Pubdate: Mon, 19 Feb 2001
Source: Houston Chronicle (TX)
Copyright: 2001 Houston Chronicle
Contact:  Viewpoints Editor, P.O. Box 4260 Houston, Texas 77210-4260
Fax: (713) 220-3575
Section: Viewpoints
Authors: Buford Terrell, and Heyward Dixon


The Feb. 4 Chronicle Metropolitan article about illegal methamphetamine 
laboratories' serious risks of fire, explosion and toxic-waste pollution, 
"New `meth' labs making hazardous home `cooks'," said the problem is 
spreading all around Harris County and the country. But it doesn't have to 
be that way.

For almost 70 years, reputable pharmaceutical companies have been safely 
manufacturing amphetamines with no risk to the rest of us.

These companies obey the Food and Drug Administration's regulations on 
purity, the Environmental Protection Agency's regulations for disposing of 
toxic waste and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's 
regulations for safe procedures.

Their liability insurance carriers make sure they are running safe operations.

These illegal labs are set up for the same reasons that bootleg stills were 
created during Prohibition: Our laws keep honest companies out of the 
business and give bad guys a monopoly.

We have two choices. We can keep amphetamines illegal, with a few people 
using them and even fewer suffering harm from their use; or we can legalize 
the use of amphetamines, with about the same number using them and the same 
number being harmed by them.

Legalization would remove the risk to the rest of us presented by the 
illegal cookers and let us buy cold medicines in packages we can open.

Buford C. Terrell, Houston

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I read with interest Michael Hedges' Jan. 28 Page one Chronicle article 
about Republicans urging a continuation of the war on drugs, "Bush urged to 
hang tough in drug war."

The letter from key Republican House committee chairmen, the so-called 
"Gilman-Burton letter," insists on continuing a failed policy which has 
effectively trumped the Constitution, wasted taxpayer dollars by the 
hundred-billion and mindlessly imprisoned nonviolent offenders by the 

What positive purpose has been served by this war?

This is a question being asked by growing numbers and is a key reason 
leaders of both parties fear a widespread public debate on the issue.

More and more voters are becoming wise to the senseless extremism of 
prohibition dogma because for the past 30 years, escalating enforcement, 
interdiction, incarceration and propaganda have only marginally deflected 
key drug use indicators.

President Bush should stamp the Gillman-Burton letter "Return to Sender" 
and proceed to chart a new course for a federal drug policy.

Given the clear division among the electorate, both the president and 
Congress should feel obliged to listen to the people and seek new consensus 
on drug policy.

Heyward Dixon, Houston
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