Pubdate: Mon, 21 May 2001
Source: Arizona Republic (AZ)
Copyright: 2001 The Arizona Republic
Author: Linda Alexander


Regarding the column on May 7 by Joseph Perkins, "No surrender to the war 
on drugs": People are not asking to give up on "the war on drugs," we just 
want to change our strategy.

The laws are foolish and punish innocent people. First, we need to 
differentiate between a casual user of marijuana and someone on crack who 
becomes dangerous.

Or what about a person with anorexia or AIDS who needs to smoke marijuana 
for his or her illness? Does it make the world safer by sending those 
people to prison? My suggestions:

Treat drug addiction as a medical issue and not a moral issue.

Ask any addict; they do not want to crave drugs.

Reduce the risk of AIDS and hepatitis by making clean needles obtainable.

Allow scientists to experiment with Schedule I drugs in order to come up 
with a cure for addiction.

Drop mandatory sentencing laws so judges can decide sentences on an 
individual basis.

Decriminalize marijuana and apply similar regulations to that of alcohol.

Stop threatening addicts with prison, and instead encourage them to come 
forward and ask for help. Also, set up treatment programs that are 
accessible to all addicts. The approach we are using now is only making the 
problems worse. Treatment can and does work. Family support can and does 
work. Love and compassion can and do work. A wise and compassionate judge 
sentenced a family member of mine to treatment instead of jail. He has been 
clean for three years.

Linda Alexander, Phoenix 
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