Pubdate: May 13, 1999
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 1999 Los Angeles Times.
Contact:  (213) 237-4712
Author: Peter Mcwilliams


Re "Many Roots for Teen Problems," editorial, May 3: Thank you for
acknowledging that "the effort to stop drug abuse through law
enforcement" has been "until now frustrated." Frustrated, indeed. The
American drug war has gone on, uninterrupted, for 116 years. (The
first federal law against a drug, opium, was passed in 1883.) We have
spent more than a trillion dollars arresting 50 million fellow
citizens, and what has it gotten us? Illicit drugs are cheaper, purer,
stronger and more readily available than ever.

Drug czar Barry R. McCaffrey has said drug abuse should be treated
"like cancer." I agree. We do not send the police out, battle-ready,
to arrest cancer patients and put them in jail--we give them proper
medical treatment. Are we giving drug addicts treatment? No. The
waiting list for government-sponsored residential treatment programs
is months long. Meanwhile, room is always found in prisons for drug

It's time to declare peace on drugs.

Los Angeles
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