Libertarian vice-presidential candidate Jim Gray called the country's
anti-drug policies a disaster on a trip to Salem College today.
Gray, a retired superior court judge from California, said the
country's drug enforcement laws and efforts only put big profits into
the pockets of major drug dealers without putting a real dent into
the supply of drugs or their effects on society and the people who use them.
"We couldn't do it worse if we tried," Gray said. "Drug prohibition
is the biggest failed policy in America."
[continues 135 words]
In response to Tamara Dietrich's column, "Pat Robertson, a hero to
hippies," this is the first thing he has said in many years that
makes sense: Legalize pot, marijuana, whatever name you put to cannabis.
Robertson said, "I think it's just shocking how many of these young
people wind up in prison and they get turned into hard-core criminals
because they had possession of a very small amount of controlled
substance. The whole thing is crazy."
Let's look at the numbers. According to this column, 2.5 million are
incarcerated for "soft" nonviolent drug offenses. This costs billions
of dollars: $41.3 billion a year on enforcement, $25.7 billion to
state and local governments. Legalizing pot alone would save $9
billion. Then, if these drugs are taxed at rates comparable to
alcohol and tobacco, it would yield $46.7 billion a year, $8.7
billion from pot.
[continues 119 words]
A recent upswing in methamphetamine-lab activity means law-enforcement
officers will have to work all the harder to keep up the progress
they've made against the drug in recent years. State legislators
should help by tightening the law on meth labs.
Rep. Craig Horn, a Republican from Union County, told the Journal this
week that a bipartisan group of legislators is working with law
enforcement on legislation to battle portable labs, and they hope to
soon get it passed.
[continues 198 words]
Gathering at Dash Field Paid for With Seized Drug Money
Today, more than 500 parents and children will take part in activities
at Wake Forest Baseball Park to help youngsters learn about the
dangers of drug and alcohol abuse.
They will also be given free Winston-Salem Dash hats and T-shirts for
taking a short quiz about those risks.
And it is being paid for by the very people who peddle those illegal
The Parent Kid Challenge is the latest activity sponsored by a
partnership between the Winston-Salem Police Department, the Dash
baseball team, and Drug Free North Carolina, an anti-drug advocacy
[continues 418 words]
No reasonable person disputes that public safety is one of
government's core responsibilities. Systems for law enforcement,
criminal justice and incarceration must be strong enough to protect
law-abiding citizens from those who endanger them.
There are times, however, when legislators overreact to public fears
about crime and put disproportionately large resources into
incarceration. North Carolina's habitual-felons law is an example.
The General Assembly has an opportunity this year, in its closing
days, to improve a 42-year-old law that imprisons some nonviolent
repeat offenders for too long. It's not that we feel any sympathy for
these lawbreakers, but changing the law would amount to a better use
of tax money.
[continues 369 words]
A heartbreaking trend in this country's never-ending drug problem is
playing out in Northwest North Carolina. Prescription-drug deaths, as
well as prescription-drug abuse and crime, are rising in rural counties.
More organizations and individuals should join law-enforcement
officers and confront the problem before its human and financial costs
spiral. "It's unbelievable how bad this is," Donna Reeves of Wilkes
County recently told the Journal's Monte Mitchell. Her 20-year-old
daughter, Casey, was one of 18 people who died in Wilkes County in
2006 of a prescription-drug overdose. There were more than 22
"unintentional poisonings," a state category made up mostly of
prescription-drug deaths, per 100,000 people in parts of the mountains
and foothills in 2006-2007, compared with 10 deaths per 100,000 in the
rest of the state.
[continues 820 words]
WILKESBORO -- Donna Reeves was worried about her daughter Casey's drug
"I told her, 'I don't want to get that phone call (that) somebody's
found my daughter dead,'" Reeves said.
"Mom, I know my limits," Casey told her.
But one Saturday, Casey stayed in bed uncharacteristically late. Her
father had gone out of town to a charity event and her mother was upstairs.
"I was the one who had to make that phone call to her daddy and tell
him that his daughter was dead, because I'm the one who found her,"
[continues 1148 words]
A joke in the Reagan era was that in the "War on Poverty, poverty
won." It's not hard to see who won the War on Drugs, a war that has
destroyed more lives than drugs ever have. Note that in the greatest
days of America, no drugs were illegal; opium and cocaine were
available from Sears Roebuck.
