Pubdate: Sun, 01 Feb 2004
Source: Gainesville Sun, The (FL)
Copyright: 2004 The Gainesville Sun
Author: Michael S. Belle


The editorial "Drug use dropping," Jan 26, says that new drug use 
statistics are "a siren call to drug dealers." In 2002, 88 percent of 
America's 697,082 marijuana arrests were for possession. The remaining 12 
percent are a mix of large possessors, personal cultivators, and, rarely, 
the seller. This is consistent with arrest rates over the previous decade.

George Bush Sr., having to deal with his own son's jail worthy drug use, 
fought the war consistently, and spent $42.5 billion in four years enacting 
new laws aimed to kill or imprison "helpless" addicts and building the DARE 
program. Still, over a quarter of American college students in 1992 used 
marijuana, risking arrest. Since then, marijuana arrests in general and 
usage among high schoolers have more than doubled.

It is unfortunate that the drop in drug use did not carry to Jeb Bush's own 
daughter. She was arrested, funny enough, two years ago for trying to fill 
fake prescriptions. She was originally kept out of prison, even though she 
committed a felony. In the Center for Drug-Free Living, she was able to 
acquire crack cocaine and pills, having to visit the big house twice, 
serving a handful of days, during her time in rehab.

Let's reduce demand, but not by decimating the rights of the common 
demander. A 19-year-old Alachua County student was arrested last June for 
marijuana possession, put in a cell and raped, while our governor's 
daughter emerged from rehab, unharmed.

I challenge the writer to prove why this 15-year-old war will eventually 
work, while Prohibition, the war on alcohol, did not. Put enough people in 
jail, and eventually they all will "behave?" Looking at a 2002 CNN/Time 
Magazine poll, which showed that 47 percent of Americans had tried 
marijuana at least once, this mentality clearly has no support.

Michael S. Belle, Gainesville
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