Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

National Drug Prevention Policy Discussed at GU Law Center

Some of America’s foremost drug policy experts participated Wednesday in a daylong symposium at the Georgetown University Law Center. Two of the seminar’s sessions were broadcast live on National Public Radio (NPR) News, “Talk of the Nation” with Juan Williams.

The event, co-sponsored by GULC, NPR and PBS/Frontline, provided a forum for experts in the field to discuss their specialties and their experiences with the war on drugs. It was also intended to begin a national dialogue about how effective past and current methods of tackling the drug problem have been.

Sam Dash, professor of law and director of the Institute of Criminal Law and Procedure at GULC, served as the symposium chairman. Dash has been involved with the law enforcement and discussion of illegal drugs for nearly 40 years.

“It’s our hope that today’s discussion will be continued throughout the country and possibly lead to congressional hearings,” Dash said.

“Most importantly, it allowed everyone an opportunity to talk about what is working and what is not working,” Jessica Smith of Frontline said. “They are the issues that are at the forefront of the presidential campaign, so they need to be talked about.”

Participants included former Baltimore Mayor Kurt Schmoke, Office of National Drug Control Policy Director Gen. Barry cCaffrey, Drug Strategies President Mathea Falco and U.S. Customs Service Commissioner Raymond Kelly, among others.

GULC, NPR and Frontline collaborated to select the panelists. “We wanted to make sure they were not just theorists, that they had real life experience with the issues,” Dash said. “We also looked for specialists who held former positions so that they could really speak candidly in their discussions.”

The topics of the various panels ranged from “Social Justice and the War on Drugs” to “The International War on Drugs” and included “The Multibillion Dollar Illegal Drug Business.”

According to Dash, Frontline and NPR chose Georgetown as the site to initiate these discussions because of his personal involvement with the topic, the benefits of its Washington, D.C., location and the “nationwide respect for the university’s remarkable curriculum.”

Although no official plans have been made for another symposium, Dash said that there have been efforts from Frontline to obtain grants in order to continue the discussion. The event at the GULC was made possible through a grant from the John D. and Catherine T. acArthur Foundation.

While the symposium was closed to the general public, other experts and specialists, members of the press and members of the U.S. Congress were invited.

In the sessions that were broadcast, the panelists answered questions from the audience and from listeners over the phone. “We had good questions from the audience,” Dash said. “I was extremely pleased with their participation.”

Dash said he was “very happy” with the overall result of the day’s activities. “I have faith that when Americans are properly informed, they will respond and give encouragement to our political leaders,” he said. “We can finally do in America what Americans deserve.”

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