THE SHADOW CONVENTION
While the GOP prepared to run a former cokehead for Prez, the Shadow Convention concentrated on the Drug War.
PHILADELPHIA—"If you're young and black and poor, there's no category called 'youthful indiscretion,' " the Rev. Jesse Jackson told the crowd in the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg Theatre, drawing gospel-style shouts of "That's right!"
fit the "Shadow Conuention" crosstown from George Bush's nomination gala, Jackson denounced "a failed drug policy that built an ugly, shameful jail-industrial complex." He led the crowd in chanting "Down with dope, up with hope," but told reporters afterwards that decriminalization was "a big factor to be considered." flnanna Huffington, a self-described Tecou-
ermg Republican," conuened the fiue-day confab to focus on the Drug lilar, campaign-finance reform and the widening gap between rich and poor. Speakers ranged from Jello Biafra to Sen. John McCain, who was booed when he urged the crowd to uote for Bush.
"If you think the failed War on Drugs should be part of the national debate, you haue come to the right place," announced Ethan Nadelmann of the Lindesmith Center Drug Policy Foundation, who organized the drug segment.
Tue been working on this issue for eleuen years, and this was one of the most inspirational days for me," Rob Kampia of the Marijuana Policy Project told HIGH TIMES.
The conuention drew a much more multiracial crowd than typical antiprohibition gatherings, which can often be as ouerwhelmmgly white as the Republican Conuention. "UJhat we haue today is slauery in America—and we all pay the price," proclaimed Gus Smith, whose daughter, Kemba, is seruing EH years on federal conspiracy charges related to being a crack dealer's ex-girlfriend. Later, relatiues of Drug War prisoners paraded across the stage.
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Much of the euent concentrated more on Drug War injustices than on legalizing marijuana. American Ciuil Liberties Union lawyer Graham Boyd enumerated a long train of abuses and usurpations—uast racial disparities in drug sentencing, hundreds of thousands of black men losing the right to uote because of drug conuictions, Congress nullifying Washington, DC's medical-marijuana uote, the uirtual obliteration of the Fourth Amendment. "It's time to stop the war on ciuil liberties," he concluded. "Read my lips—no new prisons.” New Mexico Gou.
Gary Johnson deliuered the strongest prolegalization message, comparing pot laws to alcohol Prohibition. "I alcohol Prohibition. "I hauen't had a drink for thirteen years," he said, "but not for a minute do I suggest it should be illegal." The Philadelphia Daily News wrote that Johnson and Jackson's presence indicated that drug legalization, once the prouince of "bearded HIGH TIMES readers," was gaining mainstream credibility. —Steven Wishnia