The University Record, April 22, 1997

Two of the nations' most knowledgeable
scholars to debate national drug policy May 6

By Deborah Gilbert
News and Information Services

Two of the nation's most knowledgeable scholars in addiction, substance abuse and public policy will discuss and debate "Drug Abuse Policy and Harm Reduction Strategies" at a public forum, 7:15-10 p.m. May 6 in the Amphitheater, Rackham Building. The forum, which will include a question-and-answer session, is being sponsored by the University of Michigan Substance Abuse Research Center (UMSARC).

The speakers will be:

Herbert Kleber, professor of psychiatry and director of the Division on Substance Abuse at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University. Kleber also is the executive vice president of the Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, a policy center founded with Joseph A. Califano Jr. Kleber was deputy director for Demand Reduction, Office of National Drug Control Policy, in the Bush administration.

Ethan A. Nadelmann, director of the Lindesmith Center in New York. The Lindesmith Center, a policy and research institute created in 1994, focuses on the development of alternative harm reduction strategies for drugs, including decriminalization and selective legalizations for certain drugs.

Kleber will argue that legalization of drugs would be extremely deleterious to public health. Nadelmann will counter that selective legalization and decriminalization merits serious consideration. Both speakers will discuss the widespread domestic and international consequences of the different approaches.

Ovide F. Pomerleau, UMSARC director, will host the event and Kenneth E. Warner, professor of health management and policy, will moderate the question and answer session.

"We hope to bring a rigorous scientific and research focus to bear on this intransigent social problem by reframing the problem in terms of public health consequences and attempt to identify the scientific research that will be needed to guide substance abuse policy in the future," says Pomerleau. "We will consider the nature of the scientific evidence for the nation's current policy stance, explore the similarities and differences among the various drugs of abuse, and discuss appropriate methods for managing social behavior in a free society."