Pubdate: Thu, 14 Dec 2006
Source: Times Argus (Barre, VT)
Copyright: 2006 Times Argus
Author: R. E. Lewis


Thank you to State's Attorney Sands for encouraging dialogue about 
our futile drug "war."

Certainly most drugs are harmful, but it's illogical to add more harm 
and pretend it's fixing the problem.

Let's try harm reduction. Decades of harm enhancement policies have 
exacerbated the problems. We have overcrowded jails disenfranchising 
people from society. We arrest dealers but addicts find, and/or 
become, new dealers. Jail is renowned for making drug connections and 
only works if nobody is released.

Our amoral drug war creates more problems than it fixes. We have more 
drug-related violence by criminals (Saunders murder, the kidnapping 
near Rutland etc.), and police (the groom, the 88-year-old 
grandmother etc.). More broken families. More people hate police. 
Fewer people are being protected.

Legalization is not the answer, though. Tobacco industry abuses 
illustrate that.

Harm reduction as a new paradigm can address each drug's unique 
dynamics. E.g., marijuana is consumed by a complete cross section of 
society with illegality being its only true danger. The "gateway" 
drug argument is nonsensical. Decriminalize it and focus on dangerous drugs.

Reduce the criminal element from at least some hard drugs by 
supplying them to addicts and reducing their need to sell drugs to 
get drugs. Most addicts didn't think they'd get hooked. Fewer drugs 
on the street means fewer people experimenting and getting addicted.

Treat hard drugs as a health crisis. Counteracting drugs and 
effective outpatient therapies could be developed to alleviate 
addictions. Most drug users are unhappy with their addictions but 
help is seldom affordable.

Law enforcement is showered with drug funding that should be spent on 
more civilized drug abatement programs. Law enforcement must still 
play a supporting role.

The "get tough" mantra seems played out. Right or wrong? Who knows. 
Offer your ideas and get the dialogue going.

R. E. Lewis

- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom