Pubdate: Sat, 15 Mar 2003
Source: Johnson City Press (TN)
Copyright: 2003 Johnson City Press and Associated Press
Author: Robert Sharpe



Washington County's drug court is definitely a step in the right direction.

For nonviolent offenders with chronic substance abuse problems, drug 
treatment is a cost-effective alternative to incarceration. Unfortunately, 
drug courts are being misused for political purposes. Record numbers of 
Americans arrested for marijuana possession have been forced into treatment 
by the criminal justice system. The resulting distortion of treatment 
statistics is then used by drug czar John Walters to make the claim that 
marijuana is "addictive."

Zero tolerance drug laws do not distinguish between occasional use and 
chronic abuse. The coercion of Americans who prefer marijuana to martinis 
into taxpayer-funded treatment centers says a lot about U.S. government 
priorities but absolutely nothing about the relative harms of marijuana.

For an objective take on marijuana, look to Canada. In the words of Sen. 
Pierre Claude Nolin, "Scientific evidence overwhelmingly indicates that 
cannabis is substantially less harmful than alcohol and should be treated 
not as a criminal issue but as a social and public health issue."

Robert Sharpe, Drug Policy Alliance

Washington, D.C. 20005
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