Pubdate: Fri, 16 Mar 2001
Source: Texas Observer (TX)
Copyright: 2001 The Texas Observer
Contact:  307 West 7th Street, Austin, Texas 78701
Author: Greg Schorr


I enjoyed Mr. Downing's excellent review of the movie Traffic ("Celluloid 
Drugs," February 16), and am glad the movie has generated such widespread 
discussion concerning the failed worldwide war on some drugs.

One comment by Mr. Downing that I would like to expound upon is: "What is 
it about our culture that fosters an insatiable demand for hard drugs?"

What does Mr. Downing mean by "hard drugs?" Is this a drug that is 
addictive? Causes large numbers of deaths?

Is illegal?

Marijuana is illegal but has not been found to have killed anyone in the 
history of the world to date. Cocaine in some of its refined forms can be 
quite lethal, but cultures in South America have been chewing leaves and 
brewing tea from the plants with few if any, known deaths resulting. 
Heroin, while addictive, is a rather benign drug that researchers have 
found over and over again would not cause anywhere near the deaths we see 
today if it were legal and regulated.

What about tobacco and alcohol?

These drugs are more addictive and deadly than most of the illegal drugs.

So which of the above-mentioned drugs, and in which forms, would Mr.Downing 
consider to be a "hard drug?"

Moreover, demand for psychotropic drugs is a worldwide phenomenon. Using 
them seems to be part of human nature, not just U.S. culture, and it is not 
insatiable  anywhere.

Tobacco  use  has decreased in the United States, but increased in other 

Heroin use has increased in the United States, despite hundreds of billions 
of dollars in our war on drugs, while cocaine use has declined.

Lately the media has reported that demand for heroin in China has 
skyrocketed, despite executing accused dealers, after being dormant for 
many years.

Rates of alcoholism in Russia are some of the highest in the world.

The selective "war on drugs" has resulted in a gross distortion and 
simplification of the effects of drugs and how society uses them. Even 
careful and thoughtful people such as Mr. Downing fall into this trap.
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