Pubdate: Mon, 09 Apr 2001
Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (WI)
Copyright: 2001 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Authors: Doug McVay, Ann Morgan
Note: 2 PUB LTEs


Two former leaders of the White House Office of National Drug Control 
Policy asserted that our current policy is working ("Drug treatment can 
work, but legalization won't," April 1). Possibly that depends on how one 
defines "working."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Youth Risk Behavior Survey 
reports that in 1993, only 1.9% of ninth-through 12th-graders were cocaine 
users. In 1999, that number had more than doubled, to 4%.

Workplace drug testing has fallen, according to the American Management 
Association, particularly at technology companies. So the question of 
whether workplace drug use has fallen per se can't really be answered given 
the available data, but we do know fewer tests yield fewer positives.

Drug treatment has tripled in the past 20 years as they said, but there is 
still a huge treatment gap in this country. Plus, the increase is nothing 
compared to the increase in incarceration for drug offenses. The Bureau of 
Justice Statistics reports that 30% of the 236,800 drug offenders serving 
time in state prisons - 71,040 sons and daughters, mothers and fathers - 
were behind bars for simple possession of an illicit drug.

That doesn't include the number incarcerated in local and county jails, and 
it doesn't include the thousands held in federal prisons. The number of 
drug offenders in federal prisons, by the way, was 63,011 in 1998, compared 
with a total of 56,989 inmates in the entire federal prison system in 1990.

They call this a successful policy? If so, these two have great careers 
ahead of them doing public relations for dot-com companies. It's time to 
change the debate.

Doug McVay, Research director Common Sense for Drug Policy, Washington, D.C.



The time has come to develop a more rational view on narcotic substances. 
In the past 20 years, the United States has spent $300 billion on the war 
on drugs, and that money has accomplished absolutely nothing. Imagine what 
could have been done with all that money. Sent a man to Mars? Developed a 
cure for cancer? I guess we'll never know.

Our narcotics policy has had numerous bad effects, including:

1) It has denied painkillers to terminally ill patients. Doctors who place 
their Hippocratic oath first and give adequate pain medication are subject 
to government investigation and harassment if they prescribe what some 
medically ignorant bureaucrat deems to be "too much" medication.

2) It has caused numerous violations of the Constitution, particularly 
regarding unjust searches and seizures.

3) It has caused tremendous damage to the environment. The paper this 
newspaper is printed on is made from wood pulp. It has to be, because 
making paper from hemp is illegal, due to the fact that hemp is better 
known as marijuana. However, hemp is a much better choice for paper making. 
It is more renewable than wood, makes for a better quality paper and does 
not create noxious chemicals such as dioxin as does the wood pulp industry.

Destroying acres of timber every day and pouring dioxin into rivers is a 
much worse thing in the long run than a few idiotic people getting high. A 
society such as ours, which is so foolish as to regard the former as 
preferable to the latter, has a lot of growing up to do.

Ann Morgan, Oconomowoc
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