Pubdate: Fri, 04 Jul 2003
Source: Daily Herald (IL)
Copyright: 2003 The Daily Herald Company
Author: Bruce Mirken
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)
Bookmark: (Tandy, Karen)


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 questions.

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 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, 
Washington, D.C.
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