Pubdate: Fri, 11 Jan 2002
Source: Dispatch, The (NC)
Copyright: 2002, The Lexington Dispatch
Author: Keith Sanders


Editor: Cheers to William Smith for his insightful letter to the editor of
Dec. 31. Mr. Smith is right to point out the parallels between our current
war on (certain) drugs and alcohol - Prohibition in the 1920s. Elliot Ness
couldn't stop bootleggers like Al Capone in over a decade of Prohibition.

But liquor smuggling - along with the increased street crime, youth
alcoholism and poisonous wood-alcohol cocktails associated with Prohibition
- - vanished in a hurry after the 1933 repeal.

The drug war has done nothing to reduce illegal drug use in this country as
85 percent of high schoolers still say marijuana is "easy to get," and
border agents still can't stop more than 5 to 10 percent of drugs coming
over the border. But the drug war has done plenty to erode individual
rights, as seen by the rise of racial profiling, asset forfeiture, no-knock
raids and drug-sniffing dogs and random searches on public transport (new
this month in the San Francisco Bay area).

It's time we changed from a feel-good, "get-tough" drug policy to one that
takes the societal realities of drug use and abuse into account. We must
fundamentally reconsider our drug policy from the bottom up, just as our
allies in Europe, Australia, Canada and elsewhere are now starting to do.

Keith Sanders

Oakland Calif.
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