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By John Fockler
LPO Deputy Communications Director
OHIO—Cleveland Indians relief pitcher Chris Perez was found guilty of misdemeanor drug abuse in Rocky River Municipal Court on Tuesday, September 3. According to the Associated Press, Perez was fined $250, placed on probation for one year, and was ordered to speak to students about drugs.
Libertarians have long known that the so-called War on Drugs—which President Nixon declared in 1971— can be costly and even tragic. But the raid on the rented Rocky River home of Perez shows that it can have its silly side as well. On Tuesday, June 4, police arranged a delivery under surveillance of two packages to the Perez home addressed to “Brody Baum,” the family dog. Melanie Baum Perez, wife of the Indians’ closer, accepted the delivery. The cops had been tipped off to the “suspicious packages” by federal postal inspectors.
On being asked if he had any illegal drugs or weapons on the premises by drug agents executing a search warrant, Chris Perez is reported to have pointed out two jars believed to contain marijuana, which he told officers was for his personal use. The amount found totaled less than one-third of a pound.
According to the AP, the criminal case against Melanie Perez is pending and, if she passes a drug test, she will face a $50 fine without needing to be placed on probation.
In addition to the legal circus, Chris Perez is participating in Major League Baseball’s drug treatment program. Other than for purely public relations issues, one can only wonder why MLB bothers with marijuana. It can in no way be considered as “performance enhancing,” nor can its use put players on the field—or anyone else, for that matter—in danger (unless someone is driving while high). Apart from medical benefits claimed for marijuana, its use is purely recreational.
In the meantime, the raid on the Perez home was a coordinated action of Rocky River police, U.S postal inspectors and the West Shore Enforcement Bureau. The cost of such an action must be considerable for a yield of such a small amount of “controlled substance.” The Perezes have not been accused of distributing illegal drugs, and it seems extremely unlikely that busting them will lead in any way to bringing down a major drug-selling ring. There is no allegation that either member of the couple was under the influence of drugs at the time of the raid, nor is there any indication that either person did anything to endanger the welfare of another person, such as driving while impaired or recklessly endangering a child.
Besides netting a bit of publicity for the law enforcement agencies involved, it’s hard to see what benefit can result from this prosecution. Except, maybe, giving the public a good laugh. Surely there could have been a better use found for these officers’ time.
No one can guess how effective Perez’s talks to students will be, either. The Drug Abuse Resistance Education program, better known as D.A.R.E., which puts law enforcement personnel in schools to preach on the evils of drugs, is taught to 36 million students each year. Numerous scientific studies, including some performed under government sponsorship, have shown the program to be ineffective. Some studies have even indicated that drug abuse rates are higher among students exposed to the program than among those who were not. For this reason, the U.S. Department of Education prohibits schools from spending its funding on D.A.R.E., which itself seems to be re-thinking their approach to marijuana. (For a quick look at these issues concerning D.A.R.E., check out this post from Mike Riggs at Reason.com.)
The Libertarian Party of Ohio notes that whether tragic, costly, or just ridiculous, the War on Drugs is a waste of public resources, hazardous to our individual liberty and our Constitutional rights, and disruptive of people’s lives. It’s time to end it, and treat non-violent drug use as a medical issue when appropriate, or as no else’s business when no one is at risk.