Pubdate: Thu, 18 Oct 2007
Source: Des Moines Register (IA)
Copyright: 2007 The Des Moines Register.
Author: Kurt Johnson


Thank you for your article "Prisons' Racial Disparity Raises New
Debate" (Oct. 5). Your article highlights one of the most significant
problems with our drug laws: If your drug of choice happens to be out
of favor with the current lawmakers, then you are a criminal. But if
your drug of choice is in favor, like alcohol or tobacco, then you
have no problem.

Excessive or addictive drug use may be a problem for many individuals
and families, but it should not be considered by society to be a crime
unless it affects others in a criminal way. Wrongful acts committed
against others, such as assault or theft, should be prosecuted as
crimes whether or not a person was under the influence of illicit
drugs. Driving while intoxicated, which poses a great risk to others,
should be prosecuted as a crime regardless of whether the person was
using alcohol, illicit drugs or prescription drugs.

But the mere use by adults of illicit drugs, or the sale by adults to
other adults of illicit drugs, should not be a crime. As free
individuals, we all should be allowed to decide what risks we want to
take with our own bodies as long as we don't infringe on the rights of

Putting drug users in jail not only costs taxpayers a lot of money,
but it destroys lives by labeling people who have committed no crime
against another person as criminals. Also, because we have this
prohibition against illicit drugs, we lose all control over its use,
distribution and regulation, and so we are unable to protect our children.

As was proven during the 1920s, prohibition creates fertile ground for
organized crime and the violence that comes with it. End prohibition,
and stop the discrimination.

Kurt Johnson

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