Pubdate: Tue, 01 Feb 2000
Date: 02/01/2000
Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
Author: Tom O'Connell, MD

Editor -- The important point about John Warnecke's allegations that
Al Gore used a lot more marijuana than previously admitted (``Pot Use
May Cloud Gore Campaign,'' January 29), is not how much he used; it's
the degree to which Gore and all the other candidates have -- with
tacit media complicity -- managed to avoid the entire drug policy issue.

Since the drug war hasn't been questioned, the implication is that
it's so firmly agreed upon, there's no need to raise it as an issue.

This politically correct view may be comfortable for candidates and
the media, but an increasing number of Americans see drug prohibition
as a failed policy which is doing far more to fill prisons than limit
drug use; they want it openly discussed, along with alternative
strategies. It now seems likely that rich political scions, each with
a drug-use skeleton in his youthful closet, will receive the major
nominations. They'll both have a lot more trouble ducking the drug
policy issue for the simple reason that as politicians themselves,
they've been staunch supporters of punitive laws which -- had they
been less privileged -- could easily have saddled them with felony
arrest records and kept them permanently out of politics.

Tom O'Connell, MD,
San Mateo

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