Soften drug laws

Kudos to the University chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws for teaching students how to avoid a marijuana arrest (“Promise of advice on skirting the law draws crowd to marijuana session,” Nov. 13). Most college students outgrow their youthful indiscretions involving drugs. An arrest and criminal record, on the other hand, can be life shattering.

After admitting to smoking pot (but not inhaling), former President Bill Clinton opened himself up to “soft on drugs” criticism. And thousands of Americans have paid the price in the form of shattered lives. More Americans went to prison or jail during the Clinton administration than during any past administration.

As an admitted former drinker and alleged illicit drug user, President George W. Bush is also politically vulnerable when it comes to drugs. While youthful indiscretions didn’t stop Clinton or Bush from assuming leadership positions, an arrest surely would have. The short-term health effects of marijuana are inconsequential compared to the long-term effects of criminal records.

Robert Sharpe, M.P.A., program officer, Drug Policy Alliance, Washington, D.C.