Pubdate: Thu, 13 Sep 2007
Source: Montgomery Advertiser (AL)
Copyright: 2007 The Advertiser Co.
Note: Letters from the newspaper's circulation area receive publishing priority
Author: Loretta Nall


I want to thank Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb publicly for her efforts 
to ease prison overcrowding and address drug addiction with a more 
compassionate approach. It is so important for society to realize 
that addiction is an illness that can be treated and not a crime that 
needs punishing.

Many of you know me as a voice for drug policy and prison reform in 
Alabama and as a candidate for governor in 2006. I am also a family 
member who has witnessed the devastating impact that drugs and 
alcohol can have on human lives.

I have two brothers -- one in prison and one who just overdosed for 
the ninth time on methadone provided to him by the VA. I love them 
both very much, despite their addictions. I know for a fact locking 
them in prison does not work.

While I am happy to see drug courts expand in Alabama, I fear that 
they will simply round up pot smokers to fill their treatment beds. 
Those beds should be kept available for people suffering from 
addiction to hard drugs like alcohol, methamphetamine, crack/power 
cocaine and opiates, both pharmaceutical and street versions.

Marijuana should be exempt from all criminal sanctions, police 
involvement, and court oversight when used responsibly by adults.

Taking responsible adult pot smokers out of the drug court equation 
will greatly enable the drug courts to better help the people who 
really need it.

Loretta Nall

Alexander City
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