Pubdate: Tue, 01 Jan 2002
Source: Florida Today (FL)
Copyright: 2002 Florida Today
Author: David McKinney


In response to a recent letter by Robert Sharpe, and Ira Adams' Dec.
24 letter "Easy access aids teens' pot smoking," I am quite pleased to
see so much debate.

It is a metaphor for the bigger picture of what is happening with the
drug policy debate in general.

This is not to say that the situation is two-sided -- it is
multifaceted and quite complex -- but what I see here is a
representation of the two major, widely accepted schools of thought on
the matter.

One side claims that at least some of the U.S. drug policy is doing
more harm than good, and that it should be changed. The other claims
that our society will begin to melt down if we start to go soft on
drug policy -- either because it would send the wrong message to youth
or because it would cause an epidemic like crack addiction.

In any fair debate, each side must present not only arguments in favor
of their position, but also must address the issues presented by the
opposition and provide alternatives to dealing with those issues.

If there is one thing I have noticed about drug policy debates, it is
that those who want to change policy tend to follow fair debating
practices, while those who want to continue status quo tend to be very
one-sided and disrespectful of those pushing for change.

If both sides would debate fairly all the time, then there would be
some hope that a consensus could be reached. As long as people who
want to debate turn their noses up at opposing points of view without
addressing them, there will be a great divide in this country, and the
victims will not be limited to either side of the debate.

David McKinney, Miami
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