Pubdate: Wed, 07 Feb 2001
Source: Seattle Times (WA)
Copyright: 2001 The Seattle Times Company
Contact:  P.O. Box 70, Seattle, WA   98111
Fax: (206) 382-6760
Section: Editorials & Opinion
Author: Robert Killian, MD/MPH, Seattle


America has been fighting the wrong fight in the drug war. It has funded 
law enforcement and the judicial system and failed to address the real 
issues behind dangerous drug use and self-destructive behaviors.

America's children have been pawns in a public policy debate that has led 
to the ever-increasing budgets for military and judicial systems poorly 
equipped to handle the public health crisis of drug addiction and drug misuse.

Washington voters, like the rest of the country, are tired of the empty 
rhetoric that displays our public policy hypocrisy. Our "get tough on 
drugs" approach has only applied to the least popular drugs, while ignoring 
the drugs that cause the most damage to families and health. Our neighbors 
are tired of a political debate while our children and neighbors are being 
ravaged by addictions and a law-enforcement community bent on punishment 
without any recognition that addiction is a medical problem.

Our community is hungry for real leadership on the issue of drug use and 
misuse. Why is The Seattle Times and its editorial staff afraid of the move 
toward requiring appropriate drug treatment and community service for drug 
addicts and those convicted of drug use?

Californians who passed Prop. 36 were not wrong. Politicians seem wary to 
handle any real change in drug policy. Bureaucrats who work for state and 
federal agencies have little leeway to advocate policy different than what 
has been legislated. Washington voters are ready for change. We can 
scarcely survive another round of prison-building and not begin creating 
appropriate community services for those drawn toward substance abuse and 

The Washington Legislature now has several bills to consider these issues. 
And we should look forward to the public debate an initiative will bring us 
if the Legislature fails to act this year on these matters

Robert Killian, MD/MPH, Seattle
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MAP posted-by: Keith Brilhart