Pubdate: Wed, 25 May 2011
Source: Seattle Times (WA)
Copyright: 2011 The Seattle Times Company
Author: John Chase


One hundred years ago, opium was the enemy and a bare handful of
highly principled Americans persuaded the international community to
restrict opium production.

They believed that no government should benefit from the opium
business, as the British, Spanish and French had done in China, the
Philippines and Vietnam, respectively.

They were tight on principle, but wrong on logic. They must have
believed that if opium supply decreased by, say 25 percent, that
addiction would also decrease by 25 percent.

But it does not. While many casual users quit because of price and
fear of arrest -- addicts don't. They do whatever it takes to get cash
for the higher price. They, not the casual users, fuel the wealth and
violence of the illegal market.

Recent policy experiments in Europe indicate that if we had focused on
the addiction (rather than the drug) we would have something to show
for our 100-year effort.

John Chase

Palm Harbor, Fl. 
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