Pubdate: Fri, 13 Jan 2006
Source: Hampton Union, The (NH)
Copyright: 2006 Seacoast Online.
Author: Robert Sharpe
Bookmark: (Youth)


Winnacunnet High School has good reason to emphasize counseling over 
zero tolerance.

As noted in your thoughtful Jan. 3 editorial, bad decisions made 
under the influence of drugs and alcohol can destroy lives. These 
days zero tolerance poses a greater threat than drugs.

According to the Monitoring the Future survey, more than half of all 
high school seniors have tried an illicit drug. Denying a majority of 
the nation's youth an education and the chance to grow up to become 
productive members of society is not in America's best interest.

Most students outgrow their youthful indiscretions involving drugs. 
An arrest and criminal record, on the other hand, can be 
life-shattering. After admitting to smoking pot (but not inhaling), 
former President Bill Clinton opened himself up to "soft on drugs" 
criticism. And thousands of Americans have paid the price in the form 
of shattered lives. More Americans went to prison or jail during the 
Clinton administration than during any past administration.

As an admitted former drinker and alleged illicit drug user, 
President George W. Bush is also politically vulnerable when it comes 
to drugs. While youthful indiscretions didn't stop Clinton or Bush 
from assuming leadership positions, an arrest surely would have. The 
short-term health effects of marijuana are inconsequential compared 
to the long-term effects of criminal records.

Drug abuse is bad, but the drug war is worse.

Robert Sharpe, MPA

Policy Analyst

Common Sense for Drug Policy

Washington, DC 
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