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Drug War Damage Notes

[1] Corruption 

"Criminal organizations know no boundaries. Crime pays for them. If the price of gaining more wealth means corrupting or killing public officials, the kind of corruption we see in Mexico will likely spread across the border into the United States." 

- Thomas Constantine, head of the DEA, Dallas Morning News, 1998 

Federal Convictions of Public Officials




















[2] Violence 

"A 67-year-old woman was killed over the weekend when drug dealers, apparently bent on revenge, poured gunfire into the wrong southeast Dallas home." 

- The Dallas Morning News, 1998 

"The violence [surrounding the drug trade] is due to prohibition and nothing else. How much violence is there surrounding the alcohol trade ? There's some, only because we prohibit the sale of alcohol to children, which we should do, and there's some because we impose very high taxes on alcohol and, as a result, there's some incentive for bootlegging. But there's no other violence around it." 

- Milton Friedman, 1991 interview on "America's Drug Forum," a national public affairs talk show 

See: Science and Crime 

[3] Crime 

"You've got the people whose purses are stolen, who are bashed over the head by people trying to get enough money for their next fix." 

- Milton Friedman, 1991 interview on "America's Drug Forum," a national public affairs talk show 

See: Crime 

[4] Undermined democracy 

"This prohibitionist policy ends up causing a dangerous intensification of control by the State over the lives of individuals. [It is] the principal excuse for a growing production of laws that, in Brazil, as in other countries, are very similar to the exceptional laws of repression created during the dictatorships. " 

- Maria Lúcia Karam, Brazilian Federal Military Judge (ret.), May 18, 2003 

[We need] "A critical reevaluation of the U.S. role in Colombia and of the hopelessly failed U.S. "war on drugs." Suffering from this war in the States has been nothing compared to its impact in Latin America, where the toll has been tragic in the destruction of lives, democratic institutions, social fabric, hope for the future and respect for the United States." 

- William Ratliff, senior research fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution. His latest book, with Edgardo Buscaglia, is "Law and Economics in Developing Countries." (MSNBC, 12-27-00)

"Our drug policy has led to thousands of deaths and enormous loss of wealth in countries like Colombia, Peru and Mexico, and has undermined the stability of their governments." 

- Friedman, There's No Justice, point #7 

[5] Ecological damage 

"The billions of dollars Americans spend on drugs each year are taking a horrific toll on some of the most fragile and diverse ecosystems on the planet." 

- United States Drug Czar, John Walters, April 24, 2002 

[7] Money for our biggest enemy 

"If you look at the drug war from a purely economic point of view, the role of the government is to protect the drug cartel. That's literally true. 

"It's very hard for a small person to go into the drug importing business because our interdiction efforts essentially make it enormously costly. 

"So, the only people who can survive in that business are these large Medellin cartel kind of people who have enough money so they can have fleets of airplanes, so they can have sophisticated methods, and so on. 

"In addition to which, by keeping goods out and by arresting, let's say, local marijuana growers, the government keeps the price of these products high. What more could a monopolist want? 

"He's got a government who makes it very hard for all his competitors and who keeps the price of his products high. It's absolutely heaven." 

- Milton Friedman, 1991 interview on "America's Drug Forum," a national public affairs talk show 

[8] Drugs become more dangerous 

"The effect of criminalization, of making drugs criminal, is to drive people from mild drugs to strong drugs. 

"Under prohibition of alcohol, deaths from alcohol poisoning, from poisoning by things that were mixed in with the bootleg alcohol, went up sharply. Similarly, under drug prohibition, deaths from overdose, from adulterations, from adulterated substances have gone up. 

"The people who are running the drug traffic are no different from the rest of us, except that they have more entrepreneurial ability and less concern about not hurting other people. 

"Crack would never have existed, in my opinion, if you had not had drug prohibition. ('it was invented because the high cost of illegal drugs made it profitable to provide a cheaper version,' Friedman had explained in the Wall Street Journal, 9-7-89 ) 

"All of the experience with legal drugs is that there's a tendency for people to go from the stronger to the weaker and not the other way around, just as you go from regular beer to light beer. That's the tendency that there is: from cigarettes without filters to low-tar, filtered cigarettes, and so on." 

