Hollywood -- Comedian Bill Maher, former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura (I), former U.S. Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders, M.D., former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson (R), and singer/ actor Michelle Phillips are helping the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) launch an effort to enlist celebrities and other public figures in the battle for sensible marijuana laws. MPP, America's largest marijuana policy reform organization, has hired a new director of VIP relations, Francis DellaVecchia, to oversee the effort.

The first project for DellaVecchia, a Los Angeles-based writer, director, and board member of the Open Fist Theatre Company as well as former candidate for mayor of Los Angeles, is to expand MPP's advisory board, which now includes Maher, Ventura, Elders, Johnson, and Phillips, among others.
Phillips, an accomplished actor who first became famous as a member of The Mamas and the Papas, has helped launch the effort with a letter to her colleagues in the entertainment industry. Noting that there are nearly 700,000 arrests every year on marijuana charges -- 88 percent for simple possession, not sale or manufacture -- Phillips wrote, "Arresting adult marijuana users does nothing to keep marijuana out of the hands of children, but arresting adults does tear families apart and ruin careers. I support MPP because it is the most professional and credible organization working to change these harmful policies."

Last year MPP led the successful lobbying effort for Maryland's medical marijuana law, the first such measure signed into law by a Republican governor. Protection of medical marijuana patients will remain a top priority this year as the organization lobbies for legislation to end the Drug Enforcement Administration's raids on patients and caregivers obeying the provisions of California's Proposition 215 and other state medical marijuana laws.

Projects planned for this year range from private soirees to concerts and other public events.

MPP has also created a special VIP Web site -- http://www.mpp-vip.org/

"All of my professional endeavors have mixed culture and politics, so this project is a perfect fit," DellaVecchia said. "The public is increasingly coming to see that America's current marijuana laws are a destructive failure, and this effort will give new momentum to the drive for policies based on reason, science, and compassion."

Contact: Marijuana Policy Project
Bruce Mirken, 202-543-7972 or 415-668-6403
Francis DellaVecchia, 310-452-1879

Source: Common Dreams (ME)
Published: April 06, 2004
Copyright: 2004 Common Dreams
Contact: editor@commondreams.org
Website: http://www.commondreams.org/