Pubdate: Thu, 13 Nov 2003
Source: Sun Herald (MS)
Copyright: 2003, The Sun Herald
Author: Wayne L. Parker


There is an old story about a man who robs a big-city bank and then
runs inside a nearby skyscraper to hide. The police arrive and,
discovering that their numbers are inadequate to surround the
skyscraper, surround the smaller building next to it instead.

In our attempts to prevent drug abuse, we have also surrounded the
wrong building, and pretty much for the same reasons. The supply of
drugs is not our problem. The demand for drugs is. Dealers could stack
bricks of cocaine and bails of marijuana on every street corner in the
country and if no one wanted the stuff, it would sit there and rot.

We currently have troops, spies, and mercenaries operating all over
the world in an attempt to break the supply of drugs. But since demand
for drugs is so high, just as one operation is interrupted another
takes its place. For every drug dealer we imprison, two are ready to
take his place, since the profits in dealing are so good.

As the Sun Herald's "Fighting Back" series demonstrated, after
spending 30 years and hundreds of billions of dollars imprisoning
millions of Americans (many of whom were productive citizens at the
time of their arrest) drug use continues unabated. In fact, it's
worse, largely due to the drug war itself.

In order to truly address drug abuse in our country, Americans need to
take an honest look at the problem. This will mean abandoning our
simplistic "do the drug, do the time" attitude toward drug abuse
which, along with being a complete failure, precludes serious debate
about other ways to solve the problem.

Until we attack the causes of drug abuse instead of the results, the
drug war will simply bring us more of the same; more drugs, and more
overcrowded prisons.


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