Virginia Resner -- strong advocate for reform of national drug policy
July 25, 2007
Carolyn Jones, San Francisco Chronicle
Virginia Resner, a longtime advocate for drug policy reform and the families of imprisoned drug offenders, died July 18 after a lengthy battle with breast cancer. She was 60.
Ms. Resner was co-author of the book "Shattered Lives: Portraits from America's Drug War," which won the Robert C. Randall Award for Achievement in the Field of Citizen Action from the Drug Policy Foundation in 2001. The book documents how families are affected by federal drug enforcement policy.
She was also president of Green-Aid, an Oakland medical marijuana legal defense fund that champions the plight of Ed Rosenthal, a former High Times columnist who twice has been convicted of violating federal drug laws for growing medical marijuana.
"She was a very compassionate and very caring person," said Rosenthal. "Some people get bogged down in the intricacies of issues, but not Virginia. She had a good strong sense of herself and what she believed in."
Ms. Resner was born in San Francisco and graduated from Galileo High School. Her father was Herbert Resner, a prominent labor lawyer who worked with longshoreman union activist Harry Bridges.
"She was a real red-diaper baby," said Ms. Resner's brother, Hillel Resner. "A lot of her values and interest in social justice came from our father."
In the early 1990s, Ms. Resner's boyfriend, Steven Faulkner, was arrested for drug dealing and sentenced to five years in prison. Even though Ms. Resner did not know about Faulkner's activities, federal agents raided her house searching for evidence. She became involved with a group that helps families of drug offenders and fought against mandatory drug sentencing minimums.
She also helped gain clemency for Amy Pofahl, a Los Angeles woman who was sentenced to 24 years in prison for conspiracy in her estranged husband's ecstasy operation. President Bill Clinton granted Pofahl clemency in 2000 after she served nine years.
To all her activist endeavors, Ms. Resner brought energy, a strong sense of purpose and outstanding organizational skills, Rosenthal said.
"Virginia had a very strong commitment to social justice and was very well loved," said Mikki Norris, Ms. Resner's co-author on "Shattered Lives." "She had a real solid inner strength and wisdom."
She is survived by her brother.
A memorial service is scheduled for 1 p.m. Tuesday at Temple Emanu-El, 2 Lake St., San Francisco.
Donations can be sent to Coming Home Hospice of San Francisco, Green-Aid or Temple Emanu-El.