Clifford Thornton acknowledged for efforts in drug policy reform

Clifford Wallace Thornton, Connecticut Green and present co-chair of the national Green Party, this December received an achievement award for his leadership to reform drug laws. Thornton co-founded the drug law reform organization Efficacy, Inc. and has done much nationwide to present an alternative to the current drug laws, which focus heavily on incarceration.

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“We certainly do not claim to have a complete vision of a more workable alternative drug policy, but we are confident that we must move boldly toward the provision of effective treatment, now offered to only a small fraction of those who need it, and away from an excessive use of the criminal sanctions that have caused more harm than good,” Thornton said on his organizations website, www.Efficacy-online.org.

In addition to his achievements in drug reform, Thornton is an outspoken Green. Besides co-chairing the Green Party of the United States, he ran in 2006 for governor of Connecticut with much of his campaign centering on drug policy reform.

“Cliff Thornton’s work for the reform of U.S. drug policy is in line with Green opposition to the War on Drugs, unjust and draconian drug laws, and the use of drug laws to fill up prison cells with black, brown, poor, and young Americans. We’re proud that Cliff is a member of the Green Party,” said Alfred Molison, co-chair of the Green Party’s national Black Caucus.

The Drug Policy Alliance gave the Robert C. Randall Award for Achievement to Thornton in the field of citizen action. The nationwide alliance announced, “The award honors citizens who make democracy work in the difficult area of drug law and policy reform.”

Thornton said, “While drug-related penalties have been drastically increasing, the number of hard-core drug users, whose use poses the greatest societal problems, has also increased, which is only one measure of the failure of criminal sanctions as an effective way to deter use of illegal drugs.”

Thornton has been tireless on this issue, doing over 400 radio shows on drug policy. He has spoken to over 300,000 people in some 450 venues about the drug war as it relates to health, economics, race, class, and white privilege, and has taught a graduate-level course on drug policy at Trinity College in Hartford. In 2001, Efficacy facilitated the end of the D.A.R.E. program in the Ocean City, New Jersey school system, with presentations to the school board showing that the program is often counterproductive in drug use prevention for youth.