Clare Regan 1927-2006

By Lunar Loops · Dec 30, 2006 ·
  1. Lunar Loops
    This from the Drug Policy Alliance website (

    Clare Regan 1927-2006

    December 28, 2006

    Physician, professor, and DPA advisory board member John P. Morgan remembers Clare Regan, lifelong activist.

    Clare Regan, whose life encompassed and virtually defined a commitment to justice, died on December 11, 2006, surrounded by her children and other family.

    Hers was not an easy death. She had esophageal cancer and at times suffered pain, difficulty in swallowing, and nausea. I failed, despite various attempts, to obtain for her Sativex, a sublingually administered extract of the cannabis plant that is legally marketed in Canada. Medicines legally marketed outside the USA are made available to American patients (on physician request) under FDA regulations, which acknowledge mercy. But such consideration cannot extend to a product derived from cannabis. The quality of American mercy is indeed strained by the DEA.

    Clare was born in Hackensack, New Jersey, and grew up in Pennsylvania. She obtained both a B.S. (magna cum laude) and M.S. in Chemistry from Duquesne University. At Duquesne she met Tom Regan. She began her Ph.D. studies in Chemistry at M.I.T. but she decided to marry Tom and left M.I.T. They lived for a time in Pennsylvania but moved to Fairport, near Rochester, in 1964. Eastman Kodak employed Tom until his death in 1990. They had six children, though Clare reputedly wished for 12.

    For more than 40 years Clare worked in an astonishing number of ways for peace, prisoner justice and aid, and drug legalization, and against jail expansion and particularly, against the death penalty. For years, as a member of Catholics Against Nuclear Arms, she participated in vigils at the Seneca Arms Depot in Romulus, where nuclear warheads were stored. For more than 30 years she edited Justicia newsletter and journal of the Judicial Process Commission. This criminal justice education and advocacy group was founded in the aftermath of the 1971 Attica rebellion.

    Justicia has grown into a widely respected publication with articles on prison life (some written by prisoners), alternatives to incarceration, opposition to the death penalty and opposition to the war on drugs. This last stance focused clearly on the harms of prohibition, and Clare often said she wished people would focus on drug-prohibition-related crime, not drug-related crime. Justicia’s circulation grew to 3,500, with 1,000 copies going to state prison inmates.

    After 9/11, Clare participated in vigils in downtown Rochester, reportedly carrying a sign reading: "How many dead Afghan citizens constitute terrorism? The God of peace is not honored by more killing."

    I came to know Clare when she invited Lynn Zimmer and me to a conference in Buffalo to discuss drug prohibition related crimes and sentencing. Ethan Nadelmann of the Drug Policy Alliance and Allen St. Pierre of NORML respected her; both tried to help in the futile effort to obtain some relief for her, which I have described. I don’t think I have ever known anyone quite like her. She constructed an amazingly principled life out of articulate opposition to what she felt were moral wrongs and injustice to fellow humans. Some characterized that life as radical. I prefer her stand:

    "I don’t look upon myself as radical. I always say, 'I’m not radical. I’m just right.'"

    -- John P. Morgan

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