Letters to the Editor

Names in marijuana cases should be kept private

I found your article of May 14, 2007 “Drugs in the Dorms: A Look at Marijuana Arrests on Campus” to be, put politely, an example of irresponsible journalism. What is most troublesome about the article is the inclusion of the names of students charged with legal offenses.

In the article, author Bryan Han writes that at least four GW students were arrested, though not all convicted, on charges for intent to distribute marijuana. He also mentions that three of these four students were sentenced under the Youth Rehabilitation Act. The act seeks to restrict public access to court records of such “set-aside” convictions and to remove legal disabilities they create. When a record is set aside, it remains available only to law enforcement personnel and court officials. The publication of the names of these students, all three underclassmen and assumedly the three sentenced under the Youth Rehabilitation Act, contradicts the intent of the law.

The court would like to see these events evolve into a concern for these individuals and law enforcement alone. The permanence of the publication of this article makes these incidents matters of the public record for years to come. These students deserve the fresh start given to them by the courts. The Hatchet bills itself as an independent newspaper serving The George Washington University community. An invasion of the privacy of students on such a level as this is a clear undermining of this goal.

Michael Jacobs, Senior

Response to “Drugs in Dorms”

If health outcomes determined drug laws instead of cultural norms marijuana would be legal.

Unlike alcohol, marijuana has never been shown to cause an overdose death, nor does it share the addictive properties of tobacco. Like any drug, marijuana can be harmful if abused, but jail cells are inappropriate as health interventions and ineffective as deterrents. The first marijuana laws were enacted in response to Mexican migration during the early 1900s, despite opposition from the American Medical Association. Dire warnings that marijuana inspires homicidal rages have been counterproductive at best.

White Americans did not even begin to smoke pot until a soon-to-be entrenched government bureaucracy began funding reefer madness propaganda. By raiding voter-approved medical marijuana providers in California, the very same U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration that claims illicit drug use funds terrorism is forcing cancer and AIDS patients into the hands of street dealers. Apparently marijuana prohibition is more important than protecting the country from terrorism.

Robert Sharp, Policy Analyst Common Sense for Drug Policy

Respect from UPD officers lacking

I am contacting you to complain of a negative encounter I had with an officer of the University Police Department. The officer from the moment he walked in to the scene was discourteous and unprofessional.

When the officer arrived at the scene, the officer motioned to pull me aside by bending his four fingers at me. I would have appreciated if he identified himself, then perhaps use more professional approach such as “May I talk to you aside?” or simply any other language that shows professionalism and dedication towards serving the GW community. Also, in the course of our conversation, the officer then raised his voice to project intimidation and his anger towards me. At that time, I neither used inappropriate language nor raised my voice to trigger such response. During the entire encounter, I fully cooperated with the officer by providing identification, and answering all the questions he asked.

While I understand he was performing his duty as an UPD officer, I would appreciate it if the officer addresses members of this community with dignity and respect which represents not only the values of the UPD but our University.

Austin Kim, Senior

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