Pubdate: Thu, 08 Jan 2004
Source: Creative Loafing Atlanta (GA)
Copyright: 2004, Creative Loafing
Author: Kirk Muse,


Bob Barr: I'm writing about your thoughtful column in Creative Loafing
Atlanta ("Pre-emptive strike hits high schools," Nov. 20). Like you,
when I saw the video of the police raiding, with guns drawn and pointed
at high school students at Stafford High School in Goose Creek, S.C., I
was deeply disturbed and upset.

I am deeply disturbed and upset because, as I see it, our war on drugs
has transformed the former "Land of Liberty" into a police state. Like
you, I am very concerned with the loss of our personal privacy. Like
you, I am very concerned with the potential for abuse of our personal
freedom and personal privacy by the so-called "Patriot Act." Like you,
personal freedom and personal privacy are very high values for me and
my family.

Unlike you, I believe Rush Limbaugh or any other adult citizen should
be free to smoke, swallow, snort or inject any substance they want
into their own bodies. Especially in the privacy of their own home, as
long as they are personally responsible for the consequences.

Unlike you, I believe adult citizens should be free to alter their own
minds in any way they please in the privacy of their own homes. Many
things and substances alter minds -- books, movies, good music (and
bad music) schools, coffee, tobacco, food and yes, recreational drugs.

Almost all the problems we have with recreational drugs are because
the drugs are illegal. Because the drugs are illegal, they are of
unknown quality, unknown purity and unknown potency. Because drugs are
illegal, they are untaxed, unregulated and controlled by criminal
gangs -- just like alcohol was when it was illegal.

In 1969, the federal drug enforcement budget was $65 million. Last
year it was $19.2 billion (these figures don't include the cost of
incarceration or the state and local costs). The $19.2 billion is
greater than a 295-fold increase.

In 1969 coffee sold for 25 cents a cup. If the price of coffee had
risen at the same rate as our drug enforcement budget, we would now be
paying almost $75 for a cup of coffee.

It seems to me that "true conservatives" would oppose wasteful
counter-productive policies. Why don't you oppose these wasteful
counter-productive policies of drug criminalization?

Kirk Muse, Mesa, Ariz.
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