Pubdate: Fri, 25 Jun 2004
Source: St. Petersburg Times (FL)
Copyright: 2004 St. Petersburg Times
Author: Stephen Heath


Re: Drug offenders left waiting for help, June 22.

Continued lengthy delays for the Pinellas County's drug courts are
assured, thanks to Gov. Jeb Bush and his drug czar, James McDonough,
being the ones who define "drug addiction" in Florida.

The system's fatal flaw is their failure to make any distinction
between the use and the abuse of any drug, most notably marijuana.
According to Bush/McDonough, even a single use of marijuana or any
other illicit drug constitutes "abuse" and the "sick" citizen is then
arrested and forced into treatment.

Thus, the well-intentioned drug court model is now jammed with
thousands of marijuana "clients" whose need for drug treatment is no
more so than an alcohol user who drinks a six-pack on the weekend or
enjoys wine with his meals. It's little wonder, therefore, that many
offenders don't fully cooperate, even if it means possible jail time.

Treating the vast majority of marijuana use, and in many cases
occasional use of other illegal substances, as something in need of a
state-funded "cure" is a disaster in the making. Taxpayers are forced
to watch millions of dollars go into "curing" someone who smokes small
amounts of pot at home. Then, as the number of "clients" rises, Bush
and McDonough use that data to perpetuate the myth of marijuana
"addiction." It's a never-ending rodent-wheel of bullspeak, and we the
taxpayers are getting the shaft. Most important, far too many real
drug abusers are left waiting for needed help behind otherwise
law-abiding citizens whose only crime was possessing small amounts of
drugs and being caught.


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