Pubdate: Wed, 02 Oct 2002
Source: Daytona Beach News-Journal (FL)
Address: PO Box 2831, Daytona Beach, FL 32120-2831
Copyright: 2002 News-Journal Corp
Fax: 904-258-8465
Author: Robert Sharpe


Re "Drug czar rips legalization 'lie,' " Sept. 24 article:

That marijuana can be harmful if abused is not subject to debate. What drug 
czar John Walters seemingly fails to realize is that jail cells are not 
appropriate health interventions. As program officer for the Drug Policy 
Alliance in Washington, D.C., I know that most teenagers outgrow their 
youthful indiscretions involving drugs. An arrest and criminal record, on 
the other hand, can be life-shattering.

After admitting to smoking pot (but not inhaling), former President Bill 
Clinton opened himself up to "soft on drugs" criticism. And thousands of 
Americans have paid the price in the form of shattered lives. More 
Americans went to prison or jail during the Clinton administration than 
during any past administration.

As an admitted former drinker and alleged illicit drug user, President 
George W. Bush is also politically vulnerable when it comes to drugs. While 
youthful indiscretions didn't stop Clinton or Bush from assuming leadership 
positions, an arrest surely would have. The short-term health effects of 
marijuana are inconsequential compared to the long- term effects of 
criminal records. Drug abuse is bad, but the zero tolerance drug war is worse.
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