[Marxism] AP: Puerto Rican officials push to legalize pot Puerto Rican officials push to legalize pot

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Sun Jun 22 08:15:28 MDT 2008

(Hey, why fight for social reforms or independence when
you can get wasted and forget your country's problems?)

Puerto Rican officials push to legalize pot, no health problem required

Thursday, June 19th 2008, 11:12 AM


SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — A former health secretary and an
ex-university president want to legalize marijuana in Puerto Rico,
saying it will reduce a burgeoning prison population and prevent
young adults from being exposed to violent criminals.

Under the plan, marijuana would be taxed as liquor and tobacco are
now, with proceeds going toward drug-treatment programs, said former
Health Secretary Enrique Vazquez Quintana.

The proposal, also supported by other former public officials and a
medical doctor, calls for stricter penalties against drug
traffickers, and comes as the U.S. Caribbean territory prepares to
launch drug-treatment programs to wean addicts from crack, heroin and
other substances.

About 24 percent of the island's 13,500 inmates have been convicted
on drug charges, and an estimated 80 percent of crimes are
drug-related, according to the Department of Corrections.

"The fight against drugs, using punishment, has not worked," said
Jose Manuel Saldana, former president of the University of Puerto
Rico. "This is a social reality."

People should not go to jail for smoking pot, he said. Too many young
adults become criminals in prison and also risk contracting hepatitis
and AIDS while there, Saldana and Vazquez said.

Proponents have been discussing the measure with prison officials and

Lawmakers have said they are open to discussing the legalization of
marijuana but only for medical purposes.

Puerto Rican Senator Maria de Lourdes Santiago said she opposes
legalizing any kind of drug, but is pushing to eliminate penalties
for possessing drug paraphernalia.

"Sometimes that serves as an excuse to put a young man in jail when
he needs a different kind of treatment," she said.

"In Puerto Rico, that's an issue that nobody wants to touch."

More than 21,000 children under age 18 were detained from 1990 to
2005 for drug-related incidents, according to the most recent police
statistics available.

Corrections Secretary Miguel Pereira said he favors drug-treatment
programs and the legalization of marijuana — but only for medical

"It's a proposal that we should be open to discussing," he said.

At least 12 U.S. states allow marijuana for medical use, but federal
law still makes possession of it illegal.

     Los Angeles, California
     Editor-in-Chief, CubaNews
     "Cuba - Un Paraíso bajo el bloqueo"

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