Pubdate: Sun, 01 Jun 2003
Source: Daily Independent, The (KY)
Copyright: 2003 The Daily Independent, Inc.
Author: Charles Byrnes


Everyone has a stake in ending the war on drugs. Whether you're a
parent concerned about protecting children from drug-related harm, a
social justice advocate worried about racially disproportionate
incarceration rates, an environmentalist seeking to protect the Amazon
rain forest or a fiscally conservative taxpayer, you have a stake in
ending the drug war.

Federal, state and local governments have spent hundreds of billions
of dollars trying to make America "drug-free." Yet heroin, cocaine,
methamphetamine and other illicit drugs are cheaper, purer and easier
to get than ever before.

Nearly half a million people are behind bars on drug charges - more
than all of western Europe (with a bigger population) incarcerates for
all offenses. The war on drugs has become a war on families, a war on
public health and a war on our constitutional rights.

Many of the problems the drug war purports to resolve are in fact
caused by the drug war itself. So-called "drug-related" crime is a
direct result of drug prohibition's distortion of immutable laws of
supply and demand. Public health problems like HIV and hepatitis C are
all exacerbated by zero tolerance laws that restrict access to clean

The drug war is not the promoter of family values that some would have
us believe. Children of inmates are at risk of educational failure,
joblessness, addiction and delinquency. Drug abuse is bad, but the
drug war is worse.

Charles Byrnes

Taylor Mill, Ky.
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