Pubdate: Sun, 04 Jan 1998
Date: January 4, 1998
Source: The San Francisco Examiner
Author:  Joel W. Johnson

Donna M. Lane's article, "The down and out: Crack addicts buy
pity and sell hello" (Opinion Page, Dec. 28), was a heartfelt
account of the reality of our drug problem. It clearly displayed
that our "drug-war" policy is completely out of context with the
problem it is intended to solve. Instead of police, prisons and
prohibition, we need education, housing and treatment.

Not only do our wartime tactics prevent us from helping people
who are "down and out," they further prevent them from getting
back up. While insisting that our drug problem needs to be fought
and not helped, we refuse to allow the housing and treatment that
can actually solve the drug-abuse problem. Rather, our policy
dictates to have them arrested.

When will we understand that only when we wage a war for
education, or against poverty and homelessness, will we finally
be capable of putting a dent in drug abuse? Only a different drug
policy would finally eliminate the black market that necessitates
guns, violence and corruption.

We need to view our drug problem with compassion, not blame and
hatred. Only then will we be able to minimize the damage done by
drugs to our society.

Joel W. Johnson
San Jose, CA