Pubdate: Thu, 19 Sep 2002
Source: Post and Courier, The (SC)
Contact:  2002 Evening Post Publishing Co.
Author: Sharon Fratepietro


A careful look at recent headlines in The Post and Courier tells an 
important story about the U.S. government's War on Drugs. On Aug. 18: 
"Homicide rate spikes after summer killings" - a story about local murders 
often blamed on illegal drug involvement. On Aug. 20: "Crack raids hit 
suppliers" - about yet another local neighborhood drug sweep to drive out 
illegal drug sellers. On Aug. 26: "Record 6.6 million in U.S. prison 
system" - reporting that one in every 32 adults in the U.S. is in prison, 
on probation or parole, many for drug possession, drug selling or 
drug-related violence.

But the kicker is this on Sept. 6: "Survey finds increase in use of drugs." 
The U.S. government's most recent national survey found that more people 
than ever, including more teens, are using illegal drugs, despite locking 
up all those folks. Stupidity is defined as repeatedly doing the same thing 
and expecting a different result. The U.S. government has been fighting 
this punitive drug war since the Harrison Narcotic Act in 1914! Since then, 
not only has illegal drug use increased, the government's War on Drugs has 
made society's situation far worse.

Today the United States, with just 5 percent of the world's population, has 
25 percent of the world's prisoners. Despite our zero-tolerance, punitive 
drug policy, the U.S. has more drug-related violence than any other 
developed country in the world. The very illegality of drugs makes them so 
valuable that some terrorist groups use drug profits to finance their 
terrorism. Our government's anti-drug budget increases each year - it now 
exceeds $20 billion annually plus another billion every couple of years to 
try to wipe out coca and poppies in Latin America.

Please note that no one is being murdered in turf wars over beer or 
cigarettes, both made from potentially dangerous drugs. Few people steal to 
support their alcohol or tobacco habits. The U.S. was smart enough to end 
alcohol prohibition in 1933 after 13 violent years spent fighting an 
unwinnable war. When alcohol prohibition ended, the murder rate decreased 
13 consecutive years!

It is time to change the U.S. drug policy and decriminalize drugs. Time to 
address drug abuse as the medical and social problem it is. Time for the 
government, instead of dealers and terrorists, to regulate and distribute 
drugs, educate society about the stupidity of drug abuse, and hold people 
accountable for crimes they commit while using drugs, just as we now do for 

After 88 years, haven't we been losing the drug war long enough?

- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom