Los Angeles Times
May 13, 1999
Letter to the Editor
Re "Many Roots for Teen Problems," editorial, May 3: Thank you for
acknowledging that "the effort to stop drug abuse through law
enforcement" has been "until now frustrated." Frustrated, indeed.
The American drug war has gone on, uninterrupted, for 116 years. (The first
federal law against a drug, opium, was passed in 1883.) We have spent more than
a trillion dollars arresting 50 million fellow citizens, and what has it gotten
us? Illicit drugs are cheaper, purer, stronger and more readily available than
Drug czar Barry R. McCaffrey has said drug abuse should be treated "like
cancer." I agree. We do not send the police out, battle-ready, to arrest
cancer patients and put them in jail--we give them proper medical treatment. Are
we giving drug addicts treatment? No. The waiting list for government-sponsored
residential treatment programs is months long. Meanwhile, room is always found
in prisons for drug "criminals."
It's time to declare peace on drugs.