Pubdate: Sun, 07 Jul 2002
Source: Post-Standard, The (NY)
Copyright: 2002, Syracuse Post-Standard
Author: Larry Seguin


To the Editor:

Letter writer Ken Van Riper attacks the messengers (editor of The 
Post-Standard and Dr. Gene Tinelli) but offers no solution to the message. 
("'Unreformed' drug laws are working just fine," June 24).

Drug prohibition has been one of the biggest U.S. domestic policy failures 
of the late 20th century. Why is a perpetuation of this failure more 
desirable than serious consideration of alternative policy options?

Do you see alcohol and tobacco addicts roaming the streets committing 
crimes for their habits? Those drugs are controlled and regulated. Prices 
are cheap enough that there is no need for crime for their use and offer no 
profit motive to a black market. Most of those drug users are productive 
citizens. They are not punished until they commit a crime on a person or 
person's property. Illegal drugs are treated as a crime for just use.

Van Riper wants a survey or poll to support The Post-Standard and Tinelli? 
A Ridder/Braden opinion poll in the state of Colorado showed 73 percent of 
voters believe we should decrease criminal penalties for possession of 
small quantities of drugs from a felony to a misdemeanor and spend the 
money saved on prisons to increase drug treatment and prevention.

Eighty-five percent believe the current war on drugs addresses the symptoms 
of drug abuse but fails to solve the underlying causes. Eighty-three 
percent of Colorado voters believe we are losing the war on drugs.

A national Zogby Poll indicated 61 percent of the American public opposes 
arresting and jailing nonviolent marijuana smokers. Sixty-seven percent 
oppose the use of federal law-enforcement agencies to close patient 
cooperatives where medical marijuana is legal under state law.

A survey by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press (2001) 
found that 74 percent of Americans believe the war on drugs is a failure.

One of three say yes to recreational marijuana (USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll, 
Aug. 23, 2001).

Easy solution: End prohibition.

Larry Seguin

Lisbon  N Y
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