Pubdate: Mon, 06 Jan 1997
Source: Philadelphia Inquirer (PA)
Author: Gavin Rose

Part of the rationale for engaging our troops in Vietnam was to check
a rampant spread of communism among Asian partners.  The war on drugs is
fueled by rhetoric of a domino theory of addiction among an American

Upon closer inspection, it becomes evident that the war on drugs is
actually the cause of most of our drug problems: gang violence, crime
and corruption of police.  In our experiment with alcohol prohibition,
we thought we could eradicate drinking.  But with more enforcement, we
saw more profits and more viloence.

Time has shown that education and support groups are better at
reducing alcohol abuse than incarceration.  What parent, seeking a
remedy for their son's drug problem, would call upon the services of
say, Graterford prison.  Yet the federal government has been such a

Any regular Inquirer reader is hard-pressed to remember a single week
of coverage absent of drug murders over turf or deals gone bad;
innocents caught in the cross fire; corruption of police, or
prohibition-related overdoses such as the 100-plus tainted heroin cases
last summer.

Advocates of the drug war cite concerns over sending "mixed messages"
to our kids.  But the current messages for too many inner-city children
is that dealing drugs represents the highest paying job they can ever
hope to get, and that their world is a violent place.  Legalizing drugs
would enable the inner-city to become less militarized and allow
treatment to replace incarceration.

Our police officers deserve better than to waste precious time
enforcing the health of drug users involved in crimes where there is no
complainant.  Despite record prison growth in the '80s and '90s, our
prisons are filled beyond capacity with drug offenders serving mandatory
sentences that are more stringent than penalties for murder and rape.
Sixty percent of the federal prison population, and 25 percent of the
state prisons are constituted by drug offenders.

A policy that has failed to control production, importation, and use
of drugs doesn't deserve an additional $150 billion of our money.  A
policy that has fostered conditions whereby innocents (including many
police) have been gunned down, deserves a closer look.

Gavin Rose
Huntingdon Valley