Pubdate: Fri, 14 May 1999
Date: 05/14/1999
Source: Isthmus (WI)
Author: Brian E. Lochen, M.D.
Note: subject line by MAP editor

As a physician certified in addiction medicine and with 18 years'
experience caring for people with alcoholism and other addictions, I
find the tragedy of Abe McCants' final days to be no surprise. While
medical science has known for years that addiction is a disease, the
legal system continues to criminalize this illness. The "War on
Drugs," which is, of course, really a war on our civil rights, has
resulted in our prisons being populated by nonviolent individuals,
punished for having an illness that we have declared to be felonious.

This "war" has also created a climate of hysteria in which
small-minded bureaucrats and mean-spirited prosecutors can advocate
incarcerating a dying man in the name of "following the rules."

While Abe McCants' struggle against stomach cancer is over, how sad it
is that in his last days he was also forced to struggle against the
petty hypocrisy of the drug "warriors" as well.

Brian E. Lochen, M.D.