Pubdate: Fri, 16 Jan 2004
Source: Post and Courier, The (Charleston, SC)
Copyright: 2004 Evening Post Publishing Co.
Author: Sharon Fratepietro


Two articles in your Jan. 7 publication revealed unfortunate public

South Carolina received an F from the American Lung Association
because our Legislature failed to pass a cigarette tax increase last
year to fund Medicaid programs. A prior Post and Courier report last
June said that the Legislature also cut $2 million earmarked for youth
smoking prevention programs -- money available from the national
tobacco settlement.

In fact, studies show that teens who smoke cigarettes are 14 times
more likely to try marijuana than teens who have never smoked (and
parents who smoke are more likely to have kids who smoke). Other
studies show that when the price of cigarettes goes up, teen smoking
goes down.

But our Legislature doesn't get the connection. Instead, our state
policy is to sic police and sometimes dogs on kids who might smoke
marijuana, or indoctrinate them with the D.A.R.E. program consistently
judged ineffective by the General Accounting Office and other studies.

On Jan. 7, The Post and Courier reported a second bad priority.
Charleston City Councilmen Campbell, Gilliard and Lewis were publicly
miffed because our verbally intemperate police chief dissed black murderers.

Why aren't the councilmen publicly outraged that at the Charleston
County Detention Center where about 85 percent of inmates with at
least one illegal drug charge are black, even though studies show that
whites in our area use drugs more often than blacks in almost every
category of illegal substance? I wonder why the councilmen are not
publicly outraged that only 96 inmates a year at the jail are given
treatment for alcohol and drug addiction, while at least 400 inmates
daily are on a waiting list for treatment. As a result, with the jail
population turning over about three times a year, more than a thousand
inmates annually go back on the streets of Charleston County, still
addicted, and probably committing more crimes. I should think that
would rile a public servant!

Most of all, I wonder if there's a single official in our local
government, judiciary or law enforcement with the political courage to
say publicly what so many admit privately: That we urgently need to
change our failed illegal drug policy.

Sharon Fratepietro,

President, South Carolinians for Drug Law Reform
- ---
MAP posted-by: Derek