Pubdate: Sat, 22 Apr 2000
Date: 04/22/2000
Source: Baltimore Sun (MD)
Author: Kevin Fansler

In the Sun Journal article "Taking command of drug crisis" (April 16)
Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey says that drug use is significantly down from
20 years ago.

Mr. McCaffrey's selective statistics are misleading. Despite an
overall decline in drug use we have seen dramatic increases in
drug-related emergency room visits and drug-related deaths.

More than 2 million people are incarcerated in this country, largely
because we've emphasized drug enforcement rather than treatment and

And to use the U.S. Army as a model for solving our drug problem, as
Mr. McCaffrey does, would be a severe mistake, because the underlying
cultures of military and civilian life differ markedly. The army tries
to select applicants who will not have drug problems. The United
States cannot select its residents.

The army has a large amount of control over a soldier's life and
actions. The country has minimal control over a civilian, courtesy of
the Constitution.

A persistent drug user can be discharged from the Army. We cannot
deport illegal drug users who are citizens.

For promising models for dealing with drug abuse, we should look
instead to Europe, where treatment and prevention are more than just

Kevin Fansler, Havre de Grace