Letter to the editor: A better drug policy is needed

Caitlin Reilly

Dear Editor,

I am a student at Kent State and feel quite uneasy about the article “Drug busts just a coincidence” (Feb. 23) in the Stater. The article suggests that Kent’s large population and location near urban areas make it a drug “danger zone” of sorts. A young man from a “quiet, isolated suburb 20 minutes away from Pittsburgh” that was “secluded from violence,” however, was unsurprised by this news, and I assure you he is not alone.

It is evident to students like myself that current drug policies are ineffective. There has been no reduction in violent crime or consumption of controlled substances since the 1980s, and Officer Peach’s claim that this will change once “drug dealers feel threatened” seems problematic considering that the same person has been arrested twice for the same offense, and that the Drug Task Force had 133 cases open last year and the problem is still persisting as “the number of drug busts has increased from previous years.”

Every year Americans lose more than $50 billion to fund a War on Drugs, which is waged against people like repeated offender Roderick Wheeler, yielding similar fruitless results. As imprisonment and federal spending increases, drugs have become more available to cartels, increasing the violence associated with the illicit drug market. In addition to the failure of the Drug War effort to stop illicit drug use, more than 200,000 students have been denied financial aid simply because they have drug convictions.

To ask students to essentially “tattle” on consenting adults who are using substances that are banned by ineffective prohibition is to promote the support of these wasteful and futile policies. Instead of getting readers worked up about living in a drug danger zone, thoughtful drug policies like regulation of controlled substances by the government that would decrease criminal activity, save money and keep hundreds of thousands of otherwise law-abiding citizens out of jail ought to be discussed.

Students can find credible information about the failing War on Drugs at drugwarfacts.org.

Caitlin Reilly is a member of Students for Sensible Drug Policy.