#377 DEA Agent Does Dallas Wrong

Date: Tue, 22 Jul 2008
Subject: #377 DEA Agent Does Dallas Wrong


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DrugSense FOCUS Alert #377 – Tuesday, 22 July 2008

This morning the special agent in charge of the Dallas Field Division
of the Drug Enforcement Administration, James Capra, delivered the
polemic below to the over a million readers of the Dallas Morning News.

The polemic is a response to the OPED ‘War on Drugs Undermines the
Safety of Our Children’ http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v08/n694/a07.html

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Contact: http://www.dallasnews.com/cgi-bin/lettertoed.cgi

Pubdate: Tue, 22 Jul 2008
Source: Dallas Morning News (TX)
Copyright: 2008 The Dallas Morning News, Inc.
Author: James Capra


The column last week by the local CEO of Mothers Against Teen Violence
once again highlights the misguided understanding and myths about
marijuana legalization. Joy Strickland is on point when she writes,
“every child deserves a safe and supportive home, school and
community.” But how does decriminalizing marijuana ensure that this
will happen?

There is absolutely no evidence to suggest that legalization or
decriminalization would reduce crime in our communities. However,
ample evidence suggests that such action would result in more users
and health costs.

Many advocates of decriminalization or legalization consistently point
to The Netherlands and other European nations as an effective model
for nirvana-like drug control. But these statements border on fantasy.
Officials in The Netherlands blame the rise in crime in the past
several years on their lax drug policy. Addicts are blamed for 80
percent of all property crime, and Amsterdam’s burglary rate a few
years ago was twice the rate of Newark, N.J.

The Dutch National Committee on Drug Prevention stated that marijuana
use among students increased 250 percent in eight years. Most Dutch
towns have adopted a zero-tolerance policy toward coffee shops that
sell marijuana due to growing opposition to the idea that it is a
relatively innocent soft drug. The Dutch have instituted new policies
requiring 27 coffee shops in Rotterdam that sell marijuana within 200
meters of schools to close down by 2009.

The other myth intimated by Ms. Strickland is that the prisons are
filled with drug users, in particular, marijuana users. This is an
illusion that has been perpetuated by drug advocacy groups seeking to
relax or abolish our marijuana laws.

The vast majority of inmates in state and federal prison for marijuana
offenses have been found guilty of much more than simple possession.
Some were convicted for drug trafficking and some for marijuana
possession along with one or more other offenses. Also never mentioned
is that many of those serving time for marijuana have plea-bargained
down to possession in order to avoid prosecution on much more serious
charges. Most criminals are repeat offenders with a lengthy history of
other crimes.

For Ms. Strickland to suggest that she “is not aware of one single
death directly caused by marijuana” or that it “is irrational to lock
up an individual because of what he chooses to put into to his own
body” as justification to decriminalize is disturbing logic. Ongoing
scientific research continues to prove the harmful effects of
marijuana on the body. More young people seek treatment for marijuana
abuse than for any other substance.

In addition, many serious motor vehicle accidents and fatalities have
occurred where the drivers have been charged with being under the
influence of marijuana.

The United States has had tremendous success in our fight against drug
use and abuse:

. According to the most recent survey, 860,000 fewer teenagers are
using illicit drugs now than in 2001 a 24 percent decline.

. Between 2001 and 2007, marijuana use by teens dropped by 25 percent.
Methamphetamine use by teens plummeted 64 percent. The current use of
Ecstasy has been slashed by 54 percent.

. Overall, drug use among workers is at its lowest levels in 19 years.
Since 1988, positive work place drug tests have fallen by 72 percent,
from 13.6 percent in 1988 to 3.8 percent in 2007.

We would do well to continue our comprehensive drug enforcement
strategy, to ensure that the next generation of Americans are free
from the trappings of drug use and abuse and that they are afforded
the blessings of liberty that are rightfully theirs. Legalizing or
decriminalizing marijuana would hamper this progress and cause great
harm to our schools and neighborhood communities.


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