September 22, 2004 – The Western Herald (MI – Edu)
By Maria Karadimos, News Writer
The dispute over the funding of Kalamazoo’s own fight against recreational drugs has sparked a debate that will feature a panel of local and national professionals.
The debate, titled “War on Drugs: Helpful or Harmful?” is part of a week-long campaign. Sponsored by Students for a Sustainable Earth, it is the third major event during Western Michigan University’s “Peace Week,” which is organized by the Progressive Student Alliance.
Ben Lando, senior majoring in political science and member of the PSA, said the issue has been a topic of discussion between the city of Kalamazoo and the county of Kalamazoo.
“It’s going to be a discussion on the importance of [the drug war] and what kind of direction the war on drugs should go into,” Lando said.
He added that a few direct effects of the war on drugs could pertain to students.
“If you’ve been convicted of a drug charge, you cannot get financial aid,” he said. “It also takes a lot of taxpayers’ money to fight the war on drugs — specifically, $44 billion a year.”
The debate, scheduled for 6-8 p.m. Thursday in the West Ballroom of the Bernhard Center, will be moderated by WWMT Channel 3 reporter Terrell Forney.
Lando said Forney will facilitate the discussion and take questions from the audience.
“It’ll be a discussion about a very topical issue for students, people of our society and taxpayers,” Lando said. “It should be a very interesting discussion.”
The panel of guests will include Jim Gregart, Kalamazoo County prosecuting attorney; Philip Schaefer, presiding judge of the Men’s Drug Treatment Court and former chief judge of the Kalamazoo County Circuit Court; Bill Ford, detective first lieutenant; state Sen. Tom George; Bill Masters, sheriff of San Miguel County, Colo. since 1979; the Rev. Edwin C. Sanders II; and Nora Callahan, founder of the November Coalition and Sanho Tree, a member at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington D.C. and director of the institute’s drug policy project.