Pubdate: Fri, 16 Nov 2001
Source: Austin American-Statesman (TX)
Copyright: 2001 Austin American-Statesman
Author: Karen Heikkala


Thank you for the Nov. 10 editorials about the interconnection of the drug
war, the war on terrorism and our new drug czar, John Walters.

I agree completely that the $40-billion-a-year drug war policies, heavy on
punishment instead of treatment and prevention have been "sadly
ineffective" in reducing demand.

In addition, our drug prohibition policies ensure that there will always be
a healthy black market, which assures the big traffickers bundles of
unregulated money with which to finance their criminal or terrorist activities.

Many users of illegal drugs are recreational users who harm no one. They
are not criminals. Isn't it time that we publicly admit that, and deal with
drug addiction as a medical problem, not a criminal one? Approaching it
this way would free up the vast amounts of money and manpower put into
arresting, prosecuting and incarcerating thousands of non-violent users and
destroy the black market at the same time.

Karen Heikkala

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