Pubdate: Mon, 09 Apr 2001
Source: Richmond Times-Dispatch (VA)
Copyright: 2001 Richmond Newspapers Inc
Author: Lennice Werth, Crewe


Editor, Times-Dispatch: Leonard Pitts is right when he says we need to 
rethink our drug priorities. He says we are treating a sickness with 
prison. That's true, but when Pitts says we need to "balance" that with 
treatment and education, he's fuzzy about what the incarceration should be 
reserved for.

The trouble that brought this issue to mind was a theft, from a father by a 
son. That son took his dad's records and sold them, then paid an inflated 
price for his drugs. The money went into the pocket of a criminal, 
tax-free. In a way we are all getting ripped off. None of the drug profits 
are taxed, so we have to foot the bill for treatment and collateral damage.

Keeping free adults away from chemical agents of pleasure never will be 
successful. Enforcing the drug laws supports prices for the criminal drug 
market. Law-enforcement officials use the high price of drugs as a measure 
of success when it is actually a measure of the threat to public safety 
from the illegal unregulated drug trade.

We need sensible priorities. Here are my ideas: Those who sell to kids 
should face arrest, but the law should regulate - and tax - those who sell 
to adults. Those who steal should face the possibility of jail time. Those 
who use drugs but have not stolen, assaulted, embezzled, or otherwise 
caused harm to the person or property of another need not be considered 

Lennice Werth
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