Pubdate: Mon, 07 Jul 2003
Source: San Mateo County Times, The (CA)
Copyright: 2003, MediaNews Group, Inc. and ANG Newspapers
Author: Bruce Mirken
Cited: Drug Enforcement Administration ( )
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)
Bookmark: (Cannabis)


AS THE FEDERAL Drug Enforcement Administration celebrates its 30th
anniversary this July, the U.S. Senate is considering the nomination of
Karen Tandy as the DEA's first female administrator.

This should call for a critical review of the DEA's record, but the Senate
Judiciary Committee's once-over-lightly June 25 hearing on Tandy's
nomination gave no hint that anyone is willing to ask the necessary

The DEA has squandered vast resources arresting medical marijuana patients
and caregivers -- people whose only crime is trying to obtain relief from
the symptoms of cancer, AIDS, and other terrible illnesses.

Meanwhile, the clearest measure of the DEA's effectiveness -- availability
of illegal drugs -- demonstrates utter failure. Since 1975 the federal
government has funded "Monitoring the Future," a survey of teen drug use.

That first year, 87.8 percent of high school seniors said that marijuana was
"easy to get." In 2002, some 15 million marijuana arrests later, the figure
was 87.2 percent.

Cocaine and heroin were easier for teens to obtain in 2002 than in 1975.

It is time our elected officials did some serious rethinking of anti- drug
strategies and priorities. But don't hold your breath.

Bruce Mirken

director of communications

Marijuana Policy Project