Pubdate: Mon, 07 Sep 1998
Date: 07/09/1998
Source: Cape Cod Times (MA)
Author: Richard D. Elrick

Dear Letters Editor:

While President Clinton was recently addressing a special session of
the U.N. General Assembly in an effort to gain support for
internationalizing our country's failed drug war, a letter was
delivered to Secretary-General Kofi Annan stating that the global war
against drugs is causing more harm than drug abuse itself.

The letter was signed by over 500 well respected and prominent world
citizens including former U.N. secretary-general Javier Perez de
Cuellar, the former United States secretary of state George Shultz,
the Costa Rican Nobel peace laureate Oscar Arias, the former CBS
television anchorman Walter Cronkite, South African human rights
activist Helen Suzman and two former U.S. senators, Claiborne Pell
(RI) and Alan Cranston (CA). In part, the letter said, "Persisting in
our current policies will only result in more abuse, more empowerment
of drug markets and criminals and more disease and suffering."

Particularly with regard to marijuana, it has become compellingly
apparent that, like Alcohol Prohibition before it, criminalizing
marijuana has created far more harm than the use of that substance
ever could.

Both the National Academy of Sciences and the World Health
Organization have concluded that marijuana is one of the least
dangerous drugs, legal or otherwise and creates less of a public
health danger than either alcohol or tobacco. Additionally, more than
a dozen commissions in the U.S. and abroad have determined that the
dangers of marijuana have been exaggerated and that moderate use is
rarely harmful.

Even the DEA's own administrative law Judge, Francis Young said in
1988, "Marijuana is one of the safest therapeutically active
substances known to man."

At the same time we are being forced to release violent felons for
lack of available prison space, it is absurd that our President and
other politicians would continue to propose policies that would put
more marijuana users in jail for longer terms.

How much better and effective it would be for our society if the
President and the rest of the drug warrior bureaucracy focused on
education and treatment, the only true answers to substance abuse,
rather than pushing the politically expedient proposition that we can
incarcerate our way out of the problem of drug abuse.


Richard D. Elrick, Esq.