Chronicle Questions Effectiveness of Proposition 36
Calling Proposition 36 a "hopeful, if dubious, answer to one of society's most corrosive problems," a San Francisco Chronicle editorial outlines several potential flaws in the voter-approved initiative, which stipulates treatment for first- and second-time nonviolent drug offenders instead of jail time. While conceding that the "$19.2 billion-a-year federal war on drugs is a dismal failure and California, with its prisons packed with drug offenders, isn't doing any better," the editorial questions how evenly the law will be applied across the state given that each of 58 counties will decide for itself how to divide Proposition 36 funds between rehabilitation, probation and administrative services. Calling the law's lack of funding for drug testing a "major weakness," the editorial says that testing is the "best way to tell if an addict is still using." In addition, the editorial asks, "Are there enough rehab facilities, and are they ready for a big increase in the number of clients seeking treatment?" Stating that Proposition 36 is a "giant step towards decriminalizing drugs," the editorial concludes: "We accept the voters' verdict and support the humane intent of the law, but drug addiction is a pernicious sociomedical affliction without a simple cure. ... Sometimes it takes a hard-nosed approach to kick drugs. Sometimes kindness and good intentions aren't enough" (San Francisco Chronicle, 5/14).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.