Pubdate: Mon, 27 Jun 2011 Source: New York Times (NY) Copyright: 2011 The New York Times Company Contact: http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/lettertoeditor.html Website: http://www.nytimes.com/ Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/298 Author: Peter Bensinger Referenced: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v11/n395/a10.html DISPATCHES FROM THE WAR ON DRUGS To the Editor: Re "Call Off the Global Drug War," by Jimmy Carter (Op-Ed, June 17): I take issue with former President Carter's call to end the global war on drugs. I say this regretfully, as I served as administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration in his administration, having been appointed to this position by President Gerald R. Ford. During that period, drug penalties were increased, not decreased. The penalties for trafficking in marijuana were tripled, the asset forfeiture law was passed, an estimated 80,000 Mexican opium poppy fields were destroyed, and by 1981 heroin use and overdose deaths were cut in half and overall drug use went down. Decriminalizing drugs played no role in decreased drug use or overdose deaths. There are too many people in prison, but less than 1 percent are there solely for use or possession of marijuana. Drug use is way down. In 1979, 11 percent of Americans were using illegal drugs; in 2009, 7 percent. That is real progress, not failure. Prescription drugs kill more people each year than all illegal drugs combined. We can do better fighting drug abuse, but not by abandoning criminal sanctions. That would only lead to more use, addiction, highway deaths, less learning in school, lower productivity at work, higher health care costs and more crime. These drugs affect behavior, judgment and health and increase violence. Making them easier to get is not the answer. PETER BENSINGER Chicago, June 21, 2011 - --- MAP posted-by: Richard R Smith Jr.