Pubdate: Wed, 07 Aug 2013
Source: Metro Times (Detroit, MI)
Copyright: 2013 C.E.G.W./Times-Shamrock
Author: Robert Sharpe


Dear Editor:

RE: "Double Standards, Singular Repercussions"; [Higher Ground, July 
31-Aug. 6, 2013]

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 an 
evidence-based public health campaign.

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, addictive tobacco use has declined, 
without any need to arrest smokers or imprison farmers. Drug abuse is 
bad, but the drug war is worse.


Arlington, Va., Aug. 2, 2013

The writer is a policy analyst at Common Sense for Drug Policy in 
Washington, D.C.
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