Pubdate: Fri, 04 Feb 2000
Source: Daily Star (NY)
Copyright: 2000 The Daily Star
Contact:  607-432-5847
Author: Bruce Dunn


It is interesting that the most commonly used drugs in this country aren't
thought of as drugs at all. Take the stimulant caffeine, for example.

We take it in coffee, tea, soda and many use it from childhood to grave.

It's mostly a safe, friendly drug and we use a lot of it.

Nicotine is a very popular drug. About a third of those who use it will
have their lives shortened as a result.

It is probably without equal in its ability to entice its user into a
lifetime of service.

Still, the might of American tobacco and advertising tries to convince kids
and young adults around the world that smoking is cool. And if the pension
is vested in tobacco and we're making money, we can live with that.

Alcohol is a fun drug enjoyed probably by more adults than not and most use
it responsibly. The biggest drawback with alcohol is related tragedy is
never far off. Because of a lack of information and education, nearly 4,000
(mostly young) people drink themselves to death yearly, a direct result of
alcohol poisoning.

In 1998, there were 22,000 deaths as a result of drunk driving. Mostly
these deaths were of innocents, people who had nothing to do with alcohol.

The drivers themselves mostly were convicted of misdemeanors and punished
with a fine. The use of alcohol is so endemic to our culture that we mostly
give it a pass and we certainly don't think of drinking as using drugs.

In 1998, nearly 700,000 U.S. citizens, the overwhelming majority of them
responsible and otherwise law-abiding, were arrested because of marijuana
prohibition. In many cases, careers were lost and lives ruined.

It is time to stop arresting responsible pot users.

Bruce Dunn, Maple Grove
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jo-D