Personal responsibility

Dear Editor:Today I learned about an incident that deeply troubles and saddens me. I was visiting the UPD web site ( to read the “Press Releases” section, something I do a few times each week to see what our campus police forces are up to. The press releases list the citations and arrests made by UPD officers, and outline the circumstances surrounding each incident. As reported by the latest UPD press release, on March 6 officers were dispatched to Jackson-Shaver in response to a suspicious odor. It was believed that a resident was smoking marijuana in his room. After confirming this, the officers took the resident into custody, transported him to the Walker County Jail, and booked him on charges of possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. The press release sounds innocuous enough – just another drug bust for the University Police Department. According to a report issued by the U.S. Department of Education, over eleven thousand drug-related arrests were made on college campuses last year. Most were for possession of marijuana.Granted, the subject made the demonstrably stupid decision to smoke marijuana in his state-owned dorm room. He was just asking to get caught. In this sense, I cannot feel too much sympathy for him. But life for him is going to get much more difficult, for drug charges are not trivial matters. As illustrated by ensuing arrest, the government treats drug users as criminals. An aside: I find it curious that drug-related matters are treated criminally. Where is the victim? Where is the initiation of force? No force was initiated until UPD hauled the student to the County Jail.I imagine the subject will be convicted of both charges. The evidence seems pretty clear-cut. In turn, the University will probably suspend him, in accordance with policy, unless President Gaertner makes an exception. He can kiss any federal financial aid away because the Higher Education Act denies financial assistance to anyone convicted of a drug offense. (It should be noted that murderers, rapists, and thieves are eligible for government assistance, but not drug offenders.) The subject will have a felony on his record, something he will have to disclose to potential employers. And who could forget the possibility of incarceration and/or stiff fines?Drugs can be a destructive force in one’s life. Unfortunately, in an effort to stamp out illicit drug use, we have adopted a draconian drug policy. I think the consequences the subject faces are far more harmful than any pot could be. Current policy treats drug use as a criminal problem, not a spiritual or a personal one. It is time to move toward a more sensible drug policy, one based on personal responsibility and not on government coercion. We need a policy that really helps people instead of prosecuting them. We need a policy that treats people as capable of running their own lives. Because I believe people are capable of running their own lives, I am running for the Texas House of Representatives this November. I understand that UPD and other law enforcement agencies are following the rules established by legislative bodies, so I hold nothing against the police. I have a problem with politicians who think the initiation of force is an acceptable means to political ends. For more information about what I believe, visit the Libertarian Party online at

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