Pubdate: Tue, 04 Sep 2007
Source: Tuscaloosa News, The (AL)
Copyright: 2007 The Tuscaloosa News
Author: Loretta Nall


Dear Editor: I want to thank Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb for her 
efforts to ease prison overcrowding and address drug addiction with a 
more compassionate approach. It is so important for society to 
realize that addiction is an illness that can be treated and not a 
crime that needs punishing.

Many of you know me as a voice for drug policy and prison reform in 
Alabama and as a candidate for governor in 2006. I am also a family 
member who has witnessed the devastating impact that drugs and 
alcohol can have. I have two brothers, one in prison and one who just 
overdosed for the ninth time on methadone provided to him by the 
Veterans Administration. I know for a fact locking them in prison 
does not work.

While I am happy to see drug courts expand in Alabama, I fear that 
they will simply round up pot smokers to fill their treatment beds. 
Marijuana should be exempt from all criminal sanctions, police 
involvement and court oversight when used responsibly by adults. We 
all know it is safer than alcohol and not addictive to the degree 
that anyone actually suffers withdrawals if they quit. I say unless 
people who smoke pot are doing something to endanger others, there is 
no reason for the police or the courts to be involved. Taking 
responsible, adult pot smokers out of the drug court equation will 
greatly enable the drug courts to better help the people that really need it.

Loretta Nall

Alexander City
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