Pubdate: Fri, 07 Sep 2001
Source: Washington Post (DC)
Copyright: 2001 The Washington Post Company
Authors: Robert Sharpe, Debra Cochrain, Debra S. Wright


In his Sept. 5 op-ed titled "A War Worth Fighting," former drug czar 
William Bennett argues that the drug war was a success from 1979 to 1992. 
Never mind the notorious crack-cocaine epidemic that occurred during the 
'80s. Mr. Bennett goes on to advocate coerced treatment for illegal drug 
users. Why the double standard? Alcohol and tobacco are by far the two 
deadliest recreational drugs, yet I don't hear Mr. Bennett claiming that 
the threat of a prison stay and criminal record would somehow benefit 
drinkers and smokers.

Mr. Bennett's selective interpretation of statistics is a thinly veiled 
criticism of the Clinton administration. His assertion that America stopped 
waging the drug war in 1992 is false. More Americans went to prison or jail 
during the Clinton administration than during any past administration. 
Nearly 60 percent of those sentenced to federal prison under President 
Clinton are there for drug offenses.




Thank you so much for the editorial "Misplaced Priorities" [Aug. 24]. It 
should be obvious by now that drug prohibition is increasing supply and 
demand. If prohibition were the answer, then the question is why do we now 
have more than 6.5 million people tied up in our judicial system? Studies 
show that very few former drug users list fear of incarceration as a reason 
for quitting. Studies also show that 75 percent of incarcerated users 
return to drug use almost immediately after release.

We should be discussing true solutions rather than patting ourselves on the 
back for being the nation with the most incarcerated. Our laws are in the 
way of searching for real solutions. Demand is here to stay. The time has 
come to try something other than fear.


Fritch, Tex.


Thanks to The Post for its recent editorial on the failures of the drug war 
on the federal level. As The Post points out, the federal statutes have 
failed to do what they intended to do: arrest, prosecute and incarcerate 
major drug dealers. Instead, they have netted the low-level dealers, 
prosecuted and jailed them, and then fed the public the lie that we are 
winning the war on drugs.

Federal officials, such as John Ashcroft, need to realize that the public 
is way ahead of them on this issue. The word is spreading, and most people 
who take a serious look at this issue realize that we are not winning the 
war on drugs. Just like alcohol prohibition, drug prohibition will not 
work. We can't arrest and incarcerate our way out of this problem, because 
even the federal government of the most powerful nation in the world can't 
get to the major drug traffickers.

Many other countries are looking at other models: The Netherlands, Portugal 
and Canada, which just passed a medical marijuana law. It's time for the 
United States to reevaluate its drug laws.


Ann Arbor, Mich.
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