Pubdate: Wed, 31 May 2000
Source: Columbus Dispatch (OH)
Copyright: 2000, The Columbus Dispatch
Contact:  34 S. Third St., Columbus, OH 43215
Author: Robert Sharpe


The allegations of missing cash and marijuana from the Fairfield County
Sheriff's Office are not isolated incidents (Dispatch, May 19). The one
thing the recent police scandals in Fairfield County, Los Angeles,
Washington and elsewhere have in common: the corrupting effect of the drug
war. The temptation of easy money is too powerful for some police officers.

Civil asset forfeiture has turned what should be protectors of the peace
into predators. The drug war engenders the same institutional corruption and
disrespect for law enforcement that occurred during America's failed
experiment with alcohol prohibition. This is inevitable when military
solutions are applied to public-health problems. Police are meant to be
protectors, not soldiers controlling what citizens ingest.

The fact that an unregulated black market makes it easier for children to
purchase illegal drugs than beer should be reason enough to end a
counterproductive policy. The Constitution is worth preserving, yet it is
increasingly irrelevant thanks to drug-war exemptions. Democracy and state
rights are no longer viable when it comes to medical marijuana. The land of
the free has put so many nonviolent drug offenders behind bars that we now
have the highest incarceration rate in the world.

Finally, we have the corruption that is often used as an excuse to
strengthen drug laws, despite the fact that the laws themselves are the
direct cause. Until the news media start covering these issues, this vicious
circle will repeat itself and police corruption will persist.

Robert Sharpe Students for Sensible Drug Policy Washington
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