Pubdate: Mon, 21 May 2001
Source: Houston Chronicle (TX)
Copyright: 2001 Houston Chronicle
Author: Jerry Epstein
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)
Bookmark: (Incarceration)
Bookmark: (Treatment)


Thanks to the Chronicle for the splendid May 17 editorial, "Endless 
War; Middle ground between drug legalization and prison." One 
insightful comment followed another.

The editorial called for a useful middle ground between legalization 
and zero tolerance. Indeed.

That middle ground is extremely broad and covers dozens of options. 
We can test it by allowing and encouraging states to return to their 
traditional role as "the laboratories of democracy."

We need an independent federal commission on drug policy and similar 
state commissions to give the public facts and policy suggestions 
that are not derived from some legislators' views of political 
expediency or the campaign contributions of narrow special-interest 

You correctly note that stopping the drug supply is impossible and 
that, "final victory can never be won."

This implies the continuation of a $400 billion-a-year market 
controlled by our worst enemies (the drug lords), whose profits have 
grown because of their ability to make the drug problem worse.

If we shifted one or two drugs to yet another middle ground, we could 
experiment on a low level with alternate regulatory structures that 
remove the supply control of those drugs from the drug lords.

We must test growing evidence that the ongoing battle against drug 
abuse can be fought more effectively without fighting the wealth, 
power and promotional actions of the drug lords at the same time.

The aim, as the editorial said, is to redeem the sinners, not to 
destroy their lives. Thank you for an editorial that encourages all 
of us to "think outside the box."

Jerry Epstein, president, Drug Policy Forum of Texas, Houston
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