Pubdate: Fri, 27 Apr 2001
Source: Columbian, The (WA)
Address: 701 W 8th St, Vancouver, WA 98666
Copyright: 2001 The Columbian Publishing Co.
Author: Robert Sharpe


Working for the Lindersmith Center Drug Policy Foundation and reading the 
April 17 editorial, "DRUG REFORM WAITS," on Senate Bill 5419, I agree drug 
treatment is a step in the right direction.

An arrest should not be a prerequisite, however. Law enforcement's 
continued involvement in addiction is part of the problem.

In order for drug treatment to be effective, policy makers have to tone 
down the tough on drugs rhetoric.  The threat of prison that coerced 
treatment relies upon can backfire when it's actually put to use.  Prisons 
transmit violent habits and values rather than reduce them.  Drug offenders 
are eventually released with dismal job projects due to their criminal 
records.  Turning nonviolent drug offenders into hardened criminals is a 
senseless waste of tax dollars.

Zero-tolerence drug laws do not distinguish between occasional drug use and 
chronic abuse.  The vast majority of illicit drug users hold 
jobs.  Politically popular mandatory minimums have turned many a tax paying 
recreational drug user into a long term tax burden.

It's time to declare peace in the failed drug war and start treating all 
substance abuse, legal or otherwise, as the public health problem it 
is.  Driving illicit drug addiction underground compounds the problem

Robert Sharpe

Washington, DC
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