Pubdate: Thu, 07 Sep 2006
Source: Amarillo Globe-News (TX)
Copyright: 2006 Amarillo Globe-News
Author : Dr. Donald A. Frank
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)


How long are we going to continue fostering, encouraging, supplementing and 
rewarding the fabulously lucrative illegal drug industry by continuously 
pouring more and more money, facilities and effort into the fatally flawed 
war on drugs?

This archaic, futile program is producing felons and jailbirds at an 
unprecedented rate, even exceeding those produced during Prohibition (which 
helped spawn the Mafia and Las Vegas). U.S. drug policy produces stupendous 
profit incentives even for those not ordinarily into illegal activities.

Some drug lords have incomes exceeding the gross national product of many 
nations while our prisons continue to fill up with drug offenders. Yet we 
persist in pursuing the impossible task of controlling or destroying the 
production of these substances in foreign countries which, almost without 
exception, are dependent on the income. Controlling drug cartels are 
threatening, even taking over entire governments. It is being proved almost 
daily that the importation and domestic production of drugs cannot be 
eliminated, since an unlimited supply is available to everyone who can pay 
the price, everywhere in our society.

While not necessarily advocating legalization, I am certain that should 
these substances be made legal, taxed and regulated (much like alcohol and 
cigarettes), that their availability would not increase.

An alternative to our costly yet failing national drug policy should be 
introduced. Under the current program, we have absolutely no control over 
who can obtain these drugs or their cleanliness, purity or strength. 
Illegal drugs often are produced by irresponsible individuals with dirty 
hands in unsterile, even polluted facilities. These production techniques 
cause many drug-related deaths, beginning with the producers themselves, 
who risk dying in fires and explosions. Users of drugs made in this manner 
risk AIDS, hepatitis, abscesses, infections like endocarditis (infection of 
the lining of the heart), and septicemia, as well as overdose because of 
the uncertain strength of the drugs.

Our current drug policy results in untold numbers of destroyed lives and 
families, as well as adding enormous stress and costs to our already 
overburdened emergency medical, police and social facilities.

Were these drugs to be taxed and regulated, the profit motive for black 
market dealers would be reduced and federal revenue increased. 
Sterilization techniques and dosage standardization could be developed. 
Crime like burglary, murder, gang activity and organized crime would be 
reduced. Our prisons would no longer be overflowing with people 
incarcerated on drug charges.

I am aware that to some the idea of drug legalization is sacrilege, but do 
they have another answer? If so, I would love to hear about it.

Dr. Donald A. Frank is an Amarillo physician.
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