- Milton Friedman, 1991 interview on "America's Drug Forum," a national public affairs talk show 

[9] Choked courts and prisons 

"Another consequence of marihuana possession laws is the clogging of judicial calendars. President Nixon has noted that one of the major impediments to our nation's efforts to combat serious crimes is the fact that the judicial machinery moves so slowly. 

"Swift arrests, prosecution, trial and sentence would significantly improve the deterrent effect of law. Yet the judicial system is overloaded with petty cases. " 

- National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse, 1972 

[The Commission was horrified that annual marijuana arrests had grown from 18,815 in 1965 to 188,682 in 1970; in 2000 the number had soared to 734,498.] 

"The attempt to prohibit drugs is by far the major source of the horrendous growth in the prison population." 

- Milton Friedman, 1991 interview on "America's Drug Forum," a national public affairs talk show 

[10] Undermining a noble profession 

"The use of informers and the immense sums of money at stake inevitably generate corruption -- as they did during Prohibition. 

See: Friedman, There's No Justice, point #1 

"DRUG WAR IS A LOST CAUSE -- LIKE PROHIBITION" by Mike Gray, excerpts from Los Angeles Times, April 19, 1998 ( Gray authored "Drug Crazy") 

Using teenagers as informants is sometimes the only option that police have. 

Sixteen-year-old Jonathan Kollman had been clean for several months--a struggle, but he was hanging in there. Then he ran into this babe in a red sports car who offered to buy him a fix. For a fragile teenager holding on by his fingernails, it was one temptation too many. He made the buy and 10 minutes later, he was back in the jaws of the dragon with heroin in his veins. 

But what of the Dragon Lady ? Who was this evil temptress ? Turns out she was a cop -- an undercover narcotics officer from the Plano, Texas, police department who needed an informant. Playing on the kid's vulnerability, she reintroduced him to his habit, and once he was rehooked, she was able to use him for a half dozen drug buys. 

It is the nature of the drug war itself that creates this ethical quagmire, not the perversity of the police. 

[11] Undermining Public Safety 

"You've got the rest of us who don't get decent law enforcement because all the law enforcement officials are busy trying to do the impossible. 

"[Prohibition] prevents government from performing its proper role. A basic role of government is to keep you from having our house burgled, to keep you from being hit over the head. And because the larger fraction of our law enforcement machinery is devoted to the war on drugs, you haven't got that kind of safety. " 

- Milton Friedman, 1991 interview on "America's Drug Forum," a national public affairs talk show Also see note [9] above 

[12] [13] & [14] Eroded values 

" Prohibition's enforcement has had a devastating impact on the rights of the individual citizen. The control costs are seriously threatening the preservation of values that are central to our form of government. The war on drugs has contributed to the distortion of the Fourth Amendment wholly inconsistent with its basic purposes. 

"I detect considerable public apathy regarding the upholding of rights which have been cherished since this land became a constitutional republic. " 

- Chief Judge JuanTorruella of the First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals (1996)

"As often happens with noble causes, the end justifies the means, and the means of the drug war are inconsistent with the U.S.  Constitution and our civil liberties.  

"Think about it.  In the name of what other cause would conservatives support unconstitutional property confiscations, unconstitutional searches, and Orwellian Big Brother invasions of privacy ? 

"The takings clause (Fifth Amendment) is one victim. The Fourth Amendment's restriction on search and seizure is another victim of the war on drugs. 

"It is a personal tragedy for a person to ruin his life with alcohol, drugs, gambling or any other vice.  But it is a public tragedy when government ruins the lives of millions of its citizens simply because it disapproves of a product they consume.  

"The "war on drugs" is, in truth, a war on the Constitution, civil liberties, privacy, property, freedom and common sense.  It must be stopped." 

- Paul Craig Roberts, senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. During 1981­82, he served as assistant secretary of the Treasury for economic policy under President Ronald Reagan. [ Extracts from DRUG WAR'S CASUALTY. In full at: www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v01/n1409/a06.html ]

"[Prohibition] leads to violations of the civil rights of innocent people, to the shameful practices of forcible entry and forfeiture of property without due process." 

