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I feel nothing but sympathy and concern for Noelle Bush. Her latest stumble on the rocky road to recovery -- being caught with crack cocaine at a drug rehab center -- shows that she is in desperate need of help.

As a parent, I can also easily empathize with the anguish Noelle's father, Florida Governor Jeb Bush, must be experiencing. And I'm in total agreement with his insistence that his daughter's substance abuse problem is "a private issue."
But when I think about the heartless stance the Governor has taken toward the drug problems of those less-fortunate and well-connected than his daughter, my empathy turns to outrage.
While Noelle has been given every break in the book -- and then some -- her father has made it harder for others in her position to get the help they need by cutting the budgets of drug treatment and drug court programs in his state. He has also actively opposed a proposed ballot initiative that would send an estimated 10,000 non-violent drug offenders into treatment instead of jail. I guess what's good for the goose, gets the gander locked away.
Of course, Jeb's wildly inconsistent attitude on the issue -- treatment and privacy for his daughter, incarceration and public humiliation for everyone else -- is part and parcel of the galling hypocrisy that infects America's insane drug war on every level.
The latest example of this madness is last week's early morning DEA raid on a medical marijuana club in Santa Cruz, Calif., that caters to terminally ill patients. Although the hospice-style operation has been lauded by local law enforcement officials for its caring and ethical approach, federal agents stormed the place with guns drawn and chainsaws whirring -- leveling its pot garden, handcuffing ailing patients (including a paraplegic), and carting off its founder and director, Valerie Corral, a woman who has been called the Florence Nightingale of the medical marijuana movement.
So much for the Bush administration's compassionate conservatism. And its conservative consistency. Back when he was running for president, candidate Bush declared that medical marijuana is a states' rights issue. "I believe," he said, "each state can choose that decision as they so choose." Although the mangled syntax makes it a little hard to tell exactly what the President was getting at, is it consistent with allowing John Ashcroft to order a holy-roller war against cannabis clubs in California, even though it is one of twelve states that have decriminalized the use of pot for medical purposes?