Upper Class Marijuana Busts Could Lead to Cracks in South Korean Drug War Consensus 4/5/02

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Korean law enforcement authorities have in recent years targeted prominent figures in the entertainment industry for special attention by drug fighters, arguing that their status as role models makes any drug abuse especially problematic in a nation where methamphetamine and ecstasy use, while low by Western standards, are rising.

The star victims of such police attention have been contrite and have not challenged the wisdom or efficacy of the drug laws, but the arrests of 10 people, including some prominent figures, for marijuana smoking, may end up backfiring on the authorities. After a months-long investigation, the anti-narcotics squad at the Seoul District Prosecutor's office arrested Kwon Hun-sung, a former Democratic Liberal Party legislator; Kang Byong-sok, a professor at Hongik University, and Park Jong-kyu, the son of a former prime minister, for smoking marijuana in their houses and cars on five occasions. Also arrested were a photographer, a singer, and a middle school principal.

Searches yielded a whopping one kilogram of marijuana and 11 kilos of seeds, police said.

"Most of the people who were busted were found to have come from elite social backgrounds," a prosecutor told the Korea Times. And therein may lie the problem. Lawyers, professors, and politicians' sons have both more resources and less inclination to kowtow to tradition than the average drug defendant. And according to the prosecutor, these particular defendants are showing the opposite of contrition.

In fact, he told the Times, they refused to admit to any wrongdoing and even vowed to file a constitutional appeal that marijuana is not a narcotic substance.

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Issue #231, 4/5/02 Editorial: Contrasts | Supreme Court to Review California's Three-Strikes Sentencing Law | US Alternative Development Plan in Colombia a Failure, Say Officials, Will Be Abandoned in Favor of Spraying and Bullets | Uncovered Documents Reveal State Department Cover-Up of Bolivian Police Murder of Coca Growers Union Leader | US Abandoning Afghan Opium Eradication Effort | National Prescription Heroin Trials Urged in Australia, Prime Minister Remains an Obstacle | Something New Under the Sun: Scots Offer Retox to Prisoners | Upper Class Marijuana Busts Could Lead to Cracks in South Korean Drug War Consensus | DEA Head Calls Mexican Cartels Terrorists in Effort to Link Vastly Different Phenomenon | Media and Resources Online | Alerts: HEA, Bolivia, DEA Hemp Ban, SuperBowl Ad, Ecstasy Legislation, Mandatory Minimums, Medical Marijuana | The Reformer's Calendar

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