Pubdate: Thu, 25 Sep 2003
Source: Las Vegas Mercury (NV)
Copyright: 2003 Las Vegas Mercury
Author: Stephen Heath


Columnist Randall G. Shelden rhetorically asks why the drug war
continues unabated in its present form. The answer is that far too
often the mainstream media continue to allow only unelected
bureaucrats like Drug Czar John Walters to define the issue.

In Walters' fantasy world, there is literally no acceptable and
responsible way that currently illicit drugs--including marijuana--can
be used responsibly. Any and all use defined as AB-use. Therefore all
suggestions of legalizing marijuana for responsible adult use are then
immediately redefined as "legalizing drug abuse." Sadly, Walters'
moral jihad fails to extend to the two most dangerous, addictive and
commonly abused drugs--alcohol and tobacco.

This highly irrational foundation for current national drug policy
results in critics being able to focus solely on the vast minority of
marijuana users who might act irresponsibly by driving while impaired
or by allowing access to minors. Legitimate examples of these
miscreants are used to justify arresting and caging the millions of
Americans who don't engage in such activities, though they do enjoy
using marijuana at home.

Finally, the czar and his cadre of followers attempt to present the
theme of how much drug abuse costs society, while totally ignoring the
even more massive costs to all of us that are created by arresting a
fresh 700,000 people a year for simple possession of pot. Not
discussed is the effect of these arrests, which include loss of
employment, educational opportunities, family, etc. Each of these
increases the burden on valuable public resources. Additional
considerations need to be given to the effect of nonviolent pot users
being caged with violent criminals, as well as the inevitable increase
in HIV, Hepatitis C and other diseases that are bred within prison
environments and are then carried out into the real world upon the
prisoners' release.

Thanks to the Mercury for being one of an increasing number of
newspapers willing to present the truth about national drug policy


Drug Policy Forum of Florida

Clearwater, Fla.
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