Pubdate: Fri, 11 Feb 2000
Date: 02/11/2000
Source: Baltimore Sun (MD)
Author: William Smith

In their recent column, Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and Dan
Morhaim wrote: "Substance abuse...costs the state an astimated $5.5
billion a year." ("State must take charge on drug addiction," Opinion
- Commentary, Feb. 1)

They should have said that it is the failed policy of drug
prohibition, not sub-stance abuse itself, that costs the state $5.5
billion a year.

The authors gave lip service to drug treatment, but didn't note that
the state's budget allots two-thirds of drug-related funds to law
enforcement and prisons.

Recently, The Sun published a list of names of the people murdered in
Baltimore in 1999. Most of them were victims of turf battles brought
about by the huge monetary incentives drug prohibition produces.
("Homicides 1999: What went wrong?" editorial, Jan 4)

Among them was the name of my oldestest friend, who was killed over a
dispute involving his prescription pain medication. Had prohibition
not been in effect, his pills would have been worth pennies, rather
than being more valuable than gold, and he would be here today.

New Mexico's governor, Gary Johnson, has shown great courage in taking
a stand against drug prohibition ("A lonely stand for drug
legalization," Oct. 24, 1999).

Why can't politicians here in Maryland show a semblance of a backbone
and admit that prohibition will never work?

William Smith,