Pubdate: Sun, 10 Jul 2005
Source: Gainesville Sun, The (FL)
Copyright: 2005 The Gainesville Sun
Author: Stephen Heath
Bookmark: (Cocaine)
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)
Bookmark: (Treatment)


An increasing number of smarter public policy makers aptly note the 
inane system of caging non-violent offenders, notably those people 
found in possession of a short list of politically incorrect drugs.

The abuse of drugs is a very real and pressing problem. But the 
damage done to individual drug abusers and to society is far 
outweighed by the longer term damage done to both when we saddle a 
drug abuser with time in the state jail or prison system.

More lasting damage is guaranteed when the offender must carry a 
lifetime criminal record, though he has no history of directly 
harming another person or property.

As a recovered abuser of both cocaine and methamphetamine (clean 11 
years) I've learned that with sufficient desire and help anyone can 
overcome an addiction. But far fewer people are able to overcome a 
criminal record, especially if that record contains drug possession felonies.

It's time to reprioritize our public response to the very real 
problems of substance abuse and at the same time curb the 
ever-expanding county jails and state prisons in Florida.

We need to stop arresting drug users and instead provide qualified 
drug treatment programs on demand for those people who need them. 
Such treatment should be made available for any drug causing 
significant abuse, whether it be cocaine, amphetamines, opiates, 
alcohol or tobacco.


Public Relations Director

Drug Policy Forum of Florida


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MAP posted-by: Beth