Pubdate: Tue, 26 Dec 2000
Source: Clarion-Ledger, The (MS)
Copyright: 2000 The Clarion-Ledger
Address: P.O. Box 40 Jackson, MS 39205-0400
Fax: (601) 961-7211
Author: Robert Sharpe, M.P.A.


Mississippi's new drug strategy ("State's strategy on drugs lauded," Dec.
18) touted by Steven W. Casteel, the Drug Enforcement Administration's chief
of intelligence, sounds no different from the failed strategy of the past.

As usual, drug-related violence is used to justify increased spending, this
time in the form of High Intensity Drug Trafficking areas.

When supply of addictive drugs is successfully limited by interdiction while
demand remains constant, drug trafficking becomes more profitable. The
obscene profits to be made guarantee replacement dealers. In the short-term,
drug prices are higher, which means desperate addicts increase criminal
activity to feed desperate habits. Those who get caught are placed in
prisons that serve to transmit violent habits and values rather than reduce
them. Just as alcohol prohibition once did, the drug war effectively fuels
crime, while failing miserably at preventing use.

With organized crime comes corruption, and Americans are not immune. The
former commander of U.S. anti-drug operations in Colombia was found guilty
of laundering the profits of his wife's heroin smuggling operation. Entire
countries have been destabilized due to the corrupting influence of
organized crime groups that profit from drug prohibition. Drug laws fuel
organized crime and violence, which is then used to justify increased drug
war spending. It's time to end this madness and start treating all substance
abuse -- legal or otherwise -- as the public health problem it is.

Robert Sharpe, M.P.A.

Program Officer

The Lindesmith Center - Drug Policy Foundation, Washington, D.C.
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