Legalization Debate, Prudent Drug Policy Lies 

Legalization Debate, Prudent Drug Policy Lies 
Posted by FoM on June 27, 2000 at 18:27:45 PT
Letters To The Editor
Source: Richmond Times-Dispatch 
Editor, Times-Dispatch:James Q. Wilson's June 18 Commentary article, "Drug Legalization Has Its Pitfalls," discusses the pitfalls of drug legalization but fails to consider anything other than total, all-out legalization. This is misleading. I don't think anyone in the drug-policy reform movement wants to see advertisements calling upon TV viewers to run down to the convenience store to buy crack. 
There is a middle ground between all-out legalization and drug prohibition. By registering hard-drug addicts and providing standardized doses in a treatment setting, we could eliminate the public health problems associated with addiction. For example, the high prevalence of HIV among intravenous drug users is a direct result of zero-tolerance drug policies that prohibit the sale of needles.More important, organized crime would lose a lucrative client base. This would render illegal drug trafficking unprofitable, destroy the black market, and thereby spare future generations the horror of addiction. As for marijuana, the plant should be legalized for adults. First of all, minors have an easier time purchasing pot than beer. Drug dealers don't ID for age. Second, the riskfactor cited by Wilson actually increases the appeal of marijuana among rebellious adolescents.Finally, marijuana currently provides the black-market connections that introduce youth to harder drugs. As counterintuitive as it may seem, legalizing marijuana would both limit access and close the gateway to harder drugs.Robert Sharpe.Washington, D.C.Editor, Times-Dispatch:To debunk James Q. Wilson's words in brief: Please consider that regulation equals control, but prohibition equals no control. Wilson doesn't live in the same world as you and I. In his world the jails aren't filled with drug users. In his world millions of children aren't in foster care while their parents do hard time for minor drug offenses. In his world those who would use drugs actually are dissuaded from doing so by "just saying no." In his world I never would be whistled at in the middle of the night by crack and heroin dealers downtown. In his world those who don't use drugs now would do so only if they were patted on the head and told it was OK. Of course he and his friends wouldn't do so; it is just those other people.I am a disabled veteran and a medical marijuana user. Despite the fact I can't tolerate the store-bought marijuana called marinol that makes me sicker than I already am, the government of Virginia would label me a drug abuser if I were caught with the generic leafy kind of marijuana. Am I a "barbarian" as described by Wilson because I cannot survive without drugs?I am a gentlemen, so I cannot say what I really think of Wilson; besides, my mother taught me that if I don't have anything nice to say, I should say nothing at all.Michael Krawitz.Elliston.Editor, Times-Dispatch:Shame on you for reprinting James Q. Wilson's piece on drug legalization without some serious editing. Even though Wilson summarizes an interesting procedure for "Changes in Handling Offenders," he makes so many conclusions that would be difficult to support with evidence in the rest of his article that he loses his credibility. His basic assumption that legalization can mean only making hard drugs readily available -- say, at all-night convenience stores -- at reasonable prices is ridiculous. "Legalizing" drugs would be a terrible thing to have to do. It would need to involve a system with all kinds of checks and controls. It might profit from the incorporation of a program like the one being promoted by Mark Kleiman, whom Wilson cites. But to talk about legalization as meaning "letting the price fall to its competitive rate" is ludicrous and only made worse by considering "advertising costs." He might as well suggest distributing free samples in schools.Another irresponsible statement is that "if these drugs were sold legally . . . the total number of users would increase sharply." Even if he said merely, "would increase," he is drawing a conclusion from his personal beliefs and not from any data or a thoughtful analysis of people's behavior.I also think your overline for the article's title, "No Panacea," does not show any great thought on your part. I doubt if any person who is concerned in any way about drug use and control ever would think of the word "panacea" in connection with drug legalization. John R. McKlveen.Colonial Heights.Editor, Times-Dispatch:I couldn't count the number of times someone has told me how to "win" the drug war. "Just do what they did in China," has been said so many times.What China did was brazenly to execute all the drug users it could round up in the highly publicized climax of the Opium War around the turn of the century. It still does a lot of that, and now I am reading it still has a serious drug problem ["U.S., China Cooperate," June 20].The last time I saw this conventional wisdom in print was only a few years ago when no less than Newt Gingrich suggested that we could beat the drug problem with an all-out assault, China style. If this technique is so successful, then why is U.S. Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey in China for talks on how to deal with their 800,000 "registered" drug addicts?Could it be that the enemy in the drug war is as basic as human nature? Can we win a war on being human?Early Bender-Werth.Crewe.Author: Robert Sharpe, Michael Krawitz, John R. McKlveen, Early Bender-WerthMichael Krawitz, Drug Policy Forum of Virginia June 27, 2000Copyright: 2000 Richmond Newspapers Inc.Contact: letters Feedback: URL: Article Courtesy Of MapInc. MapInc. Archives:
Home Comment Email Register Recent Comments Help

Post Comment

Name: Optional Password: 
Comment: [Please refrain from using profanity in your message]
Link URL: 
Link Title: