Source: Playboy Section: Forum, Reader's Response Authors: Joel Johnson, Steve Young, James Gierach, David Correa, Jeremy Cranfill, Brian Rogers Contact: http://www.playboy.com/ Editors note: This proves that our friends and supporters do respond to the DrugSense FOCUS alerts, in this case resulting in being published in a 3.67 million circulation magazine. Our 16 Nov. alert said: The December issue of Playboy had not one but three notable mentions in the section known as the "Playboy Forum." The November Coalition (Nora Calahan) and Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM) were both mentioned in the opening paragraph of an excellent article "Why talking about drugs IS worse than murder" By JAMES BOVARD. This article also mentions Will Foster and makes some dynamite points. The article is at: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/1997/v97.n597.a01.html Author David Correa is featured in a November Coalition page at: http://www.november.org/wall-DavidC.html .......... SENTENCING BACKLASH I applaud PLAYBOY for James Bovard's article on drug sentences. "Time Out for Justice (The Playboy Forum, December) shows clearly the incongruity of our country's criminal-sentencing guidelines. I question the morality of a drug policy that categorizes drug users as more dangerous than murderers. People should have an inalienable right to do whatever we want to ourselves. Criminalizing drug use is like prohibiting bungee jumping. The sport can have fatal consequences, but you can't make it a crime to take the risk. Bovard's account of Will Foster's conviction is all the more disturbing because Foster harmed nobody by growing marijuana in his home. He wasn't even taking a life risk (unless, of course, you take into account his 93-year sentence). I hope similar editorial treatment of the drug war catastrophe will encourage a more humane approach. Joel Johnson, San Jose, California ………. Disturbing as the stores are in Bovard's article, they represent the reality behind the delusional rhetoric of the drug warriors. As more people learn what's really happening, our leaders may be forced to abandon these destructive and counterproductive policies. Steve Young, Rosalie, Illinois ………. Eight years ago, when I decided to put a stop to the illicit drug business, I feared for my safety. Taking the profit out of the drug trade by handing out free drugs was clearly the answer. As a hopeful candidate for Cook County state's attorney, I outlined my plan to have the U.S. government by drugs (for peanuts) from drug-producing countries. As time passed and my ideas for a dramatic change in drug policy proved to be entirely unpalatable to the powers that be, I came to realize why my arsenic recipe for drug dealers never endangered my personal safety. The dealers already knew what I was still learning - that in America drug tolerance in any form is intolerable. I still shake my head in amazement when I recall law-enforcement officers' burning confiscated drug contraband while government officials would knowingly, intentionally and willfully maneuver to keep drug prices high. Perhaps the campaign to put a stop to this nonsense lacks a snappy slogan that would help the idea catch on. How about "Take a snort out of crime - end the war on drugs"? James Gierach, Oak Lawn, Illinois ………. Thank you for "Time Out for Justice." It's time the public learned about the draconian sentences being give to nonviolent first-time drug offenders in the U.S. while true criminals are free to walk the streets. I am one of your horror stories, a first-time nonviolent offender who is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole, convicted of conspiracy to possess and intent to distribute cocaine. Unlike my traitorous friend who turned out to be an FBI informant I had nothing to offer the government, so I was given life. But a life sentence wasn't enough. The government came with a civil forfeiture against my assets, and I had to agree to a 50-50 split or I would have lost it all. Before my arrest I was employed as a commercial pilot by Eastern Airlines and had never been in trouble with the law. I do not have answers, but I know that something is very wrong with our justice system when people who could be productive, tax-paying members of society are in prison for life while cold-blooded murders are on their way home. David Correa, Coleman, Florida ………. It pains me to see that a murder can be out on parole while a man who grows marijuana for his own medicinal use is in prison for life with no possibility of parole. Please stop this insanity and, as Bovard says, save us from our saviors. Jeremy Cranfill, Salt Lake City, Utah ………. It seems that the war on drugs has escalated since the passage of the federal forfeiture laws and other financial incentives designed to induce local law enforcement to act against drug offenders. While the idea of legalizing hard drugs such as cocaine and heroin is of debatable merit, we should decriminalize marijuana. Because drug legalization is unlikely to happen any time soon, other measures should be taken to lessen the impact of this immoral war. Federal forfeiture laws ought to be abolished, as they make it too appealing for police agencies to abuse the law. We should do away with mandatory minimums, which make it impossible for a judge to consider extenuating circumstances or the relative gravity of each crime. Brian Rogers, Grove City, Ohio Letters reprinted from The Playboy Forum, April 1998. Copyright © 1998 Playboy Enterprises, Inc.