Pubdate: Fri, 31 Jan 1997
Source: Herald, Everett (WA)
Author: Michael F. Marion

I read with some amusement the recent Herald editorial entitled, "Drug
grant aims to unite prevention, enforcement," along with the newspaper's
praise of this "cutting edge" method of "fighting drugs."

It appears as though The Herald's editorial staff just fell off the
turnip truck. Based upon the recent reports by the paper on this
wonderful new method, it appears that it is nothing more than a
rearranging of the deck chairs on the Titanic. There is nothing new here,
just the same old failed policies of the past 30 years in a slightly
altered form.

The item that jumps out at me is the spending breakdown: $2 million
toward law enforcement and $1 million toward "prevention." If these
numbers were reversed I would not be quite as critical of this "terrific"
new plan, because such a scenario would truly be new and innovative. The
prevention/treatment "specialists" mentioned in the editorial probably
know better, but they also probably realize that they will have to
cooperate with this breakdown or lose their funding -- and, subsequently,
their jobs.

Heavier law enforcement will do at least three things. First, it will
increase the risk to drug dealers, which will in turn raise the prices,
increase the profitability, and lead to even more drugs being available
to our children. Second, since the risks and profits will be greater,
dealers will have to protect their turf more vigorously, which will lead
to more violence. And last, smugglers will simply find different routes
into the country.

The editorial page staff is jumping the gun -- they're clearly already
drooling over the $3 million for next year. But they have absolutely no
evidence that this plan will work. We already spend $50 billion per year
trying to eradicate drugs from this country. According to DEA estimates
we capture less than 10 percent of all illicit drugs. That is a 90
percent failure rate. Does the editorial staff really believe that $3
million more is the magic number that will turn this around? Get real! To
me, this is just another $3 million down a rat hole.

Michael F. Marion
Marysville, WA