See: Friedman, There's No Justice, point #6 


"Right now Uncle Sam is not only taking a gun to somebody's head, he's taking his property without due process of law. The drug enforcers are expropriating property, in many cases of innocent people on whom they don't have a real warrant. We're making citizens into spies and informers. We tell people to call up, you don't have to give your name, just give your suspicions. That's a terrible way to run what's supposed to be a free country. " 

- Milton Friedman, 1991 interview on "America's Drug Forum," a national public affairs talk show 


" Arrests without probable cause, illegal searches and selective enforcement occur often enough to arouse concern about the integrity of the criminal process." 

- National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse, 1972 


"I have long opposed the mandatory minimum sentencing laws because of their unfairness, their cost to American taxpayers, and their ineffectiveness in deterring crime or rehabilitating offenders." 

"The judicial sentencing process should be returned to the discretion of judges, whose job is to evaluate each individual case and ensure that the interests of fairness and justice are served." 

- Salt Lake City Mayor "Rocky" Anderson, January 12, 2001 

[15] Law enforcement corruption 

"Law enforcement corruption [in the U.S.], sparked mostly by illegal drugs, has become so rampant that the number of federal, state and local officials in federal prisons has multiplied five times in four years, from 1994 to 1998." 

- Jack Nelson in LA Times re: FBI reports 

[16] Racist outcomes 

"The Sentencing Project, found that currently one in three black men between the ages of 20 and 29 are under some form of criminal justice control. 

"Blacks make up 12 percent of the United States' population and constitute 13 percent of all monthly drug users, the report said, but represent 35 percent of those arrested for drug possession, 55 percent of those convicted for drug possession and 74 percent of those sentenced to prison." 

- New York Times, 1995 


"Legalization as such would not have a major effect on the poor. It would provide better opportunities for the poor by rendering the inner cities safe and a place where you might have some decent, proper business."

- Milton Friedman, 1991 interview on "America's Drug Forum," a national public affairs talk show 


See: Race 

[17] Innocent Victims 

See: Violence [2] above 

See: Dead Victims 

See: Children 


"Colombia's national ombudsman has issued a stinging critique of a U.S.-funded drug-crop eradication campaign, saying that "indiscriminate" herbicide spraying had wiped out food crops across southern Colombia. 

"Last year, four Colombian governors from zones with heavy coca cultivation traveled to the United States to ask for a halt in spraying. The fumigation program "doesn't really take into account the human being," said Ivan Gerardo Guerrero, their spokesman. "All it cares about are satellite pictures." 

- Tod Robberson, Dallas Morning News, February 21, 2001 

"I have estimated statistically that the prohibition of drugs produces, on the average, ten thousand homicides a year. It's a moral problem that the government is going around killing ten thousand people. It's a moral problem that the government is making into criminals people, who may be doing something you and I don't approve of, but who are doing something that hurts nobody else. Most of the arrests for drugs are for possession by casual users." 

- Milton Friedman, 1991 interview on "America's Drug Forum," a national public affairs talk show 

"I think it¹s a disgrace and a scandal that we in the United States should be causing the deaths of hundreds and thousands of people in Colombia and other Latin American countries because we cannot enforce our own laws." 

-Milton Friedman, interview with Dean Becker, DPFT member and host of "Cultural Baggage" KPFT, August 26, 2002. 

[18] Eroded health care 

Undertreatment of chronic pain

"The Federal Department of Health and Human Services has issued reports showing that two-thirds of all terminal cancer patients do not receive adequate pain medication, and the numbers are surely higher in non terminally ill patients. Such serious undertreatment of chronic pain is a direct result of the Drug Enforcement Agency's pressures on physicians who prescribe narcotics." 

See: Friedman, There's No Justice, point #6

On July 8, 2004, Representative Ron Paul of Texas
summarized the problem in a proposed amendment that
never came to a vote.

Mr. PAUL. Mr. Chairman, what this amendment does is it denies 
funding to the Department of Justice to prosecute doctors for prescribing legal drugs.

The reason I bring this up is to call attention to the Members of a
growing and difficult problem developing in this country, and that is, that more and more doctors now are being prosecuted by the Justice Department under the laws that were designated for going after drug kingpins, for illegal drug dealers; but they are using the same laws to go after doctors.

