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Carl Olsen's Marijuana Archive
March 3, 1996

Dear Mr. Olsen -

     You don't know me, but after reading your article in the Des
Moines Register, I felt compelled to write you a letter.
     I wanted to let you know that you are not alone in your
views, and as mcuh as I have read and studied ways to deal with
the drug problem in America, and especially in Iowa, I have yet
to come across a solution as workable as the one you suggest.
     As you have probably already noticed, this letter is coming
to you from a prison.  That's right, a prison.  I sincerely hope
you are not put off by that, but I could certainly understand if
you were.  Many people in this state are.  Society in general
considers us scum, even though we are every bit as human as the
next person.
     I personally, was sent to prison on a drug-related charge
stemming from a drug deal gone bad.  I have fought drug addiction
most of my adult life, and more often than not, I have lost.  I
am now 26, and trying to win this war.
     I wanted to write to tell you that you, and people like you,
through letters such as the one the Register printed (a fine
liberal paper), not only serve to inform and enlighten the
general public, but also the few drug-addicted offenders that
take the time to read it, or, even worse, are able to understand
     Through your efforts you serve a greater purpose that you
may not even be aware of.  I applaud you for the time you took in
drafting your letter, and in your attempt to sling the noose, if
you will, of a problem that may not be solvable.
     But looking back on my own shattered life, the pain I've
caused, the damage I've done, I see in you a hope not only for
myself, but for other young people who may destroy themselves
such as I have.
     William Faulkner once said that "it is any man's right to
destroy himself, so long as he does it to and of himself."  I
wonder ....
     Anyhow, Mr. Olsen, I just wanted to thank you.  Since I
couldn't do it in person, a letter was my best shot.  Thank you
for the time you took in reading my letter, and I wish you the
best of luck in the future.  Peace.
     Johnnie Clements
     Iowa Medical & Classification Center
     Box A
     Oakdale, IA 52319

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