Forging an Uneasy Truce In a Maddening Drug War 

Forging an Uneasy Truce In a Maddening Drug War 
Posted by FoM on November 13, 2000 at 09:05:37 PT
Source: San Francisco Chronicle 
By embracing Proposition 36 on Tuesday, California voters have called for a cease-fire in the protracted war on drugs that, despite its high casualty rate, has produced marginal and questionable results. Understandably, the public has grown weary of a conflict that has consumed 30 years and billions of tax dollars in a street crusade no more alluring or winnable than the ill-conceived military mission that bogged down in Vietnam. 
But to be sure, the initiative, requiring treatment instead of incarceration for first- and second-time nonviolent drug offenders, is riddled with problems. Not the least of which is that the measure neither mandates drug testing nor provides money for such, leaving no way to know whether those supposedly getting help are truly staying on track. It also fails to stipulate standards for treatment programs or provide adequate incentives for addicts to stay in them once they become enrolled. And of course, there is perhaps legitimate fear that the measure is but the first of several well-calculated steps toward decriminalizing heroin, crack cocaine, PCP and other dangerous recreational drugs. Yet, despite its considerable shortcomings, Prop. 36 hardly represents absolute, unfettered surrender. With more than half of the nation's 2 million prisoners serving time for drug-related offenses -- including 19,700 locked up in California solely for simple drug possession -- it's difficult to argue against attempts at something new. At minimum, because treatment is less costly than imprisonment, it is estimated that Prop. 36 will save the state $1 billion in five years by shifting emphasis from punishment to programs. Drug addiction is a hideous disease, ruining users, wrecking their families, utterly destroying neighborhoods. Prop. 36 is no quick fix and will not be easily deployable for local jurisdictions that must now discard old systems in favor of an uncertain new. But, rightly skeptical or not, it is time for law enforcement and city agencies to adhere to the will of the people by sparing no effort to make this new policy work. Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA)Published: Monday, November 13, 2000 Copyright: 2000 San Francisco ChronicleContact: chronletters Website: Articles & Web Site:California Campaign For New Drug Policy Many, Plan to Help Addicts Touched Home 36 Wins Big Despite Politicos Articles - Proposition 36: 
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