Pubdate: Sat, 15 Jun 2002
Source: Detroit Free Press (MI)
Copyright: 2002 Detroit Free Press
Author: Tim O'Brien, Dick Gach, Harry D. Fisher, Terry Sam Lamb, and
Doug Johnson


Because drug law reform opponents Judges Bryan Levy and Brian MacKenzie 
have no rational arguments to support their position, they resorted to 
deception, distraction and emotionalism in their June 3 op-ed column, 
"Beware lenient drug plan: Proposal would create addicts, not treat them."

Contrary to the judges' insinuation, neither the state of residence nor the 
depth of the pockets of the Campaign for New Drug Policies organizers is in 
any way relevant. The judges imply that the California group supporting 
this proposal has some ulterior motive when, ironically, these Michigan 
judges are the ones who have a vested interest in the status quo.

The abject failure of Prohibition II has become manifest. Instead of 
effectively protecting people from the consequences of their vices, the 
results have been the same as with the first "Noble Experiment": organized 
crime with gang turf wars and drive-by shootings, tainted products, 
corruption of the justice system with overflowing prisons, destruction of 
neighborhoods, and more.

Tim O'Brien

Chair, Michigan Prison Priorities Project

Allen Park
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I cannot understand how two sitting judges can be satisfied with the 
present war on drug users. They sit idly by while the Legislature usurps 
their power to determine sentences by establishing draconian mandatory 
minimums. They offer nothing but criticism of the voter initiative to 
revise the outrageous laws that have half a million nonviolent drug 
offenders incarcerated for drug offenses.

Four hundred thousand people will die this year because of their addictions 
to alcohol and cigarettes; between 3,000 and 10,000 will die due to 
overdosing on illegal drugs or the use of contaminated, uncontrolled 
products. None will die of marijuana use.

Some people with AIDS, cancer, multiple sclerosis or glaucoma will expose 
themselves to criminal prosecution in order to receive relief from their 
afflictions by using marijuana.

It is time to recognize and control all drugs, not just tobacco, alcohol 
and prescription drugs. The legal ones are not sold in schools and on the 
streets by pushers, and pushers of the artificially more profitable drugs 
do not card our kids.

Dick Gach

Bloomfield Hills
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Judges Bryan Levy and Brian MacKenzie take a dim view of "those 
Californians" who are helping Michigan to move toward a sane drug policy. 
After detailing all the bureaucracies that keep them from sending drug 
offenders to prison, the judges ask "what the true motives of the 
Californians are."

Our true motives are that no one should go to prison for only using or 
selling illicit drugs, any more than people who drink alcohol and smoke 

That was easy, wasn't it? But the drug warriors have declared that pot 
smokers are worse people than alcohol drinkers and tobacco smokers. Pot 
smokers have their possessions seized, are fired from their jobs and are 
punished with jail, while alcohol drinkers can sip Chianti with the 
spaghetti and have a good cigar without repercussions.

If these judges don't comprehend the unfairness of the drug laws, then they 
must have closed minds and be blind to boot. These are not good qualities 
in judges.

Harry D. Fisher

Woodland Hills, Calif.
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Why do Judges Bryan Levy and Brian MacKenzie hate drug addicts? This war on 
drugs has destroyed the black community. How many more black men do we have 
to imprison before drugs are removed from our streets?

The war on drugs has been going on for 30 years, and what has it 
accomplished? One out of three black males between the ages of 18-34 are in 
the criminal justice system. Our inner cities are war zones where little 
boys and girls are shot in their beds.

Drug addiction is a medical problem, not a law-enforcement problem. You 
talk about saving our children, but your answer is to keep doing the same 
things we've been doing.

Terry Sam Lamb

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California passed a similar law against the advice of political leaders and 
judges. The program is new, but there have been no major problems so far. 
But more important, we are not sending nonviolent kids into hell-hole jails 
to be abused and come out a few years later as angry animals to abuse 
others. Besides, it saves millions of dollars and shows all we do have an 
ounce of compassion.

Why should only the rich have the benefits of treatment and understanding?

I'm skeptical about the motives of these judges. If drug offenders didn't 
get run through their revolving doors, would they have jobs?

There is no evidence that incarceration is effective in reducing drug 
addiction, and a great deal of evidence of lives destroyed by it.

Doug Johnson

Stockton, Calif.
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