Maryland's strategy on drug abuseYour editorial, "High...

the Forum

October 18, 1991

Maryland's strategy on drug abuse

Your editorial, "High time for Solomon" (Sept. 27), did a great disservice to the issue of substance abuse in Maryland, as well as to the Governor's Drug and Alcohol Abuse Commission.

Governor Schaefer recognized that Maryland did not have a policy on substance abuse. Therefore, he brought together numerous professionals from varied backgrounds to develop a mechanism that would be able to respond to the issue. The governor pointed out that substance abuse crosses many disciplines, and the state needed a comprehensive statewide response. As a result of this process, the Drug and Alcohol Abuse Commission was created in April 1989.

To call the chairmanship of this important commission a "political plum" is ludicrous. Bob Neall, the first chairman, took a leave of absence from his employment to be a full-time chairman. He resigned that position when he decided to run for elected office. Bob Neall worked very hard during his tenure to establish this commission.

When I was appointed chairman in August 1990, I recognized that a primary goal of the commission would be to provide a coordinated, comprehensive statewide drug control strategy. I understood that this initiative would take a tremendous amount of work involving meeting with local leaders, reviewing their programs and listening to their concerns. I visited each jurisdiction in this state at least once to discuss the issue of substance abuse. I felt that while our strategy must be comprehensive and statewide, it had to be developed from the local level to the state level and not from the state downward. We needed to break down parochial barriers and set aside turf protection. By an intense effort, we have established active working relationships with the local jurisdictions as well as opening up lines of communication.

In addition, the commission staff was looking at the overall issue of drug and alcohol abuse. It became quite clear that this issue had to be viewed as a public health problem and not as a law enforcement problem or a treatment problem or an education problem. We found that more often than not, substance abuse was an outward symptom of a deeper problem such as abuse, dysfunctional family structure or unemployment, just to mention a few. The commission has developed a strategy based on public health model. We have been working in this direction for a year.

It is unfortunate that The Evening Sun didn't feel that ou monthly meetings or our local jurisdiction meetings were news worthy enough to cover. Otherwise, your editorial would have been more factual.

Finally, during the General Assembly legislative sessions of 1989, 1990 and 1991, we sponsored some of the most dramatic drug enforcement legislation in the country. Maryland has mandatory sentences for drug dealers, persons selling drugs in

school zones, persons who are drug kingpins and those who use automatic weapons while conducting a drug transaction. We also have legislation requiring the suspension of professional and other licenses issued by the state for those who are convicted of using a controlled dangerous substance. I think the administration and the General Assembly have made it quite clear that drug dealing and the illicit use of drugs will be dealt with very harshly in this state.

Melvin A. Steinberg

The writer is lieutenant governor of Maryland. /

Woodlawn victims

Your Sept. 26 editorial on the police shooting in which a man was killed left me wondering why The Evening Sun would exploi this tragic situation and make such distorted comments as, "Society cannot condone shooting teen-agers suspected of stealing a radio."

Your description of the incident as nothing more than an "adolescent prank gone awry" just compounds the inaccuracy of your comments, unless grand theft and attempted murder fall into your interpretation of a "prank."

This type of journalism may sell newspapers but does nothing but promote fear and misunderstanding of the police.

The facts are the man was not shot for stealing a radio but for attempting to run down a police officer. You pose a question about appropriate use of deadly force. Is a 3,000-pound vehicle trying to run you over more deadly than an ounce of lead fired from a gun?

You portray the man shot as a victim, but in fact the true victims are the officer and the dead man's family who have to live with this for the rest of their lives.

Charles R. Hoffman

Baltimore

Gorbachev's role

Latest in a long line of jokes about Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev: At the height of the Russian presidential health scare, the new KGB wanted Gorbachev right at Boris N. Yeltsin's bedside - as a heart donor.

Vladas Pilius

Baltimore

Upside down

I get the impression that Robert Gates' role was to give disinformation to his superiors and never rock the boat. It must have been very restful employment, a sure-fire way to keep his job. In our government today, down is up, up is down, wrong is all right and all right is wrong. What's going on?

William A. Welnosky

Lineboro

Fantastic!

Last evening I attended "The Fantasticks," a musical staged by the theater group of Cockpit in Court at Essex Community College.

But this wasn't just another performance. This particular group of performers are leaving Thursday morning to represent our country at the International Workers' Art Festival in the People's Republic of China as part of the 700th anniversary celebration of the founding of the city of Shanghai. These energetic and very talented performers are being sent to China through the generosity of contributors all over the state of Maryland and are the only group attending from the United States.

Let us congratulate this fine group of performers and wish them well.

Shirley M. Marx

Baltimore

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