The Des Moines Register, Thursday, May 1, 1999
THE REGISTER'S READERS SAY
Nothing soft about it
round of applause is due to legislators, as they move toward stricter penalties for the
illegal distribution of marijuana. Those who worry that tougher laws will make
criminals out of our young citizens should temper their concern with reality.
Police officers do not want to fill the jails
with young offenders. Indeed, one of our primary goals is to keep people from
starting down the path of incarceration. Drug education efforts and substance abuse
programs are great assets in our crime-prevention toolbox. We go so far as to staff
elementary and secondary D.A.R.E. classes with police instructors.
Unfortunately, we observe many role models
treating drug abuse as a joke. Marijuana, in particular, is scoffed at as
"soft" drug that causes little harm and should be hailed for its medicinal
qualities. Our children are ill-served by movie and television stars, talk-show
hosts and even parents who downplay the dangers of illicit drug use.
Remember that the rule of law was primarily
established as a guide toward acceptable conduct. In most cases, when people are
educated about the law, it is respected and no discipline is required. The penalty
phase only comes into play when the intent of the law is ignored or intentionally
-- John L. Gray,
700 First Ave. S., Altoona.
The Des Moines Register
Thursday, May 1, 1999