The groundswell for marijuana legalization is so obvious that
President Obama had to acknowledge it in his recent cyber town-hall
event. He sloughed off the issue, observing that legalization would
not "grow the economy." However, Sens. Jim Webb, D-Va., and Arlen
Specter, R-Pa., have introduced legislation to rescue America's
malfunctioning prison system. Some decriminalization of drugs will be
part of the package.
[continues 138 words]
Some worry that Afghanistan will become President Obama's war, but a
nearer conflict requires dispassionate analysis before we become
immersed in yet another quagmire. I refer to the bloody drug war in
Mexico ("Gangs oust police chief with threats on officers," Feb. 21).
In Iraq last year, 2,592 allied forces were killed. In Mexico, twice
that number of people were murdered, many of them police. That facile
drug-war label may not relate to reality.
Given increased border security, how do these so-profitable drugs get
through? Given the massive aid to the rightwing Colombian government,
how are the drugs produced? Given the overwhelming anti-terrorist
initiatives of the last administration, how do thousands of American
guns go south? Either we are being lied to or our government is
ignorant of the true conditions. "Bush Pattern Misinformation" is a
familiar constant. Texas must have some interests here; what are
they? If not a smuggling dispute, is this an insurrection? If so, who
is revolting? Who can find out?
[continues 95 words]
He Says He Stole, Lied About Cancer
A former Yadkin County sheriff's deputy will spend at least 34 months
in prison after he pleaded guilty yesterday to charges that he
embezzled money from the agency and concocted a lie that led people to
raise money for his cancer treatments.
Darrell Thornton admitted in Yadkin Superior Court that he changed a
doctor's colonoscopy report to make fellow employees think he had
cancer. Thornton pleaded guilty to 10 counts of embezzlement, two
counts of attempting to traffic in opium and OxyContin, one count of
obtaining property by false pretenses and common-law forgery. The
pleas were part of a deal with prosecutor Fred Bauer in which eight
counts of larceny by an employee were dropped and all the guilty pleas
were merged into four charges for sentencing.
[continues 239 words]
School Board Makes Change To Save Money
The Winston-Salem/Forsyth County school board decided last night to
reduce the number of random drug tests for students involved in
The board voted to lower the percentage of students tested from 33
percent to 20 percent to lower the costs of the drug-testing program.
A federal drug-testing grant awarded to the school system will run
out this fall. That means that the system will have to spend about
$30,000 to cover the costs of testing even 20 percent of students
involved in extra-curricular activities, school officials said.
[continues 245 words]
Group Says It Reported Incorrect Prison Rates For Blacks, Whites
A Washington-based advocacy group reported last December that Forsyth
County led the nation's largest counties in having the widest
disparity in the rate at which blacks and whites go to prison on
The disparity remains, with more blacks going to prison on drug
charges than whites, but the national disparity isn't as wide as
originally reported by the Justice Policy Institute. And it also turns
out that Forsyth County does not have the widest disparity in the nation.
[continues 444 words]
In the first three weeks of December, Davidson County deputies raided
three methamphetamine labs. It was the classic good/bad news: good
because the deputies were on the job, and bad because there's still so
much meth out there for them to find.
But there could be a lot more of this highly addictive, destructive
drug out there. In the meth theater of the otherwise losing war on
drugs, the good guys have won some battles. It's far too early to
declare a victory. But it's worth noting that in Davidson, just as in
other counties across the state, law-enforcement officials and others
have waged a concerted effort that may just stop meth from becoming,
to use the cliche, the crack cocaine of the 2000s. "We feel like it is
subsiding," said Sheriff David Grice of Davidson County. If that does
turn out to be the case in Davidson and other counties, a lot of lives
will be saved. And without so many meth addicts, millions of tax
dollars won't have to go toward supporting them and their families,
whether the addicts are in prison or outside it.
[continues 443 words]
Rural Communities Following Lead of Large Cities in Efforts to Work
With Federal Agencies
YADKINVILLE - The Yadkinville police officer had a hunch about the
comings and goings from the parking lot at the Days Inn motel.
