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Seizing People's Cars Under 'Zero Tolerance' Drug Policy

June 26, 1988

The First Amendment guarantees freedom of expression, and our courts strictly uphold this right for all kinds of people and organizations that express outrageous and controversial behavior: pornographers, for example, or neo-Nazis, communists or abortionists. Everyone is entitled to his or her rights under due process, even if that person is a well-known criminal who has committed murder.

But what about those people who feel that smoking marijuana is part of their freedom of expression? Most pot smokers are decent, hard-working citizens who see little difference between this drug and a 12-pack of beer. Even the police and local courts here in California have deemed pot smoking a minor offense.

Yet, we now have a federal policy called "zero tolerance" that punishes a person who smokes pot without due process, and in an incredibly severe manner. People caught transporting this "dangerous drug" are having their cars confiscated. Why is the American public allowing our peace officers to bypass the courts and mete out harsh punishment on the spot?

Furthermore, does this new policy, which I assume is based on some kind of high moral ground, mean that drunk drivers caught transporting open containers of alcohol will lose their cars, too? How about hit-and-run drivers?

What kind of priorities are these?

RAY MALGERI

El Toro

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