Pubdate: Wed, 16 Oct 2002
Source: Seattle Post-Intelligencer (WA)
Copyright: 2002 Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Author: Andrew Brunette


John Walters, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, was 
quoted in the Saturday P-I as saying, "Americans must confront drug use -- 
and therefore drug users, honestly and directly." I agree. Thoughtful 
people have agreed for years. In 1980 the Drug Abuse Council reported that 
"to state it plainly, the challenge facing America regarding drugs is to 
determine how best to live with the inevitable availability of psychoactive 
drugs while mitigating the harmful aspects of their misuse." Drug 
prohibition has had the same effects as alcohol prohibition had in the past 
century. Alcohol prohibition caused a rise in violent crime, injury to the 
population due to contaminated products, corruption of law enforcement and 
a breakdown of general respect for the law. Prohibition of alcohol caused a 
temporary drop in alcohol usage for the first five years, and then usage 
increased steadily every year after that until Prohibition was ended. When 
Prohibition was ended, violent crime dropped 65 percent in the following 
year. Drug usage has risen steadily during the past 10 years. The number of 
citizens who reported use of an illicit drug in the past month rose 11 
percent in 2001, from 6.3 percent of all citizens over the age of 12 to 7.1 
percent. Twenty percent of young adults regularly use an illicit drug, 
mostly marijuana. Eighty-eight percent of high school seniors report that 
it is easy to get drugs in their school. Our current approach does not 
prevent usage of drugs or access to drugs by schoolchildren. Rather, it is 
a waste of $40 billion a year. We need to ask ourselves if the ONDCP is 
being honest and direct with us when it insists that prohibition is an 
approach that works.

Andrew Brunette Bellevue
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