Pubdate: Sun, 27 Mar 2011
Source: Athens Banner-Herald (GA)
Copyright: 2011 Athens Newspapers Inc
Author: Robert Sharpe, Policy Analyst w/Common Sense for Drug Policy.


Regarding John Stossel's March 19 column headlined "End war on drugs,
save black America": The drug war has been waged in a racist manner
since its inception.

The Harrison Narcotics Act of 1914 was preceded by a wave of
anti-immigrant sentiment.

Opium was identified with Chinese laborers, marijuana with Mexicans
and cocaine with African-Americans. Racial profiling continues to be
the norm, despite similar rates of drug use for minorities and whites.

Support for the drug war would end overnight if whites were
incarcerated for drugs at the same rate as minorities.

The drug war is a cultural inquisition, not a public health

Prison cells are inappropriate as health interventions and ineffective
as deterrents. It's time to declare peace in the failed drug war and
begin treating all substance abuse, legal or otherwise, as the public
health problem it is. Thanks to public education efforts, addictive
tobacco use has declined dramatically.

Mandatory minimum prison sentences, civil asset forfeiture, random
drug testing and racial profiling are not the most cost-effective
means of discouraging unhealthy choices.

Drug abuse is bad, but the drug war is worse.

Robert Sharpe

Arlington, Va.
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