It is not one or two or three or four. There are approximately 400
doctors who have been prosecuted, and I know some of them, and I know they are good physicians; and we are creating a monster of a problem. It  does not mean that I believe that none of these doctors have a problem. As a physician, I know what they are up against and what they face, and that is, that we have now created a system where a Federal bureaucrat makes the 
medical decision about whether or not a doctor has prescribed too many pain pills. I mean, that is how bureaucratic we have become even in medicine; but under these same laws that should be used going after kingpins, they are now being used to go after the doctors.

As I say, some of them may well be involved in something illegal 
and unethical; and because I still want to stop this, this does not mean I endorse it, because all the problems that do exist with some doctors can be taken care of in many different ways. Doctors are regulated by their reputation, by medical boards, State and local laws, as well as malpractice suits. So this is not to give license and say the doctors can do anything they want and cause abuse because there are ways of monitoring physicians; but what has happened is we have, as a Congress, developed a great
atmosphere of fear among the doctors.

The American Association of Physicians and Surgeons, a large group of physicians in this country, has now advised their members not to use any opiates for pain, not to give adequate pain pills because the danger of facing prosecution is so great. So the very people in the medical profession who face the toughest cases, those individuals with cancer who do not need a couple of Tylenol, they might need literally dozens, if not hundreds, of tablets to control their pain, these doctors are being prosecuted.

Now, that is a travesty in itself; but the real travesty is what it
does to the other physicians, and what it is doing is making everybody fearful. The other doctors are frightened. Nurses are too frightened to give adequate pain medications even in the hospitals because of this atmosphere.

My suggestion here is to deny the funding to the Justice Department to prosecute these modest numbers, 3 or 400 doctors, leave that monitoring to the States where it should be in the first place, and let us get rid of this idea that some bureaucrat in Washington can determine how many pain pills I, as a physician, can give a patient that may be suffering from cancer.

I mean, this is something anyone who has any compassion, any 
concern, any humanitarian instincts would say we have gone astray; we have done too much harm; we have to do something to allow doctors to practice medicine. It was never intended that the Federal Government, let alone bureaucrats, interfere in the practice of medicine.

So my suggestion is let us take it away, take away the funding of 
the Justice Department to prosecute these cases, and I think it would go a long way to improving the care of medicine. At the same time, it would be a much fairer approach to the physicians that are now being prosecuted unfairly.

And let me tell you, there are plenty, because all they have to do 
is to be reported that they prescribed an unusual number of tablets for a certain patient, and before you know it, they are intimidated, their license is threatened, their lives are ruined, they spend millions of dollars in defense of their case, and they cannot ever recover. And it is all because we here in the Congress write these regulations, all with good intentions that we are going to make sure there is no abuse.

Well, there is always going to be some abuse. But I tell you there 
is a lot better way to find abusive doctors from issuing pain medication than up here destroying the practice of medicine and making sure thousands of patients suffering from the pain of cancer do not get adequate pain medication.

[19] Agriculture 

It's probable that the ban on hemp growth has zero impact on marijuana use. It stops farmers from producing a useful, more ecologically friendly, crop. 

The ludicrous idea that any trace of THC in hemp is a threat has - like so many drug war policies - created an unnecessary flap with a foreign country, in this case, Canada, by interrupting ordinary commerce in a mundane product through silly restrictions. 

Extracts from an article by Lee Green in the Los Angeles Times, 1-18-04. 


Hemp's products, its proponents insist, are interchangeable with those from timber or petroleum. The fiber volume supplied by trees that take 30 years to grow can be harvested from hemp just three or four months after the seeds go into the ground—and on half the land. Hemp requires no herbicides, little or no pesticide, and it grows faster than almost any other plant: from seed to 10 feet or taller in just a few months. 

Unlike most crops, it actually enriches rather than depletes the soil. As a textile it has proven stronger than cotton, warmer than linen, comfortable to wear and durable. As a building material, its extraordinarily long fibers test stronger than wood or concrete. As a nutrient it contains one of nature's most perfectly balanced oils, high in protein, richer in vitamin E than soy and possessing all eight essential fatty acids. 

