Pubdate: Saturday, October 10, 1998
Copyright: (c) 1998 The Washington Post Company
Source: Washington Post (DC)
Section: Page A21
Author: Paul Armentano


Barry McCaffrey's zeal to probe the private lives of NBA players by
instituting random drug testing for marijuana is misguided and unnecessary
["A Clean and Sober NBA," op-ed, Sept. 30]. Marijuana is clearly not a
performance-enhancing drug, and it is inappropriate to force players who
are not even suspected of using drugs -- and whose job performance is
satisfactory -- to "prove" their innocence through this degrading procedure
that violates personal privacy.

The NBA is not a law enforcement agency, and the burden of enforcing
criminal sanctions for the recreational use of marijuana should not fall
upon its shoulders. If anything, the evidence that many NBA players use
marijuana simply reflects that marijuana smoking remains common among a
significant segment of Americans despite more than 60 years of criminal
prohibition. Rather than calling for more drug testing, federal officials
should begin to question the rationality of criminalizing otherwise
law-abiding citizens who smoke marijuana privately.

Paul Armentano

The writer is director of publications for the National Organization for
the Reform of Marijuana Laws Foundation. 
- ---
Checked-by: Mike Gogulski