- - Tuesday, August 13, 2013


Aging hippies have waited a lifetime to achieve their reefer dreams. Several states are relaxing marijuana laws, and the White House is right behind. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. on Monday announced the first retreat in the War on Drugs since President Nixon declared the war four decades ago.

“Our system is in too many ways broken,” said Mr. Holder, who proposed to “break free from the status quo,” and endorsed legislation by Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Mike Lee of Utah to give judges more room to minimize penalties for minor drug crimes. The idea is to stop flooding federal penitentiaries with nonviolent offenders. Mr. Holder said the administration wants the federal government to quit meddling in everything. “Some issues are best handled at the state and local level,” he said. That much is unexpected good news.

Mr. Holder should have gone a step further to propose changing forfeiture statutes that enable the seizure of homes and other property from those who have been neither charged nor convicted of anything. Police can, for example, seize and keep the money from someone caught driving with a large sum of cash in the belief that it’s related to the narcotics trade. It’s up to the driver to prove otherwise, if he can. This turns law enforcement into a profit-making enterprise and screams abuse.

Softening the drug laws at the state level, however, sends a confusing message to kids about the dangers of drugs. Not two miles from the Justice Department headquarters in Washington, D.C., a dispensary opened July 30 to dispense weed for “medicinal” purposes. Last month, New Hampshire became the 19th state to legalize such marijuana for the ill, the halt and the infirm, making all of New England a pot-friendly zone. Two other states — Colorado and Washington — have legalized ganja for recreational purposes. In Colorado, stores where customers 21 and older can legally buy pot will open Jan. 1, though some towns and cities have imposed their own bans. Where shops are allowed, children in their impressionable years are likely to grow accustomed to the signature pointy-leaf emblem, neutralizing warnings against the dangers of the high life.

The Partnership for a Drug-Free America, with its ubiquitous warnings about drugs, has retrenched in the face of marijuana’s new semi-respectability. Now called the Partnership at DrugFree.org, the group released a survey last month of adults, including parents in Colorado and Washington state of children ages 10 to 19 that reveals the conflicted views many Americans hold about marijuana. It finds that 43 percent have used pot, 70 percent favor legalization for medical purposes, 52 percent support decriminalizing use, and 42 percent support legalization for recreational use.

But they don’t want their own kids to become potheads, with 85 percent of Colorado parents strongly affirming their belief that “marijuana can have strong negative consequences on the still-developing brains of teenagers.” Ninety percent of Colorado parents and 91 percent of Washington parents say it should be against the law to provide pot to children at home.

Responsible parents can’t wait for the government to untangle the conflicted messages kids get when illegal drugs go mainstream. They’ll have to do the right, and difficult, thing to preserve their homes as drug-free zones.

The Washington Times

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