Pubdate: Sun, 19 Dec 1999
Source: Baltimore Sun (MD)
Copyright: 1999 by The Baltimore Sun, a Times Mirror Newspaper.
Author: Dr. Nelson Goodman


The Sun's Dec. 8 front page evoked mixed emotions, as Mayor Martin
O'Malley's prayer to "heal and unite" was coupled with news of escalation in
drug violence and failures of the state's juvenile justice system.

How can a city unite when one person in 10 is by definition a criminal
because of his or her use of illicit drugs?

Such people live outside the law and have no trust of the police, because
they fear arrest. They even fear that social and medical services may lead
to the detection of their crime and to incarceration.

They seek justice through a harsh vigilante system that terrorizes the city.

How can the mayor's prayer be answered unless the illicit drug users and
distributors are brought back within the normal channels of city life?

And, how can this happen when some are unable to give up the drugs and the
drug commerce?

Perhaps much of the money used to detect, arrest and incarcerate the drug
users must be spent on adequate treatment slots and prolonged therapy and

But what of those who are not ready to stop using heroin or cocaine?
Maintenance on those drugs under medical supervision, coupled with continued
social and psychological treatment, at least as a study project with clearly
delineated goals, may offer a solution.

We must remember that the laws against such drugs were passed to protect us
from the harm drugs cause.

But now is the time for courage in dealing with tragedy and chaos in

Heroin maintenance, if only for a limited period for those who are unable to
accept other therapy, might just bring the victims of drug abuse back into
society and put the drug dealers out of business.

Dr. Nelson Goodman

Shady Side
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