Pubdate: Wed, 27 Sep 2000
Source: Newport News-Times (OR) 
Copyright: 2000 Lee Enterprises Inc. 
Address: P.O. Box 965, Newport OR 97365 
Authors: Nadine Bearden, Robert Sharpe, Danny Terwey
Note: Overall Headline by MAP editor


Something Wrong With This Picture

I want to say that the drug testing in the schools is a slap in the 
face of some great and dedicated children. Parents pay money so the 
children can play sports. Then they spend more money for special shoes, 
and even more for gas to get them to practice and games. The children 
spend hours before and after school at practice so they can play. Then 
there are game nights two to three nights a week, with tournaments on 
Saturdays. Then the children do fund-raisers for their sports. Some 
children work part time so they can afford to play. They also have to 
find time for study and homework, because if they don't keep their 
grades up, they can't play. These are the dedicated students that have 
been singled out to be drug tested in the school. There's something 
very wrong with this picture.  

Nadine Bearden,Toledo

Faulty Drug Policy

Oregon Health Sciences University's attempts to evaluate the efficacy 
of drug tests will not prove easy. First of all, the tests themselves 
are not perfect. Anyone capable of running an Internet search can learn 
how to thwart a drug test, so a decline in positive tests is not 
necessarily a good sign. As stated in your Sept. 22 article, Toledo 
High School students are reluctant to cooperate with drug surveys. Who 
is going to willingly admit to drug use in an age of zero-tolerance? 
Honest answers could very well lead to drug-sniffing dogs, routine 
locker searches, and mass arrests. An inability to conduct reliable 
research is not the only negative consequence of zero-tolerance 
approaches to public health problems like substance abuse. Law 
enforcement's involvement with medical conditions like addiction 
discourages treatment. In order for drug treatment to be truly 
effective - and not necessarily preceded by an arrest - policymakers 
are going to have to tone down the zero-tolerance rhetoric. Would 
alcoholics seek treatment if doing so were tantamount to confessing to 
criminal activity? Likewise, would putting every incorrigible alcoholic 
behind bars and saddling them with criminal records be cost-effective? 
Driving addiction underground is counterproductive and only compounds 
the problem by discouraging honest discussion. It's time to declare a 
peaceful end to the failed drug war. Rather than stigmatize users and 
waste resources attempting to overcome immutable laws of supply and 
demand, policymakers should look to the lessons learned from America's 
disastrous experiment with alcohol prohibition in the early 1900s. 

Editor's note: Local high schools already have used drug-sniffing dogs 
and locker searches.  

Robert Sharpe, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, The George Washington
University Washington, D.C.

Stand Together

Kudos to the Toledo High School's student body for its opposition to
drug war tyranny. Solidarity is a wonderful thing in cases like this.
When hundreds of students join in the protest, those that might have
felt intimidated can also participate. Good for them.

Danny Terwey, Santa Cruz, Calif.
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MAP posted-by: John Chase