Pubdate: Sun, 29 Apr 2001
Source: New York Times (NY)
Section: Editorial/Op-Ed - Letter to the Editor
Copyright: 2001 The New York Times Company
Authors: Donald M. Topping, Steve Wellcome


To the Editor:

Ethan Nadelmann ("An Unwinnable War on Drugs," Op-Ed, April 26) makes an 
important point regarding two notable victims, Darryl Strawberry and Robert 
Downey Jr.

That these men have failed to stop their drug use despite imprisonment and 
coerced treatment is no indication of their weakness. Rather, it 
underscores the complexity and depth of the demon called addiction, a 
condition for which approximately 10 percent of us are vulnerable.

The war on drugs has cost Mr. Downey and Mr. Strawberry their careers and 
possibly their freedom. Such punishment will serve no positive end. We must 
stop this insane war and develop policies based on common sense, science, 
public health and respect for individual rights.

Donald M. Topping
President, Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii

  To the Editor:

Re "An Unwinnable War on Drugs," by Ethan Nadelmann (Op- Ed, April 26):

Alcohol Prohibition gave us Al Capone and organized crime, widespread 
corruption, homemade liquor that killed or blinded thousands, and easy 
access to a drink for anybody who wanted one.

Drug prohibition has given us international drug cartels that rival the 
power of small countries, widespread corruption, impure drugs that kill or 
injure thousands, and easy access to drugs for anybody who wants them.

Drugs are a medical and social problem that we're trying to treat as a 
law-enforcement problem. Mr. Nadelmann is correct: the "war on drugs" is 
unwinnable because we've stated the problem incorrectly.

Steve Wellcome
Bolton, Mass.
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