Pubdate: Fri, 1 Feb 2008 Source: Patriot Ledger, The (Quincy, MA) Copyright: 2008 The Patriot Ledger Contact: http://ledger.southofboston.com/ Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/1619 Author: Robert Sharpe DRUG ABUSE IS BAD, BUT THE DRUG WAR IS WORSE So-called anonymous surveys that rely on the self-reporting of illegal drugs use are virtually worthless in this age of zero tolerance. Teenagers know that honesty could result in drug-sniffing dogs in schools, locker searches and mass arrests. Most teenagers 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, Common Sense for Drug Policy Washington, D.C.