Pubdate: Fri, 08 Jun 2001
Source: Wall Street Journal (US)
Copyright: 2001 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
Author: James E. Heyman, Kevin Archer, Gary Storck, and Frank H. Stewart
Note: 2 LTEs, 2 PUB LTEs


The argument for a war on the war on drugs ("Counterattack: Soros, Two Rich 
Allies Fund a Growing War on the War on Drugs," page one, May 30) seems to 
suffer from an incomplete definition of harm, specifically, the increased 
harm that will accrue to non-drug users. Calculating the harm to society 
has to go beyond what drug users do to their own bodies and lives.

Consider the potential impact on highway fatalities, for example. Just like 
social drinkers, there will be a group of social drug users who take to the 
road. On average, they are likely to have a higher accident rate compared 
with when they are sober. Where does this fit in the harm equation?

None of this is to say that I think the current drug policy is optimal. I 
am, however, confident that the best policy will be found neither in pure 
legalization nor pure prohibition.

James E. Heyman, Concord, Calif.


Thank you George Soros, Peter Lewis and John Sperling. The havoc and misery 
created by the war on drugs is horrible. Too many families have had a 
family member arrested, shamed or incarcerated. The war on drugs has taken 
a disproportionate toll on minorities and the poor.

I do not use drugs or encourage others to take drugs. But I am disgusted by 
the cost in dollars and wasted lives of this failed war.

Kevin Archer, Tampa, Fla.


George Soros, Peter Lewis and John Sperling do not restrict their 
philanthropic activism solely to drug policy. Through his Open Society 
Institute, Mr. Soros promotes the development and maintenance of open 
societies around the world. All three fund a wide range of good works; drug 
policy reform is just one facet.

Americans should be grateful this funding is there to counteract the 
estimated $50 billion or more of our tax dollars that various government 
entities will spend just this year on waging a war not on drugs, but on 
people, making us the world's largest jailer in the process. With even the 
Supreme Court eroding our rights with each new decision, it is clear that 
action is needed to counteract this threat to our liberty and open a 
national debate.

These gentlemen have helped create a situation in which drug policy reform 
could happen. They are American heroes, and hopefully someday soon their 
foresight and dedication to freedom will be recognized.

Gary Storck, Madison, Wis.


Three men of great wealth may find jail time for users or possessors of 
illegal drugs unduly harsh, and from their lofty perch, it may seem an 
attractive position. But before there is a rush to "treatment not jail" 
these factors should be considered:

1. Treatment programs do not have, and generally do not claim, outstanding 
success. The cycle of arrest, treatment, relapse and re-arrest is all too 
common to law-enforcement officers and judges.

2. Addiction is often defined as destructive behavior, whose consequences 
are known, which nevertheless continues. Releasing those who use or possess 
affects family, friends and society.

3. No one is compelled to use unlawful substances. The use of unlawful 
substances is one of personal choice, not societal demand.

As a resident of a state targeted for the good works of this unusual trio, 
I will vote against the direction of their misguided initiatives.

Frank H. Stewart, Cincinnati
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