Pubdate: Sun, 08 Feb 2004
Source: Daily Independent, (Ashland, KY)
Copyright: 2004 The Daily Independent, Inc.
Author: Stephen Heath


Your Jan. 22 editorial correctly noted that the vast majority of people in 
both your state and mine are not getting adequate access to appropriate 
drug treatment. The reasons are twofold.

First is that current policy brands anyone caught with an illegal substance 
as a "drug abuser". This is as flawed logically as arresting all alcohol 
users and defining them as alcoholics. When a well-intentioned system of 
substance abuse treatment is clogged by court-ordered casual users, those 
with legitimate abuse issues are left waiting. And while they wait, the 
symptoms of their addictions multiply and subsequent damage to them and to 
society is increased.

The second reason more people in need are not getting drug treatment help 
is the related laws which demand that casual users and sellers of illicit 
drugs -- most notably marijuana -- be thrust into the criminal justice 
system. This uselessly ties up millions of tax dollars in a supposed 
attempt to reduce the use of certain drugs. In fact, we've learned from 
over 35 years of aggressive drug war policies that such an approach will 
never significantly reduce use. All it reduces is the available resources 
needed to deal with those truly in need.

The most obvious solution is to end drug prohibition and legalize drugs for 
adults who use them responsibly, just as we do with the risky drug alcohol. 
Those who exploit this freedom and allow access to minors or drive 
automobiles while impaired should feel the full weight of the law against 
them. Those who are otherwise law-abiding, productive, tax-paying citizens 
should be left alone.

Stephen Heath

Clearwater, Fla..
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