First, a woman got out of a Jeep Liberty and into a Dodge Durango.
Then, a group of men outside the hotel got in the Jeep and left. When
they returned, they switched vehicles again and drove away.
The officer called for backup from Yadkin County's drug-interdiction
team. And with that call local officers also got help with
surveillance from the federal Drug Enforcement Agency's El Paso
Intelligence Center. According to a search warrant, the night's
journeys had just begun. The Durango made stops in Hamptonville,
North Wilkesboro, a small Wilkes County community called Hayes and
Winston-Salem before returning to a house in Hamptonville.
[continues 663 words]
Deputies First, Then Firefighters
Random drug testing is expected to start soon for Forsyth County
sheriff's deputies, with testing for county firefighters and
paramedics to follow. The heads of the county's three public-safety
agencies said that random drug testing is a good way for the county
to ensure public confidence. The sheriff's office is working out the
last details before starting testing, and firefighters and paramedics
may start testing by March 1. "That's overdue," said Sheriff Bill
Schatzman. "We can't have that (drugs) in law enforcement, when
you're talking about guns and taking a life and taking people's civil
liberties." Winston-Salem police have had random drug tests since the
early 1990s, but the sheriff's office has not. It relied instead on
the policy that applies to all county employees, which did not have
random testing. Both police and the sheriff's office allow a
supervisor to have an officer tested when they have reasonable
suspicion to believe that officer might be using drugs. Both agencies
test an officer or deputy before hiring. Police also require testing
when an officer is in a wreck that does a lot of damage to a car, or
a wreck with serious injuries in which the officer is at fault, said
Lt. Brad Yandell, a police spokesman.
[continues 295 words]
People like Gary Don Holt should be able to get out and do a little hunting.
Holt, of High Point, is, however, a convicted felon, and under
current federal law, he can't even handle a gun legally unless he is
pardoned for his 1986 marijuana-possession conviction. That should be
easy, considering that Holt, a furniture warehouse supervisor, has
been a good citizen since he broke the law as a 21-year-old and pleaded guilty.
That pardon, however, won't come from Gov. Mike Easley who, according
to a recent story on The Associated Press wire, has denied all of
Holt's requests for mercy. It's typical of Easley, who has pardoned
only five former felons in his seven years in office. Former Gov. Jim
Hunt, by comparison, pardoned more than 200 in his previous eight years.
[continues 350 words]
Fear That Dealers Are Targeting Kids Sparks Effort, But Skeptics Say
That Threat Is Only A Myth
JEFFERSON Drug dealers could be distributing candy-flavored
methamphetamine to children. Or reports that they are could be an
urban legend spreading on the Internet and in the news media,
depending on who you believe. But in Ashe County, Sheriff James
Williams' nose told him that a batch of pink meth seized by his
investigators during a three-month investigation earlier this year
sure smelled different.
[continues 822 words]
For whatever reasons, Forsyth County is at the top of a new study's
nationwide list for having the widest disparity between blacks and
whites going to prison for drug charges. Maybe the county doesn't
belong at the top of the list, but the study has raised at least two
questions that local leaders, both in law enforcement and outside it,
should try to tackle: Is the size of that disparity correct, and, if
so, what can be done about it?
[continues 427 words]
Black-White Disparity Found
A new study that compares the nation's largest counties puts Forsyth
County at the top of its list as having the widest disparity between
blacks and whites going to prison on drug charges.
The study, released today, was done by the Justice Policy Institute, a
research and advocacy group in Washington. Jason Ziedenberg, the
executive director, said yesterday that the purpose of the study was
to start a debate about who is going to prison and for what reasons.
[continues 807 words]
Recently, Authorities Have Found Bumper Crop Of Pot Plants
COLUMBIA, S.C. -- From the ground, the pine forests near the North
Carolina line appear unremarkable -- rows of trees that eventually
will be chopped down to make way for a housing development.
More than 30,000 marijuana plants have been seized this month in two
raids just south of Charlotte, N.C., bringing the total number of
marijuana plants seized this year to 38,000.
That's nearly three times the number confiscated across South
Carolina in all of 2005, and nearly as many as were seized statewide last year.
[continues 689 words]