HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Rep Hutchinson Shares His Notion Of Anti-Drug 'Crusade'
Pubdate: Fri, 06 Jul 2001
Source: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (AR)
Copyright: 2001 Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Inc.
Author: Doug Thompson - Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)
Bookmark: (Drug Courts)


FAYETTEVILLE -- Efforts to stop the use of illegal drugs in the United
States are "worthy of a great crusade," the prospective head of the Drug
Enforcement Administration told a group of high school students

"The amount of personal destruction caused by addiction is massive,"
said U.S. Rep. Asa Hutchinson, R-Ark.

Hutchinson spoke Thursday at the Fulbright School of Public Affairs, a
University of Arkansas campus summer program for high school seniors
from across the state. He has spoken at the program since it started 16
years ago.

President Bush has nominated Hutchinson to head the Drug Enforcement
Administration. Senate confirmation is expected soon, Senate Judiciary
Committee members say.

A former U.S. attorney, Hutchinson's prosecutions included the drug
prosecution of Roger Clinton, half-brother of then-Gov. Bill Clinton.

"Some have said we ought to legalize" the use of marijuana, cocaine and
other drugs, sparing the cost and effort of enforcing drug laws,
Hutchinson said. He opposes legalization, he said, in part because it
has been tried already.

"Drugs were essentially unregulated in this country until early in this
century," he said. "You could buy cocaine. You could buy heroin. We've
tried total legalization, and the drug laws we have today are a result
of watching what addiction problems happen when any kind of drug is

"Even patent medicines that advertised that they cured addictions had
addictive cocaine in them" at the turn of the century, Hutchinson said.

Hutchinson said he could not go into much detail on drug policy, since
his nomination is pending.

"Senators like to be the first ones asking these types of questions" of
nominees, he said, when persistently peppered with questions by the
students. "Talking about this makes me a little nervous." Students
asked: Isn't it hypocritical to enforce laws against marijuana and other
drugs that cause little health harm while allowing relatively free use
of tobacco and alcohol? The harm done by tobacco and alcohol doesn't
make a very good argument for adding more drugs to the list of legal
ones, Hutchinson said. "People say you cannot win the war against drugs.
Well, you can't just through enforcement," Hutchinson said. "Law
enforcement agencies and professionals will be the first to tell you
that they are just trying to hold their finger in the dike long enough
for people to become better educated and make sounder judgments on
drugs. We have to reduce the demand."

He backed the use of drug courts, which keep first- and second-time drug
offenders under close supervision for a year, with weekly drug testing
and monthly review of each case by the presiding judge.

Hutchinson noted that the number of repeat offenders "goes down to 37
percent in drug courts compared to 67 percent" in regular courts.
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