Pubdate: Wed, 26 Jan 2005
Source: Smoky Mountain News (NC)
Copyright: 2005 Smoky Mountain News
Author:  Doug Wingeier
Bookmark: (Cocaine)
Bookmark: (Heroin)


To the Editor:

Our country has been fighting a "war on drugs" for decades. We -- and our 
congressional representatives -- should be asking some important questions 
before any more money is appropriated for this so-called war. Twenty-five 
years and $25 billion later, are we any closer to solving the key problem, 
which is reducing drug abuse and availability in the United States?

Presumably, the aim of U.S. international drug control policy is to reduce 
or eliminate the supply of illicit drugs in this country. But the price of 
cocaine and heroin are at a near all-time low in spite of intensive efforts 
to eradicate shipments.

According to a recent report by the Washington Office on Latin America 
(WOLA), "the supply reduction model does not work, and second, this model 
has sparked conflict, fueled human rights violations, and undermined 
democracy in countries where drugs are produced and trafficked." I saw this 
going on with my own eyes when in Colombia with Christian Peacemaker Teams 
a year ago.

WOLA goes on to say that we need a new drug control policy that gets at the 
roots of the drug problem by channeling more resources to prevention and 
treatment in the U.S. and to economic development in Latin America, while 
continuing to go after criminal organizations that engage in large-scale 
trafficking of drugs and arms.

In order to develop more effective drug policies, we must honestly assess 
whether or not we are moving closer to our goal -- reducing drug abuse in 
this country. Serious evaluation of present polices and open-minded debate 
on drug control alternatives are sorely needed if we hope to make any 
progress. A more effective, humane policy should be based on the 
recognition that, while controlling illicit drug abuse is a legitimate and 
important goal, drugs will be produced as long as there is demand for them, 
and Latin American farmers have neither the means nor the markets to 
successfully grow legitimate crops.

Doug Wingeier

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