Legalization Update
Michael Geison
March 2001

On January 4, 2001, a delegation from the Gainesville area chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida addressd our five-member legilative delegation, consisting of two Florida Senators and three Florida House members. We explained that the War Against Drugs has failed, because we have many times as much drug abuse, drug addiction, and attendant evils today than when President Nixon began the war; that is has packed our prisons, giving us the highest incarceration rate of any nation on earth--millions of prisoners, and that it violates fundamental, constitutional rights. We stated that replacing prohibition, which doesn't work, with reasonable regulation, could reduce drug abuse, addiction, and attendant evils; take a double bite out of crime by turning regulation of dangerous drugs over to doctors and pharmacists and returning control of reasonable amounts of marijuana to citizens, and provide economic and environmental benefits.

Feeling intense resistance, we did not ask the lawmakers to do anything except listen with an open mind and consider the issue in the coming months. Senator Rod Smith said, "No." and then extracted his foot from his mouth and said he'd try to have an open mind, "but you know how I feel about drugs." Senator Mitchell, the delegation chairman, tried to reduce our speakers from three to one, but the ACLU delegation prevailed with two speakers, Charles Willett, past President of the ACLU of Florida and the writer of this article. We plan to attend our Legislative Delegation meeting next January, when we plan to be even more persuasive.

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