Press Release  | 09/10/2002

Noelle Bush Found With Cocaine at Rehab Center in Florida Should Receive More Treatment, Not Jail, Says Drug Policy Alliance

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Noelle's Anticipated Arrest Occurs Amidst Bush Administration's Campaign Linking Non-Violent American Drug Users to Terrorism
Governor Jeb Bush Continues to Oppose Treatment Instead of Jail for Non-Violent Offenders in Florida

Gov. Jeb Bush's daughter was found with cocaine at a rehabilitation center where she is undergoing drug treatment, according to a recent Associated Press report from Orlando. Her anticipated arrest comes even as the Bush administration is spending millions of taxpayer dollars in television and print advertisements suggesting that non-violent Americans who use drugs are responsible for funding terrorism. Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Alliance, made the following statement today from New York:

"Noelle has a problem with drugs. What she needs is help. If one form of treatment does not work, the answer is not prison, but to try another form of treatment, and if that doesn't work, then another form again. Think about this as a medical problem, or a psychological problem. No one 'treatment' approach works for everyone. Unless Noelle actually harms others or puts others at great risk, such as by driving under the influence of drugs, prison is not an appropriate response -- and is likely to make matters worse, not better.

"What is particularly galling is that her father has done little more than give lip service to the need for treatment for others. Governor Bush has actively opposed the 'treatment instead of incarceration' initiative that will likely be on the Florida ballot in 2004. Meanwhile, her uncle in the White House is giving speeches and using taxpayer dollars to pay for ads saying that young people like Noelle are subsidizing terrorism.

"One can only hope that Noelle's difficulties will open her family's eyes to more compassionate and humane ways of dealing with substance misuse both in their family and beyond."

President Bush, when signing the Drug-Free Communities act last December said: "Drug use threatens everything, everything that is best about our country...; If you quit drugs, you join the fight against terror in America." In one government commercial, smoking marijuana was equated with killing an innocent family. And just this month the Drug Enforcement Administration opened a special "drugs and terrorism" exhibit in their museum that exploitatively features an actual piece of the World Trade Center -- even though the tragic events of September 11th had nothing to do with drugs.

The Drug Policy Alliance continues to support Florida Governor Jeb Bush's appeal for respect and privacy in coping with his daughter's substance abuse problem. But the Alliance also pointed out the sharp discrepancy in Florida's treatment of drug abuse among people with less political power and financial means.

For the past ten years more inmates have been admitted to Florida state prisons for drug offenses than for any other charge. The state's voters will likely have an opportunity to vote on a ballot initiative in 2004 to provide treatment instead of incarceration for the thousands of people who, like Noelle Bush, have substance abuse problems. The initiative would provide drug treatment for an estimated 10,000 non-violent Floridians per year who otherwise would be incarcerated. To date, Governor Bush has expressed staunch opposition to the possible initiative. Governor Bush has also cut drug treatment and drug court budgets in the state.

Tony Newman at or at 510-208-7711

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