Ithaca, N.Y. — A rise in overdoses. More property crime. Racially disparate results.

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This is what the war on drugs has produced, both across the country and in Ithaca, Mayor Svante Myrick said in a statement on Friday.

“A new direction for drug policy in Ithaca is desperately needed,” Myrick said. “It is my plan in 2015 to set that new direction.”

As previously reported by The Voice, the mayor is assembling a group of experts to come up with solutions to tackle the problems spawned, he said, by our current approach to drugs.

That plan is beginning to come into focus, if only barely. The mayor said today that he  formed the “Municipal Drug Policy Committee” seven months ago to study the issue.

“This committee is tasked with coming up with a coordinated, interdisciplinary drug policy for Ithaca grounded in public health,” Myrick said. “Drawing on the experiences of other cities and evidence from here in New York, we’ve organized our city-wide drug policy committee around four pillars – prevention, treatment, harm reduction, and law enforcement.”

The head of the committee — Bill Rusen, of Cayuga Addiction Recovery Services — recently told The Voice that it was too soon to speak of what concrete proposals the committee could pursue.

The mayor also announced today that he will be hosting a free, community-wide screening of a movie about the drug war. It’s called “The House I Live In” and will be shown Monday, February 16, 2015 at 3 p.m.

“As residents of this Ithaca, we are all stakeholders in this community,” Myrick said.

“Together we can develop public health-oriented approaches drug policies that save lives, strengthen communities, reduce the harms associated with drug misuse, enhance public safety, and conserve our scarce tax dollars. I hope you’ll join us.

Also speaking at the panel will be: Gwen Wilkinson, Tompkins County District Attorney; Andrew Taylor, Substance Use Outreach Specialist, Southern Tier AIDS Program; Jobe Zulu, Ithaca Youth Bureau; Jennifer Radcliffe; William Rusen, CEO of Cayuga Addiction Services.  The discussion will be moderated by Travis Brooks, Program Administrator for City of Ithaca, Great Ithaca Activities Center.


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Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.