Pubdate: Mon, 07 Sep 1998 Date: 07/09/1998 Source: Cape Cod Times (MA) Author: Richard D. Elrick Website: http://www.capecodonline.com/cctimes/ 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. Sincerely, Richard D. Elrick, Esq.