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The Madera Tribune

Holder signals a change on drug laws

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webmaster | 08/13/13

Attorney General Eric Holder told the American Bar Association in San Francisco Monday that he hopes to lower mandatory federal drug penalties to get some people out of federal prisons. In that regard, he’s begining to think like a Californian, a Washingtonian or a Coloradan.

Washington and Colorado voters last year approved recreational-marijuana use laws. You can bet Californians will try again to do the same thing, even though the last attempt in this state failed.

Holder has seen, as have others, that locking up minor drug users, such as those that use marijuana, is outrageously expensive and does little good.

The rise in marijuana use continues. Just ask Sheriff John Anderson and other Madera County law officers who have spent many hours this summer destroying marijuana plantations in what amounts to our own backyards. The use of cocaine and heroin are widespread. A certain percentage of the population is determined to get high, and they manage to do it, whether they’re in prison or not.

Drug-use cases clog the courts, convictions clog the prisons.

The record of success of prohibitive drug laws is no better than was the record of prohibition in the 1920s. People kept on drinking, legal or not. There was a great lesson learned during that experiment: Laws don’t work if big chunks of the population won’t follow them.

It was found the better way to control alcohol was to license and tax its manufacture, and to lock up people for dangerous behavior under the influence of alcohol rather than locking them up for mere consumption.

If Holder is indeed able to remove some of the sting from federal drug laws, it’s unlikely he will mandate enforcement of federal marijuana laws in states which have legalized marijuana’s use.

That could turn out to make a lot of sense.


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