Pubdate: Tue, 02 Apr 2002
Source: Las Vegas Sun (NV)
Copyright: 2002 Las Vegas Sun, Inc
Author: Robert Sharpe
Alert: It Is Not OK To Evict Granny


Your March 28 editorial on the "one-strike, you're out" policy of the U.S. 
Department of Housing and Urban Development was right on target. The zero 
tolerance law requires that entire families be evicted from public housing 
if anyone, even a guest, uses drugs.

The youthful indiscretions of a rebellious teenager could result in 
homelessness for an entire family. According to the latest "Monitoring the 
Future" survey (an ongoing University of Michigan youth-research program 
funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse), over half of all high 
school seniors have tried an illegal drug at least once. Exposing 50 
percent of all families living in public housing to the dangers of living 
on the street is not the answer to America's drug problem.

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), President 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.

Zero tolerance does more harm than good.

ROBERT SHARPE Washington, D.C. Editor's note: The writer is a program 
officer with Drug Policy Alliance, a Washington-based organization working 
to broaden public debate on drug policy.
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