Pubdate: [Sat, 07 Dec 1996]
Source: Star Ledger (NJ)
Author: Alan Bryan

Reader Joan Balakitsis writes: "Visit any large city and you'll find
hundreds of pushers and users on just about any street. Crack houses are

I always thought Texans prided themselves on telling tall talles, but I
guess we have to give the award to Balakitsis. I live in one of those large
cities, and in my more than 40 years, I have yet to see hundreds of pushers
and users lining our streets. Crack houses are far from rampant.

Balakitsis is correct when she says that crime is the easiest way for
addicts to support their habits, but did she stop to think that the
prohibition on substances such as heroin and cocaine and their artificially
high cost lead to even more crime? Did she stop to think that perhaps drug
abuse should be treated as a medical problem as opposed to a criminal one?
According to the Rand Corp., it costs seven times as much to incarcerate a
drug addict as it does to treat him.

Tobacco-related illnesses kill an estimated 400,000 annually. Illicit
drugs are responsible for about 10,000, so I guess Balakitsis is correct
that cigarette use and drug use cannot be addressed in the same way.

Alan Bryan,