Pubdate: Wed, 28 Feb 2001
Source: Post and Courier (SC)
Copyright: 2001 Evening Post Publishing Co.
Contact:  134 Columbus Street Charleston, SC 29403-4800
Author: Dave Munday


ACLU Board Member, City Officials Hold Debate On Issue Of Legalizing

Recreational drugs should be legal, lawyer Gerald Finkel told a 
College of Charleston audience Tuesday evening during a panel 
discussion on that topic.

Finkel, a board member of the S.C. chapter of the American Civil 
Liberties Union, said the ACLU believes bothering people about 
marijuana and cocaine is a violation of privacy.

His position got the most applause from the 250 people - mostly 
college students - in the audience at Physicians Auditorium.

Charleston County Sheriff Al Cannon disagreed.

"You don't help the problem by legalizing drugs," he said.

Cannon also said deputies don't go out of their way to arrest 
recreational drug users and that drugs are usually found when someone 
is arrested for another crime.

Legalizing drugs would only make things worse, said Charleston City 
Council member Tim Scott. He also accused police of unfairly 
targeting people in minority neighborhoods.

Cannon responded that deputies only pat down people in neighborhoods 
where residents complain and ask for help in getting rid of dealers.

Council member Cindy Floyd said she does not believe drugs should be 
legalized but that more money should be spent on treatment programs 
instead of prisons filled by the government's failed "war on drugs."

Dr. William Boggan of the Medical University of South Carolina's 
Center for Drug and Alcohol Programs said people vary widely in how 
they react to various drugs.

He called for more research money to tailor treatment to individuals.

Everyone agreed that alcohol and cigarettes, even though legal, hurt 
society more than marijuana. But Americans lack the willpower to 
outlaw them, Cannon said.

That's probably because most people need some kind of chemical 
support to get through life, observed College of Charleston President 
Alex Sanders, who served as moderator.
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