The DEA sometimes seems bent on fomenting confusion. Two years ago, during his brief tenure as head of the agency, Asa Hutchinson stated that "many Americans do not know that hemp and marijuana are both parts of the same plant and that hemp cannot be produced without producing marijuana." One reason many Americans do not know this is because it's not true. That's like saying beagles and collies are both parts of the same dog and that beagles cannot be produced without producing collies. 

Unmoved by logic, accepted nomenclature or the realities of plant genetics, the DEA insists that all cannabis is marijuana. Does the agency also consider industrial hemp grown legally outside the U.S. to be marijuana? "Yes, we do," says Frank Sapienza, the agency's chief of drug and chemical evaluation. Since more than 30 other countries manage to distinguish between marijuana and industrial hemp and allow their farmers to grow hemp, one wonders what they know that the U.S. doesn't. "I'm not going to comment on what other countries do," Sapienza says. 

Hailing from the political right, Woolsey [former CIA Director James R. Woolsey] vehemently opposes any loosening of America's marijuana laws. But in his experience, he says, most people, once they become informed about hemp, see no justification for America's prohibition against the crop. "They understand that there's not been any increase in use of marijuana in, say, Europe or Canada as a result of industrial hemp cultivation. It's one of those issues in which there are no real substantive arguments on the other side." 


As a Recreational Drug, Industrial Hemp Packs the Same Wallop as Zucchini. So Why Does the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency Continue to Deny America This Potent Resource? Call It Reefer Madness. 

Experts agree that in contrast to marijuana, cannabis hemp--or industrial hemp as it is often called -has no drug characteristics. 

... the Drug Enforcement Agency's latest foray against hemp, an attempt since 2001 to ban all food products containing even a trace of hemp, even though the foods are not psychoactive. 

If an American farmer were to fill a field with this drugless crop, the government would consider him a felon. For selling his harvest he would be guilty of trafficking and would face a fine of as much as $4 million and a prison sentence of 10 years to life. Provided, of course, it is his first offense. 

This for a crop as harmless as rutabaga. 

Assembly Bill 388, approved in 2002 by wide margins in both chambers, merely requested that the University of California assess the economic opportunities associated with several alternative fiber crops. But because one of the crops was cannabis hemp, then-Gov. Gray Davis vetoed the measure. 

The substance may know no earthly equal among nontoxic renewable resources. If only half the claims are true, hemp's potential as a commercial wellspring and a salve to creeping eco-damage is still immense. At worst it is more useful and diverse than most agricultural crops. 

Confronted with declining demand for their tobacco, farmers in Kentucky, where hemp was the state's largest cash crop until 1915, argue that commercial hemp could help save their farms. 

Among the world's major industrial democracies, only the United States still forbids hemp farming. 

Prejudiced by nearly 70 years of government and media propaganda against all things cannabis, most Americans have no idea that hemp crops once flourished from Virginia to California. Prized for thousands of years for its fiber, the plant rode commerce from Asia to Europe in the first millennium and sailed to the New World in the second. American colonists grew it in the early 1600s. Two centuries later, hemp was the nation's third-largest agricultural commodity. The U.S. census of 1850 counted 8,327 hemp plantations, and those were just the largest ones. California farmers cultivated it at least into the 1930s. 

If all this seems hazy to the American mind, it's because cannabis hemp slowly vanished from our farms and our cultural memory. The abolition of slavery following the Civil War put hemp at a competitive disadvantage because its harvest and processing required intensive labor. The industry slowly declined to the brink of extinction as cotton captured the fiber market, but by the mid-1930s new machinery could efficiently extract hemp's fibers from its stalk, and the plant was poised for economic recovery. The February 1938 issue of Popular Mechanics hailed it as the "New Billion-Dollar Crop," while a concurrent issue of Mechanical Engineering deemed hemp "The Most Profitable and Desirable Crop That Can Be Grown." 

The government briefly reversed course during World War II, launching an aggressive "Hemp for Victory" campaign that implored U.S. farmers to grow the crop to alleviate wartime materials shortages. But after the war, hemp again faded into oblivion. 

