Pubdate: Wed, 14 Feb 2001
Source: Santa Barbara News-Press (CA)
Copyright: 2001 Santa Barbara News-Press
Contact:  P.O. Box 1359, Santa Barbara, CA 93102
Author: Joseph Scher


Over the past 15 years, tens of billions of dollars have been spent trying 
to eliminate or dramatically slow drugs coming into this country. The 
effort has been worked hard, but is a failure.

We are presently engaged in a $2 billion program to stop farmers in 
Columbia from growing coco leaves for cocaine. The result of this program 
will be to make it harder for dirt-poor farmers to make a living and will 
drive them from Columbia to Ecuador or some other Central American country 
where they will grow more coco plants.

We can't win, but we are hurting a lot of poor people while we are losing 
the battle. Drugs keep coming in at an increasing rate to entice and kill 
our young people.

It seems the time is long past due where we need to take a serious look at 
how to slow the demand for drugs as opposed to trying to reduce the supply.

In the end, the drug problem is all about money. If the demand for drugs 
drops, the supply will take care of itself since there will be 
substantially less money to be made by the pushers, distributors, suppliers 
and growers.

We need to spend our time talking about constructive ways to take the money 
out of drugs. Whether this is done through the use of free treatment 
centers established around the country in conjunction with a stepped-up 
program in the public and private schools teaching say "no" to drugs," or 
other methods, I don't know.

We need a public debate on the wisdom of establishing free clinics to treat 
drug patients. This would be a new way to turn the tide on this menace to 
our society.

Joseph Scher, Santa Barbara
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