Pubdate: Tue, 27 Jun 2000
Date: 06/27/2000
Source: Richmond Times-Dispatch (VA)
Author: John R. McKlveen
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Editor, Times-Dispatch:

Shame on you for reprinting James Q. Wilson's piece on drug
legalization without some serious editing. Even though Wilson
summarizes an interesting procedure for "Changes in Handling
Offenders," he makes so many conclusions that would be difficult to
support with evidence in the rest of his article that he loses his
credibility. His basic assumption that legalization can mean only
making hard drugs readily available -- say, at all-night convenience
stores -- at reasonable prices is ridiculous.

"Legalizing" drugs would be a terrible thing to have to do. It would
need to involve a system with all kinds of checks and controls. It
might profit from the incorporation of a program like the one being
promoted by Mark Kleiman, whom Wilson cites.

But to talk about legalization as meaning "letting the price fall to
its competitive rate" is ludicrous and only made worse by considering
"advertising costs." He might as well suggest distributing free
samples in schools.

Another irresponsible statement is that "if these drugs were sold
legally . . . the total number of users would increase sharply." Even
if he said merely, "would increase," he is drawing a conclusion from
his personal beliefs and not from any data or a thoughtful analysis of
people's behavior.

I also think your overline for the article's title, "No Panacea," does
not show any great thought on your part. I doubt if any person who is
concerned in any way about drug use and control ever would think of
the word "panacea" in connection with drug legalization.

John R. McKlveen,
Colonial Heights.