Ann Landers, who, along with her sister "Dear Abby" is one of the two most popular advice columnists in North America, had a holiday season to be proud of this year as she addressed our nation's failing drug war not once but twice. On Christmas, Ms. Landers published a holiday message which included the following two paragraphs:
"Unfortunately, the "war on drugs" has turned out to be a colossal failure. The increase in the number of homicides is staggering, and most of it is drug-related. Guns and knives are standard equipment among teenagers. It is not uncommon for a teenager to get shot or stabbed for his jacket or his shoes. Metal detectors in schools help some, but not enough.
While alcohol is still the most abused drug of all, marijuana and stronger substances like crack cocaine are commonplace in junior and senior high schools. The dropout rate is appalling. Why should a kid stay in school when he can get rich dealing drugs? This is the message too many young people are getting."
Not all of the nation was able to read her words of wisdom, however, as many newspapers across the country edited out that part of the message.
Then, on Monday (1/5), Ms. Landers published a letter from a distraught mother in Virginia whose eighteen year-old son had been arrested on marijuana charges. The mother argued that while she disapproved of marijuana use, along with alcohol and tobacco use, her son had never hurt anyone, had possessed the marijuana for his personal use, and had "never had so much as a parking ticket," and yet was facing a long prison term, which she thought was an injustice as well as a waste of state resources.
Ann agreed, saying: "I have long believed that the laws regarding marijuana are too harsh. Those who keep pot for their own use should not be treated as criminals. Thirty years in prison makes no sense whatsoever. I'm with you."
YOU CAN HELP! It is important that Ms. Landers, who has taken previous, cautious steps in the direction of reform advocacy, gets plenty of letters of support, or even personal stories from people whose lives and families have been damaged by the Drug War. Write to her at:
Ann Landers, P.O. Box 11562, Chicago, IL, 60611-0562If your local paper runs Ann Landers but cut the above columns or edited out the above-cited material, send them a letter of complaint.