Pubdate: Tue, 31 Dec 2002
Source: Burnett County Sentinel (Grantsburg, WI)
Copyright: 2002 Burnett County Sentinel
Author: Gary Storck


"Meth Among Us, part three: The best weapon against meth? You!"(Dec. 4), 
contained a comment by Burnett County Sheriff Tim Curtin: "What D.A.R.E. 
teaches is alcohol, tobacco and marijuana are gateway drugs. They open the 
door to other, more serious drugs."

The so-called "gateway theory" has been questioned for years. The Institute 
of Medicine report on marijuana, commissioned by ex-drug czar Barry 
McCaffrey and released in 1999, found it very dubious, and interestingly 
enough, the RAND Corporation just released a study concluding that 
marijuana use does not lead to experimentation with harder drugs, instead 
finding that teens begin using marijuana, simply because it is the most 
available substance.

The RAND study also questions whether drug control efforts should be so 
focused on marijuana.

Our youth would be better served by being given fact-based education about 
the relative safety of substances they are likely to come across in life 
rather than subjected to outdated and inaccurate information and 
fear-mongering from the D.A.R.E. program.

For example, children and adults suffering Attention Deficit Disorder are 
often prescribed a form of methamphetamine called Adderall. The only 
difference between meth and Adderall is [that] one is made in a 
pharmaceutical factory and the other in a meth lab. Now, if meth is the 
monster it is portrayed as, why are children as young as five being 
prescribed the pharmaceutical form?

It's inconsistencies like these that illustrate why America's war on drugs 
is a miserable failure. Society would be much better off if we began 
treating substance use and abuse as a public health matter rather one of 
criminal justice.

A good start would be to decriminalize and regulate marijuana like we do 
alcohol and tobacco. Regulation helps keep these substances out of the 
hands of children.

We wouldn't think of caging humans for smoking a cigarette or having a 
drink in their own home. Why sh`ould marijuana be any different?

Gary Storck Madison WI
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