Hemp Industries Assn., a consortium of about 250 importers, manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers, says that in the past decade the North American market has gone from virtually nothing to an estimated $200 million. Not bad under the circumstances, but still a pittance for a plant that could clothe and house us, build and fuel our cars, enhance our diets and keep the front gate from squeaking. 

The Hearst newspapers had acquired a taste for sensationalistic headlines and lurid stories about Mexicans and "marijuana-crazed Negroes" assaulting, raping and murdering whites. It was all nonsense, but Anslinger shamelessly parroted these myths and concocted his own in congressional testimony and in speeches and articles, branding marijuana the "worst evil of all." In a 1937 magazine piece titled "Marijuana, the Assassin of Youth," he blamed suicides and "degenerate sex attacks" on the drug. 

"Marijuana is the unknown quantity among narcotics," he wrote. "No one knows, when he smokes it, whether he will become a philosopher, a joyous reveler, a mad insensate, or a murderer." Prior to such calculated misstatements, few Americans had smoked marijuana. Most had never even heard of it. 

Mitch Earleywine, a drug addiction expert at USC, says marijuana typically contains a THC concentration of 2% to 5%, and some strains have measured as much as 22% or higher. By contrast, industrial hemp has been reduced by breeders to 0.3%, a trifle that authorities agree produces no psychoactive effect.


[21] Zero Tolerance   

Extracts from: "Zero evidence for zero tolerance: new report finds no support for harsh discipline in schools" 

BLOOMINGTON, Ind., May 15, 2001 

Can the use of zero tolerance in school discipline improve student behavior or lead to safer schools? Probably not, concludes a report released today (May 15) by the Indiana Education Policy Center at the Indiana University School of Education. 

The report, "Zero Tolerance, Zero Evidence: An Analysis of School Disciplinary Practice," a review of the use of zero tolerance since its inception in the 1980s, finds no credible evidence that removing students from school has made a contribution to school safety, and substantial data showing that school suspension and expulsion are associated with a number of negative outcomes for schools and students. 

The report finds that although the use of suspension and expulsion for non-dangerous behavior places an increasing number of students at risk for being removed from school, those risks are in no way justified by the results of zero tolerance. 

"Zero tolerance is a political response, not an educationally sound solution," said IU Professor Russell Skiba, director of the Safe and Responsive Schools Project in the IU School of Education and author of the report. "It sounds impressive to say that we're taking a tough stand against misbehavior, but the data say it simply hasn't been effective in improving student behavior or ensuring school safety." 

"Zero Tolerance, Zero Evidence" is available on the Indiana Education Policy Center's Web site (http://www.indiana.edu/~iepc) or the Safe and Responsive Schools Project's Web site (http://www.indiana.edu/~safeschl/publication.html). A hard copy of the report can be ordered from the Indiana Education Policy Center by calling 812-855-1240. 

Among the report's findings: 

(1) Suspension and expulsion are not reserved for serious misbehavior, and in fact are often used in response to minor misbehavior or attendance-related issues. 

(2) Minority students, especially African-American students, are consistently overexposed to suspension and expulsion, despite a lack of evidence that those students act out more. 

(3) Zero tolerance is used so inconsistently across schools and school districts that some researchers have concluded that students wishing to lower their chances of being suspended should change schools rather than change their behavior. 

(4) High rates of recidivism suggest that zero tolerance is not effective in changing student behavior. 

(5) The use of zero tolerance may increase school dropout. For example, students who have been suspended are more likely to drop out by 10th grade. 

Schools that use harsh and punitive discipline risk a number of negative student reactions, including anger, aggression and even severe emotional reactions. In particular, the report suggests that suspension and expulsion may increase risks of juvenile delinquency by giving at-risk students more time out on the street with other antisocial youth. 

...for educators wishing to make school discipline more effective: 

(1) Avoid one-size-fits-all punishments. Institute a graduated system of consequences where the punishment fits the offense. 

(2) Expand the array of options available to schools for dealing with student misbehavior. 

Extracts from Los Angeles Weekly, 7-6-01. 

See full article at: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v01/n1189/a02.html 

"Over the past year, a raft of such radical organizations as the American Bar Association, Harvard Law School and, in May, Indiana University all made strong recommendations that schools dismantle their all-or-nothing discipline codes. 

