Pubdate: Wed, 16 Mar 2005
Source: Mountain Xpress (NC)
Copyright: 2005 Mountain Xpress
Author: Bill Branyon


With all too familiar pain, I read Brian Postelle's excellent expose
revealing our new police chief's priority to be drug enforcement ["In
His Own Words," Jan. 12]. Chief Hogan will focus mainly on the
drug-using poor. Their already enormous burdens will be doubled by
this increased harassment, incarceration and violence. They're getting
this shaft because they're trying to escape the pain of their plight
by using the antidepressants of their choice.

I believe the major reasons that most illegal drug use hurts people
are the high cost of the drugs due to their illegality, the dangerous
situations involved in getting them, and the brutal jail time that
often follows. If poor drug users are driving while intoxicated, don't
let them drive anymore. Otherwise, can't we stop torturing these
already tortured people?

It's true that the chief will only be following orders from the
Asheville City Council and higher government entities. What a waste of
brave and intelligent police personnel. And what horrific hypocrisy if
City Councilors Mumpower, Bellamy and other anti-drug opportunists are
using caffeine, nicotine or alcohol. It's even more hypocritical if
they've ever used prescribed antidepressants and anxiety relievers,
or, like President Bush (as implied in the tape-recording recently
released by his friend, Doug Wead), cocaine and marijuana. The
over-a-million people in jail for drugs, many with the mandatory
minimums, would probably agree. You'd think Mumpower, at least, would
have a shred of compassion, since he's a psychologist and probably
complicit in prescription drug use.

Let's spend our money on treatment centers for addicts, not on
interdiction and incarceration. With some of the vast savings, let's
incarcerate hypocrisy addicts like Mumpower and Bush, and point the
impressive new police chief towards some sensible priorities.

Bill Branyon

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