Pubdate: Sun, 14 Jul 2002
Source: Albany Herald, The (GA)
Note: Originally printed in The Albany Herald Feb. 26, 2001


The war on drugs in America has produced heavy assaults without winning the 
battle. Hundreds of billions of dollars, literally, have been poured into 
every imaginable arena where there is interaction with illegal drugs, 
sellers or users.

Congress has appropriated huge sums to fight drug trafficking at its source 
in South American countries. American money has equipped guerillas inside 
the countries who fight against the druglords, people who will cross any 
line of behavior in order to accomplish their goal of drug distribution. It 
is hard to determine whether the druglords are motivated primarily by money 
and the lavish lifestyles it avails or by the power they are able to exert, 
even deep inside their governments.

Back in the United States, massive amounts of money have been poured into 
law enforcement and the judicial system in trying to apprehend and 
prosecute those who sell and those who use drugs. Drug squads have been 
formed. More prosecutors and judges have been hired and more prisons and 
jails built to accommodate the extra pressure exerted toward curtailing 
drug transactions.

Consider the salaries, benefits, equipment, offices and training for all 
the people added in the various systems in the last 20-plus years as a 
result of drug usage.

Still other money, both taxpayer and private funds, has been targeted at 
treatment of drug addicts and for education.

Experts have pummeled legislative leaders through the years with alternate 
arguments where funds would have the greatest impact in halting drugs - at 
the supply source, law enforcement, incarceration, treatment or education.

Yet drug addicts prevail in every community without regard to education, 
race, age or career.

This underscores the power of drugs.

The one place where a dedicated effort has not been tried is in the 
workplace. Many employers have adopted the drug-free workplace position, 
but many more are afraid to make that leap, fearing a shortage of labor.

Banning workers who use drugs is cost-effective for the employer and a 
strong weapon in the fight against drugs. Employers who require a 
pre-employment drug test and random employee tests are lowering insurance 
claims and raising productivity.

Those who don't are enablers.

Unfortunately, only about 100 businesses participate in the Albany Area 
Chamber of Commerce Drugs Don't Work program.

Consider if the Albany metro area was a "drug-free work zone." If no job 
could be obtained or retained without drug testing, users would be forced 
to leave town, seek treatment or quit on their own.

The answer to the drug problem in this area may be within our grasp, only 
lacking a tough communitywide commitment.
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