Pubdate: Thu, 28 Dec 2006
Source: Washington Times (DC)
Copyright: 2006 News World Communications, Inc.
Author: John Chase


The claimed 23 percent reduction of teen drug use from 2001 to 2006 is
technically true but is still very small ("Teens' use of illegal drugs
drops," Page 1, Friday). For example, high-school problem smokers
(those who smoke every day) fell to 4 percent from 5 percent. That's
25 percent, according to data from

Because the drug war gets the credit, let's look at the other side of
the ledger. First, the annual $10 billion spent to house half a
million drug prisoners and $20 billion spent by the federal government
on the drug war. Also, the unintended consequences: Perjured testimony
by government witnesses; women and low-level dealers imprisoned
because they have no information to offer prosecutors. Consider how
the exorbitant profit of the illegal market attracts unskilled men to
run "meth labs" and sell drugs on the street. Finally, those suffering
from illnesses who use narcotics to relieve pain are sent to prison
because they cut corners to get the relief denied them by the Drug
Enforcement Administration.

That 23 percent reduction is really a 1 percent decline in problem
smokers. Even if the drug war gets all the credit, it is a bad deal
for Americans.

JOHN CHASE, Palm Harbor, Fla.
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