Pubdate: Tue, 07 Aug 2001
Source: Palm Beach Post (FL)
Copyright: 2001 The Palm Beach Post
Author: Richard Sinnott


The article by Norah Vincent about the OxyContin situation ("Heroin 
is legal; it's called OxyContin," July 24) was most interesting and 
informative. The rhetorical question "Could this be the crisis to 
force a reevaluation of the drug war?" was thought-provoking and 
commendable. It seems to me that if the shooting-down of innocent 
missionaries in Peru in the name of the drug war did not provoke a 
public outcry and reevaluation of the drug war, the OxyContin affair 
will not, either. I hope I am wrong, however, because the drug war is 
in serious need of reevaluation.

Unfortunately, a misinformed public does not understand the issues at 
stake, and Congress, composed mostly of demagogues, prefers to 
perpetuate the fantasy that criminal sanctions actually stop people 
from using certain drugs. European legislators seem to be coming to 
their senses by admitting the futility of prohibition, but we 
Americans are still living the myth.

Ms. Vincent's point that drug prohibition is unconstitutional is 
right on the money, though the Establishment, including the media, 
will not discuss it. There is no authority in the U.S. Constitution 
for the federal government to prohibit the citizens from ingesting or 
possessing certain substances, and I challenge anybody to show any 
such authority. Certainly, Article 1, Section 8, grants it the 
authority to regulate interstate commerce in any commodity, including 
drugs, but regulation of commerce and prohibition of possession or 
use are two different things.

Ms. Vincent has done a good thing by raising the questions she has, 
and your paper is to be commended for publishing her piece.

Richard Sinnott

Fort Pierce
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