House Members Try to Reorient Drug War 

House Members Try to Reorient Drug War 
Posted by FoM on March 30, 2000 at 12:34:55 PT
By Sean Madigan, Nando Washington Bureau 
Source: Nando Times
Two moderate House Republicans bucked their party leadership Wednesday, urging colleagues to stop federal funding of a drug war in Colombia that they say has been a waste of money and effort. "Let's face it, our supply-side efforts have been a costly and a colossal failure," said Rep. Jim Ramstad of Minnesota. 
Rep. Tom Campbell, a Republican from California who is also the U.S. Senate nominee in that state, spoke in equally strong terms. "It's the height of paternalism to say that our drug problem is due to other countries sending us drugs," said Campbell, who is seeking the seat held by Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein. "It's our problem because we demand those drugs, it's our problem because we don't supply rehab for addicts that want to get clean." A proposal by Campbell and Ramstad would have eliminated $1.7 billion in proposed spending on the drug war in Colombia, the United State's largest source of cocaine and heroin. It was defeated 262-158 Wednesday night. Ramstad and Campbell proposed redirecting some of the money to addiction treatment inside the United States. Although their proposal failed, the two said they would continue to press the government to spend more on treatment and less on interdiction. Several other measures that would have changed drug policy were also defeated Wednesday. One by Rep. Dave Obey, a Wisconsin Democrat, would have eliminated a large chunk of the funding for the drug war. A less sweeping proposal to reorient anti-drug spending by Rep. Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, was also turned back Wednesday. Ramstad told his colleagues Wednesday that he is a recovering alcoholic and had faith in the efficacy of treatment. "Congress and the President need to wake up and face reality; ... Our nation's supply side strategy does not address the underlying problem of addiction," Ramstad said. Rep. Bill Young, a Florida Republican, disagreed with Ramstad, arguing that the best way to stop drug abuse was to go after the producer. "The effective way is to eliminate those drugs at the source," Young said on the House floor. "We should eliminate the drugs that will create the next 200,000 addicts Mr. Ramstad speaks of." Colombia is the source of about 80 percent of the cocaine and 60 percent of the heroin used in the United States. But Ramstad said fighting Colombian drug producers is a fruitless battle. He advocated reducing demand through prevention and treatment programs rather devoting money and manpower to eliminate the source. "I know firsthand the value of treatment and I know that treatment works," said Ramstad, a recovering alcoholic for almost 19 years. "Over the last 10 years the federal government has spent over $150 billion over all on the supply side of this problem. Yet the cocaine market is as flooded as ever." Rep. Asa Hutchison, an Arkansas Republican, countered that the United States is already spending plenty on treatment and that such domestic drug expenditures far exceed those spent on interdiction. "History tell us that we cannot simply win the war simply by putting more money in demand reduction," he said. "It takes a more balanced approach." Hutchison and Young were echoing the views of House Speaker Dennis Hastert and President Clinton. Echoing Ramstad, Campbell said America's drug problem will exist as long as there is still demand for drugs. Campbell fears that the United States is wading into a Vietnam-like civil war by sending military advisers and helicopters to the jungles of Colombia to protect farmers from guerrillas and teach them to grow alternatives "If this sounds like Vietnam it should cause you concern because it is another Vietnam," Campbell said. Published: March 30, 2000Copyright  2000 Nando MediaRelated Articles:House Backs Administration on Aid for Colombia Conquistador, Feds Unveil New Strategy
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Comment #1 posted by observer on March 30, 2000 at 13:57:55 PT
The History of Prohibition
"History tells us that we cannot simply win the war simply by putting more money in demand reduction," he said.Oh brother ... history, the history of Prohibiton, should be telling him that wars against inanimate substances aren't won. see:The History of Alcohol Prohibition
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