A religion with more than 1,000 congregations across the country is calling
for a change in U.S. drug policy.

During their annual General Assembly meeting last month in Quebec City the
Unitarian Universalist Association, a creedless religion with
Judeo-Christian roots, adopted a policy to explore alternatives to the war
on drugs, calling for the legalization of marijuana and treating drug use
as a health issue rather than a crime.

"The so called war on drugs is creating violence, endangering children,
clogging the criminal justice system, eroding civil liberties and
disproportionately punishing people of color," the Rev. William Sinkford,
president of the Unitarian Universalist Association, said in a press
release. "It's time for a cease-fire."

The General Assembly that passed the resolution consists of 1,700 delegates
representing member congregations, but members remain free to express other
viewpoints.

The Rev. Bill Haney of Unitarian Universalist Church in Columbia said he
thinks the statement is too detailed.

"It spells out too many steps in detail rather then opening up a dialogue
for conversation," Haney said. "Many people will assent to the statement in
principle but maybe not in detail."

Charles Thomas, executive director of the Unitarian Universalists for Drug
Policy Reform near Washington D.C., said a small number of delegates made
unsuccessful attempts at changing the language of the policy to stop short
of calling for the legalization of marijuana as well as the
decriminalization and medicalization of other drugs.

Jim Davis, former president of the Unitarian Church in Jefferson City said
putting someone in jail for possession of marijuana is "pointless."

"Treating drug abuse as a law enforcement problem is not solving the
problem because the problem continues to grow and get worse," Davis said.

Davis said while he isn't advocating drug use, he believes it should be
seen as a medical and socioeconomic problem.

Thomas said that Unitarian Universalists for Drug Policy Reform encourages
other denominations to follow suit.

"The drug war has many negative ramifications," he said. "Other religions
were not giving a thorough assessment of the U.S government policy,
occasionally taking positions on a few of the negative consequences of the
drug war. They were pruning the tree instead of going for the full trunk of
prohibition."


Pubdate: Fri, 05 Jul 2002
Source: Columbia Missourian (MO)
Copyright: 2002 Columbia Missourian
Contact: editor@digmo.com
Website: http://www.digmo.org/
Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/2282
Author: Terri Durdaller, Missourian staff