Tags: U.S. | 'War | Drugs' | Really | War | Marijuana

U.S. 'War on Drugs' Really War on Marijuana

Tuesday, 31 May 2005 12:00 AM

"These number belie the myth that police do not target and arrest minor marijuana offenders," said Keith Stroup, Executive Director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

"This effort is a tremendous waste of criminal justice resources. These dollars would be better served combating serious and violent crime, including the war on terrorism."

And Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), said that considering the number of marijuana arrests, "it's safe to say that the drug war isn't preventing people from using marijuana."

Bruce Mirken, director of communications for the MPP, pointed out that while marijuana possession offenses usually draw light punishment, the repercussions of a pot bust can be devastating to the offenders.

"It can literally haunt them for the rest of their lives," Mirken told The Drug War Chronicle. "They lose access to federal benefits, they lose job opportunities because of the arrest record, they can't get student loans."

More than 150,000 college students or would-be students can't get access to federal financial aid because of drug crimes, most of them simple marijuana possession, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

The drug war against low-level users also encourages resentment against the police, especially in the minority community. African-Americans account for 14 percent of marijuana users, but 30 percent of arrests, according to The Sentencing Project, a research group favoring alternatives to incarceration.

An editorial in USA TODAY – America's largest circulation newspaper - has called for changes in the enforcement of drug laws: "Today's more potent marijuana carries substantial health and social risks. It can lead to depression, thoughts of suicide and schizophrenia, especially among teens, according to government research. Its use should be discouraged.

"But it's a smokescreen to suggest that rising arrest numbers show the war on drugs is working. It's time for a serious debate on whether massive arrests of low-level users are worth the cost or having any benefit."

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"These number belie the myth that police do not target and arrest minor marijuana offenders," said Keith Stroup, Executive Director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. "This effort is a tremendous waste of criminal justice resources. These...
U.S.,'War,Drugs',Really,War,Marijuana
323
2005-00-31
Tuesday, 31 May 2005 12:00 AM
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