Pubdate: Sat, 22 Apr 2000
Source: Baltimore Sun (MD)
Copyright: 2000 The Baltimore Sun, a Times Mirror Newspaper.
Author: Kevin Fansler


In the Sun Journal article "Taking command of drug crisis" (April 16) Gen. 
Barry R. McCaffrey says that drug use is significantly down from 20 years ago.

Mr. McCaffrey's selective statistics are misleading. Despite an overall 
decline in drug use we have seen dramatic increases in drug-related 
emergency room visits and drug-related deaths.

More than 2 million people are incarcerated in this country, largely 
because we've emphasized drug enforcement rather than treatment and prevention.

And to use the U.S. Army as a model for solving our drug problem, as Mr. 
McCaffrey does, would be a severe mistake, because the underlying cultures 
of military and civilian life differ markedly. The army tries to select 
applicants who will not have drug problems. The United States cannot select 
its residents.

The army has a large amount of control over a soldier's life and actions. 
The country has minimal control over a civilian, courtesy of the Constitution.

A persistent drug user can be discharged from the Army. We cannot deport 
illegal drug users who are citizens.

For promising models for dealing with drug abuse, we should look instead to 
Europe, where treatment and prevention are more than just buzzwords.

Kevin Fansler
Havre de Grace
- ---
MAP posted-by: Richard Lake