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Reason Foundation

Bombs or Pot?

Ted Balaker
July 7, 2004, 2:56pm

Even the fiercest drug warrior would (hopefully) agree that airport security screeners should be on the lookout for terrorists, not potheads. Some might say they can do both, but you can't do both equally as well. It's nice to see someone getting smart about priorities for a change: Travelers caught with illegal drugs at Nashville International Airport are allowed to go free without arrest about half the time, recent statistics show. In the past four years, airport screeners and airport police found an increasing number of people with illegal drugs – a side effect of searches for weapons, bombs and other illegal items that ramped up after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, records and interviews with airport police show. Chief Duane McGray, who heads the airport's Department of Public Safety, said his officers were using more discretion as the intense bag searches continue and his officers encounter small amounts of marijuana. McGray would prefer that his officers be available to protect the public from more serious threats, rather than spending hours writing reports and in court for minor marijuana crimes, he said yesterday. ''Our primary responsibility is airport security,'' McGray said. ''We have to make judgments about where we put our resources.''

Ted Balaker is Producer


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