Pubdate: Fri, 04 Oct 2002
Source: Gainesville Sun, The (FL)
Copyright: 2002 The Gainesville Sun
Author: Steve Hach



I found Florida drug czar Jim McDonough's comments (Sept. 17) vis-a-vis the 
effectiveness of Gov. Bush's drug war policies to be disingenuous.

Their drug control "strategy" does not define "success" by saving lives, 
curing addiction, and reducing the huge numbers of Floridians incarcerated 
for drugs, approximately 30 percent of state prison admissions per year.

Instead, Bush and McDonough claim "victory" based on responses to a survey 
that asks school children "what drugs do you use and what drugs have you used?"

What American of any age is going to answer questions like that truthfully 
in an age of "zero tolerance," mandatory minimum sentences, and forced drug 
treatment for substances like cannabis?

Reports show deaths due to drugs in Florida continue to increase. In 2001, 
deaths attributed to methadone increased 71 percent, while 
hydrocodone/oxycodone deaths increased 45 percent, and cocaine deaths 
increased 7 percent.

Heroin deaths in Florida are up 37 percent since Jeb Bush became governor. 
The heroin death increase rate is most disturbing because Bush cut funding 
for treatment clinics in precisely those areas suffering the largest 
increases in overdoses.

The Florida drug control strategy focuses almost exclusively on school 
children, despite the fact that Floridians under the age of 18 make up less 
than 2 percent of the drug death cases.

The strategy cynically ignores the very real problems that many older 
Floridians face due to long-term addictions to heroin and cocaine while the 
drug czar focuses on the "prevention" of experimentation with cannabis, the 
legal drug alcohol, and the so-called "club drugs," which, despite 
McDonough's hysterical rantings about "rave clubs," are responsible for 
less than 5 percent of Florida drug deaths.

When Noelle Bush's addictions to prescription drugs and crack cocaine 
became known to the public, the governor demanded "privacy and 
understanding" for his daughter, rather than the punishment of a long 
sentence in a prison where his policies have gutted drug treatment programs.

It is time to end the double standards and hypocrisy and realize that drug 
addiction is always a medical problem worthy of "privacy and understanding" 
even for those of us not named Bush.
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