Pubdate: Fri, 02 Jan 1998
Date: January 2, 1998
Source: The San Francisco Chronicle
Author: Joel W. Johnson

San Francisco Supervisor Gavin Newsom contends "it is time to
treat heroin abuse less as a crime and more like a medical
problem'' and recommends operating methadone programs to combat addiction.

A fantastic notion! Remove "heroin'' from his statement, however,
and it becomes a brilliant methodology for which to fight all
drug abuse in general.

Drug abuse and addiction, after all, is a medical problem. But
somehow, we choose to combat the act of facilitating addiction,
not the addiction itself. It should be no surprise that our war
on drugs has completely failed to solve the very problem for
which it was intended.

But not only has the war prevented us from addressing drug abuse,
it has created a black market flooded with guns, violence,
corruption, and a temptation to our youth that can only be
created by prohibition.

Should we follow Newsom's strategy, we might take notice that
while methadone programs are more effective than prisons, they
also diminish the drug problem that our war has been incapable of denting.
The only path to victory over drug abuse is with doctors, not police.

Joel W. Johnson
San Jose, CA