Britney Spears and Lindsey Lohan's high profile rehab stints for drugs and alcohol abuse are making rehab trendy according to a New York Times Style piece on Thursday.
Britney, Lindsey, Rush Limbaugh, Noelle Bush and Patrick Kennedy remind us that drug addiction does not discriminate. Unfortunately, our drug policies do. Arianna Huffington wrote an excellent piece in the LA Times on March 24, describing the racist drug war. While the rich and famous go to treatment, the poor and unfamous are sent to jail. One of the worst cases is New York, where ninety-three percent of the people incarcerated under the state's draconian Rockefeller Drug Laws are black or Latino, despite equal drug use among blacks and whites.
The people are ahead of the politicians. Poll after poll shows that most people support treatment instead of jail for people struggling with addiction. In 2000, California voters approved Proposition 36, a law that gives treatment instead of jail to first and second time nonviolent drug law offenders. In just five years, this law has helped well over 150,000 people, who are not rich or famous, get treatment while also saving the state over 1.3 billion dollars because treatment is so much cheaper than jail.
This landmark law has hugely expanded access to drug treatment for all Californians. Unfortunately, Governor Arnold is threatening to starve this popular and successful program of much-needed funding. In doing so, he is going against the will of the voters and threatening to turn back the clock to a time when treatment was only an option for the rich and famous.