Pubdate: Wed, 12 Jan 2005
Source: Duluth News-Tribune (MN)
Copyright: 2005 Duluth News-Tribune
Author: Stephen Heath
Cited: Drug Policy Forum of Florida


Regarding the story, "Increasing cases of 'meth mouth' burden prisons'
health-care budgets" (Jan 9): Your excellent coverage of this
burgeoning problem within your and other state prison systems begs
re-examination of why we are responding to the problems of
methamphetamine use by placing the users behind bars in the first
place. The abuse of methamphetamines, like the abuse of any substance,
is a combination of mental, physical and spiritual problems.

None of these are addressed by placing the affected person in a prison
cage while also giving them a lifetime criminal record.

Changing our laws to allow more access to strong stimulant drugs will
give a safer supply source for casual users of amphetamines.

Providing increased legal access to amphetamines via pharmacies helps
to put the illegal manufacturers of homemade methamphetamine out of
business. Finally, increased funding of public drug treatment and
substance abuse programs gives attention to those who move past casual
use and into a cycle of abuse and addiction.

Continuing to simply follow the status-quo of zero-tolerance criminal
prohibition laws connected to methamphetamine production and use fails
to accomplish any of these three common-sense public responses. It's
time for significant reform of how we as a society respond to the use
and abuse of all drugs. Simply caging hundreds of thousands of
Americans annually for the use of illicit drugs is helping no one and
is destined to break our public financial resources.

Clearwater, Fla.

The writer is public relations director of the organization named the
Drug Policy Forum of Florida.
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MAP posted-by: SHeath(DPFFLorida)