Pubdate: Mon, 12 Oct 1998
Source: Daily Gazette (Schenectady, NY)
Contact:  (c) 1998 - The Gazette Newspapers
Author: D.M. Denzer


New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani says, "I think that morally,
philosophically and practically, it's a bad question for America to
say `Let's double the number of people on methadone.' Let's try to
make America drug-free." (Sept. 30 Gazette.)

I am disappointed because I've been inclined to believe Giuliani is a
fine mayor. But his remarks reveal an unfortunate ignorance of the
nature of the drug problem in society. Virtually nothing is being done
"to make America drug-free." An entirely different approach is
necessary if there are to be any results.

There is a typical reaction by some people to quickly stigmatize, as
"legalizing drugs," any rational approach to the drug problem, any
approach which is different from the criminal-police-military
approach. By so stigmatizing, any productive discussion is promptly
crushed and we are back to the hopeless year-in, year-out criminal

Note that late-night TV programs endlessly show dramatic police
activities involving the drug problem; the TV programs treat the
problem for its entertainment worth.

And of course the drug problem links itself with other problems in our
society. Managing it rationally would ultimately spawn marvelous
benefits to other aspects of our communities.

Consider creation of many free clinics throughout our large cities and
into the hinterland. At a clinic any person wanting to stop or to
start drugs may register. He or she is availed of medical and
psychological treatment. Any person proven to acquire drugs any other
way is subject to prosecution; any person proven to supply drugs
illegally (yes, including marijuana) is imprisoned for life. (Remember
this is a really serious problem.)

In counseling, any related problem is treated and may include
psychological treatment, family, unemployment, education, etc. Clinic
personnel are available from the reservoir of recovering
drug-dependent people.

The shock of lost revenue for poor coca leaf farmers is obviated by
the United States buying up all the leaves. The police and military
can return to their traditional occupations. If the money saved by
disengaging the police from the drug problem is not enough to operate
the clinics, the improvement in the community gained from treating the
drug problem is worth any extra expenditure.

What is sad and discouraging is that there have always been valid ways
to address the drug problem and virtually no attention has been given
to advancing them.

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Checked-by: Patrick Henry