BY DAVE PRICE
Daily Post Editor
Santa Clara County has taken a big step toward normalizing the use of dangerous drugs. District Attorney Jeff Rosen has decided to stop filing charges against most people arrested or cited for possessing small amounts of illegal drugs.
Possession of up to an ounce of marijuana is legal now, so what kind of drugs are we talking about? I’m assuming meth, cocaine, fentanyl, heroin, Ecstasy, PCP and so on.
His excuse is that his office has too many cases, and this will ease up the work load for his attorneys. He also hopes to divert these drug users into treatment programs, and treat the drug problem as a “public-health issue.”
That’s working really well in San Francisco. There’s syringes all over Market Street, and addicts walk around like zombies, thanks to this approach of not arresting offenders and treating drug use as a public-health issue.
Why no public hearings?
I’m suspicious of how Rosen rolled out this new policy. With a major change like this, you’d think the DA would hold hearings to find out what the public thinks before the policy becomes final.
The problem a bureaucrat has working in the county government building is that you lose touch with the community at large, and you’re surrounded by people who act as an echo chamber. (That’s why I’m pleased to see officials like County Supervisor Joe Simitian hold sidewalk hours — it keeps him in touch with the people he’s supposed to serve.)
If Rosen had held hearings on this idea, he would have heard from drug counselors and recovering addicts who oppose normalizing dangerous drugs. And undoubtedly he would have heard from parents who don’t want the government sending a signal that dangerous drugs are OK now.
This policy seems to ignore the fact that opioid overdoses accounted for more than 42,000 deaths nationwide in 2016.
Maybe Rosen didn’t hold a public hearing because he feared having to come face to face with a parent who lost a child to an overdose?
How strongly are parents against drug normalization? An organized group of parents got Mountain View City Council to reverse course and scrap the idea of allowing marijuana stores just last month.
I know Rosen is going to say that he’s not condoning drug use. But if he really believed that, then why didn’t he let people comment on this idea before it became his official policy?
Get more opinions
I would encourage Rosen to pull back this policy and run this idea by parents, recovering addicts and drug counselors, among others. I realize he’s heard from the activists out there who want to normalize drug use, and they’ve applauded his decision. I would encourage him to solicit more opinions about this policy before making it final.
Editor Dave Price’s column appears on Mondays. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.