Pubdate: Fri, 4 Nov 2005
Source: Wisconsin State Journal (WI)
Copyright: 2005 Madison Newspapers, Inc.
Author: David Michon


Sunday's State Journal editorial on the costs of addiction in
Wisconsin was a welcome departure from drug war rhetoric. Addicts
comprise over 70 percent of our prison population, with more coming.
Clearly, this is a failed policy. The ratio of black to white
prisoners underscores the unfair nature of these laws. Time to try
something different.

But "drug courts" and referral programs are not different; they are
merely new ways to incarcerate and attempt to coerce abstinent
behavior that is just not possible for the sickest addicts. Indeed,
the very nature of addiction is that the addict has lost all control,
so these programs are predisposed to fail.

The time has come for society to reclaim responsibility for drug
problems from the criminal justice system, and for the medical
community to step up. A UCLA study concluded that every $1,500 spent
on drug treatment returns over $11,000 in monetary benefits to
society. Treatment was always how addiction was handled until about 85
years ago, and who wouldn't trade today's drug problems for those of
the World War I era?

We must also bite the bullet and regulate the drug markets. There is
no other way to gain control. If safe and clean drugs of certain basic
types were available today, subject to strict regulation, the black
market would collapse, taking with it the corruption, disease, gangs,
property crime and more of prohibition's woes. Monies realized could
be used to provide drug treatment for all who want it.

David Michon, Eau Claire
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