Zero tolerance solves the problem of humanity by removing the human from the problem: It's a kind of colorless, odorless solution in which all moral quandary is dissolved - not by deliberate assessment of intent or circumstance, but by rendering all such questions moot.  

Since 1994, when Clinton signed the Gun Free Schools Act and zero tolerance became a grade school byword, cases of excess have become almost mundane. 

There were the two Dayton, Ohio, eighth-graders, Erica Taylor and Kimberly Smartt, expelled in 1996 for taking Midol for menstrual cramps. 

But zero tolerance is more than just a tough-sounding quick fix for schools. 

Over the last 15 years, it has become the way we deal with ambiguity. " 

Extracts from Teenager In Trouble In Inhaler Incident - KPRC News,Houston, Oct 8, 2003 

"A teenager was disciplined for sharing medication used to treat asthma, but he said it saved his girlfriend's life, News2Houston reported Wednesday. 

Andra Ferguson and her boyfriend, Brandon Kivi, both 15, use the same type of asthma medicine, Albuterol Inhalation Aerosol. 

Ferguson said she forgot to bring her medication to their school, Caney Creek High School, on Sept. 24. When she had trouble breathing, she went to the nurse's office. 

Out of concern, Kivi let her use his inhaler. 

But the school nurse said it was a violation of the district's no-tolerance drug policy, and reported Kivi to the campus police. 

The next day, he was arrested and accused of delivering a dangerous drug. Kivi was also suspended from school for three days. He could face expulsion and sent to juvenile detention on juvenile drug charges. 

The school principal said he couldn't do anything about it since Kivi not only broke school rules, but also allegedly violated state law. "

[22] Indiscriminate drug tests   

Drug testing without reasonable cause has a dismal record except for the political rhetoricians who tell the public what they wish was true and except for the drug testers who enjoy the profits. 

The causes of freedom, privacy and the 4th Amendment have not done so well. Neither has the bottom line for corporations and schools that waste their money to gain government mandated incentives for those who comply. 

Lost morale, sacrificed principles and false positive results that are difficult to refute all do more damage than good. 

As in all case, tests for marijuana are particularly counter-productive, since they say nothing about current impairment and may tend to drive the tested toward more dangerous drugs that are harder to detect. 

Testing for cause and impairment tests make sense, but fishing expeditions don't. 

See: Drug Testing & Employment  

Researchers on a grant from NIDA found that school drug testing has no impact on student drug use. According to the researchers, "Does drug testing prevent or inhibit student drug use? Members of the Supreme Court appear to believe it does. However, among the eighth-, 10th-, and 12-grade students surveyed in this study, school drug testing was not associated with either the prevalence or the frequency of student marijuana use, or of other illicit drug use. Nor was drug testing of athletes associated with lower-than-average marijuana and other illicit drug use by high school male athletes. Even among those who identified themselves as fairly experienced marijuana users, drug testing also was not associated with either the prevalence or the frequency of marijuana or other illicit drug use." 

Source:  Yamaguchi, Ryoko, Lloyd D. Johnston & Patrick M. O'Malley, "Relationship Between Student Illicit Drug Use and School Drug-Testing Policies", Journal of School Health, April 2003, Vol. 73, No. 4, p. 164. [http://www.drugwarfacts.org/adolesce.htm

According to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, "Drug testing of students is more prevalent in schools where drugs are used, kept or sold than in schools that are drug free. While only 23 percent of drug-free schools drug test students, 38 percent of non-drug-free schools conduct some type of drug testing. "Drug testing is not associated with either significantly lower risk scores or lower estimates of student body drug use. The average risk score of teens attending a school that is not drug free but has drug testing is 1.69; the average risk score of students at non-drug-free schools without drug testing is 1.50. The estimate of students using illegal drugs averages 40 percent for non-drug-free schools with testing and 34 percent at non-drug-free schools without testing." 

Source:  QEV Analytics, "National Survey of American Attitudes on Substance Abuse VIII: Teens and Parents" (New York, NY: National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, August 2003), pp. 20-21. [http://www.drugwarfacts.org/adolesce.htm]

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