Pubdate: Wed, 10 Mar 1999
Source: Oakland Tribune (CA)
Copyright: 1999 MediaNews Group, Inc. and ANG Newspapers
Contact:  66 Jack London Sq., Oakland, CA 94607
Author: Galen Linder


Thank you for the excellent My Word article on the war on drugs (Feb.24). I
can only add that there can be only two valid reasons to prohibit the
possession of certain substances: Either they produce such antisocial
behavior or are so destructive on the health to the user or both that they
must be declared illegal.

By this standard, tobacco and alcohol are far more destructive agents than
any of the illegal drugs. Most of the negative consequences of illegal drug
use are not the result of their use by of their legal status.  The drug
dealing, gangs, murders, most overdoses, crimes to support habits,
incarceration of huge numbers of basically harmless people and the enormous
human and financial costs that result are primarily the result of the war on
drugs and not of the drugs themselves.

We need to scrap our present approach to the drug problem and start treating
it like the public health problem that it is.  We need to emphasize
education and treatment.  We need to follow the lead of enlightened
countries such as Holland.  We could start by removing responsibility for
drug policy from the Justice Department where Nixon put it, nd move it to
the Department of health and Human Services where it belongs.

Galen Linder Oakland.

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