Pubdate: Mon, 13 Mar 2000
Source: Bangor Daily News (ME)
Copyright: 2000, Bangor Daily News Inc.
Author: Ed Cutting
Note: The author, a resident of Matinicus, is currently attending the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
Bookmark: MAP's link to Maine articles is:


Blaming Massachusetts and New York for Maine’s drug problem is nothing more
than ignoring local responsibility while engaging in a bigoted scapegoating
of others, be they called ``flatlanders,'' ``Colombians'' or other
adjectives which ought not to appear in a family newspaper.

Sixteen-year-old Maine children become addicted to heroin because of things
that happen in the state of Maine, and not because there are three bridges
over the Piscataqua River.

Twenty years ago, most of the cocaine that came into the entire Northeast
came through Penobscot Bay. Even though it was physically present, very few
schoolchildren used it because Maine was a very different state back then.
Children were expected to respect their parents, parents were expected to
know where (and with whom) their children were, and everyone had a whole
lot more respect for their local school system.

Old Maine didn’t have Department of Human Services caseworkers lurking
behind trees in a McCarthy-style search for child abusers or children
threatening to dial 911 if their parents spanked them. While there was a
great diversity in religious beliefs, most children went to a church and
were taught the social values that transcend the religious beliefs of any

Old Maine was not perfect, it clearly had its problems, but teen-agers back
then simply were not allowed to run wild as they are today. My parents
wouldn’t have known what a ``rave'' was, but I am quite certain that they
would not have let me go to one.

If the attention that has been spent on children's rights had included the
right to be drug free, if the drug dealers had been prosecuted as
aggressively as the perceived child abusers were, we simply wouldn’t have a
teen-age drug problem today. It is the mistakes of the 1980s that have
given us our drug problem, and the drug problem will only be resolved by
addressing these mistakes.

Methadone is not a solution, and it raises more questions than it answers,
not the least of which is if we really want people under the influence of
state-sanctioned methadone driving on our highways. One hundred ten
milligrams of a powerful narcotic has got to be more impairing than a 0.08
percent blood alcohol level, how many accidents (and close calls) on Route
1 have been caused by folks returning from the South Portland clinic? For
that matter, how many accidents are caused by drivers on illegal drugs?

Attempting to rid the state of heroin is a noble cause, but it must be
remembered that for every person who overdosed on heroin, 11 overdosed on
something else. Cocaine and other drugs are readily available, marijuana is
the state's most profitable cash crop, and there are far too many parents
who think nothing of sitting around the kitchen table smoking marijuana
with their children.

Bangor Police Chief Donald Winslow is quite right that ``parents [need] to
sit down and talk with their kids,'' but who will be talking with the
parents? The old Maine of my youth expected parents to control their
children and supported the parents in their attempts to do so.

Adults (and teachers) in old Maine weren’t afraid of the DHS, and were
quite willing to intervene if a child was acting inappropriately. That
society didn't have a teen-age drug problem and a return to such a society
would work wonders toward addressing the drug problems of today.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Eric Ernst