The failing war on drugs

Published: Sunday, February 1, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 31, 2004 at 9:54 p.m.

The editorial "Drug use dropping," Jan 26, says that new drug use statistics are "a siren call to drug dealers." In 2002, 88 percent of America's 697,082 marijuana arrests were for possession. The remaining 12 percent are a mix of large possessors, personal cultivators, and, rarely, the seller. This is consistent with arrest rates over the previous decade.

George Bush Sr., having to deal with his own son's jail worthy drug use, fought the war consistently, and spent $42.5 billion in four years enacting new laws aimed to kill or imprison "helpless" addicts and building the DARE program. Still, over a quarter of American college students in 1992 used marijuana, risking arrest. Since then, marijuana arrests in general and usage among high schoolers have more than doubled.

It is unfortunate that the drop in drug use did not carry to Jeb Bush's own daughter. She was arrested, funny enough, two years ago for trying to fill fake prescriptions. She was originally kept out of prison, even though she committed a felony. In the Center for Drug-Free Living, she was able to acquire crack cocaine and pills, having to visit the big house twice, serving a handful of days, during her time in rehab.

Let's reduce demand, but not by decimating the rights of the common demander. A 19-year-old Alachua County student was arrested last June for marijuana possession, put in a cell and raped, while our governor's daughter emerged from rehab, unharmed.

I challenge the writer to prove why this 15-year-old war will eventually work, while Prohibition, the war on alcohol, did not. Put enough people in jail, and eventually they all will "behave?" Looking at a 2002 CNN/Time Magazine poll, which showed that 47 percent of Americans had tried marijuana at least once, this mentality clearly has no support.

Michael S. Belle,


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