Pubdate: Wed, 17 May 2000
Source: Mountain Xpress (NC)
Copyright: 2000 Mountain Xpress
Contact:  PO Box 144, Asheville, NC 28802
Fax: (828) 251 1311
Author: Rev. H.W. Skipper


We are told that there is an epidemic of drug use in this country.
Certainly this is true: From aspirin to Prozac, Valium to Viagra,
alcohol to nicotine, everyone uses drugs. We use drugs to modify our
state of mind and improve our health. We use them to feel better and
to help us enjoy life. We, as a species, have been using herbs and
their derivatives since the dawn of history. This is natural, and can
be seen in many other animal species.

In this country, certain drugs are illegal. Many people go to jail for
doing what comes naturally to them. Is the answer simply to build more
prisons? Obviously not, because even in prisons there is still abuse
of illegal drugs. If we cannot eliminate drugs from prisons, how can
we expect to eliminate them in an otherwise free society?

The real threat from illegal drugs comes from the criminal culture
that has been created by the black market. It is common knowledge that
drugs are more available now than ever before, despite the best
efforts of law enforcement. This is because of the enormous profits to
be had and the fact the people will use drugs regardless of the law.
It doesn't matter if you arrest a drug dealer, because there will
always be someone willing to take his place and make that money.

There is only one solution: legalize drugs. In this way, we can
eliminate the profits to be had and so eliminate the black market. We
would be able to have more control over drug use  and some control is
better than no control. We could then tax drugs like alcohol and
tobacco, and use the money to fund prevention programs. We could save
the money we would have needed for new prisons and use it to educate
people, instead of imprison them. We should treat individual drug
abuse as a sickness, not a criminal offense.

If this sounds radical, it is only because we have strayed so far from
the ideals on which this country was founded. Our forefathers gave us
the ideal of a right to the pursuit of happiness. Many of them grew
and used plants which are now outlawed. Would we imprison George
Washington because he smoked a joint to ease the pain of having wooden

 Rev. H.W. Skipper
Dallas, Texas
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