Pubdate: Sun, 12 Apr 2009
Source: Winston-Salem Journal (NC)
Copyright: 2009 Piedmont Publishing Co. Inc.
Author: Stephen T. Wishnevsky
Note: Letters from newspaper's circulation area receive publishing priority


A joke in the Reagan era was that in the "War on Poverty, poverty
won." It's not hard to see who won the War on Drugs, a war that has
destroyed more lives than drugs ever have. Note that in the greatest
days of America, no drugs were illegal; opium and cocaine were
available from Sears Roebuck.

The groundswell for marijuana legalization is so obvious that
President Obama had to acknowledge it in his recent cyber town-hall
event. He sloughed off the issue, observing that legalization would
not "grow the economy." However, Sens. Jim Webb, D-Va., and Arlen
Specter, R-Pa., have introduced legislation to rescue America's
malfunctioning prison system. Some decriminalization of drugs will be
part of the package.

Punitive emphasis of drug prohibition is based on one major fallacy.
Different drugs have different effects, different people have
different reactions to each drug. The corollary is that addiction is a
medical problem that can only be cured on an individual basis, not
"solved" repressively.

A few decades ago, in this area, there was a thriving felonious
industry, making and transporting moonshine. It was never suppressed;
indeed, it led directly to the creation of the most popular sport in
America. There is at least one school building in this country named
after a famous moonshiner.

It is past time to stop the repression, to allow our citizens to
legally contribute to our economy. Otherwise we lose three times --
once in repression, once in incarceration, once more in lost revenues.

Stephen T. Wishnevsky

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