Pubdate: Wed, 12 Aug 1998
Date: 12/08/1998
Source: Dallas Morning News (TX)
Author: Joe Schneider, Carrolton

You published two interesting letters on illegal drug policy ("Drugs
in America," Nov. 22).

I agree with Rolf Ernst's point of view ("I've been there") and wanted
to point out one flaw with Barbara Sneed's ("Gateway snared my
daughter"). It seemed from the tone of her letter that her daughter's
problems began after she was arrested for marijuana possession. I
would be willing to bet her daughter had been involved with marijuana
for some time before getting caught.

Yet she was able to be the best athlete on her team. Now she has a
criminal record that will follow her for the rest of her life.

While there is no guarantee that her daughter would not have some
problem related to her drug use, arresting her did ensure that her
life would be made more difficult.

Criminalizing 100 percent of a group because 5 percent of that group
might cause some problem is a failed policy. Seventy percent of our
prison population is there for nonviolent drug-related offenses.

The current war on drugs has ruined more lives than the drug use ever
would have. Let's get sensible and reserve our prison space for the
likes of Kenneth McDuff, who was probably paroled to make room for
some poor fool caught smoking a joint in his back yard. There are
better ways to spend our money.