Pubdate: Sun, 30 Jul 2006
Source: North Shore News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2006 North Shore News
Author: Greg Francisco


Dear Editor:

A recent North Shore News column gets it right, sort of (Society Must 
Take a Stand on Drug Use, July 19). Drug abuse is harmful to 
individuals, families and society. That's patently obvious. But it 
doesn't automatically follow from there that prohibition is good.

By any objective standard, the two most dangerous drugs in our 
society are tobacco and alcohol. Combined they account for millions 
of premature deaths around the world every single year. So if we're 
going to start selectively prohibiting recreational drug use, those 
two should logically be first. Indeed, we tried alcohol prohibition. 
It didn't work. It's not working with other drugs either. On the 
other hand, by "tak(ing) a stand on (tobacco) use," society has 
dramatically slashed the rate of teenage tobacco addiction over the 
past two decades. Very few had to go to jail, at taxpayers' expense, 
by the way, to make that happen. Instead, we wisely adopted a public 
health model to deal with tobacco. Education, prevention and 
treatment, combined with regulated sales by licensed businesses and 
clerks who check ID. All the criminal drug dealer cares to see from 
our kids is the cash. Most effectively of all though, we "took a 
stand" by making tobacco use socially unacceptable. Teen peer 
pressure cuts both ways.

As Gil Yard's column correctly implies, much of the attraction of 
illicit drugs is their "outlaw" status, a story as old as Adam and 
Eve and as timely as today's front page.

Educate, regulate, tax, and control. There is a better way.

Greg Francisco

Paw Paw, MI
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