Sanity On Drugs? | Freyne Land

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Monday, December 4, 2006

Sanity On Drugs?

Posted By on Mon, Dec 4, 2006 at 9:09 AM

The U.S. "War on Drugs" makes the U.S. "War on Iraq" look like a great success!

That's how lost it really is.

And Windsor County's veteran state's attorney, Robert Sand, the son of a federal judge, is sick and tired of the wasted lives and wasted resources. As the Rutland Herald/Times Argus reported in a November 30 story by Susan Smallheer - State's Attorney Critical of Drug Laws:

Sand points to Prohibition in the 1920s and 1930s as the perfect example why restricting drug use won't work.

"Prohibition doesn't work; we should have learned that with alcohol," he said.

Yes, indeed. In fact, back in the long-haired 1970s, the Vermont House actually passed a bill decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana. Even a "common-sense" Republican state representative by the name of Jim Douglas voted for it!

Unfortunately, the bill died in the Vermont Senate and the U.S. War on Drugs has since ballooned into a major industry that's prosecuted and imprisoned millions of non-violent Americans while promoting a black market dominated by violent criminal gangs.

Today's Rutland Herald/Times Argus has another Susan Smallheer story on the matter that's well worth a read - Decriminalizing of Drugs Splits Law Enforcement:

James Dean, a retired probation officer at U.S. District Court in Burlington said that the war on drugs is not working. Dean worked as a federal probation officer from 1976 to 1997. "I commend Windsor County State's Attorney Robert Sand for having the intellectual integrity and political courage to point out the self-defeating nature of our approach to drugs," Dean said.

"We have transformed what is undoubtedly a health problem into a criminal justice problem," he said of drug addiction.

Dean noted that tobacco is a far more dangerous substance to the public health, noting that millions of people have died from tobacco use.

"We do not classify tobacco as criminal," Dean said, noting it was a deliberate action by society.

"We are so far down the road of a criminalization policy that we think we have no other options whatsoever," Dean said, saying he hoped Sand's comments would spur a good dialogue on the issue.

In Dean's mind, the war on drugs is like the war in Iraq — it's not working and needs a major rethinking.

He's got a point.

Think the Vermont Legislature that convenes under Montpeculiar's golden dome next month has the guts to address it?

Or will we keep the current hopeless status-quo of corruption, violence, clogged courts and overcrowded prisons in tact?

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About The Author

Peter Freyne

Peter Freyne

Peter Freyne, 1949-2009, wrote the weekly political column "Inside Track," which originated in the Vanguard Press in the mid 1980s; he brought it to Seven Days in 1995. He retired it shortly before his death in January, 2009. We all miss him.

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