Pubdate: Wed, 06 Aug 2014
Source: Buffalo News (NY)
Copyright: 2014 The Buffalo News
Author: Robert Sharpe


Regarding The News' thoughtful July 28 editorial, for non-violent 
offenders with substance abuse problems, treatment is a 
cost-effective alternative to incarceration. Unfortunately, diversion 
programs are being misused for political purposes. Record numbers of 
citizens arrested for marijuana possession have been forced into 
treatment by the criminal justice system. The resulting distortion of 
treatment statistics is used by shameless drug warriors to claim that 
marijuana is "addictive."

Zero-tolerance drug laws do not distinguish between use and abuse. 
Just as adults who drink an occasional glass of red wine with dinner 
don't need mandatory substance abuse treatment, the vast majority of 
marijuana consumers don't either. The coercion of Americans who 
prefer marijuana to martinis into treatment says a lot about 
government priorities, but absolutely nothing about marijuana.

Treatment may be cheaper than incarceration for taxpayers. It's 
cheaper still for government to mind its own business and leave 
adults who aren't harming others alone. The drug war is ending and 
not everyone is happy about it. There is an effort under way to 
create a kinder, gentler drug war by marrying the for-profit prison 
industry to a growing for-profit treatment industry. This is an 
ominous development.

Robert Sharpe, M.P.A. Policy Analyst Common Sense for Drug Policy
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