Pubdate: Mon, 27 Jun 2011
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2011 The New York Times Company
Author: Peter Bensinger


To the Editor:

Re "Call Off the Global Drug War," by Jimmy Carter (Op-Ed, June

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.


Chicago, June 21, 2011
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MAP posted-by: Richard R Smith Jr.