Pubdate: Sat, 27 May 2000
Source: Houston Chronicle (TX)
Copyright: 2000 Houston Chronicle
Contact:  Viewpoints Editor, P.O. Box 4260 Houston, Texas 77210-4260
Fax: (713) 220-3575
Author: Jerry Epstein


The May 24 Viewpoints letter from Ed Rodriguez, "Snowballing drug cure"
asked why state legislatures "can't pass a law insisting that all businesses
perform drug screening tests before and during employment ... to cure the
American drug problem." Good intentions do not make good policy.

The "drug problem" we have in the United States is almost exclusively a
heavy use or an addiction problem. About 10 percent of adults are addicted
to highly intoxicating drugs; 8 percent to legal drugs, mostly alcohol; and
2 percent to illegal drugs. Was Rodriguez suggesting a plan of

Testing easily finds marijuana, but long after its effects have passed. And
since the tests don't work nearly as well for other drugs, they encourage
the users to shift from marijuana to truly addictive drugs.

The words of Chief Judge Juan Torruella of the First Circuit U.S. Court of
Appeals should be heeded: "Prohibition's enforcement has had a devastating
impact on the rights of the individual citizen. The control costs are
seriously threatening the preservation of values that are central to our
form of government. The war on drugs has contributed to the distortion of
the Fourth Amendment wholly inconsistent with its basic purposes. I detect
considerable public apathy regarding the upholding of rights which have been
cherished since this land became a constitutional republic."

Jerry Epstein, president, Drug Policy Forum of Texas, Houston
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