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Civil rights groups: End drug crimes

They are in many ways the voices of America's conscience: the American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Watch. The two civil rights groups recently issued a joint report that makes a powerful case against drug crimes.

The enforcement of drug laws is ruining lives, the groups contend, while failing in its primary mission: reducing drug abuse. The organizations call for the decriminalization of possession and recreational use of all illegal drugs.

The report's author acknowledges that decriminalization is not about to happen in the near future, but she says the organizations hope their report will encourage lawmakers on the local and federal levels to reclassify downward drug crimes for possession and use to misdemeanors from felonies. She adds that the groups also hope to see more funding for treatment rather than enforcement and imprisonment.

Only four states have so far decriminalized recreational marijuana use; Florida not among them. No state has decriminalized personal use and possession of drugs such as heroin or meth.

One of the points made by the ACLU and Human Rights Watch is that drug law enforcement far too often involves racial bias. The report points out that though African American adults use drugs at lower rates than white adults, they are more than twice as likely to wind up in handcuffs for possession.

When you are arrested on drug charges in Fort Myers, you face Florida's harsh penalties. An experienced criminal defense attorney fights for both your rights and your freedom.

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