Pubdate: Thu, 17 Jul 2008
Source: Battle Creek Enquirer (MI)
Copyright: 2008 Battle Creek Enquirer
Author: Alfred Hamady, M.D.


Joseph Hepp's May 28 article on ideas to reduce the use of illegal
drugs is certainly commendable but the measures he outlined will do
little to abate the problem. Drug use is with us as alcohol use is.
When alcohol was prohibited in the 1920s crime and corruption did,
indeed, result. Now it is available legally and the gangsterism that
was rampant during its prohibition no longer exists. Illegal drugs,
particularly cocaine and heroin, can and should be made available to
those who must have them at little or no cost at centers scattered
throughout well-planned districts. That will immediately make the
illegal drug trade totally unprofitable and will largely dry up drug
production, especially in Colombia, Bolivia and Afghanistan.

It will not result in more addicts because there will be marked
scarcity of these agents. You will not see dealers on corners, in
alleys or near schools because not only will there be no need for
them, but they can't undersell the centers. Anyone can have his/her
need met at these localities. The cost of running such places will be
vastly less than the cost to society of treating overdosing in
emergency rooms, going after the criminal element involved in
distribution and after those who rob or kill to keep the addiction
going, and for the incarceration of those arrested. Addictive drugs
should also be made legal and thus greatly control their availability.
Prohibition does create its own appeal.

Centers should insist that any drug be administered on site - no names
or questions asked. They should also offer counseling for those who
want it and it is not to be offered as a condition for doling out any
drug. A trial of legalization in a specific area would be worthwhile
if only to see if such an arrangement would work. Right now what is
being done has totally failed.

Alfred Hamady, M.D.

Battle Creek
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