Pubdate: Sun, 18 Aug 2002
Source: Post-Star, The (NY)
Copyright: 2002 Glens Falls Newspapers Inc.
Section: Local/Region
Page: B7
Author: Kevin Zeese
Bookmark: (Incarceration)
Bookmark: (Treatment)
Bookmark: (Mandatory Minimum Sentencing)
Bookmark: (Rockefeller Drug Laws)
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)



The St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial of Aug. 8 "DEA Takes Over the War on 
Drugs" correctly pointed out that despite massive rises in the federal drug 
budget to nearly $20 billion annually, and aggressive enforcement, we have 
not succeeded in preventing drug abuse. The facts show that cocaine and 
heroin are cheaper and more pure today than they were in 1980 resulting in 
record overdose deaths -- all that after spending a half a trillion dollars 
on the drug war since 1980.

The ineffective drug war is not because the police have failed -- they've 
done their jobs well. The FBI reports record drug arrests -- 1.6 million 
annually -- leading to the largest the largest prison system in world 
history. The U.S. has two million people behind bars -- with 5 percent of 
the world's population we have 25 percent of the world's prisoners.

Prohibiting drugs has had the unintended consequence of making illegal 
drugs easily available to our youth. Indeed, surveys indicate it is easier 
for high schoolers to buy marijuana than alcohol and easier to buy cocaine, 
heroin, ecstasy and LSD than prescription drugs. We have more control over 
regulated drugs than we do over prohibited drugs.

For years I've read about drug bust after drug bust in The Post-Star -- 
imagine the price tag for those arrests -- even a simple marijuana offense 
takes a police officer off the street for half a day. And, what is the 
result -- long, mandatory minimum sentences that cost that taxpayers 
$25,000 per year per inmate.

Thankfully, every major candidate running for governor, including Gov. 
Pataki, has called for reform of the Rockefeller drug laws. Can we afford 
to waste police resources on drug offenders when half the murders in New 
York go unsolved every year?  Your urged treatment and prevention, with 
less focus on arrest -- good steps, but we need to reject drug prohibition 
and implement drug regulation to get control of the market, prevent sales 
to youth and treat addiction as a health problem. No drug has been made 
safer by putting criminals in charge of distribution. And, 30 years of 
aggressive drug war has retaught the lesson of alcohol prohibition -- no 
law can repeal the law of supply and demand. Prohibition has just increased 
profits for criminals, thereby drawing more people into the business and 
making rugs more available, not less available.

- ---
MAP posted-by: Jackl