Pubdate: Tue, 13 Aug 2013
Source: Washington Times (DC)
Copyright: 2013 The Washington Times, LLC.


The Drug-Free Zone Shrinks to the Family Hearth

Aging hippies have waited a lifetime to achieve their reefer dreams. 
Several states are relaxing marijuana laws, and the White House is 
right behind. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. on Monday announced 
the first retreat in the War on Drugs since President Nixon declared 
the war four decades ago.

"Our system is in too many ways broken," said Mr. Holder, who 
proposed to "break free from the status quo," and endorsed 
legislation by Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Mike Lee of Utah to 
give judges more room to minimize penalties for minor drug crimes. 
The idea is to stop flooding federal penitentiaries with nonviolent 
offenders. Mr. Holder said the administration wants the federal 
government to quit meddling in everything. "Some issues are best 
handled at the state and local level," he said. That much is 
unexpected good news.

Mr. Holder should have gone a step further to propose changing 
forfeiture statutes that enable the seizure of homes and other 
property from those who have been neither charged nor convicted of 
anything. Police can, for example, seize and keep the money from 
someone caught driving with a large sum of cash in the belief that 
it's related to the narcotics trade. It's up to the driver to prove 
otherwise, if he can. This turns law enforcement into a profit-making 
enterprise and screams abuse.

Softening the drug laws at the state level, however, sends a 
confusing message to kids about the dangers of drugs. Not two miles 
from the Justice Department headquarters in Washington, D.C., a 
dispensary opened July 30 to dispense weed for "medicinal" purposes. 
Last month, New Hampshire became the 19th state to legalize such 
marijuana for the ill, the halt and the infirm, making all of New 
England a pot-friendly zone. Two other states - Colorado and 
Washington - have legalized ganja for recreational purposes. In 
Colorado, stores where customers 21 and older can legally buy pot 
will open Jan. 1, though some towns and cities have imposed their own 
bans. Where shops are allowed, children in their impressionable years 
are likely to grow accustomed to the signature pointy-leaf emblem, 
neutralizing warnings against the dangers of the high life.

The Partnership for a Drug-Free America, with its ubiquitous warnings 
about drugs, has retrenched in the face of marijuana's new 
semi-respectability. Now called the Partnership at, the 
group released a survey last month of adults, including parents in 
Colorado and Washington state of children ages 10 to 19 that reveals 
the conflicted views many Americans hold about marijuana. It finds 
that 43 percent have used pot, 70 percent favor legalization for 
medical purposes, 52 percent support decriminalizing use, and 42 
percent support legalization for recreational use.

But they don't want their own kids to become potheads, with 85 
percent of Colorado parents strongly affirming their belief that 
"marijuana can have strong negative consequences on the 
still-developing brains of teenagers." Ninety percent of Colorado 
parents and 91 percent of Washington parents say it should be against 
the law to provide pot to children at home.

Responsible parents can't wait for the government to untangle the 
conflicted messages kids get when illegal drugs go mainstream. 
They'll have to do the right, and difficult, thing to preserve their 
homes as drug-free zones.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom