GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS PROGRAM STARTS UP
This fall, the foundation has launched a government affairs program. The purpose of the program is to track drug policy at both the federal and urban levels, provide information to public officials, and promote alternative approaches. Cheryl Epps is the new Director of Government Affairs.
Ms. Epps most recently served as legislative director for the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. From 1987 to 1992, she was legislative analyst and head lobbyist for the International Association of Chiefs of Police. She has also worked as assistant counsel to the House Judiciary Committee and as a district attorney and narcotics prosecutor in New York.
The recent Alert mailed to DPF members explained the initial agenda of the government affairs program. Look for updates in future issues of The Drug Policy Letter.
GRANT PROGRAM IN DEVELOPMENT
This past July, the Open Society Institute gave the Drug Policy Foundation a commitment of $1 million a year over three years to launch a grant program. The grants will promote harm reduction programs that provide treatment and health services to drug users. Grants will also be made to advocacy groups and evaluations of policy experiments.
The grant program's advisory committee is co-chaired by Ethan Nadelmann, director of the Lindesmith Center, and federal judge Robert Sweet. The committee also includes David Condliffe, DPF's executive director, and Dr. Ernest Drucker of the Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx.
The committee is now preparing guidelines for grant applications. To be placed on the mailing list to receive guidelines, contact Debra Bailey at the New York office.
DPF SELECTED BY WORKING ASSETS
Working Assets, a long-distance phone card and credit care service, donates one percent of its customers' charges to good causes. Recipients include nonprofit groups working for peace, human rights, economic justice, the environment — and drug policy reform. This past summer, Working Assets added the Drug Policy Foundation to its list of "36 Organizations Building A Better World."
Working Assets was founded in 1986. Its goal is "to give people free and effortless ways to change the world – just by doing what they do every day." Last year, the company distributed over $1.4 million at no extra cost to its customers. For information, call (800) 788-8588. Every time a new customer names DPF as his or her cause of choice, DPF will receive a $20 credit on its telephone bill.
NEW MOVIE TO FEATURE MEDICAL MARIJUANA
Contributions sought for production of Joint Adventure
Is there anything left to say about Americans with medical conditions who are forbidden to use marijuana? A lot, if you've got a good story line. Producers Michael and Kristin MacDermott, who run Electric Mountain Films, have found a way to dramatize this controversial issue. Their film, Joint Adventure, is currently in production in Knoxville, Tennessee.
The story centers on Pete, Zack and Claudia, three young slackers in an unnamed city. But the center of sympathy is Pete's uncle, a cancer patient who is suffering intense nausea from his chemotherapy. After the doctor suggests that smoking marijuana might help, Pete's mother asks him if he can buy the illegal drug on the street. During their quest, the slackers meet the city's stoners, and, after an unexpected source. finding the town dry, turn up some marijuana from The MacDermotts, who are in their late twenties, hope that Joint Adventure will enjoy the success of recent low-budget films, such as Spanking the Monkey, Go Fish and Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. EMF has budgeted $100,000 for the project, with most crew and actors agreeing to defer fees until the film turns a profit.
John Foran, the script writer and director of Joint Adventure, is at 34 the veteran of such films as Driving Miss Daisy, Glory and Kalifornia. Co-producer Robert Squire, who has worked closely with Bruce Willis, left the set of Die Hard III to head for Knoxville. And the MacDermotts are not new to the business: Michael has been an actor for five years, appearing on Beverly Hills, 90210 and Melrose Place. Kristin worked with the president of Polygram on the release of Four Weddings and a Funeral and Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.
Joint Adventure begins shooting in November. When the film is released in summer or fall of next year, the producers will hold special events around the country.
The Drug Policy Foundation is acting as a fiscal sponsor for the film, which allows interested parties to make tax-deductible contributions to the movie. DPF has made this commitment because medical marijuana is one of the issues on its public education agenda. This way, you can contribute to a project that has both political and artistic value.
Checks should be made payable to DPF, and should include a note designating it as a contribution for Joint Adventure. Contributors of more than $100 receive a baseball cap with the film's logo. Keep in mind that your money is considered a charitable donation, not an investment.
For information, write Michael or Kristin MacDermott at Electric Mountain Films, 2156 Mount Olympus Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90046, or call (310) 854-4335. •