Pubdate: Tue, 26 Feb 2002
Source: Northwest Florida Daily News (FL)
Copyright: 2002 Northwest Florida Daily News
Author: Robert Sharpe
Bookmark: (Treatment)
Bookmark: (Cannabis)


As noted in your Feb. 23 editorial ("More of the same"), the Bush 
administration's new drug war budget is essentially more of the same. 
However, there are key changes that threaten to turn the drug war into a 
modern-day version of the Spanish Inquisition.

The Bush administration is pushing "compassionate coercion" for users of 
certain drugs. Coerced treatment does not distinguish between occasional 
use and chronic abuse. Given that only users of politically incorrect drugs 
are threatened with jail, the nation's millions of marijuana smokers are 
the most likely target of Bush's "compassion."

Like any drug, marijuana can be harmful if abused, but arrests and forced 
treatment are hardly appropriate health interventions.

Diet is the No. 1 determinant of health outcomes. Do we really want big 
government monitoring everything that goes into our bodies?

And if it is the proper role of government to punish citizens for unhealthy 
choices, why target marijuana? Unlike alcohol, marijuana has never been 
shown to cause an overdose death, nor does it share the addictive 
properties of tobacco. The United States now has the highest incarceration 
rate in the world, in large part due to the war on some drugs. This country 
cannot afford to continue subsidizing the prejudices of culture warriors to 
the tune of $50 billion annually.

ROBERT SHARPE, Program Officer, Drug Policy Alliance, Washington, D.C.
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