DRUG WAR BRIEFS: Death By Humiliation

December 5 - The Senate confirms John Walters as the new Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, or Drug Czar.

December 7 - The Long Beach Press-Telegram reports: A Poly High School senior who played bass in the school orchestra took his life after being booked on marijuana possession charges, police said Thursday.

A police officer at Poly was notified at about 2 p.m. Wednesday that a bag of what appeared to be marijuana was visible in Andreas Wickstrom's car, parked in a campus parking lot, said Officer Jana Blair, a police spokeswoman.

The 17-year-old student was taken to the Police Department's Youth Services Facility when he returned to his car after school let out. He was booked there at 3 p.m. on the marijuana charge, for showing false or altered identification and possession of items used in smoking marijuana, she said.

His car was impounded because it could not be left on campus after hours, she said.

"His mother was contacted and came down to pick him up. They were able to pick up the vehicle and return home about 5 p.m.," Blair said.

Minutes later, the boy's mother heard a noise, then "found her son in the bathroom, the apparent victim of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. A shotgun kept in the home was found beside him," Blair said.

Paramedics called to the home, in the 3900 block of Elm Avenue, pronounced him dead at 5:11 p.m., Blair said.

Andreas' aunt, Diana Haye, said he was humiliated by his arrest.

"All he repeated to his mother on the way home was 'they treated me like a common criminal,' " she said.

"He did not seem distraught when he was in custody," Blair said.

"He was nice and friendly and showed no sign of depression ," said Poly Principal Shawn Ashley, who said he checked on the boy as he was being arrested.

Andreas, he said, was a "bright, talented kid who, when he was focused, would do a wonderful job."

Counselors came to Poly Thursday to talk to shocked and grieving students.

December 10 - The Colorado Gazette reports: Longtime San Miguel County Sheriff Bill Masters used to be a hard-charging warrior in the fight against drugs. He even got an award from the Drug Enforcement Agency for a job well done.

But now the state's only Libertarian lawman rides to his own tune. He turns down federal grants for drug enforcement programs and contends the nation would be better off if narcotics were legal.

It's a view Masters says state leaders, government officials and other sheriffs agree with, even though few take that stand in public.

"Privately, many public officials say I am right, but they can't say that publicly because the community won't support them," Masters said.

Masters outlined his anti-drug war argument during a lecture Wednesday at the University of Colorado and in a telephone interview to promote his upcoming book, "Drug War Addiction: Notes from the Front Lines of America's #1 Policy Disaster."

The sheriff, who has held office for more than 20 years and plans to seek re-election in 2002, remains one of the few Colorado lawmen to take such a public stand.

The Sept. 11 terror attacks in New York and Washington only enhanced Masters' beliefs that too much time, effort and money is wasted on dopers.

He pointed out that 750,000 Americans were arrested for possessing marijuana in the same year terrorists brought down the World Trade Center.

Things might have been different on Sept. 11 had the federal government diverted the $17.8 billion it spends each year on the drug war toward terrorist threats, Masters said.

"Secretary of State Colin Powell was not in Pakistan on Sept. 11," he said. "He was in Peru discussing drug control."

Send tips and comments to Kevin Nelson at kcnelson@premier1.net.

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