Pubdate: Thu, 03 Apr 2003
Source: Knoxville News-Sentinel (TN)
Copyright: 2003 The Knoxville News-Sentinel Co.
Author: Robert Sharpe


This letter is in response to the March 6 story, "Woman's sentence to stand 
for mailing drug to spouse who died."

The fact that the drug war cannot keep drugs out of Tennessee prisons, much 
less schools, is indicative of its inherent failure. The entrenched 
interests riding the drug war gravy train claim they are fighting crime. If 
only that were true. So-called drug-related crime is invariably 

Like alcohol prohibition in the 1920s, the drug war fuels organized crime 
and violence, which is then used to justify increased drug war spending. 
It's time to end this madness and instead treat all substance abuse, legal 
or otherwise, as the public health problem it is.

Drug policy should focus not on reducing the total number of people who use 
drugs but rather on reducing the death, disease, crime and suffering 
associated with both drug use and drug enforcement. At present, drug users 
are reluctant to seek medical attention in the event of an overdose. 
Attempting to save the life of a friend could result in a murder charge.

Eliminating the stigma and penalties associated with drug use would 
facilitate rehabilitation and save lives. I think it's safe to say that 
turnout at Alcoholics Anonymous meetings would be rather low if alcoholism 
were a crime pursued with zero-tolerance zeal. Drug abuse is bad, but the 
drug war is worse.

ROBERT SHARPE, Program Officer, Drug Policy Alliance, Washington, D.C.
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