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State's Drug Czar Declines to Debate Marijuana Use

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April 20,00
Arkansas Online
By Michael Rowett, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Arkansas' top drug enforcement official says he declined to participate in a forum on the medical use of marijuana because it's his job to enforce existing drug laws, not express his views on proposed changes.
State Drug Director Bill Hardin of Little Rock said Wednesday that the state Department of Health, not his office, is charged with addressing whether to legalize marijuana for medical uses.
Hardin said that's why he declined an invitation from the Alliance for Reform of Drug Policy in Arkansas to take part in the panel discussion to begin at 6:30 tonight at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock's Donaghey Student Center, Conference Room A.
"The governor's administration will be represented in that discussion by someone from the Health Department," Hardin said. "I'm not in a position to debate the merits of the law. I just enforce the law as it currently exists."
Dr. Richard Nugent, the state of Department Health's medical director for maternal and child health, is to participate in the forum, along with:
Fayetteville Alderman Kyle Russell, a third-year law student at the University of Fayetteville School of Law.
Denele Campbell of West Fork, president of the Alliance for Reform of Drug Policy in Arkansas, a group sponsoring an initiated act to grant people with debilitating illnesses exemption from criminal prosecution for using marijuana.
A.J. Gokcek of Fayetteville, a third-year law student at the UA-Fayetteville School of Law.
The forum will be moderated by Hans Baer, a UALR anthropology professor and faculty sponsor of the Green Party on campus, the sponsor of the event.
It is free and open to the public.
Published on Thursday, April 20, 2000
Copyright © 2000, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Inc.