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The Drug Policy Foundation

This independent nonprofit, which researches and publicizes alternatives to current drug strategies -- including decriminalization, medicalization, and legalization of presently banned drugs -- has an unofficial dress code among its 18,000 active members that runs more toward ties and jackets than tie-dyed T-shirts and hemp sandals. Its board of directors includes an analyst from the ultra-conservative Hoover Institution as well as the head of the ultraliberal ACLU. The mayor of Baltimore and the New Haven chief of police are also board members.

DPF believes that America's war on drugs isn't working, and the numbers back them up: A 1993 study ordered by Attorney General Janet Reno showed that 16,316 federal prisoners -- one in five -- were low-level, nonviolent drug offenders with no major criminal history. Yet as prisons burst at the seams, the illegal U.S. drug business, estimated at over $40 billion a year, continues to boom. America isn't becoming drug free, according to DPF, just less free.

DPF argues in its newsletters and conferences that we should just say no to the current drug prohibition because it enriches criminals, fails to prevent the spread of diseases, and disregards human rights. The organization wants an open national debate about this most contentious issue -- as a first step in the search for a rational system of drug control. Sounds like a very sober suggestion.

For more information: 4455 Connecticut Av. NW, Suite B-500, Washington, DC 20008-2302; 202/537-5005; fax 202/537-3007.

Weekend TV

Weekend TV, a joint project of the Fund for Innovative TV and WYCC/Channel 20 in Chicago, produces original television programming that combines community participation and independent vision. In professionally done and often extremely witty 10-minute pieces, local producers and commentators explore community issues. A double murder involving two black preteens in Chicago's Roseland neighborhood that received the typical network news coverage -- cursory and simplistic -- was reinvestigated by Weekend TV. A local resident talked to both the victims' and the perpetrators' families and discovered that the children involved were basically good kids who needed some direction, not the monsters that the networks portrayed. The viewer is shown these families coming together to grieve and to learn from this horrible experience. Other segments have focused on tobacco pipe?smoking contests, street artists in lower Manhattan, and the culture of malls.

Weekend TV and its cohorts like the 90's Channel, an alternative cable channel that reaches more than 600,000 cable subscribers across the nation, face an uncertain future in today's political climate. Those conservative politicians who fall all over themselves in their attempts to crush 'alternative arts' and the nontraditional values they supposedly promote would do well to tune in to Weekend TV.

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