Pubdate: Mon, 04 Sep 2000
Date: 09/04/2000
Source: St. Petersburg Times (FL)
Author: Anne Sweazey

Finally, an elected official who has the courage to look at
alternatives to the way we are waging -- and losing -- the drug war.
(Just say no to the drug war, Matthew Miller, Aug. 25. New Mexico Gov.
Gary Johnson candidly points out that our national policy on drugs is
a disaster.

Our politicians insist that they are "tough on crime," and yet they
seem to be too timid to engage in a frank and realistic discussion
about drugs. Meanwhile, our prisons are crammed with non-violent
offenders, HIV continues to be spread by dirty needles and the number
of hard-core addicts stays the same.

Our national policy on drugs is a subject that is essentially taboo
for our politicians. Privately, many of our elected officials think we
should at least consider such measures as decriminalizing marijuana
and other harm-reduction strategies, but they fear repercussions in
their approval ratings for exploring these issues in the public arena.

Bravo to Gov. Johnson for telling us there is something wrong with
this picture. Can't we all step back, refrain from knee-jerk reactions
and encourage our politicians to seek expert advice and open up this
subject for review and sensible reform?

Anne Sweazey,
St. Petersburg