Pubdate: Mon, 08 Jun 1998
Date: 08/06/1998
Source: Altoona Herald (IA)
Author: Carl Olsen

To the editor:

Altoona chief of police John L. Gray makes some sense ("Juvenile drug
cases increasing" July 30).  I, too, believe that education is our
best weapon in the war against drug abuse.  Judging by Chief Gray's
report on the recent increase in juvenile drug cases, strict
enforcement of our drug laws hasn't worked.

Education can work, but only if it's truthful and based on common
sense. It doesn't make sense to pursue strict enforcement with a
substance that does relatively little harm, like marijuana, while a
substance like alcohol, which Chief Gray correctly identifies as a
major cause of death on our highways, is sold in grocery stores.

Under the theory that strict enforcement of drug laws will solve the
problem, we'd be much better off if marijuana were legal and alcohol
were illegal.  Of course, we tried that once and it didn't work. 
Judging by the news reports I've seen, juveniles aren't very impressed
with the recent crackdown on cigarettes either.

What we need is education that emphasizes self-respect.  Using threats
is the least effective method of accomplishing our goals.  Let's hope
that millions of dollars don't get wasted on an educational program
that perpetuates the same lies we've been hearing since "Reefer
Madness" first began.

Carl E. Olsen
Des Moines