Repeal destructive drug laws [Letter]

September 28, 2014

McKenzie Elliott, the 3-year-old shot to death in Baltimore, is a recent victim of misguided drug laws ("Politicians, churchmen talk policing in Northwest Baltimore," Sept. 9). While I do not support open use of "illegal drugs," I do not find that drug sales or use represent a criminal act. Drug use has long been regarded as a "disabling condition" under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act. Federal and state law should not superimpose criminal penalties on the known disabled in direct contradiction to the specific intent in these two federal statutes. As we learned from Prohibition and many years spent in the war on drugs, controlled substances like alcohol cannot be controlled. However, laws prohibiting such use are certain to bring deaths to our neighborhoods.

The fact that federal law prohibits sale and use of "controlled substances" creates an anomaly. Federal law says that it is unlawful for anyone to possess or smoke a joint in any state yet it is lawful to smoke pot in some states like Colorado and those that permit medical marijuana. The Tenth Amendment apparently makes state and local law supreme on the issue of controlled substances. The federal government has no power to enact laws controlling substances as such power has been reserved for the states and federal laws which prohibit sale and use of controlled substances are unconstitutional.

Federal law also unconstitutionally imposes additional penalties on sale and use of marijuana by giving college bound students in Colorado an unfair advantage over college bound students from another state. States that wish to maximize the number of college bound students eligible for federal student financial aid must relax penalties for use and possession of drugs. As it now stands, pot smokers in Colorado have an unfair advantage over pot smokers in Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Maryland, New Jersey, New York North Carolina or Pennsylvania when it comes to student aid. Must Maryland's college students be taxed more than Colorado's college students or denied benefits?

Federal drug laws must be repealed as Congress lacks authority to enact them. There is no grounds for disputing that blacks in America pay the brunt of the cost of a drug law. Repeal drug law and end discriminatory law enforcement practices. Repeal the drug laws and stop the dying in our streets.

Kenneth Allen Greene, Baltimore

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