Pubdate: Mon, 26 Sep 2005
Source: Las Vegas Sun (NV)
Copyright: 2005 Las Vegas Sun, Inc
Author: Robert Sharpe
Note: Robert Sharpe is an analyst for the national, nonprofit group, 
Common Sense for Drug Policy, which advocates for alternatives to the 
war on drugs.
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)
Bookmark: (Drug Test)
Bookmark: (Cannabis)
Bookmark: (Asset Forfeiture)


This is in regard to your Sept. 18 editorial headlined, "Drop the
lawsuit." You expressed opposition to a civil lawsuit brought by
Boulder City officials. The suit, based on Nevada's forfeiture law,
seeks to have the woman's home forfeited to the city on the grounds
that she was using her home to grow and sell marijuana. The financial
incentives created by civil asset forfeiture laws create a dangerous
precedent. Police can confiscate cars, cash and homes without
bothering to charge owners with a crime. Vague allegations of drug
trafficking don't justify turning what should be protectors of the
peace into financial predators. The drug war threatens the integrity
of a country founded on the concept of limited government. Police
searches on public transit, drug-sniffing dogs in schools and random
drug testing have led to a loss of civil liberties while failing
miserably at preventing drug use.

A majority of European Union countries have decriminalized marijuana.
Despite marijuana prohibition, lifetime use of marijuana is higher in
the United States than any European country. The United States now has
the highest incarceration rate in the world, in large part because of
the war on some drugs.

At an average cost of $26,134 per inmate annually, maintaining the
world's largest prison system can hardly be considered fiscally
conservative. It's not possible to wage a moralistic war against
consensual vices unless privacy is completely eliminated, along with
the Constitution. America can be a free country or a "drug-free,"
country, but not both.

ROBERT SHARPE, Washington, D.C.
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