Pubdate: Wed, 15 Oct 2003
Source: Montgomery Advertiser (AL)
Copyright: 2003sThe Advertiser Co.
Author: Loretta Nall


As a drug law reform advocate, I am very pleased that non-violent drug 
offenders will soon be released from Alabama's overcrowded and violent 
prison system. However, this is equivalent to putting a Band-Aid on an open 

Despite the fact that Alabama has some of the harshest drug laws in the 
nation, it is painfully obvious that they are not acting as a deterrent. 
What is the state going to do to keep non-violent drug offenders from 
refilling the prison system?

If we leave drug laws the way they are, it is inevitable that a lot of the 
same people being released will soon find themselves back in prison. 
Substance abuse is a health problem and not a judicial one. You cannot 
incarcerate your way out of it.

I suggest we change the laws -- starting with marijuana. We need to remove 
all criminal penalties for responsible adult use. Many of the people in 
prison for non-violent drug offenses are there for possessing, smoking, 
growing or selling marijuana.

While marijuana has never killed anyone, people die every day in the 
unjustified war against it. What is the moral basis for persecuting, 
incarcerating and killing a non-violent segment of society because of what 
they choose to ingest?

Loretta Nall

Alexander City
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