Pubdate: Fri, 29 Jul 2005
Source: Brownsville Herald, The (TX)
Copyright: 2005 The Brownsville Herald
Author: Stephen Heath



This is in regard to your article about funds running thin for the Palmer 
Drug Abuse Program (July 17).

As a recovered abuser of alcohol and cocaine, I was sorry to read that this 
important program might not receive needed funding. But readers should know 
that a well-intentioned treatment program is doomed to failure unless the 
drug laws are changed.

Current policies dictate simply being arrested for possession of an illegal 
substance could lead one into either incarceration or drug court. The first 
is acknowledged as bad policy, and the latter is hampered by this very 
fact. Simply being caught in possession does not automatically denote 
someone as being a "drug addict" in need of a state-coerced "cure."

Forcing anyone and everyone caught in possession into such a treatment 
system causes many who are in legitimate need to have to wait. And the 
longer true drug abusers wait, the more their symptoms damage them and 
those around them.

The easiest way to fix this would be to end the criminal prohibition 
against adults possessing small amounts of marijuana or other drugs. This 
would help assure the treatment programs for youth and adults are more 
accessible for those with true drug abuse problems.

Even better, it would also reduce the number of otherwise law-abiding 
adults who are being given crippling criminal records simply for using 
politically incorrect drugs in preference to state-approved alcohol.

Additionally, the huge savings in tax dollars realized by legalizing could 
be rechanneled into better as-sisting those who have abuse issues with any 
drug, whether it be cocaine, methamphetamine, opiates, alcohol or tobacco.


public relations director

Drug Policy Forum of Florida

Clearwater Fla.
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