Pubdate: Tue, 29 May 2001
Source: Reason Magazine (US)
Issue: June, 2001, ISSN 00486906, Vol 33, Issue 2, Pg 9
Section: Letters
Copyright: 2001 The Reason Foundation
Authors: Lloyd Gaarder, Redford Givens, John Chase, Chris Buors


I agree wholeheartedly with Nick Gillespie's editorial on Traffic ("The 
Thirteenth Step," March) but would add one additional point. Most 
liberal-minded folks agree that the drug war has been a colossal failure. 
Nevertheless, these same people still think that "something" needs to be 
done about drugs. For liberals, this "something" is stepping up emphasis on 
treatment, instead of incarceration.

I regard Traffic as propaganda for this view. The viewer walks away from 
the theater with the impression that the only approach that "works" is 
treatment, especially 12-step programming, which was working for Michael 
Douglas' daughter in the film. Never mind the statistics showing that 
treatment doesn't have any better a track record than the criminal 
approach. Drug use or abuse is largely a self-contained problem. Most 
people outgrow it on their own, and are not harmed by using drugs, 
including "hard" drugs like meth, coke, LSD, and heroin. Meanwhile, forcing 
young people into abusive mind- control "treatment"-Alcoholics Anonymous, 
Narcotics Anonymous, etc.-will harm a lot of people.

Lloyd Gaarder
Sioux Falls, SD

If everybody involved in the drug war debate studied the history of drug 
use in the United States, they would quickly discover that there was never 
any valid reason to outlaw drugs in the first place.

No one was robbing, whoring, and murdering over drugs when addicts could 
buy all the heroin, cocaine, morphine, opium, and anything else they wanted 
cheaply and legally at the corner pharmacy. When drugs were legal, addicts 
held regular employment, raised decent families, and were indistinguishable 
from their teetotaler neighbors. Overdoses were virtually unheard of when 
addicts bought cheap, pure Bayer Heroin instead of the expensive toxic 
potions prohibition put on the streets. (See the Consumers Union Report on 
Licit and Illicit Drugs at www. 

Drug crime was once unheard of. Now we have prisons overflowing with drug 
users. The addiction rate is five times greater than when we had no drug 
laws at all. These are the consequences of a lunatic drug prohibition 
policy, not drug use.

Once we clearly understand that our preposterous drug crusade causes all of 
our "drug problems," the wisdom of legalization becomes apparent. Whatever 
problems remain will be much easier to deal with than the chaos we have now.

Redford Givens
San Francisco, CA

The public is so conditioned-even brainwashed-that it cannot distinguish 
the danger of a drug's illegality from the danger of a drug's pharmacology. 
This is the hand the film producer is dealt. If he wants to be taken 
seriously, he cannot deviate far from that center. Steven Soderberg took a 
small but necessary step toward educating the public and regaining sanity. 
Next year, maybe another step.

John Chase
Palm Harbor, FL

Please explain that the "public health" position of some misguided 
individuals is false. Typhoid, tuberculosis, polio, and other 
"communicable" diseases are public health concerns. Your neighbor sitting 
at home overindulging in pot-or alcohol or cheeseburgers, for that 
matter-is not. No one ever caught "addiction." Addiction is a choice. 
Taking drugs is a vice, not a crime or an illness. Drug use is a matter of 
private morals and social values of no concern to "public health" officials 
or any other therapeutic state moralizer.

Chris Buors
Winnipeg, Manitoba
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