who used drugs.
Both Mayor Sam, who was skiing, and Robert, who was doing drugs, were engaging in risky behavior. Sam benefitted from the medical system. Robert went to jail.
That’s wrong.
– If we can provide drug maintenance to the addicts in Vancouver, we’ll take $50 million out of the pockets of organized crime.
[When he finished his speech, he got a standing ovation.]
A number of other speakers, all inspiring in different ways. This was an active effort to challenge and invigorate the audience to go out and make a difference.
Maria Lucia Karam (retired judge from Brazil)

“My visit has reinforced my belief that the United States is not just its government. We can count on the people of the United States to help us in our struggle to put an end to the war on drugs. I believe this war on drugs will surely come to an end.
I believe one day the entire criminal justice system will be abolished.
The national laws on drugs are a way to totalitarianism.”

Dimitri Mobengo Mugianis
– This is a war. I am so sick of their wars.
– Harm reduction is great. But is not enough. Maybe it’s time for harm re-direction. Test our mettle. We need to think – what would I have done in World War II if I lived in Germany?
– We need to put our bodies on the line and win this thing, because there is so much other stuff we need to do.
– We’re going to win this one.
– Another freedom summer is necessary. This is slavery.
The session ended with a New Orleans band leading the group out onto Bourbon Street for a Drug Policy Reform parade. Unfortunately, they got ahead of me and I didn’t get pictures. But here’s a picture of me in front of the hotel, taken by Michael Jourdan.

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