Letters to the Editor

Zero tolerance slows abuse

In response to the news article, “Schools target drug use” (April 9):

So-called anonymous surveys that rely on the self-reporting of illegal drug use are virtually worthless in this age of zero tolerance. Teenagers know that honesty could very well result in drug-sniffing dogs, 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 did not 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 zero tolerance drug war is worse.

Robert Sharpe

Program officer

Drug Policy Alliance

Washington, D.C.

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