Pubdate: Mon, 05 Nov 2001
Source: Chicago Tribune (IL)
Copyright: 2001 Chicago Tribune Company
Author: J. Gary Christensen, M.D


Wheaton -- The users of illegal drugs (especially cocaine and heroin) right now must be worried that, because the products they are consuming are illegal, there is no way for them to be sure that it has not been spiked with anthrax or other terrorist weapons.

I would also suspect that many of them are distressed to think that a portion of the money they are spending on drugs is finding its way into the coffers of Osama bin Laden and his ilk.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if these concerns finally put an end to the drug trade by eradicating demand?

That is realistically the only way such a business can ever be eliminated (just ask the bootleggers of the 1930s who were suddenly out of work as soon as Prohibition was repealed).

But I firmly believe that a large portion of those unfortunate people who use (abuse) these drugs are not simply customers but addicts--sick people who cannot overcome their need for the drugs.

Thus, in spite of very good reasons to stop using (just as alcoholics have reasons to stop drinking), they simply won't.

They will continue, in spite of themselves, and especially in the absence of treatment, risking serious illness and death and giving our misguided government reason to continue its futile, outrageously expensive war on drugs.

I would strongly urge all thinking citizens to demand that we stop this "war," which, because it only attacks the supply side, we simply cannot win, and redirect these billions of dollars and massive manpower to the war on terrorism, which we can and absolutely must win.

We must legalize drugs, just as we have legalized alcohol, but let the government sell them at reasonable prices; make sure that the supplies are free of contamination and come from legitimate, reliable and politically friendly producers; constantly remind users of the risks to their health; offer them rehabilitation to be paid for out of the profits on drug sales; put the greedy, murderous drug lords out of business; and get on with the business of making our country safe for us all.

We must end a policy that puts so many of our citizens (users, drug-enforcement officers and poor people caught in the crossfire of drug-inspired gang warfare) at such inane and horrible risk. There is no reasonable alternative.
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