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Drug Czar Questions Voting Rights For Drug Users

Wednesday, 24 July 2002

Washington, DC: Drug users should have limited civil rights, including the right to vote and accept certain types of jobs, according to a July 19 op/ed by Drug Czar John Walters published in The Wall Street Journal.

Walters questions whether governments should limit the civil liberties of drug users if criminal laws are liberalized.  "For instance, what happens to the citizenship of those legally addicted?  Will they have their full civil rights, such as voting?" Walters writes.  "Can they be employed as school bus drivers?  Nurses?  What of a woman, legally addicted to cocaine, who becomes pregnant?"

In several European countries - including Spain, Italy and Portugal - drug possession is not a criminal offense.  Individuals found using drugs by police in those nations have their drugs confiscated, but do not face criminal prosecution.  Drug users in those countries enjoy the same civil liberties as nonusers.

Allen St. Pierre, Executive Director of The NORML Foundation, called Walters' statements absurd.  "Walters' extreme views regarding the denial of basic civil liberties to drug users demonstrates how truly out-of-step he and the Bush administration are with both the majority of Americans and the world when it comes to crafting an effective drug control policy," he said.

For more information, please call Allen St. Pierre of The NORML Foundation at (202) 483-8751.





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