Pubdate: Sun, 26 Mar 2000
Source: Register-Guard, The (OR)
Copyright: 2000 The Register-Guard
Contact:  PO Box 10188, Eugene, OR 97440-2188
Author: Bob Goodwin


I am 58 years old. Since I retired two years ago I have been thinking about
our government and laws. I think our approach to controlling the effect
drugs have on our society needs to be changed.

All my adult life the battle to control the flow of drugs has been going on.
What I see is an ongoing battle, with law enforcement struggling to keep up
with a pandemic. Our policies have filled our prisons with Americans. In
creating an illicit drug market by criminalizing drugs, we are duplicating
prohibition with its growing criminal problems.

Ever wonder why gangs are using automatic weapons instead of switchblades
and zip guns? It's because they have a lucrative market to protect. Take
away the market, and a large segment of America's criminal society will be
out of work.

I spent 30 years in Alaska. The major drug problem there is alcohol. They
used to jail people for being drunk in public. Then the medical evidence
came in, and the people who could not control their drinking became a
medical problem, not a law enforcement problem. The end result was very
good; people were treated, not jailed, the courts were not clogged anymore,
and most importantly, the costs - both fiscal and human - went way down.

The medical path is the way to go. If a drug user can get his drugs at his
local pharmacy or through a treatment program, we will have fewer muggings
and burglaries and fewer deaths from accidental overdoses.

I know this suggestion will be greeted with anger from people who are
frightened of drugs. My point is that we already have drugs everywhere. Why
don't we get drug use out of the shadows so that we can control it better
than we do now?
- ---
MAP posted-by: Don Beck